Sitting in a snug and very well appointed ski cabin in Niseko, several hours outside of Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido. It’s snowing – not unusual in an area that annually averages over 45 feet; mostly powder, which has made the area an international drawing card for skiers. Far less developed than resorts in California and Colorado, Niseko attracts skiers from Asia and Australia (and the odd Yank).

The skiing is wonderful; and our grandson Otto, five years old and in his fourth ski season, is already going down the Black Diamond runs.

We spent Christmas in Shanghai. Amazing to see Holiday lights in the main shopping areas rivalling those of New York City. However, Christmas day was just another workday for Shanghai as a whole. The city continues development at breakneck speed, and moving about in the cool (mid 30’s) is far more comfortable than sweating through heat and humidity.


The Irish. Before leaving home, I had the great pleasure, along with Mike Martini and Kaitlyn,
of spend several hours in our Tasting Room with a visitor from Ireland (Mike Tierney) and his son (Mike Tierney). Three Mike Tierneys in a single room may sound excessive, but a jolly good time was had by all.

I was pleased to see evidence of Irish good cheer both in Shanghai (across the street from my son’s place), and in Niseko (right up the street).

Personal hygiene. The toilets in Japan are hands down the best in the world. Heated seats, wash and dry options (sorry, no spin cycle) – give real meaning to the term “quality time.”

We will finish out the week here; then return to Shanghai for a couple of days before going back to the Land of Taft Street Wine. Sapporo, Tsing Tao, and unfiltered sake (surprisingly pleasant) all have their place, but they do not enlighten the mind nor enhance the spirit the way a glass of Taft Street does.


New Look

As of today Taft Street will feature a new and improved web site, which will have the capability of streamlining your purchases of our favorite wines. To add more joy to the Holiday Season we will offer FREE SHIPPING on all orders during the month of December. Check it out at www.taftstreetwinery.com

Back in the winery, the pace has picked up a bit as the end of the year bottling program has kicked in, and the newly fermented wines are being transferred to barrels and tanks.

Our wines continue to impress the critics. In the e-zine Inside Sonoma dated November 19th our 2008 Russian River Valley Riesling was praised…“Aromas of honeyed apricot and pear counterpoint lean citrus, agave margarita.”

It is a busy time of year for all. We saw record crowds at last month’s Russian River Wine Road’s WINE & FOOD AFFAIR; I spent weekends in Florida and Arizona pouring our wines at ten Total Wine & More stores; and Kaitlyn and crew had another terrific month as folks stocked up for Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season.

December promises to continue the run, and it kicks off this weekend with the local EIGHT AT THE GATEwine club sale. On Sunday, December 6th wine club members at Taft Street and seven other local wineries can take advantage of club pricing at all wineries. This event, which started a couple of years ago, has turned into wildly popular occasion, and this Sunday should be no exception.

With the Holiday Season kicking into high gear, life has a way of turning stressful. We at Taft Street have found an effective stress reducing routine. At the end of the day (or the middle), sit down with a friend and enjoy a glass of Taft Street wine. We have found it improves one’s state of mind and promotes a gentler world view.

To a gentler world view this Holiday Season!


Mike Tierney



The new web site is up and running. Orders are coming in daily, and even our most uber technoid friends and critics are applauding the style and ease of the site. Remember there are just a couple of days left to order wine for a pre Christmas arrival. Kudos to Jake Martini for a fine job of web design.

We are definitely in winter mode at the winery. Bottling, barrel work, and putting together blends are the orders of the day. Yesterday, Mike Martini, Evelyn and I tasted through some 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir blends. Yummy! We will bottle next spring, and I can’t wait to see this wine shine.

This Friday we’ll celebrate the Holidays with a crab cioppino lunch for the Taft Street staff. One of the joys of winter in Sonoma County is fresh crab, along with some Taft Street Russian River Valley Chardonnay or Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

Our 8 at the Gate wine club day was a great success. Last Sunday wine club members at Taft Street and seven other nearby Russian River Valley wineries were able to take advantage of club pricing at all eight wineries. We were packed all day, and it was great to meet so many new faces.

I am looking forward to this Saturday; when not one, not two, but three Mike Tierney’s will be at the winery. Last year Laurie was at a tasting in San Jose and met a charming fellow from Ireland – Mike Tierney. His son, also Mike Tierney, lives in San Jose. The dad is visiting this week, and they will be visiting the winery on Saturday. We will raise a glass of Taft Street and post some photos on Facebook.

Everyone at Taft Street wishes you a very Happy Holidays. Kathy and I are off to China and Japan to spend some time with our son Matt, his wife Anne, and our grandson Otto. We will return right after the first of the year.


Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Black Pepper & Sao Jorge Biscotti

This Sunday I will serve the annual savory biscotti to complement our array of wines for the local wine club members. We use our local favorite cheese, a cow’s milk farmer’s cheese from local cheesemaker Joe Matos, but Parmigiano-Regggiano is a fine substitute.


  • 1 ½ tablespoons freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 ½ cups Matos cheese, finely grated
  • 1 ½ sticks cold butter, diced
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups cheese, and one tablespoon black pepper. Blend in butter to create a coarse meal. Whisk 3 eggs and milk and add to mixture until a soft dough forms.
  3. Turn dough on board and quarter. Form each piece into a log, about 12″ by 2″ by 1″. Transfer to 2 ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Whisk remaining egg and brush logs, then top with remaining cheese and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, switching position of pans every 10 minutes.
  5. Cool 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 300. Take each log at cut into i/2 inch diagonal slices. Return to pans, cut side down. Bake another 20 minutes, turning over slices midway.
  6. Cool 15 minutes. Can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature.

These are great with Taft Street Zinfandel and Pinot Noir.