Conversation with Evelyn

While driving to work this morning I passed a number of wineries, all seeming to be in the midst of a deep winter slumber. The vibe is certainly different from the frenzy of harvest time; but underneath this perception of inactivity, I know much is going on. A talk with Evelyn should clarify things.

Mike T: Many people believe that after harvest, the wine gently matures during the winter months, while the winemakers (and their staff) spend their time in Hawaii (or shopping at the mall). True?

Evelyn W: Yeah, right. Actually there is more than enough to do.

Mike T: Like?

Evelyn W: Let’s start with house cleaning. Equipment gets used over and over again during harvest. We finally have the time to clean, repair and store the equipment properly. Then there is the ongoing task of topping wine barrels of older vintages; finishing malolactic fermentation in the new red wines; heat and cold stabilizing the new whites in preparation for bottling; blending wines in preparation for spring bottling; preparing the bottling line and refurbishing the bottling room.

Mike T: Wow!

Evelyn W: I’m only getting started. One of the most difficult tasks is the scheduling of our spring and summer bottling. Our own wine takes precedence in the schedule, but we bottle dozens of wines for clients, and it’s no easy task creating a workable schedule.

Mike T: How about winemaking?

Evelyn W: That where the fun begins. We have been doing lab analyses on the new wines and we are starting to come to grips with the qualities of the 2010 wines.

Mike T: First reactions to any of the wines?

Evelyn W: We’ve taken a good look at each lot of the 2010 Chardonnays, and I’m quite pleased with what I see. The wines fermented completely dry, and the acid levels are good.

Mike T: So Waikiki (or even Codding Town) is not in your plans?

Evelyn W: Just as soon as I finish my “To Do” list.

Happy New Year!

The holiday parties are over, the rains have moved on (for now), and Taft Street is gearing up for what we expect to be a banner year.

In the vineyards the vines are dormant for the winter; yet activity doesn’t cease as pruning has begun in earnest. Recent rains have made the going a bit sloppy over the past several weeks, but a forecast of dry conditions over the upcoming week should stimulate activity. Preparation for Vintage 2011 has begun.

In the winery Evelyn and staff have completed the bottling of our 2010 Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir and our 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris. This weekend you will be able to sample the Pinot Gris; we’ll hold off the release of the Rose until Valentine’s Day. Both the wines are lovely, and will be added attractions to our already star studded lineup of wines. The 2010 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc will be bottled later this month.

On the road plans are being developed for distributor visits, while Clayton and Laurie continue to develop their local account bases. The past few months have proven the success of our direct sales approach to retailers and restaurants in California, and we will continue to develop this program. Our next step is to add personnel in the Southern California area. We’ll keep you posted.

The Tasting Room enjoyed its best year ever in 2010! Kudos to Kaitlyn and staff. As recognition of the quality of wines from the western region of the Russian River Valley appellation grows, we expect even more visitors this year. Our internet direct sales came of age last year, and that experience points to continued growth as well.

We expect to see big crowds next weekend at the Wine Road’s Annual Winter Wineland. Join the fun and see how clonal selection affects flavors in our Chardonnay blends. Also, enjoy my homemade breadsticks (recipe below). An alternative (or addition) would be to visit when the crowds are gone. We’ll still show you a good time!

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Breadsticks

A great party treat, and so much better than the store bought.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
  • 1 packets instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • Sea salt
  • Grated Parmesan
  1. Combine first five ingredients in food processor. Pulse to mix. Add olive oil and pulse. With machine running, add a cup or more of cold water, until a somewhat sticky ball forms.
  2. Put a little oil in a bowl and add dough mixture and form a ball. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour. Place covered bowl in fridge for several hours.
  3. Heat oven to 400. Grease two baking sheets with oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Cut dough in quarters and keep three pieces covered while you roll a piece into an 18″ X 6″ rectangle. Slice off a 1″ X 6″ piece, and with floured hands, roll into a 12″ stick. Transfer to pan and continue with remaining dough.
  4. Brush sticks with oil and sprinkle with salt and Parmesan cheese. Bake 12 -15 minutes, or until crisp. Cool on racks. Serve immediately or store in airtight container.

Makes 72. Serve with any Taft Street wine. Especially good at a Wine Tasting!