Woodshop 101

Wooden barrels have been a part of making and aging wine for millennia. We commonly think of oak as the wood; but chestnut, redwood, cherry and acacia are and have been used as well. However, oak is by any measure the wood of choice, and we will focus our discussion on it.

Mike Tierney: Why is oak the overall wood of choice among winemakers?
EVELYN: It appears oak has the unique ability to bring components of some wines together in a way that allows them to mature harmoniously.
MPT: American versus French oak?
EW: French oak – Quercus Robur and Quercus Sessiflora – are typically hand split and air dried. Americsn osk – Quercus Alba (white oak) – has typically been sawn and then kiln dried; though some American coopers have taken up the traditonal French method.
MPT: You said we used wood on “some” wine. Why only some?
EW: In some wines the oak will overpower the flavors of a delicate wine, like many of our white wines. We use oak in making our Chardonnay, but not with any other white wine. Oak plays a part in the making of all our reds.
MPT:  How about our “Garagistes” wines?
EW: On these wines we use French oak exclusively.
MPT: Any particular brand?
EW:  I’m a big fan of DAMY.
MPT:  From the taste of the wines, I am too!

Irish Soda Bread

(in Ireland it’s called cake) As St Patrick’s Day approaches it’s time to create appropriate wine and food pairings. There is hardly a better match than wine and bread, a winning combo for thousands of years!


  • 1 pound whole wheat flour
  • 1 pound white unbleached flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pint buttermilk
  1. Sieve flours, soda and salt in a large bowl. Make a hole in the center, pour in buttermilk, and mix to form a dough.
  2. Form into one round. With a sharp knife make an X across the top about an inch thick.
  3. Cook in a 425 oven for 25 minutes; turn over and cook 5 minutes more.
  4. Cool on a rack.

This goes especially well with our new 2008 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (you can add a wee bit of corned beef and cabbage).

The Beat Goes On

Winter is quickly turning to spring, as the trees have started budding and the vineyards are covered in mustard. Our cellar staff is starting to assemble the blends for upcoming bottlings, and our custom bottling operations are in full swing.

March 1st saw the release of two wines: our 2008 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and our 2010 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Both wines are showing beautifully and are being poured in the Tasting Room.

This weekend marks the beginning of the Russian River Wine Road’s biggest event – the 33rd annual Barrel Tasting. Over 100 wineries in Sonoma County’s Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys will offer tasting of wines in progress. We will show wines from two vineyards, each with a different Chardonnay clone. A 2010 Chardonnay from the Feeney Family Ranch utilizes clone 4, while a 2010 Chardonnay from Kunde Ranch uses clone 17. These two clones are Russian River Valley classics. We will also offer our 2006 Dry Creek Valley Syrah St Emydius Acre at the unheard of price of $100/case. The event takes place the first two weekends in March, 4-6th and 11-13th, 11-4pm.

Taft Street welcomes aboard Diana Naser as a sales representative for the San Francisco Bay Area. We are quite pleased to have found such a professional with over 10 years experience in the business.

Hope to see you here for the Barrel Tasting – or any old time.


Come join us.


Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery