Fig Bostock

Fig Bostock

The last figs are still on the tree. They won’t be for long. One way to enjoy this wonderful fruit is in a glorified French toast originating in Normandy (Brioche aux amandes).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and finely ground
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup honey
  •  1 egg
  •  ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium loaf brioche
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 8 fresh figs, quartered
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Using an electric mixer or food processor combine almonds, honey, egg, flour and salt until smooth. Chill.
  2. Preheat oven to 375. Slice brioche into 8 thick slices. Whisk eggs and 1 teaspoon water in small bowl and brush one side of brioche slices with egg wash. Place on rimmed baking sheet and spread each slice with 2 tablespoons almond crème, Top with figs, cut side up. Brush with butter.
  3. Bake until golden (18-20 minutes). Dust with sugar and serve.

This would make a wonderful brunch, with perhaps a Taft Street Pinot Noir to take it up another notch.

A Late Grate Harvest

The sun is still shining brightly and the temperature is hovering in the mid 80’s. It must be November in wine country. The harvest is over – for us, and only because we ran our room to hold any more grapes. A bumper crop of high quality fruit has made vintners happy across the state, and many of growers who are able to find a home for their grapes are still picking. (HOLD THE PRESS! I just got word we are taking in 45 tons of Russian River Valley Chardonnay for neighbor John Balletto next Monday.) We start bottling clients’ wines the week after next and will go full speed ahead until Christmas. We are already excited out our 2018 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc and our 2018 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir, which will be bottled the first of the year.

We were pleased to see the Taft Street 2017 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc win the BEST SAIVIGNON BLANC FOR THANKSGIVING by the @getharvestcard’s panel of local culinary stars. We are also looking forward to Route 116 Wine Club Appreciation weekend, November 17 – 18; when members of neighboring wine clubs can take advantage of wine club pricing at all participating wineries. This is a great way to stock up for the Holidays.

I enjoyed a visit to the New York market last month, where we met old friends and established a number of new accounts. Mike Martini will stop in Louisiana this month to plan for our future in that area.

We are currently putting together our 2019 budget, which will include upgrades in the Tasting Room and patio areas. This will result will only add to the Taft Street experience – already exceedingly pleasant!

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street

Sea Bass Stew

Sea Bass Stew

As we get into fall we need heartier dishes – and red wine. Here’s the dish – and the wine to go with it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, hopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped herbs (thyme, parsley, basil)
  • ¾ cup white wine (Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 quart crushed tomatoe
  • 3 cups broth
  • 2 pounds sea bass fillets, cubed

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, celery, salt and pepper and cook until soft (4-5 minutes). Add herbs and garlic and cook briefly (1 minute).
  2. Stir in white wine and crushed tomatoes and bring to simmer. Add broth and cook 20 minutes.
  3. Season fish with salt and pepper and add to pot, stirring gently to distribute fish evenly. Cook 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Ladle into serving bowls and serve with favorite crusty bread.

A 2017 Alexander Valley Merlot would accompany this nicely. Serves 4-6

Melissa with grapes!

Rush to the Finish

With rain forecast for the next several days growers are stepping up the pace on picking. Tomorrow we will bring in Pinot Noir for rose and a good portion of chardonnay. The storm is not expected to be a major threat to the vintage, but betting on the weather is never a sure thing.

There are still a number of long days ahead but the harvest has by and large gone smoothly. Everyone is excited about the quality of fruit; very little mildew and healthy yields.

The crush pad is not the only busy spot in the winery. Kaitlyn and company begin distributing wine club fall six packs on October 1st.

The next weekend, October 5 – 7, we pour at the annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair, where our 2017 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc won a GOLD MEDAL. Then on October 14th we have our fall Wine Club Party, with live music, terrific good, and of course lots of good cheer.

On the sales side, we have picked up a distributor in Oregon, a market we have not been in for 15 years. I am on my way back to New York this weekend to work with our friends at Vision Brands.

After a couple of days of showers the skies should clear and the temperatures should return to the mid-80’s. Perfect time to go wine tasting, play bocce, and have a picnic. We know just the place!

Cheers,

Mike Tierney

President, Taft Street

Harvest No. 37. Here we come.

After a very warm June and early July the weather turned decidedly cooler, with daytime temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s instead of the more usual mid 90’s. This has delayed harvest anywhere from 1 -2 weeks. This is the first Labor Day in five years we have not harvested our own grapes. We have used the extra time wisely, however, and have made it through last minute bottling, machinery and barrel cleaning. Our first grapes are not scheduled for 10 days, unless…

Overall it appears the harvest will be larger than last year’s, and the grape quality seems very good, especially since the grapes are experiencing more time on the vine.

The Tasting Room staff is taking a breather after completing Season #7 of A Little Street Music. We enjoyed the largest crowd of the season yesterday with the Vokler Strifler Band. Our Autumn Flame Maple trees were in full color and the temperature in the high 70’s; a memorable day to end the concert season.

This week we will take some current releases over to the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, where they will be judged against the best wines of Sonoma County. Winners will be announced later this month in time for the actual fair itself, which occurs on the first weekend of October. We’ll keep you posted.

As summer season ends, harvest begins. Our best weather is approaching, wine is being made, life is good. Come join us.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Smoked Salmon

In July I had the great pleasure of taking my son and grandson on a fishing trip to Alaska. We had a great time, and brought home a load of salmon, halibut and sea bass. I’m currently working of this recipe with salmon fillets.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Cure
    • 1 pound salmon fillet, pin bones removed
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ¼ cup kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns
  • Rub
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons coriander
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Lay a sheet of foil in baking sheet, topping with a sheet of plastic wrap. Sprinkle half of the cure mix into plastic wrap. Lay the fillet skin side down on top and sprinkle and spread the rest of the cure on top. Wrap the plastic wrap tightly around fish, and lay another sheet of foil on top. Weigh down with another baking sheet and canned goods.
  2. Cure in refrigerator for 8-10 hours. Remove from frig, unwrap and rinse. Pat dry and cover with rub mixture. Let rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours to form pellicle, a thin film which helps in the smoking process.
  3. Prepare smoker/barbecue to 175-185 degrees, and cook skin side down until internal temperature reaches 145(2 hours or so). Remove, tent, and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Right now I’m going with smoked salmon, toast, sour cream with chives and capers, and Taft Street Rose of Pinot Noir and/or just plain old Taft Street Pinot Noir. YUM!!

Good Ole Summertime

Summer is officially in high gear, and indications thus far show a larger that average harvest. When growers describe things as “not too bad,” they usually are just the opposite. The tragic (and all too common) fires in Mendocino and Lake Counties will undoubtedly affect North Coast grapes this year, but fortunately for us the wind direction has kept much of the smoke and ash away from Sonoma County. A month to go… and counting.

All of Taft Street’s wines have been bottled as scheduled, and the cellar crew is busy bottling for custom crush clients and preparing equipment for harvest.

The Tasting Room is busy entertaining summertime visitors. Last week we had our biggest concert ever with good friend Danny Sorentino playing before a packed crowd. This month we have the popular group Gator Nation (August 12) and our own Greg Abel (August 26).

Future events include the Taste of Sonoma at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University on September 1; and the annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in September and October.

We will be making wine from about Labor Day into October. Stop by, have a glass of wine, and enjoy the action.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Tomatoes Taft

Tomatoes Taft

August starts serious tomato season in Sonoma County. Early Girls and a variety of heirlooms are now available for BLT’s and endless other treats. Here’s a versatile salad; try it with a chilled glass of Taft Street Russian River Sauvignon Blanc.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped olives
  • 4 – 5 medium tomatoes
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 12 basil leaves

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place shallot in bowl with garlic, salt, pepper and vinegar. Let soak for 10 minutes, then stir in olive oil, anchovy and olives.
  2. Slice tomatoes and arrange on platter. Season. Dress cherry tomatoes with vinaigrette, then spoon cherry tomatoes and vinaigrette over tomato slices.
  3. Garish with basil leaves. Serve at cool room temperature.

Extreme Conditions

We have already had our second hundred degree heat spell and our second major fire, and it’s not even the 4th of July yet! Spooky. However, early reports from the vineyards indicate a healthy and hearty crop.

Melissa and crew are in full bottling mode, working with numerous clients and their packaging needs.

It is all hands on deck in the Tasting Room, where summertime activities abound. We enjoyed Grill 116 in the 100+ heat last Saturday, followed by the Nina Gerber concert the next day under cloudy and cool skies. Bottle Shock joins us this Sunday (July 8th), and my favorite, Danny Sorentino will be here on July 22nd.

David Gast has left the winery to pursue other opportunities. The two Mikes and Jake will split up his responsibilities with the Henry Wine Group, our California distributor.

Critics remain enthused about Taft Street wine. Our 2017 Taft Street Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc won a GOLD MEDAL at the recent Orange County Fair. Sonoma Magazine had an article about the rise in popularity of rose wines. It had this to say about Taft Street’s offering:

Riverside Rose: Taft Street 2017 Pinot Noir Rose. Unscrew the cap, pour into your stemless plastic wine glass, and toast summer as you float down the Russian River with a bottle of Taft Street’s rose made from pinot noir grapes grown just a few miles from this iconic Sonoma County river. With its high acid and low sugar, it’s a dry wine with bright notes  of raspberry, watermelon and strawberry. It’s a destined crowd pleaser.

We could agree more. Try it soon!

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Pasta with Mushrooms & Prosciutto

There are many reasons to feel blessed by living in Sonoma County. Mushrooms are one. We are especially fortunate to be neighbors of Mycopia, mushroom cultivators who have a drop-in sale every Friday where they offer various exotic varieties at below market prices. Here’s a classic. Try this with a baguette and salad.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil +2 tablespoons
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 1 pound mushrooms, torn into bite size pieces
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 12 ounces egg noodle pappardelle
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoons butter

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In Dutch oven cook pasta in 2 tablespoons oil until crisp, about 5 minutes. Crumble and set aside.
  2. In remaining oil cook mushrooms on low heat for 6-8 minutes. Add shallots, thyme, salt and pepper and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Add stock and simmer for 6-8 minutes.
  3. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Transfer pasta to mushroom, add a cup of pasta water and simmer for 2 minutes. Add cream to coat.
  4. Remove Dutch oven from heat, mix in butter and prosciutto and serve.

Serves 4. Pinot Noir would be a great choice here. At the moment I’d pick our 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Skikos Vineyard – 35th anniversary special release.