Tragedy Strikes at Harvest Time

It was already shaping up to be a very weird year. After drought-ending rains which lasted well into spring, the weather turned perfect, and the grapes were doing well in a very temperate summer. Then came the heat; for five days temperatures soared well over 100 degrees (it hit 112 three times at my house in Dry Creek Valley). Moreover, the heat stayed well into the evenings, as the natural air conditioning of the Pacific Ocean just stopped. As a result, the harvest was hastened along, and picking started by September 1st.

Then came the fire and destruction. In five days Sonoma County life changed. While no one at Taft Street lost their home, many were evacuated, and everyone has friends or family who lost everything. Things are just starting to get back to the new normal, but it will be years before the disruption will be over.

Fortunately, the heat in early September resulted in an early harvest and 90+ percent of the grapes had already been picked when the fire broke out. The grapes still on the vine – mainly Cabernet Sauvignon – are sturdy grapes and little smoke taint has been reported. There are some very good wines fermenting as I write this, and 2017 will certainly go down as a memorable year.

We just hosted the Wine Road’s annual Wine and Food Affair this weekend; and while the crowds were off a bit, we were still kept busy pouring wines to visitors from all over the country. It felt good doing what we do best – pouring great wine and sharing the Taft Street story.

So all the grapes are now in, fermentation is taking place, and we will soon do a bit of bottling. Autumn is in full swing, the colors are bright – the perfect time to spend a day wine tasting.

Come on by, we are definitely welcoming visitors.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Rice ‘N Eggs ‘N Cheese

Rice ‘N Eggs ‘N Cheese

I almost always have leftover rice when I cook it, and I get tired of always making fried rice the next day. Here is an alternative that makes a tasty substitute for hashbrowns.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter for frying

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Turn on broiler. Mix together rice, eggs, and half the cheese. Season to taste.
  2. Melt butter in fry pan and add mixture when bubbly.
  3. Cook over medium heat until browned on the bottom, about 6 – 8 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and place in broiler about 6 inches from heat. Cook until cheese melts and the dish is nicely browned.

Serves four. Depending on entrée choose an appropriate Taft Street wine.

 

Oysters

Mignonette Sauce

Last weekend I did one of my favorite things in the whole world. I had a friend swing by Tomales Bay and picked up a sack of Hog Island oysters, made some mignonette sauce, cracked open several frosty bottles of 2016 Taft Street Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and sat around with friends enjoying the aforementioned. Life doesn’t get much better!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns
  • ½ cup vinegar (red or white or rice)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • Salt

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients and chill. Serve with oysters.
  2. Fresh lemon and hot sauce may be included.

Another Crazy Harvest

After what appeared to be a classic year of warm, dry weather Mother Nature threw us a curve ball by the way of a big time heat wave. Ripening sped up, grape clusters shriveled, cool weather slowed things down – typical fall craziness. Now in the first week of October and with a flood of red grapes due over the next few days, we expect to see the bulk of our production fermenting by week’s end. The good news is there is no rain in sight and the quality of the grapes seems to be high.

Last night we attended the 43rd annual Awards Night at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. As usual, we did quite well. The Taft Street 2016 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc was awarded a DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL; the Taft Street 2014 Alexander Valley Merlot also won a DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL; the 2015 Taft Street Russian River Valley Chardonnay Garagistes won a GOLD MEDAL; THE 2015 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Garagistes won a GOLD MEDAL; and the 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris also won a GOLD MEDAL. Like I said, not a bad night. Let it also be known that the sweepstakes award for white wine went to a Chardonnay by Guy Davis, our consulting oenologist.

October is indeed a special time in wine country, particularly when the grapes are safely in tanks and barrels. Our wine club party is scheduled for October 8th, which leaves the rest of the month with few crowds, gorgeous weather and wonderful wines to be sampled. Come join us in what for us is a favorite time of year.

Cheers!
Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

2017 Sonoma County Harvest Fair Golds!

The Sonoma County Harvest Fair is the largest regional wine competition in the United States.  This year, Taft Street took home two Double Golds and three Gold Medals!

All of these wines are available in the Tasting Room and online or join us October 6-8 for the 43rd annual Grand Tasting.

 

Cold Asian Noodle Salad with Russian River Sauvignon Blanc

Cold Asian Noodle Salad

With the hot days of harvest upon us, it’s time to plan a few meals that provide ease, can be (partially) made ahead, and are literally cool. Here’s an old standby.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1 pound fresh egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • pepper
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta to al dente in a big pot of salted water (be careful not to overcook). Drain and rinse with cold water. Chill.
  2. Peel cucumber, slice lengthwise, and deseed with a spoon. Thinly slice.
  3. Whisk together sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar and pepper in a bowl. Stir in cucumber.
  4. When ready to serve, add chicken and sauce to noodles and mix thoroughly. Garnish with scallions and serve.

Serves 4 with a bottle of Taft Street Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc

The 2017 Crush is On!

It’s hot today (109° in Healdsburg), and it will be hotter tomorrow (111°). Not exactly a picture-perfect start for Harvest 2017, but things should cool down a bit by Labor Day. This heat wave on top of a long, warm summer should mean an early and big crop. We brought in some Pinot Noir for rosé a few days ago, and our first big loads of Chardonnay start arriving tomorrow. The roads of Sonoma County now have more trucks laden with grapes than rental cars full of tourists –such is September.

Winemaker Melissa Kuhn has been visiting vineyards in recent weeks, checking sugar and acid levels and organizing logistical plans for grape deliveries. Coordination is especially crucial in seasons such as this one, when it appears many of the vineyards will ripen at the same time. Speaking of deliveries, Taft Street welcomes Graham Steven Callagy into the world. Kaitlyn gave birth to this 7 pound, 9-ounce charmer on August 30 – her 5th day of maternity leave. Mother and child are home and doing great.

This weekend marks the conclusion of another concert season at Taft Street. A Little Street Music 2017 finishes up with local band Soul Fuse on Sunday, September 3 from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. We are thrilled to be able to gather together top local musicians, our own winery fans and the general public – it’s something in which we take great pride. We are already discussing the lineup for 2018.

September starts the high season in wine country. Grab a hat, bring a picnic, sit it our shaded patio area, play bocce ball, listen to live music (September 3), and chill. We look forward to seeing you!

Cheers,

Mike Tierney

President, Taft Street Winery

Taft Street Tasting Room

Time to Get Ready

With temperatures about to climb to the 100 degrees mark for the umpteenth time this summer, folks in the winery are starting to get nervous. This feeling deepened when we learned a neighbor is planning to pick for rose next week. With a full schedule of bottling lined up for August, things may get hectic sooner than we hoped.

In the Tasting Room, Kaitlyn and staff are welcoming the summer crowds. August will be a big month for Kaitlyn, as we have three concerts, a Taste Route #116 Wine Club Appreciation event, and the start of her maternity leave!

Speaking of concerts, we are bracing for a huge crowd for the August 13th appearance of local favorites The Pulsators. Later in the month, on August 27th the Michael Capella Band will be seen at Taft Street for the first time. We have the pleasure to present Texan singer/songwriter Jamie Lin Wilson for a special show on Sunday, August 20th. With all these events we just hope the grapes will slow down a bit in their ripening!

So there you have it – a typical crazy summer. The skies remain blue, the picnic area is ready, and the wine is cool. We just need you to complete the picture.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Watermelon Salad

Watermelon, Feta, And Mint Salad

In the last few years, this simple salad has become a summertime staple. Just remember; the better the ingredients, the better the results.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 pounds seedless watermelon, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus zest from ½ the lemon
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for drizzle
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put watermelon in large bowl. Add lemon juie, zest, oil and mint. Toss until evenly mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Transfer salad to a serving dish and top with feta. Sprinkle remaining zest, olive oil and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Serves 4 – 6.

If you are lucky enough to possess some Taft Street 2016 Russian River Rose of Pinot Noir, you have yourself a feast. However, the Taft Street Chardonnay or Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc will not disappoint.

Asian Grill Steak

Asian Grilled Steak

With the 4th of July right around the corner, our culinary thoughts naturally turn to the grill. On hot days (and evenings) it’s nice to get something done that both tasty and quick. The following accomplishes both.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 cup tahini sauce (soy will do)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 2 chopped cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 ½ pounds tri-tip

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat grill. Place top six ingredients into food processor and blend thoroughly. Pour mixture over tri-tip, turning several times.
  2. Place meat on the grill and baste meat often with marinade.
  3. Cook until a thermometer reads 120 in thickest part of the meat. Take off the grill and let rest for ten minutes.
  4. Cut thinly and serve with Asian rice or noodle salad.

Serves 4 – 6

A nice bottle of 2014 Alexander Valley Merlot would go well here.