Here We Go Again!

We used to look forward to October for its great weather and harvest. That has been changed of late and this year was no exception. Dry weather conditions and high winds brought another series of wildfires to the area, which disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The disruption has not ended, as people are just returning to their homes, some without electricity and many without gas. I have slept in the homes of three different friends over the past five days. I’ll be going home tonight, finally. Everyone at the winery made it through the fire without tragic loss, and things have started to return to normal.

At the winery we are making do. We have one final load of grapes due in tomorrow, and electricity has been restored. Fortunately fermentation has continued at a normal pace, and cool nights have helped keep temperatures under control. All wines appear to be in good shape.

The Tasting Room has been closed for a couple of days, but is reopened now and ready for business.

So life goes on. We have been through this before (unfortunately), but we will continue to make wine in one of the finest wine country areas of the world – Sonoma County. Come join us.

Cheers!

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Quick Chicken

Quick Chicken

Over the past week we have been living out of our suitcases, as fires have covered the region. We have stayed with various friends who often had other displaced guests. Meals were makeshift, but we usually managed to get together something more than palatable. Here’s what we did last night.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 16 pimento stuffed olives, sliced thinly
  • 2 lemons, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 cup Taft Street Chardonnay
  • Salt and pepper

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Saute shallot and garlic in heated olive oil for 5 minutes.
  2. Add chicken, pimento and lemons and cook until chicken is browned, 8 – 1- minutes. Increase heat, add Chardonnay and cook until reduced, 2 – 3 minutes.

Serve with pasta, baguette and Taft Street Russian River Chardonnay.

Creamy Seafood Chowder

With the days getting cooler and shorter it is time to turn to more hearty fare. One of my favorites is chowder, in almost any variation. This month I’ve picked seafood as starting point; feel free to add /substitute your own favorites as desired.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed
  •  ½ cup corm
  • 5 cups broth
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 12 ounces halibut, cubed
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled 1 6.5 ounce tin of clams
  • 2 cups cream
  • Parsley for garnish

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook onion in butter. Add flour and seasonings and cook 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add potato, corn, celery, broth and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in seafood and cream and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6

I would pair this with some good bread and Taft Street Russian River Valley Chardonnay.

Harvest Continues

Along with seasonal weather (warm days/cool nights), the harvest is moving along. It is not the madness we have often experienced, with trucks lined up to deposit their loads. In fact, we have to date taken in less than half of what we have contracted, and we very well could be bringing in grapes far into November. However, it is never wise to count on Mother Nature’s cooperation.

This is the time of year for the annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair, and this year we were awarded a GOLD MEDAL for our 2018 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc. We will pour the wine this weekend at the Fairgrounds.

October is also the month for our President’s Club party. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, October 13th, and live music, food and new releases will all be in abundance.

This is really one of the best times of year to visit, The maples are in their fall splendor, the days are warm and clear, wine is being made – what more is there? Come join us.

Cheers!

Mike Tierney

President, Taft Street Winery

Goodbye Summer, Hello Harvest

With Labor Day weekend upon us, we have yet to see any grapes in the fermenters. This marks the first time in 5 years we have had to wait until September for the harvest to begin. Late spring rains have pushed the harvest back a bit, but things should start rolling next week. We are getting different reports from our vineyard sources; some say the harvest is another big one, others say it’s average. We’ll let you know. We do know that many wineries have sufficient inventories on hand, and there are a lot of grapes for sale.

It is a good thing for us that harvest is a bit late, for it has given us time to catch up on bottling and preparing our machinery for the Crush. After 38 years it is still a race to the starting line.

Hard to believe another concert series – A Little Street Music  – is drawing to a close. This weekend Twang Ditty will liven up the picnic grounds for the closing concert. It has been another banner year as we’ve greeted old friends and met new ones.

Next week marks another harvest and our participation in the Sonoma County Fair. Every year since 1983 we have entered our wines in competition with other Sonoma County wineries. Next week we will enter 9 current releases. Awards will be presented later in the month.

September and October are our favorite months of the year. The weather is suburb, the crowds are manageable, and the (grape) juices are flowing. Come on by for a memorable experience.

Cheers!

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Tomato Cobbler

Finally tomato season has arrived! It was a bit late this year due to spring rains, but now we see (and taste) an abundance of some of the juiciest and most flavorful fruit this side of grapes. This particular dish would make a great outdoor brunch or lunch.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Salt
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

TOPPING

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon thyme

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place 2 tbs butter in pan and cook onion until soft (5 minutes). Add garlic, thyme and pepper flakes for another minute. Add tomatoes, sugar and 1 tsp salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in cherry tomatoes and flour. Transfer to baking dish and dot with remaining butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Add butter and combine to make a coarse mean with small butter balls. Add milk and mix until sticky dough forms.
  3. Drop balls of dough over tomato filling and top dough with milk. Place on a baking sheet and cook for an hour. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Goes particularly well with Taft Street Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc or Rose of Pinot Noir. Best consumed outdoors on a warm afternoon.

Taft Street Winery Bottles

In the Heat Of Things

It is hard to believe but summer is half gone. The hills are “golden,” the Russian River is full of vacationers, and the wineries are starting to gear up for harvest. The weather is wine and human friendly, with warm days and cool nights. Growers report good sized crops, perhaps a week or so later than usual due to our wet spring. We have contracts for a good sized harvest.

During the summer we at Taft Street wear several hats. In the winery, staff is busy bottling our Chardonnay and various clients’ wines before our first grape deliveries. Melissa and staff are also securing needed equipment and supplies for the upcoming season. Those in the Tasting Room are hosting the summer crowds, including our concert guests.

We are in the middle of three straight weeks of concerts. The Pulsators packed  them in two weeks ago; last weekend our own Greg Abel teamed up with local star David Luning and sold out the single ticketed concert of the summer. This week we have Kevin Russell & some Dangerous Friends – attend at your own risk! Only two concerts remain after this weekend.

Time is quickly passing friends, and the window of opportunity to visit the winery during peak season will soon be closing. So don your bocce ball shoes, bring a snack, and sip some of the most distinctive wine in the Russian River Valley.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Asian Chicken Salad

Asian Chicken Salad

With summer in full swing and temperatures on the rise, it is often too hot to cook. Here’s a great way to beat the heat and use leftover bar b que chicken.

INGREDIENTS:

Salad Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Salad

  • 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced 1 bunch scallions, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup chow mein noodles
  • Sesame seeds

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a jar combine oil, vinegar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger and oil. Whisk to a froth and set aside.
  2. In a large salad bowl combine chicken, lettuces, bell peppers, scallions and cilantro. Pour dressing over salad and mix.
  3. Top with noodles and sesame seeds. Serve.

Serves 6

Taft Street Rose of Pinot Noir or Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc would make this a feast!

Taft Street Tasting Room

Summer Fireworks

Summer is cracking into high gear as the days get warmer, the crowds get bigger, and everything seems just a touch nicer.

We at Taft Street received some welcome news from two of the nation’s top wine competitions. From the Orange County Wine Competition (world’s biggest competition for California wines), we received GOLD MEDALS for our:

  • 2016 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
  • 2017 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
  • 2018 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2017 Alexander Valley Zinfandel

From the 2019 International Women’s Wine Competition we received GOLD MEDALS for our:

  • 2018 Russian River Valley Granache Blanc DOUBLE GOLD
  • 2018 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir

Much deserved! Congratulations Melissa and crew.

Our concert series – A Little Street Music – rolls on with two local favorites during July: Tom Rigney and Flambeau on July 7; and The Pulsators July 21.

Don’t let your summer go by without visiting us at the Tasting Room. Our picnic area has matured and there is plenty of shade for pinics, a bottle of Taft Street, and maybe even a little bocce. We are ready for you.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney

President Taft Street Winery

Korean BBQ Short Ribs

Korean BBQ Short Ribs

This weekend we are taking part Grill 116, a BBQ at Taft Street and neighboring wineries. Here’s what we have cooking.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 12 oz can pear juice
  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 ½ pounds cross cut, bone-in beef ribs (flanken)

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl combine first 6 ingredients. Add short ribs, refrigerate a marinade overnight.
  2. Heat grill. When hot place ribs on grill and cook for 3-4 minutes per side.
  3. Transfer to serving platter and serve with rice, sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

Served 4 – 6. We like Taft Street Zinfandel with this mildly spicy dish.