#SONOMASTRONG

A new year has begun; one full of hope, determination, and willingness to do what it takes to succeed. Although rainfall (and snowpack) remain woefully below average, we at least have the fire season behind us, as light rain continues to keep hillsides damp. Our friends in Southern California have some much needed rainfall in their weather forecast, and we hope that occurs. Here’s to a benign 2018!!

After breaking for the week between Christmas and New Year’s, our production crew is back to work. Among the first things on their agenda is the bottling of two of our favorite wines. Starting next week, our 2017 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir and our 2017 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc will be put into bottle. These stainless steel fermented beauties will be released over the next several months, with the Rose earmarked for a Valentine’s Day premier. Speaking of releases, we are now offering our 2016 Sonoma County Merlot and our 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir to our local and national markets.

Welcome back Kaitlyn! This week marks the return of Kaitlyn Callagy  from maternity leave, where she has been tending her growing family since late August. We look forward to her smiling face and strong leadership in the Tasting Room and beyond. Next week she will lead our participation in the 26th annual Wineroad Winter Wineland (January 13 – 14, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm). Here visitors can meet the winemakers, sample limited production wines, and get the stories unique to each winery.

Now is the time to keep Sonoma Strong. Visit a winery (like Taft Street), enjoy a meal at a local restaurant, and buy local. See you at the Tasting Room.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Quick Pork Parmigiana

With the holiday season behind us, it’s time to simplify, and that includes meals. Here is an easy yet satisfying winter dish that goes particularly well with our newly released 2016 Sonoma County Merlot.

Serves 6 – 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound boneless pork, sliced and pounded into ¼ inch slices
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 28-ounce jar tomato sauce (with herbs and spices)
  • 12 ounces cooked and drained pasta

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon cheese. Dip pork slices in egg and then coat with crumb mix. Arrange on the greased baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes, turning once.
  3. Heat the tomato sauce and spoon over cooked pasta. Top with pork slices and the remaining Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Back to Kinda Normal

With the devastating fires now a not very distant memory, life is slowly returning to early winter routine. The rainy season has started, thankfully without any downpours allowing for mudslides. In the winery, all the wines have fermented, and bottling has started up again. Budgets and plans for 2018 are being addressed.

After a lull in business during the fires, visitors are returning to wine country. We have noted an upsurge in our tasting room over the past couple of weeks. The word has gotten out that all of wine country was not destroyed; in fact, a very small part of the wine business was affected directly. However, those of us in the business are taking an active participation in efforts to help those who suffered losses. The public reaction and outpouring of help have been yet another reminder of how fortunate we are to live in Sonoma County.

As the Holiday Season swings into high gear, a visit to our Tasting Room is a treat. Pick up a few stocking stuffers, provisions for the Holiday table, and enjoy a glass of fine Russian River Valley wine. You’ll be happy you did.

Cheers and Season’s Greetings from all of us at Taft Street Winery!

Mike Tierney

President, Taft Street

Halibut – Mango Ceviche

I have a freezer full of halibut, the result of a fishing trip to Alaska last summer (I’m going again this summer). My favorite recipe is simple, delicious, and a natural with a glass of Taft Street Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc or Rose.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ pounds skinless halibut fillets, cubed
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 mango, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine halibut, juices, peppers, and onion in a non-metallic bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Fold in mango, cilantro and season to taste.

Serve with tortilla chips or toasted tortillas.

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