Best of the Best

The Best of the Best

Winter has ended – abruptly. Last week cool and wet weather, which has been with us since November, changed to midsummer skies and temperatures. Looks like we’re headed into the 90’s over the next few days, and very few people are complaining.

In this year’s North Coast Wine Competition the Taft Street 2016 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir took home the Best of Show Rose, the Best of Sonoma County and the ultimate prize, the Best of the Best award. Winemaker Evelyn White sourced the pinot grapes from Bella Sonoma Vineyards owned by “Pasta King” Arturo Ibleto in the southern reaches of the Russian River Valley AVA. Needless to say, sales have been brisk and the wine is quickly selling out.

In other major news, we are announcing the retirement of winemaker Evelyn White. It has been a great ride over the past ten harvests, and Evelyn’s contributions to Taft Street have been many and varied. It is quite fitting that her latest release has been deemed the Best Wine in the North Coast this year. We wish her a long and eventful retirement.

In other major news, we announce the hiring of our new winemaking team. Melissa Kuhn joins us as our new winemaker. She has previously worked up the road at Owl Ridge Wine Services, where she was production manager with old time Taft Street winemaker John Tierney. We have also added Guy Davis as consulting oenologist. Guy is the owner/winemaker at Davis Family Vineyards in Healdsburg, where he has gained a well-earned reputation for his winemaking skills. We look forward to continued success with our lineup of wines.

The season has begun. Blue skies, warm weather, and increasing crowds mark the beginning of the Tasting Season. Our concert series is coming, our picnic grounds are tidied up, and we still have a few cases of rose left. Get here soon!

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street

Shrimp Pasta

Shrimp Pasta With Rose Sauce

Our BEST OF THE BEST 2016 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir has drawn accolades from many. One is the grower of the award winning wine. Arturo Ibleto is known in Sonoma County as “Pasta King.” He’s partial, but he thinks the Best of the Best rose goes best with pasta. Here’s one of our favorites

INGREDIENTS:

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt and stir in pasta, cooking until al dente (7 – 9 minutes). Drain into a colander, setting aside one cup of cooking liquid.
  2. While pasta is cooking heat oil in a skillet and add shallots, garlic, and salt. Cook 3 – 5 minutes and add wine and tomatoes and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cream. If the mixture is too dry add cooking liquid as needed.
  3. Divide pasta on plates, pouring shrimp sauce on top. Add basil leaves as garnish. Serve with the rest of the Taft Street Rose. You may need another bottle!

Serves 4

Spring is Right Around…

We thought we are done with the rainiest winter in ages, but the precipitation has not left us alone. Cloudy skies with intermittent rain are forecast for the next few days. I took a few days off and lounged around Palm Springs, where the 85 degree days and shirtsleeve evenings were a welcome change. It appears we are going to wait a bit before we see those conditions in wine country.

Spring is Right Around the Corner.

Spring is Right Around the Corner.

Back in the winery, we are busy firming up contracts and commitments for this year’s harvest. We have our usual sources of fruit from the Russian River Valley, and we foresee an increase in production to meet market demands. The custom crush side of the business will see healthy growth as well; it appears 2017 will be a busy one for Taft Street.

Our 2016 Russian River Sauvignon Blanc is now being sold in all our markets, and the 2016 Russian River Rose of Pinot Noir is available in the Tasting Room and online. The next wine to be released will be the 2015 Russian River Chardonnay, sometime in May.

In April we will host visiting distributor representatives, celebrate our 35th Anniversary(!!!), and participate in a Taste 116 wine club event. We will also spend time sprucing up the picnic and concert grounds in preparation for another busy summer. Next month starts the music and outdoor fun in the sun. Join us.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street

asparagus risotto

Asparagus Risotto

Don’t believe the fake news that asparagus does not go well with wine. Everything (almost) goes well with wine; you just have to get the right combination. Here is a way to enjoy the springtime freshness of both asparagus and our new 2016 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 cups of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • Salt
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • ½ cup Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat stock in pot, keep hot.
  2. Heat oil in skillet and cook onion until tender, about 3 minutes. Add rice and garlic and stir until rice turns opaque. Add wine. Add stock in ½ cup portions, stirring until absorbed. Continue adding stock for 10-12 minutes; then add asparagus and stir and add stock until less than a cup remains (25 minutes total).
  3. Stir in last of the stock with cheese. Taste and season as needed. Risotto should be creamy. Serve at once in shallow soup bowls.

Enjoy!

Spring is Here…Almost

We are currently enjoying a respite from one of the wettest winters in memory. More than 50 inches of rain have fallen in most parts of the county, and those places were not even the wettest. However, the vines are in winter dormancy and little damage has been reported. In fact, right now the cherry and plum trees are in blossom, and with the green hills as a backdrop, Sonoma County does not look much better.

The big event in March is the Wine Road’s annual Barrel Tasting, this year on March 3 – 5 and March 10 – 12.  Evelyn has come up with a pair of Pinot Noir samples that will show how vineyard and clone selection are integral parts of creating world-class Pinot Noir. One sample will come from the Skikos Vineyard, clone #667; the other from the Winkler Vineyard, clone #23. Both are being aged in new Damy French oak barrels.

Our summer concert series – A Little Street Music 2017 – is shaping up to be a memorable one. Old friends and local favorites Steve Pile, Tom Rigney, Daniel Castro and The Pulsators will be joined by some new faces. We always look forward to these mellow Sunday afternoons, where good wine, good music and good times meet at the picnic area of the Taft Street Winery.

You don’t have to wait until summer to have a good time. Bring some friends and a bite and we’ll supply the wine and bocci court. Hope to see you soon.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Meyer Lemon Tart

Meyer Lemon Tart

Late winter and early spring is Meyer lemon time in wine country. One of our favorite uses of the citrus is this tart, although I admit it is a bit of a wine pairing challenge. Our Muscat Canelli does the trick (available in Tasting Room).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 sticks butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tablespoon water
  • 2 cups flour
  • salt
  • 6 Meyer lemons
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ sticks butter
  • 6 egg whites
  • 6 eggs
  • Salt

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In mixer cream butter and sugar. Add in egg yolk and water. In a bowl combine flour and salt, and slowly add to butter mix until blended. Divide in two and chill for 1 hour.
  2. Butter 10-inch tart pan. Press dough into pan, trimming edges. Pierce dough with fork and freeze for half hour.
  3. Grate lemons for zest. Extract 1 cup of lemon juice. In pan combine juice and zest with remaining sugar, butter, and salt. Heat until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted.
  4. Combine eggs and yolks in a mixer. Add lemon mixture and whisk over low heat until it thickens (do not bring to boil). Remove from heat and strain. Add sugar if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and cool.
  5. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove shell from freezer and bake 20 – 25 minutes (lightly browned). Add lemon curd and smooth top. Bake for 30 minutes, covering edges if the start to burn. Cool to room temperature.

Serve and enjoy.

 

Lemons

Sauteed Turkey & Meyer Lemon

This relatively easy dish takes advantage of the abundance of lemons available this time of year. It also has in its favor the ability to go well with either Taft Street Russian River Chardonnay or Taft Street Russian River Pinot Noir.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey breast, cut in strips
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 stalk minced rosemary leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Meyer lemons
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix turkey with a tablespoon oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Thinly slice lemons, removing seeds as you go. Place in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Bring pot of water to boil, add sugar and salt. Simmer lemons for 3 minutes, drain and pat dry.
  3. Heat fry pan with remaining oil; add lemons for a minute, onion for 2 minutes, then garlic for 1 minute. Reserve.
  4. Add turkey and cook until no longer pink (4 – 5 minutes); add lemon-onion mixture and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serves 6

Winter Break

There has been a temporary break in a weather system that has brought Northern California its wettest winter in years. The rains are due back tonight; and the rivers, lakes and reservoirs will remain at capacity. Little damage has resulted and flooding has been minor for the most part.

The results of the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition have been released, and once again Taft Street did just fine. Our 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir won a DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL; our 2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay won a GOLD MEDAL; our 2015 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc won a GOLD MEDAL; and our 2014 Alexander Valley Merlot and 2015 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Garagistes won SILVER MEDALS. The wines will be poured at a public tasting at Fort Mason in San Francisco on Saturday, February 18th.

In the Tasting Room the big event in February is Sweet 116, a promotion with our winery neighbors on nearby Route 116.  The event takes place on Saturday, February 11th, and we will mark the occasion by releasing our 2016 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir. After that, we gear up for the Wine Road’s annual Barrel Tasting, which begins this year on the first weekend in March. Soon thereafter we will begin an updating of our Tasting Room patio and picnic area – in time for the summer season (we hope).

Typically there is a span in February where we enjoy spring/summertime weather. It’s a great time to visit wine country – green hills and no crowds. Come see us at the Tasting Room; we’ll take care of you.

Cheers!

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Compeition

2017 Chronicle Wine Competition Golds!

After tasting 7,000 entries from 28 states, the results of the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition are in. Taft Street is proud to be taking home some hardware:

We’ll be pouring these award winners at the 2017 Chronicle Wine Tasting February 18, 2017, at Fort Mason, San Francisco. Join us for this awesome tasting or swing by the Tasting Room to stock up for the new year!

Harvest 2016, Russian River Valley

Happy New Year

This year may have its share of political challenges, but we at Taft Street are optimistic about our future in the wine world. The wines we made from the 2016 harvest are excellent, the winter has brought plenty of rain, and our inventories are depleting on schedule. We will continue to focus on our distribution partners (particularly in California) while nurturing our Direct to Consumer channel (online and Tasting Room sales).

2016 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc

2016 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc

In the cellar, the 2016 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc is ready for release. It’s a beautiful wine and follows a string of very successful Sauvignon Blancs from the Russian River Valley appellation.

Later this month we will bottle our 2016 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir, and our 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris. We will release the Rose on Valentine’s Day weekend – a Taft Street tradition.

This year local wineries celebrate the 25th anniversary of Winter Wonderland, affording a unique opportunity to break a New Year’s resolution or two. There is always a surprise awaiting you, as wineries offer unique bottlings, surprise vintages, and general good cheer.

There is always good cheer here at Taft Street when Kaitlyn and her staff will make you glad you stopped by for a visit.

Everyone in the Taft Street Tasting Room, cellar, and office wishes you and yours the very best in 2017!

 

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery