Thinking About Onions

Thinking About Onions

Instead of a recipe this month, I thought I might write about how recipes come about. Last week we celebrated our 36th year in business (Taft Street became a bonded winery on April Fools Day, 1982), and I barbecued some chicken and served it with potato salad.

Potato salad needs onions, but I don’t like raw onions, so I soaked a couple of sliced red onions in some white wine vinegar overnight. They retained their crunchiness and were a nice addition to the salad. A jar of beautiful pink vinegar was left over – what to do?

I mixed a ¼ cup of soy sauce to the vinegar and put it in a spray bottle. While barbecuing the chicken (which had been dry rubbed the night before), I kept the meat moist be spraying it periodically with the seasoned vinegar.

The result – a nice tangy potato salad and chicken combo.

Oh, the Taft Street 2017 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc was a perfect match.

Glory Days

It really doesn’t get much better than this. A wet April has resulted in lush green hills, and the 70 degree weather with clear blue skies has made Sonoma County even more idyllic than usual (and it’s usually pretty idyllic).

In the winery Melissa and her team are tending the new wines, putting them in barrel when appropriate, and are starting blending strategies for a number of wines. Preparations are also being made for a very busy schedule of summer bottling.

Kaitlyn and crew are setting up for the spring Wine Club Party, this year to be held on Saturday, May 12th when members can pick up their allocation while dining, tasting and enjoying live music. Later on this month, on Sunday May 27th  we kick off our 7th summer music series – A Little Street Music 2018 – with the very popular Annie Sampson Band.

Last weekend we had a party honoring our 36 years of existence. To memorialize our longevity we have released a set of 35th Anniversary Wines:

  • 2016 Russian River Valley Chardonnay Catie’s Corner
  • 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Skikos Vineyard
  • 2016 Alexander Valley Zinfandel Wasson Vineyard

All these wines are bottled with our original label, created by well known artist and relative Maureen Bragdon. The wines will be available only in the Tasting Room and will sell for $35/bottle. There is much going on at Taft Street these days as we crank up for the visitor season. Come see us and enjoy the wines, the people and the beautiful Sonoma County countryside.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

A Little Street Music 2018

A Little Street Music continues with our seventh season at Taft Street Winery. Join us Sunday’s starting in May for great local music and wonderful wines.

Free Events:

  • May 27 – Annie Sampson & Her Band
  • June 10 – Danny Click & The Hell Yeah’s
  • July 8 – Bottle Shock
  • July 22 – The Sorentinos
  • August 12 – Gator Nation Band
  • September 2 – Volker Striffler Band

Bring your favorite lawn chair and be sure to pack a picnic. Enjoy wines by the Glass or bottle and please no outside alcoholic beverages.

For the first time, we’re excited to announce two Songwriter Shows, with featured local artists and seated listening. Tickets are $15 at the door. Seating opens at 1 pm, with music starting at 2 pm.

  • June 24 – Chris Webster & Nina Gerber. Solid Air Duo opening.
  • August 26 – Greg Abel. Doug Jayne opening.
barbecue-bbq

Spring Lamb On The BBQ

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Crank up the BBQ and get ready for another season in front of the grill. We started the season off on Easter with a butterflied leg of lamb with garden herb sauce.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Handful of mint, rosemary, thyme
  • Juice from 3 lemons
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4-5 pounds boned leg of lamb

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In blender mix herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth.
  2. Unfold meat and cut along folds and thick parts to create a roughly uniform thick slab of meat (1 ½ inches). Marinate meat in sauce for an hour at room temperature.
  3. Place meat on bar b que at medium heat. Cook 12-15 minutes a side, where internal temperature should be 125-130 for rare/medium rare.
  4. Serve with potatoes, salad and Taft Street Pinot Noir.

YUM!!

Aging Gracefully

On April Fool’s Day Taft Street Winery turned 36 years old. A beautiful day it was indeed – an Easter Sunday with clear skies and temperatures in the high 70’s. We celebrated as we usually do – with good friends, good food, and lots of Taft Street wine.

In the winery Melissa and team are taking a quick breather after bottling up a storm during the month of March. We have begun tasting some of the wines from the 2017 vintage, and it’s heartening to see that 2017 will be known for more than just devastating fires. The wines are delicious across the board!

April will see a fair amount of market visits. Jake recently returned from a successful visit to the New York market; I’m off to Boston next week. David Gast has returned from Louisiana and will tour Southern California and Michigan in the weeks to come.

Closer to home Kaitlyn and crew will participate in the Route 116 Wine Club Appreciation celebration this weekend, April 7 – 8. Two weeks later we will pour our wines at Sebastopol’s annual Apple Blossom Festival. It must be springtime!

The season has begun. Hills are green, skies are blue, weather is warm – join the fun. See you at Taft Street.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Colcannon

It’s that time of year again – St. Patrick’s Day will soon be here. Instead of the rather mundane boiled potatoes and cabbage try this variation. It goes well with corned beef and other roasted and grilled meats.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound cabbage, halved and cored
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • ½ cup chopped scallions
  • Butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ up Irish cheddar

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Steam cabbage until tender, 15 – 20 minutes. When cooled, finely chop.
  2. Peel and quarter potatoes. Pour into pot of water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until tender, 20 – 25 minutes.
  3. Drain potatoes and out in large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons butter, cabbage, scallions, and salt and pepper to taste. When cooled a bit, stir in egg.
  4. Melt remaining butter and brush pie plate

Seasonal Changes

We are currently experiencing some much needed rain, after an almost record breaking dry February. It was cold during the month, but the low temperatures did not appear to cause much frost damage. Bud break is starting and the vines will be susceptible for weeks ahead.

In the winery Melissa and crew are seeing the wines finish fermentation, putting them in barrel, while bottling for custom crush clients. Our 2017 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir has been available in the Tasting Room and is getting rave reviews; and our 2017 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc is being released to our national markets.

In the Tasting Room Kaitlyn and her gang are gearing up for the weekend’s annual Barrel Tasting. This year we will offer samples of two single vineyard Pinot Noirs from the 2017 vintage: the Skikos Vineyard and the Dutton Winkler Vineyard. The Skikos Vineyard is located in the Santa Rosa Plain area of the Russian River Valley; characterized by low elevation, clay based soils, and warm days moderated by fog. This microclimate leads to wines of attractive silkiness. The Dutton Winkler Vineyard is located in the Green Valley Appellation, the coolest and foggiest region in the Russian River Valley. The predominant soil is called Goldridge Soil which has excellent drainage and low fertility, resulting in wines of intense fruit. These wines will be released separately next year.

After that we start gearing up for another tourist season. The number of visitors to the area has increased over the last couple of months, indicating our wine country is at least economically starting to recover from the last fall’s devastating fires.

Come join us as we salute yet another year in Sonoma County’s fabulous Russian River Valley.

Cheers!

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Spring Anyone?

With blue skies, temperatures in the 70’s, and green fields covered with mustard; it’s hard to believe we are not in the middle of springtime. Historically (and hopefully) we still have a few more rainy days ahead, but the warm weather sure feels good.

It’s back to life as we know it in the wine business. We have bottled our 2017 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir and our 2017 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Yesterday we introduced the wines to our Tasting Room staff, and the response overwhelmingly positive.

We also got the results from the San Francisco Chronicle 2018 Wine Competition – the largest competition of American wines.

Not too shabby!

This month in the Tasting Room Kaitlyn and staff will participate with local wineries hosting SWEET 116– a celebration of our locale (Highway#116) and Valentine’s Day. As is tradition for us, we will introduce our 2017 Rose of Pinot Noir to compliment Valentine’s Day offerings. After that, it’s time to start preparations for this year’s Barrel Tasting – held this year on the first two weekends in March.

So things are definitely picking up. Join the fun and stop by for a taste of the new releases and enjoy West County hospitality.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney

President, Taft Street Winery

Dal On A Winter’s Eve

Dal, or spiced lentils, is a treat on a winter’s evening, either by itself or as a part of a multi course meal. An added attraction is it is easy to prepare.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • I medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, pee
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • Cilantro for garnish

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in large pan and saute inion until soft. Add sweet potato and cook for a couple of minutes. Add ginger and garlic, stir and continue to cook on low heat.
  2. Add chili, lentils and garam masala to pan and stir until lentils are well coated. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook until lentils are tender (30 minutes).
  3. Season to taste, stir, and cook until thickened (10 minutes). Serve in bowls with chopped cilantro as a garnish.

We find this goes particularly well with our 2016 Sonoma County Merlot, although any Taft Street wine is appropriate.

#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