Extreme Conditions

We have already had our second hundred degree heat spell and our second major fire, and it’s not even the 4th of July yet! Spooky. However, early reports from the vineyards indicate a healthy and hearty crop.

Melissa and crew are in full bottling mode, working with numerous clients and their packaging needs.

It is all hands on deck in the Tasting Room, where summertime activities abound. We enjoyed Grill 116 in the 100+ heat last Saturday, followed by the Nina Gerber concert the next day under cloudy and cool skies. Bottle Shock joins us this Sunday (July 8th), and my favorite, Danny Sorentino will be here on July 22nd.

David Gast has left the winery to pursue other opportunities. The two Mikes and Jake will split up his responsibilities with the Henry Wine Group, our California distributor.

Critics remain enthused about Taft Street wine. Our 2017 Taft Street Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc won a GOLD MEDAL at the recent Orange County Fair. Sonoma Magazine had an article about the rise in popularity of rose wines. It had this to say about Taft Street’s offering:

Riverside Rose: Taft Street 2017 Pinot Noir Rose. Unscrew the cap, pour into your stemless plastic wine glass, and toast summer as you float down the Russian River with a bottle of Taft Street’s rose made from pinot noir grapes grown just a few miles from this iconic Sonoma County river. With its high acid and low sugar, it’s a dry wine with bright notes  of raspberry, watermelon and strawberry. It’s a destined crowd pleaser.

We could agree more. Try it soon!

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Pasta with Mushrooms & Prosciutto

There are many reasons to feel blessed by living in Sonoma County. Mushrooms are one. We are especially fortunate to be neighbors of Mycopia, mushroom cultivators who have a drop-in sale every Friday where they offer various exotic varieties at below market prices. Here’s a classic. Try this with a baguette and salad.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil +2 tablespoons
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 1 pound mushrooms, torn into bite size pieces
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 12 ounces egg noodle pappardelle
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoons butter

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In Dutch oven cook pasta in 2 tablespoons oil until crisp, about 5 minutes. Crumble and set aside.
  2. In remaining oil cook mushrooms on low heat for 6-8 minutes. Add shallots, thyme, salt and pepper and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Add stock and simmer for 6-8 minutes.
  3. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Transfer pasta to mushroom, add a cup of pasta water and simmer for 2 minutes. Add cream to coat.
  4. Remove Dutch oven from heat, mix in butter and prosciutto and serve.

Serves 4. Pinot Noir would be a great choice here. At the moment I’d pick our 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Skikos Vineyard – 35th anniversary special release.

Summer in West Sonoma County

In Sonoma County summer is not just the three months from late June through September. Here we add a month at each end, because the days are warm, the evenings cool, and the grapes keep on getting sweeter. This year is no exception, with early indications that this could well be a bountiful harvest.

In the winery, Melissa and staff are busy bottling – mainly custom crush clients’ wines. This will continue for the next couple of months, while we continue to check the maturation of our own wines in tanks and barrels.

David Gast and I just finished a quick tour of California, with trade tastings in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Mike Martini is off to Chicago next week to work with our distributor there.

The Tasting Room continues to boom. We had our busiest day ever at our President’s Club party May 12th and visitors continue to check us out. Our first concert of the season with Annie Sampson & Her Band was a huge success, and we are looking forward to June performances by Danny Click and the Hell Yeahs, and Chris Weber and Nina Gerber. If that were not enough, we will also participate in Grill #116 on Saturday June 23rd with our neighboring wineries.

Don’t miss out on the fun. Get on up/down/over to Taft Street and enjoy some of Sonoma’s finest wine while relaxing on our patio, our picnic area, or bocce court.

See you here.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Summertime Grill – Gochujang Style

Memorial Day is history, and we have now officially entered grill season. It’s time to clean the grates, break out some charcoal or propane or hardwood, and fire up your cooker.

We are going to start the season with a new favorite – grilled pork chops with gochujang barbecue sauce.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • ¼ cup sriracha
  • 4 thick pork chops, bone in
  • salt and pepper

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Prepare high heat grill with indirect heat. Bring vinegar, brown sugar, gochujang and sriracha to a simmer in a small pan; cooking for 12-15 minutes. Set aside to cool, and transfer half the sauce to a bowl for table service.
  2. Season pork with salt and pepper. Grill both sides about 3 minutes, until nicely browned. Continue cooking and turning, basting with half the sauce to create a glaze, another 5-6 minutes. When internal temperature reads 145 remove from grill and let rest 10 minutes.
  3. Slice and serve with reserved sauce.

Our 2016 Medallion, a blend of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, is a particularly good choice here.

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