Harvest No. 37. Here we come.

After a very warm June and early July the weather turned decidedly cooler, with daytime temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s instead of the more usual mid 90’s. This has delayed harvest anywhere from 1 -2 weeks. This is the first Labor Day in five years we have not harvested our own grapes. We have used the extra time wisely, however, and have made it through last minute bottling, machinery and barrel cleaning. Our first grapes are not scheduled for 10 days, unless…

Overall it appears the harvest will be larger than last year’s, and the grape quality seems very good, especially since the grapes are experiencing more time on the vine.

The Tasting Room staff is taking a breather after completing Season #7 of A Little Street Music. We enjoyed the largest crowd of the season yesterday with the Vokler Strifler Band. Our Autumn Flame Maple trees were in full color and the temperature in the high 70’s; a memorable day to end the concert season.

This week we will take some current releases over to the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, where they will be judged against the best wines of Sonoma County. Winners will be announced later this month in time for the actual fair itself, which occurs on the first weekend of October. We’ll keep you posted.

As summer season ends, harvest begins. Our best weather is approaching, wine is being made, life is good. Come join us.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Smoked Salmon

In July I had the great pleasure of taking my son and grandson on a fishing trip to Alaska. We had a great time, and brought home a load of salmon, halibut and sea bass. I’m currently working of this recipe with salmon fillets.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Cure
    • 1 pound salmon fillet, pin bones removed
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ¼ cup kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns
  • Rub
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons coriander
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Lay a sheet of foil in baking sheet, topping with a sheet of plastic wrap. Sprinkle half of the cure mix into plastic wrap. Lay the fillet skin side down on top and sprinkle and spread the rest of the cure on top. Wrap the plastic wrap tightly around fish, and lay another sheet of foil on top. Weigh down with another baking sheet and canned goods.
  2. Cure in refrigerator for 8-10 hours. Remove from frig, unwrap and rinse. Pat dry and cover with rub mixture. Let rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours to form pellicle, a thin film which helps in the smoking process.
  3. Prepare smoker/barbecue to 175-185 degrees, and cook skin side down until internal temperature reaches 145(2 hours or so). Remove, tent, and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Right now I’m going with smoked salmon, toast, sour cream with chives and capers, and Taft Street Rose of Pinot Noir and/or just plain old Taft Street Pinot Noir. YUM!!

Good Ole Summertime

Summer is officially in high gear, and indications thus far show a larger that average harvest. When growers describe things as “not too bad,” they usually are just the opposite. The tragic (and all too common) fires in Mendocino and Lake Counties will undoubtedly affect North Coast grapes this year, but fortunately for us the wind direction has kept much of the smoke and ash away from Sonoma County. A month to go… and counting.

All of Taft Street’s wines have been bottled as scheduled, and the cellar crew is busy bottling for custom crush clients and preparing equipment for harvest.

The Tasting Room is busy entertaining summertime visitors. Last week we had our biggest concert ever with good friend Danny Sorentino playing before a packed crowd. This month we have the popular group Gator Nation (August 12) and our own Greg Abel (August 26).

Future events include the Taste of Sonoma at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University on September 1; and the annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in September and October.

We will be making wine from about Labor Day into October. Stop by, have a glass of wine, and enjoy the action.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Tomatoes Taft

Tomatoes Taft

August starts serious tomato season in Sonoma County. Early Girls and a variety of heirlooms are now available for BLT’s and endless other treats. Here’s a versatile salad; try it with a chilled glass of Taft Street Russian River Sauvignon Blanc.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped olives
  • 4 – 5 medium tomatoes
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 12 basil leaves

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place shallot in bowl with garlic, salt, pepper and vinegar. Let soak for 10 minutes, then stir in olive oil, anchovy and olives.
  2. Slice tomatoes and arrange on platter. Season. Dress cherry tomatoes with vinaigrette, then spoon cherry tomatoes and vinaigrette over tomato slices.
  3. Garish with basil leaves. Serve at cool room temperature.

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