Green Tortilla Soup

Green Tortilla Soup

Winter is not over yet, so warm nourishing soups are still viable. Here is a twist on tortilla soup, with tomatillo sauce added for a little variation and spice. The soup almost demands   Taft Street Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, for its forward fruit and brisk acidity.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 24oz jar tomatillo sauce
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • Vegetable oil
  • 6 corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • Lime, avocado, sour cream and cilantro for garnish

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook onion and pepper in oil until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper; and cook until well mixed (2 minutes).
  2. Stir in tomatillo sauce and chicken stock and bring to boil. Add chicken, reduce to simmer, and cook 20 minutes.
  3. While chicken cooks heat ½ inch vegetable oil in skillet until hot. Fry tortilla strips in batches until golden, about 3 minutes. Put on pepper towel and salt.
  4. Ladle into bowls, top with desired garnishes, and serve.

Serves 4 – 6

Spring?

We in wine country are currently enjoying our annual mock spring, with blue skies and temperatures in the 70’s. It is usually followed by another couple of months of wintry weather (for us), but we are enjoying it while we can. It gives growers the opportunity to access their vineyards for seasonal pruning; an added plus.

In the winery fermentations are completing and bottling has begun. We have put the 2019 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc into bottle, and are preparing the 2019 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir for its Valentine Day release.

Good news on the competition front. The 2020 San Francisco Chronicle American Wine Competition (the nation’s largest) announced the winning wines recently. Taft Street’s 2017 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Garagistes won a GOLD MEDAL, and the Taft Street 2018 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc was awarded a DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL! Congratulations to us.

After a very successful Winter Wineland event last month, the Tasting Room is gearing up for two special days in February. In addition to our annual Valentine’s Day release of Rose of Pinot Noir, we are participating in a Taste Route 116 event on Saturday February 22nd. Wineries will pair a wine with a favorite food; we will pour our 2016 Medallion Red Blend with homemade chocolate chip cookies. Can’t wait.

As you can see, much is going on at Taft Street. Come on by and share a glass of wine with us.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney

President, Taft Street Winery

Yellow Cheese

Cheesy Popovers

It’s the time of year for roasts, stews and hearty soups. A wonderful (and easy) accompaniment to any of the above is this month’s dish – cheesy popovers. Simple ingredients, quickly put together and a crowd pleaser; you can serve this with any Taft Street wine.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter, plus more for greasing ramekins     
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  • Generously grease 6 ramekins. Place pans in oven for 2 minutes. Meanwhile mix butter, flour, eggs, milk and salt. Fill ramekins half full and top with grated cheese.
  • Cook 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
Taft Street Tasting Room

Welcome 2020

A real calm has overtaken the winery. Our production facility (winery) has been closed the past two weeks as our cellar staff is enjoying a much need and well deserved post harvest rest. In the meantime, Mike Martini, along with Sue and Jake, are rounding up the year’s books.

Next week it’s back to “normal” with everyone returning. The wines from the 2019 harvest are progressing nicely, and in the next month we will bottle our 2019 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir and 2019 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Our winter has been about as normal as one gets in California, with plenty of rain (so far) and no real cold spells. Pruning is just getting underway and will continue into March.

This month we will participate in the 28th annual Winter Wineland. Visitors travel from winery to winery in the Russian River, Alexander, and Dry Creek Valleys; tasting reserve wines, new releases and “special” offerings. This year’s festivities take place on January 18 – 19.

May we suggest the perfect winter getaway? How about a picture perfect land just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, dotted with the world’s tallest trees? A land where some of the world’s best wine is made, and fine restaurants abound. That place is right here – Sonoma County. Come visit us and enjoy the extraordinary.

Cheers!

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Here We Go Again!

We used to look forward to October for its great weather and harvest. That has been changed of late and this year was no exception. Dry weather conditions and high winds brought another series of wildfires to the area, which disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The disruption has not ended, as people are just returning to their homes, some without electricity and many without gas. I have slept in the homes of three different friends over the past five days. I’ll be going home tonight, finally. Everyone at the winery made it through the fire without tragic loss, and things have started to return to normal.

At the winery we are making do. We have one final load of grapes due in tomorrow, and electricity has been restored. Fortunately fermentation has continued at a normal pace, and cool nights have helped keep temperatures under control. All wines appear to be in good shape.

The Tasting Room has been closed for a couple of days, but is reopened now and ready for business.

So life goes on. We have been through this before (unfortunately), but we will continue to make wine in one of the finest wine country areas of the world – Sonoma County. Come join us.

Cheers!

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Quick Chicken

Quick Chicken

Over the past week we have been living out of our suitcases, as fires have covered the region. We have stayed with various friends who often had other displaced guests. Meals were makeshift, but we usually managed to get together something more than palatable. Here’s what we did last night.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 16 pimento stuffed olives, sliced thinly
  • 2 lemons, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 cup Taft Street Chardonnay
  • Salt and pepper

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Saute shallot and garlic in heated olive oil for 5 minutes.
  2. Add chicken, pimento and lemons and cook until chicken is browned, 8 – 1- minutes. Increase heat, add Chardonnay and cook until reduced, 2 – 3 minutes.

Serve with pasta, baguette and Taft Street Russian River Chardonnay.

Creamy Seafood Chowder

With the days getting cooler and shorter it is time to turn to more hearty fare. One of my favorites is chowder, in almost any variation. This month I’ve picked seafood as starting point; feel free to add /substitute your own favorites as desired.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed
  •  ½ cup corm
  • 5 cups broth
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 12 ounces halibut, cubed
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled 1 6.5 ounce tin of clams
  • 2 cups cream
  • Parsley for garnish

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook onion in butter. Add flour and seasonings and cook 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add potato, corn, celery, broth and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in seafood and cream and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6

I would pair this with some good bread and Taft Street Russian River Valley Chardonnay.

Harvest Continues

Along with seasonal weather (warm days/cool nights), the harvest is moving along. It is not the madness we have often experienced, with trucks lined up to deposit their loads. In fact, we have to date taken in less than half of what we have contracted, and we very well could be bringing in grapes far into November. However, it is never wise to count on Mother Nature’s cooperation.

This is the time of year for the annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair, and this year we were awarded a GOLD MEDAL for our 2018 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc. We will pour the wine this weekend at the Fairgrounds.

October is also the month for our President’s Club party. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, October 13th, and live music, food and new releases will all be in abundance.

This is really one of the best times of year to visit, The maples are in their fall splendor, the days are warm and clear, wine is being made – what more is there? Come join us.

Cheers!

Mike Tierney

President, Taft Street Winery

Goodbye Summer, Hello Harvest

With Labor Day weekend upon us, we have yet to see any grapes in the fermenters. This marks the first time in 5 years we have had to wait until September for the harvest to begin. Late spring rains have pushed the harvest back a bit, but things should start rolling next week. We are getting different reports from our vineyard sources; some say the harvest is another big one, others say it’s average. We’ll let you know. We do know that many wineries have sufficient inventories on hand, and there are a lot of grapes for sale.

It is a good thing for us that harvest is a bit late, for it has given us time to catch up on bottling and preparing our machinery for the Crush. After 38 years it is still a race to the starting line.

Hard to believe another concert series – A Little Street Music  – is drawing to a close. This weekend Twang Ditty will liven up the picnic grounds for the closing concert. It has been another banner year as we’ve greeted old friends and met new ones.

Next week marks another harvest and our participation in the Sonoma County Fair. Every year since 1983 we have entered our wines in competition with other Sonoma County wineries. Next week we will enter 9 current releases. Awards will be presented later in the month.

September and October are our favorite months of the year. The weather is suburb, the crowds are manageable, and the (grape) juices are flowing. Come on by for a memorable experience.

Cheers!

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Tomato Cobbler

Finally tomato season has arrived! It was a bit late this year due to spring rains, but now we see (and taste) an abundance of some of the juiciest and most flavorful fruit this side of grapes. This particular dish would make a great outdoor brunch or lunch.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Salt
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

TOPPING

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon thyme

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place 2 tbs butter in pan and cook onion until soft (5 minutes). Add garlic, thyme and pepper flakes for another minute. Add tomatoes, sugar and 1 tsp salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in cherry tomatoes and flour. Transfer to baking dish and dot with remaining butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Add butter and combine to make a coarse mean with small butter balls. Add milk and mix until sticky dough forms.
  3. Drop balls of dough over tomato filling and top dough with milk. Place on a baking sheet and cook for an hour. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Goes particularly well with Taft Street Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc or Rose of Pinot Noir. Best consumed outdoors on a warm afternoon.