Fig

Fall Fig Bruschetta

At our recent annual Tomato Tasting we found ourselves long on a few items – French bread, fresh figs and pears. We had also just discovered a great local cheese called Flower Power; a fresh lactic cow cheese speckled with bee pollen. This was the result – a big hit!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 baguette
  • 12 fresh figs
  • 2 ripe pears
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ pound fresh cheese (cow, sheep or goat will work)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Slice baguette into ½ inch round and bake in oven at 350 degrees until browned and crisp (10 -12 minutes).
  2. Chop figs and pears into ¼ inch dice and mix in walnuts in a bowl.
  3. Spread fruit/nut mixture on baguette slices and top with shaved cheese. Sprinkle balsamic and olive oil on top.

Serves 6 -8 as an appetizer. Works with all Taft Street wines.

Harvest 2016 Bring It On

The harvest of 2016 is officially on; and we have already brought in this year’s Pinot Gris, Rose of Pinot Noir, and the first batch of Chardonnay. The skies are blue, the temperatures moderate, with no rain forecast for the foreseeable future. The crop looks like it will be larger than last year’s, and the quality of fruit is excellent. Fingers are crossed that this could be a memorable year.

While business is being taken care of in the cellar, the marketplace is not being neglected. I have just returned from a trip to Atlanta, where we are seeing growth in the Georgia market. Later this month it is off to New York, where I’ll spend a week with our friends at Vision Brands.

In the Tasting Room, we are enjoying our busiest season ever, and this weekend will continue the trend with our final concert of the year – The Annie Sampson Band. Meanwhile Taft Street will participate in Sonoma County’s signature wine event – Wine County Weekend. This evening we pour at Sonoma Starlight at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and tomorrow (September 3rd) we pour at the Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Estate Vineyard.

September and October are the very best times of the year here in the Russian River Valley. The days are still warm, the leaves are changing colors, the summer crowds have gone away (kinda), and the harvest is in high gear. Come and join us for a picnic, game of bocce, and a glass of wine. You’ll be happy you did.

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Aji Amarillo Sauce

I recently had the good fortune of being a judge in the restaurant competition at this year’s Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Perhaps the most interesting flavor I encountered was aji amarillo sauce, a spicy but not incendiary sauce which topped a Peruvian empanada. The sauce works well on most grilled meats, and is terrific paired with Taft Street Alexander Merlot. The peppers can be found in many specialty markets.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 aji amarillo peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 green onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Saute peppers in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add chopped onions to the rest of the ingredients to a food processor, and puree until smooth. Season to taste.
  3. Store in fridge in airtight container for up to a week.

CHEERS!

Saamjang

I am currently on a Korean barbeque jag, and this spicy sauce is an integral part of the experience. Plus, you can use it on most grilled meats. A stand-up wine like our Alexander Valley Merlot or a well-chilled glass of Rose of Pinot Noir would complete the experience.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ½ cup sliced scallions
  • 3 tablespoons doenjang (fermented soy bean paste)
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (red chile paste)
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

In a bowl whisk ingredients together. The sauce can be made up to three days ahead, Cover and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before serving.

Let The Games (And Harvest) Begin!

While the world awaits festivities to begin in Rio this week, the wine world is getting ready for Harvest 2016. The first grapes were picked last week for sparkling wine, and we at Taft Street will soon finish bottling and begin preparations for an earlier than usual harvest. Indications are the crop looks healthy and slightly larger than normal, though not up to the bumper crops of 2013 and 2014.

After our biggest June ever in Tasting Room sales, Kaitlyn and crew came in with our biggest July sales ever! Word has gotten out about those terrific wines being made here, the informal and friendly manner of our staff, and our wonderful music series – A Little Street Music. This month we present The THUGZ (The Hippie UnderGround Zone), a cosmic rock group and big time local favorite(August 14); and One Grass Two Grass, a mountain string band(August 28). Our season ends with Annie Sampson & her band, a wildly popular rhythm and blues outfit. It has been a great season thus far!

As we get ready for harvest it is also time to begin the fall market visits. I’ll be in the Bay Area this week and will get to Atlanta later in the month. Next month it’s off to New York and points east.

With harvest approaching the pace is quickening. If you are in the area it’s a great time to witness first hand what it takes to create what’s in your glass. Come on by and enjoy a glass of the fruits of our labor!

Cheers!

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Summer Fireworks

The longer than usual 4th of July weekend has just passed and it’s back to summer mode in the Russian River Valley. A heat wave has been replaced by relatively cool temperatures and vineyards appear to be healthy and hearty. There are indications that an early harvest may be in the offing, but we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, bottling is what’s happening at the moment, and it will continue throughout the month.

The results are in from two of the country’s top wine competitions, and Taft Street did just fine, thank you. The Orange County Fair awarded GOLD MEDALS to our 2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, our 2013 Alexander Valley Merlot, and our 2015 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc. The California State fair awarded GOLD MEDALS AND BEST OF CLASS OF REGION to our 2015 North Coast Rose (95 points), and our Alexander Valley Merlot (95 points). SILVER MEDALS  went to our 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (91 points) and our 2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Pretty good haul!

July is pretty much devoted to serving our many Tasting Room visitors. We have our old friends The Sorentinos performing for us July 10th, followed by The Bootleg Honeys on the 24th in our summer concert series – A Little Street Music.

Come on by with a picnic, play some bocce, get you hybrid car charged, and have a glass of Taft Street wine. After all, it’s summertime and the livin’ is easy.

 

Cheers!

Mike Tierney

President, Taft Street Winery

4th of July Fruit Pie

We usually have a crowd around the place on 4th of July weekend, and with a variety of fruits at the height of their season, it’s a no-brainer to whip up a few pies. We use apples, berries, apricots and peaches.

INGREDIENTS:

 

  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust (see below)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup sugar plus ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour plus 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 3 cups fruit
  • ¼ cup butter

Pie Crust:

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cut butter into flour and salt until crumbly. Add water and mix into ball. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour or so.
  2. Roll out dough to fit in pie tin.
  3. Beat together sour cream, sugar, flour, salt and egg. Place fruit in pie crust and pour mixture over. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
  4. Mix additional brown sugar, flour and butter and sprinkle on top0. Bake 20 minutes more.
  5. Let cool and serve (8 slices).

Falafels

Summer means casual, and falafels fit the bill. There is no need to buy pre-mixed ingredients when everything you need is readily available. A couple of falafels in pita bread washed down with a glass of Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc or Rose of Pinot Noir is casual living at its finest.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 14 ounce cans chickpeas
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ cup coriander, coarsely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ½ cup flour

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine chickpeas, scallions, garlic, cumin, coriander, cilantro egg and lemon juice in food processor and mix to a medium consistency. Add half the flour and just combine. Chill in refrigerator 30 minutes.
  2. Put enough oil in saute pan to reach ½ inch up the side and heat to 365 degrees.
  3. Drop spoonfuls of falafel mix into remaining flour and roll into balls. Drop into oil and fry until golden. Drain on paper towels.
  4. Heat pita bread, insert a couple of falafels and top with yogurt sauce.

Enjoy with Taft Street Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc or Rose of Pinot Noir.

Summer in Wine Country

The hills have turned their summer gold, the temperatures have cranked up a notch, the Tasting Room crowds have increased, the bocce court is in use – summer is back and we are ready!

Early indications from the vineyards provide optimism for this year’s harvest. The fruit set is large and healthy, and little mildew has been seen; but grape growers realize the season is a long one and it has just begun. We’ll keep our fingers crossed (as always).

Lots of activity at the winery. Cellar staff is busy bottling for custom crush clients, while wine fermented from the 2015 vintage has been stored in barrels and tanks. Negotiations are being finalized with clients for this year’s harvest. New barrels have been ordered.

In May Mike Martini and Jake poured wine at our California distributor’s San Francisco tasting, while I ventured to Southern California to cover shows in Los Angeles and San Diego. Meanwhile, activity is in full swing at the Tasting Room. We welcome Kaitlyn back with open arms from her maternity leave –just in time for a host of summertime parties, including our concert series. Over Memorial Day weekend we kicked off the season with the great dance band Stax City. In June Tom Rigney & Flambeau will give us a dose of Cajun music, while local favorite Bottle Shock will follow.

So now is the time to pack a picnic and head out to West County. Enjoy the redwoods, country roads, quaint towns, the spectacular coast – and, oh yes, the wine. Taft Street preferably!

Cheers!
Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

May the Season Begin

The sun is shining (for now), the air is thick with pollens and other microgametophytes, the hillsides are still green, vineyards are in flower, tourists have brought their bicycles, baseball season is well underway, and the Warriors continue their winning ways. It must be springtime!

At Taft Street we too have taken everything up a notch. The cellar staff is busy with client bottling while GM Mike Martini is in Chicago working the market. We will pour our wines at Henry Wine Group’s tastings in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego in mid-month; as well as hosting our President’s Club on its spring release party May 14th.

Then the fun meter goes into high gear as our concert season –A Little Street Music – kicks off with the soulful R & B group Stax  City on Sunday, May 29th. Bring you most comfy chair, pack a picnic, and sip some of West County’s finest wines while enjoying our great local music scene. Eight concerts this year will run through September 4th. And you can charge your electric or hybrid vehicle while you’re here!

Come on by, we’re ready!

 

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery