Holiday Cheer at TSW

Winter Season’s Wishes

This winter morning, on a beautiful, between storm-day in Sonoma County, I saw my first post-harvest pruned vineyard of the season, signaling yet another vineyard year has ended. This may be the 35th we have experienced, but they are always a cause on wonderment. With much heavier than normal rain in the North Coast this fall, our hopes are high for the new year.

TSW Winter 2016

In the cellar, we are watching the wines finish fermentation. When appropriate we are getting wines ready for barrel ageing, and we are preparing some wines for bottling. After the Holidays, we will bottle our 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris, our 2016 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and our 2016 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir. These wines will see an early spring 2017 release date.

It has been a banner year for direct sales. We have already met our budgeted sales figure for the year, with a full month yet to go! Both Tasting Room sales and on-line sales have far outperformed expectations. In addition, our distributor sales also exceed that of last year.

Looking ahead, the 25th anniversary of Winter Wineland takes place January 14 – 15, 2017. All participating Sonoma County wineries will highlight a Vintage, Varietal or a Vertical tasting for the weekend. This is a great opportunity to taste limited production wines and meet the people responsible for making them.

This Holiday Season is an especially good time to stop by the winery. Early rains have turned the hills lush green, there is still some foliage on the trees, and the crowds are gone (almost). Stock up on your favorite Taft Street wines, and above all have a safe and wonderful Holiday!

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street

Cracked Crab & Dipping Sauce

It’s that time of year again folks. After a disastrous crab season last year, it looks as though things are back to normal. The rainy season will be compensated this year not only by the play of the Golden State Warriors but also by the delicious treat of Dungeness crab (and Taft Street Chardonnay).


  • 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped finely
  • 3 green onions, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, chopped finely
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 cooked/cleaned/cracked crabs (4 – 5) pounds)
  • 1 loaf good French baguette


  1. Heat a large frypan over medium-high heat. Add all ingredients except crab and stir-fry for 2 – 3 minutes. Take off heat and let cool.
  2. Arrange crab pieces on a large platter. Provide bowl for shells. Divide dipping sauce in several small bowls around the table.
  3. Enjoy! This can all be a bit messy as the best work is done by hand. Bowls with water/lemon are helpful.

Don’t forget plenty of Taft Street Chardonnay. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Serves 4 – 6

The Storm Doors Are Open in the Russian River Valley

October was a historic month in at least one way; it rained as much as any October on record (save one). In Sebastopol and the Russian River Valley over 7 inches of rain fell, and at my home in Dry Creek Valley we had over 13 inches for the month. This storm bodes well for dry Northern California, although the southern part of the state is still in the midst of severe drought conditions. The vines sure like the stormy weather.

Despite the storm, October was a busy month for the winery. We poured our GOLD MEDAL wines at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair; I had a successful sales trip to New York; Mike Martini hit the very important Texas market, and David Gast concentrated on establishing rapport with our partners at Henry Wine Group.

The pace continues this month. This weekend (November 5 – 6) the Wine Road celebrates its annual Wine and Food Affair. This year will show off our 2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay  paired with Cream of Chicken with Wild Rice Soup. Hours are 11:00 – 4:00, Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, November 19th join us for the Taste Route 116 semi-annual Member Appreciation Day, whereby any club member from a local winery enjoys the discount structure of all the wineries of Route 116. A good time (and deal) is had by all.

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and Christmas will not be far behind. You do not want to be without a sufficient supply of Taft Street for the Holidays, so come on by the winery and stock up!


Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Apple Cake

Apple Sour Cream Cake

Here is a seasonal dessert that makes a natural contribution to the holiday table. It’s not too sweet, so a medium-bodied red like the Taft Street 2013 Alexander Valley Merlot would be an appropriate complement.


  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 – 4 cups chopped apples


  • 1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons melted butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 pan.
  2. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Add to liquid mixture, incorporating the sour cream as you go.
  4. Stir in chopped apples and add to mixture. Spread into greased pan, and sprinkle nut mixture on top.
  5. Bake 35 – 40 minutes.

 Serves 10 – 12

Short and Sweet

Harvest 2016 is officially over here at Taft Street, the result of a fast and furious burst of activity by growers to bring in their remaining grapes before the first rains of the season fell last week. Our cellar crew worked night and day for most of September, and the efforts appear to be worth the toil. The grapes all arrived in perfect condition, fully ripe and balanced. While the grapes are currently undergoing fermentation, winemaker Evelyn White is optimistic that Vintage 2016 will be a memorable one. Counting our custom crush clients, we processed almost 1,000 tons of grapes.

Our wines in the marketplace are also of note. The 2016 Sonoma County Harvest Fair took place last weekend at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, and GOLD MEDAL wines were poured at a public tasting. Taft Street was well represented, as three of our wines won the coveted GOLD MEDAL:

Whatever your favorite – red or white or rose – Taft Street has you covered.

We are not sitting around resting on our laurels. I just got back for a week’s work in the New York City area; Mike Martini is off to Dallas, Houston and Austin this week; and David Gast has been in daily contact with our California distribution team.

It is also a beautiful time of the year in the Russian River Valley. Days are still warm, the leaves are changing, and fall is in the air. Stop by our Tasting Room, where Kaitlyn and staff will share some of our award winning wines.


Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery


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!


  • 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


  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.


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.


  • 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


  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.



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.


  • 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!


Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery