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 A heat wave has been replaced by relatively cool temperatures and vineyards appear to be healthy and hearty.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

Fish Cakes Taft Street Style

I’m a sucker for fresh fish, and everything is better with bacon. This recipe combines the two, and when washed down with a class of Taft Street Russian River Sauvignon Blanc satisfaction is achieved.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound fresh fish (I like rock cod)
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • A handful of cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices thick bacon
  • Olive oil

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place fish, breadcrumbs, milk, egg, cilantro and salt and pepper in food processor and pulse until well combined.
  2. Form into four patties each about an inch thick.
  3. Partially cook bacon, and wrap each patty with a bacon strip, using a toothpick to fasten.
  4. Heat olive oil in skillet and cook patties until browned, 6 or 7 minutes. Flip and brown other sides (the bacon will be fully cooked now).

Serve with a seasonal salad and enjoy with a glass of Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc.

Into Action

Northern California is something special in the spring. I just return from a quick trip to Boston, where I was met with windy snow and temperatures in the low 20’s. Getting off the plane at SFO it was 88. Now there is some rain in the forecast, with dry and warmer weather due next week. Everything is in bloom – great picturesque landscapes at the cost of allergic reactions to the pollen-filled air. The vineyards look healthy after a real winter, and hopes are high for a quality vintage.

Our early wines – 2015 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir and 2015 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc – are in the bottle, with the Rose of Pinot Noir available at the Tasting Room as of this weekend. Another debut this weekend will be made by our 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir “Garagistes”, a wine with a following that assures a quick sell out. The Rose  and “Garagistes” will be available at our 32nd Birthday Party this Sunday, April 10th. It was April Fools’ Day 1982 when we opened our doors up the road in Forestville; the start of a long, strange, wonderful trip.

Our staff has been busy. Winemaker Evelyn White poured Taft Street at Vin Diego, a huge consumer event in San Diego. I returned from a quick trip to Boston for a trade tasting (and got caught in their latest snow storm). Jake worked the Bay Area market with Henry Wine Group reps. Kaitlyn is home taking care of Baby Clara.

Next month we take it up a notch. Our Club Party, California trade tastings, the start of our annual concert series, plus the usual chaos all suggest the season is soon upon us.

Come share the fun!

Cheers,

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery

Grilled Octopus with Ancho Sauce

Just returned from a quick visit to Mexico, and couldn’t get enough of the grilled fresh seafood. Here was one of my favorites, which will be enhanced by a glass of Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc as well as a cervesa or margarita.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • One cleaned octopus, head and tentacles separated
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cups sherry
  • Oil/salt
  • SAUCE (Refer to Mike’s Kitchen, March 2016.)

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 300. In a large casserole heat oil. Add half the octopus and cook until lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining octopus.
  2. Add shallots and garlic to casserole cook until lightly browned. Add paprika and stir. Add sherry and bring to boil. Return octopus to casserole, cover and cook in oven until tender, perhaps an hour and a half. Let octopus cool in the liquid.
  3. Make sauce, as per Mike’s Kitchen, March 2016. Briefly heat peppers on a hot skillet – 10 seconds per side. Place them in a pot with stock, bring to boil, then set aside to cool (30 minutes). Mix together garlic and spices, add to pepper stock, and put in blender until smooth.
  4. Remove octopus from liquid and wipe off skin with a paper towel. Cut head in half.
  5. Light grill and brush with oil. Grill octopus until charred, about 5 minutes. Brush with chile sauce and serve.

A Little Street Music 2016

A Little Street Music is back for a fifth season with another incredible West Sonoma County summer line-up.

Join us the second and last Sundays of the month, starting in May. The events are free, the tasting room opens at 11am with music from 3-6 PM.

Bring your favorite lawn chair and be sure to pack a picnic. We’ll have bottles and wines available by the glass; please no outside alcoholic beverages.

Enjoy the summer, Taft Street style.

A New Season Breaks Out

We have been enjoying (with trepidation) fine spring weather for the past several weeks. Warm sunny days have let the vines swell and bud break has spread throughout the county. El Nino is still on everyone’s mind, however, and most of us look forward to a wet month or so ahead.  Another season has begun.

March promises to be an active month. I take off for Atlanta and work the first three days in the month there. Next weekend (March 4 – 6) hails the beginning of the Wine Road’s annual Barrel Tasting. This very popular event goes through the following weekend (March 11 -13), with thousands of wine lovers attending for near and far.

The Barrel Tasting and other Tasting Room events will be without our Tasting Room manager for the next couple of months, as Kaitlyn Callagy began maternity leave this week! Baby Callagy is due mid-March, and we all wait excitedly for Kaitlyn and Patrick’s firstborn.

Our 2016 summer music series – A Little Street Music – has been finalized, and a schedule will be out shortly. We’ve brought back some old friends and have added a few new groups to the program. The talent we will showcase this summer is amazing! Can’t wait.

March and April are particularly good times to visit the Tasting Room. Enjoy the serenity of west county before the summer rush begins, which is earlier and earlier each year. Enjoy our wine, play bocce, bring a picnic – live the good life.

Cheers!

Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery