Butternut Squash Gratin

This is a good recipe to have in your Holiday collection. It can be done ahead of time, and can easily be doubled or tripled.


  • 3 10oz packages frozen spinach, thawed
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¾ cup cream
  • 2 pounds (2 whole) butternut squash, peeled and seeded
  • 2 ounce parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  2. Squeeze spinach, coarsely chop and put in bowl.
  3. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in pan and cook garlic and onion, 5 minutes. Stir into spinach with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cream.
  4. Cut squash into 1/8 inch thick slices. (A mandolin or microwaving the squash briefly can be of help here.)
  5. Layer the squash and spinach in baking dish, starting and ending with the squash. Sprinkle cheese over top layer and dot with remaining butter.
  6. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover and continue until brown and bubbly, another 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy as part of a feast with an appropriate Taft Street wine!

Tis the Season

The rush is over. We opened our cellar doors one last time on November 8th for some Late Harvest Riesling, but that was it. The wines have finished primary fermentation and are awaiting their long winter’s nap. May they rest in peace.

Meanwhile the cellar staff is gearing up for winter bottling. Through the New Year we will attend to our clients’ bottlings. After the Holidays we will bottle out 2011 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, followed by the 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris and the 2011 Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir. These bottlings are timely, as we are out of the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and are quickly running out of the 2010 Pinot Gris. We might add that stocks of our two stunning 2007 Pinot Noirs – the Sonoma Coast and the Russian River Valley – are running low. This is an excellent time to take advantage of great pricing on a fine vintage.

Our California direct sales staff enjoyed another best-month-ever in November. Kudos to Clayton, Mosha and Diana. Our Tasting Room is busy with Holiday shoppers, both in person and online. This Sunday, December 4th, is wine club appreciation day for all West Sonoma County Wineries wine club members. We will try something new this month, as we host a private dinner in our barrel room. If it works as well as we expect, barrel room dinners could become yet another arrow in our party sheath.

West County is gorgeous this time of year, as there is still color in the trees and vineyards. The pace has slowed, and a stop in our Tasting Room will invigorate those exhausted by Holiday shopping. We will be open daily at our regular hours with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Season’s Greetings from the folks at Taft Street!


Mike Tierney
President, Taft Street Winery


Fresh Fig Compote

When you have three fig trees, you’ve got to develop a series of recipes (kind of like zucchini). Here’s a versatile recipe, one that goes well with crème fraiche and/or pound cake.


  • 2 pounds fresh figs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Zest from ½ orange
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Wash figs and cut into eighths
  2. Place all ingredients in pan. Mix.
  3. Heat gently to boiling, simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature


I like this with a glass of 2009 Russian River Valley Riesling.


So what do you do with a bunch of quinces? Jam doesn’t quite work. After a little research, it seems that quince is the main ingredient in membrillo – a Spanish spread that goes well with cheese and red wine. And it’s easy!


  • 4 Quinces, peeled, cored and chopped
  • Water
  • Sugar, to be determined
  1. Place quince in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil and cook 30 minutes, or until fruit is soft. Drain.
  2. Process fruit until smooth. Add equal amount of sugar and combine.
  3. Cook over low heat until paste thickens and quince has turned a deep orange color (60-90 minutes).
  4. Spread evenly on a parchment paper lined rimmed pan. Place in a low oven (125F) for one hour.
  5. To serve (with cheese) – cut in small wedges.

This goes great with our Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and our Russian River Valley Zinfandel!

Stir-Fried Chicken with Basil

Quick and easy, and perfect after a long day harvesting fruit and veggies.


  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons rice wine or sake
  • 1 ½ tablespoons minced shallots
  • 3 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped red fresh chile
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 3 red onion, peeled and cut into julienne slices
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ cups basil, leaves rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped
  1. Cut chicken into 3 inch x ½ inch x ½ inch pieces. Mix ingredients 2 – 4 and toss in chicken to marinate.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to skillet until quite hot, add ingredients 6 – 8, and cook 2 minutes, or until onions are tender. Push to side of skillet.
  3. Add remaining 1 ½ tablespoons oil heat until quite hot. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes. Mix ingredients 9 – 12 and pour into pan. Bring to boil, add fresh basil and mix. Scoop chicken on serving platter and serve with rice and vegetable, if desired.

Serves 6. Try this with Taft Street 2010 Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir. You won’t be disappointed.

Ribs Taft Street Style

Summer is barbeque season, and there is nothing like ribs and Zinfandel to celebrate. Here’s how we do it at Taft Street.


  • 4-5 pound rack of pork ribs, trimmed
  • 1 gallon brine (1gallon water + 1 cup salt + ½ cup brown sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seed
  • 1 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  1. Place pork in brine and refrigerate for four hours. Rinse and wipe dry.
  2. In small fry pan cook cumin and coriander until brown and smoking – 3 to 4 minutes. Grind into powder. Add next four ingredients and mix. Rub into pork and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Let pork warm to room temperature as you heat grill. Grill over medium high heat, turning every five minutes or so, three turns total. Meat should be milky white in color.

Serve with slaw, pickles and lots of Taft Street Zin!

Bacon Jam

Don’t laugh, this stuff rocks, Try it on burgers, or smoked turkey or…


  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup coffee
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  1. Chop bacon and cook. Drain most of fat and cook onion and garlic in remaining fat until brown – about 5 minutes.
  2. Return bacon to the pan and add sugar, coffee, syrup vinegar and mustard. Cook on medium heat until thickened – about 45 minutes.
  3. \

  4. Cool and put in blender. Enjoy.

All Taft Street wines are bacon friendly!

Truffle Mac & Cheese

At the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience last week this recipe from Chef Michael Farrell at Bistreaux at the Maison Dupuy Hotel won a Gold Medal for Lagniappe (something extra). It’s fun and easy.


Cream Base:

  • 5 cups shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 16 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 2 qt heavy cream
  • 1 oz cognac
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cheese Mix:

  • Grate equal parts
  • Smoked gouda
  • Parmaggiano Regiano
  • Monterrey jack
  • 1lb cooked penne pasta
  • Truffle Oil
  1. In a medium saucepan, sauté shallot until golden and add cognac, cream, mascarpone, salt and pepper. Mix well until mixture comes to a boil.
  2. In a sauté pan, add the cream mix and the warmed cooked pasta. Set in a serving dish, drizzle with truffle oil and melt the grated cheese under the broiler.

Serves 8. 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay hits the spot with this!

Fabulous Frittata

With warm weather approaching and our chickens producing full tilt, it’s time to think eggs. A frittata is an easy, versatile and delicious meal – and it is well matched with a glass of Taft Street Rose of Pinot Noir!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion sliced
  • ¾ cup of cheese
  • 6-8 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Put olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Beat eggs with salt and pepper, then add cheese. Pour over onions and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Cook until eggs are barely set, 5-10 minutes. You can set them further by putting in a 350 oven for a few minutes, or under the broiler for a very short time.
  3. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4. Don’t forget the Taft Street Rose of Pinot Noir!

Pulled Pork & Slaw Sandwiches

We served these at a winery party recently and they were a big hit. Most of the work can be done well ahead of time, and assembly is quick and easy.

Pulled Pork Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 pounds pork butt or shoulder, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup stock
  • 1 onion diced
  1. Combine first four ingredients for rub. Add pork and coat well. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Brown pork in olive oil and set aside. Add stock, honey and vinegar, scraping the pan’s bottom to incorporate flavors. Add onion and bring to boil.
  3. Lower heat to simmer, add pork and cook until tender – about an hour and a half.
  4. Let cool, then shred by hand.

Slaw Ingredients

  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 medium cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  1. Combine vinegar, sugar, oil, mustard and celery seeds in a medium saucepan. Stir and bring to boil. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine cabbage, onion and carrots in a bowl. Add dressing, toss. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Split a dozen Kaiser rolls and brown briefly in broiler. Place 2 heaping tablespoons slaw on bottom half and cover with 2 heaping tablespoons pulled pork. Wrap in large paper napkin and serve.

Serves 12 and is terrific with just about any Taft Street wine.