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11 FUN FACTS ABOUT HARVEST

11 FUN FACTS ABOUT HARVEST

  1. Most grapes are harvested at night! Harvesting at night is easier on the workers and ensures a stable sugar level in the grapes, something that fluctuates when the temperature rises.

 

  1. The flavors of wine are affected by how long the grapes are on the vine. Grapes harvested earlier (typically whites) have lower sugar levels and higher acidity and make a crisp, tart wine. Red grapes hang longer for the complexity that comes from a more balanced sugar and acidity. Grapes for dessert wines are left on the vines the longest.

 

  1. It’s not the grapes that determine the color, it’s the skin. Skin contact when making wine is called “maceration” and the process extracts color and fruit flavor from the skins without any bitter tannins. Think of it like making a cup of tea and how leaving a tea bag in your cup affects the color and flavor.

 

  1. Rosé isn’t a grape variety like zinfandel or sauvignon blanc, but a style of winemaking using red wine grapes.  To achieve the pink shades found in rosé, a wine is kept in contact with the grape skins for just hours. You can learn more about the different styles of rosé here

 

  1. Sauvignon blanc was first planted in Dry Creek Valley by Dry Creek Vineyard founder, David Stare. This grape grows best in DCV due to the  mineral rich, well-draining soils and notable temperature change from day to night. known as the diurnal shift. Read more about Dry Creek Valley’s signature white wine.

 

  1. Today, nearly 2,200 acres of zinfandel are farmed in Dry Creek Valley, making it the top planted grape in the region. In the 1870s, Frenchman Georges Bloch planted the first zinfandel in Dry Creek Valley. By the 1880s, zin was the dominant grape planted across 900 acres of the region and continues to be to this day.  

 

Giovanni and John Pedroncelli

John Pedroncelli Sr. and his son John Jr. in the vineyard.

  1. After about age 50, a zinfandel vine is considered “old,” but at 50, zin may not yet be half-way through its life. In Dry Creek Valley, you will find vineyards with vines that are more than 120-years-old! Old vines contribute an intensity and complexity of flavor to the wine. Want to study up on Old Vine Zin? We got you covered.

 

  1. The top three components of a winemaker’s decision to harvest grapes are sugar, acid and tannin. Sugar and acid are measured with a refractometer while tannins are sampled by taste.

 

The traditional “blessing” of the first chardonnay grapes brought in at Amista Vineyards

  1. Cheers! Grapes for sparkling wines are harvested notably earlier than other grapes because winemakers are looking for a higher acidity. They are harvested with extra care as to not to disturb the flavors and minimize any harsh compounds that may be imparted from the skin of the grape. 

 

  1. Did you know that it takes a newly planted vineyard at least three years to produce fruit of a high enough quality to make wine? Add on a year or more after wine is made until that bottle is ready to drink! Good thing we’re patient – mostly because we know it’s worth the wait.

 

  1. Time for some harvest math:! Every vineyard acre produces roughly 1.5-7 tons of grapes. Every ton of grapes makes roughly 150 gallons of wine. One barrel of wine contains 60 gallons, which is about 295 bottles of wine (24 cases). There are ~30lbs of grapes per case of wine and ~2.4lbs of grapes in one bottle of wine. Phew – time for a glass!

Harvest is one of the best times to visit us in Dry Creek Valley.

Start planning your trip today.

 


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Intro to Sparkling Wine

Tray of sparkling rose wine

We cannot believe that harvest is just around the corner! Our wineries and growers will be harvesting grapes for sparkling wines any day now. The 2019 harvest hasn’t been as rushed as previous years, allowing the fruit to have more hang-time and develop those coveted, complex flavors winemakers love. Sparkling winegrapes, like chardonnay, are harvested first to ensure lower sugar levels and to maintain the crisp acidity in the final product.

There are a few methods to making sparkling wine, but in this blog we’ll be focusing on the most popular approach in Dry Creek ValleyMéthode Champenoise or the traditional method. The most important facet of the traditional method is that the transformation from a still to a sparkling wine occurs entirely inside the bottle.


Wait, why don’t we call it champagne?

Wines made in Dry Creek Valley, or anywhere besides the Champagne region in France, cannot carry the legendary namesake without being grand-fathered in (like our neighbors in Russian River Valley – Korbel). You’ll find different names for different sparkling wines all over the world like Cava in Spain or Prosecco in Italy that each require by law a different process to be able to carry the appropriate name.


There are essentially seven steps (according to Wine Folly) that go into every bottle of Sparkling wine made in the Traditional Method.

    1. Base Wine or “Cuvée”: grapes are picked and fermented into a dry wine. The winemaker then takes the various base wines and blends them together into what the French call a “cuvée”, which is the final sparkling wine blend.
    2. Tirage: Yeast and sugars are added to the cuvée to start the second fermentation and wines are bottled (and topped with crown caps).
    3. 2nd Fermentation: (inside the bottle) The second fermentation adds about 1.3% more alcohol and the process creates CO2 which is trapped inside the bottle thus carbonating the wine. The yeast dies in a process called autolysis and remain in the bottle.
    4. Aging: Wines are aged on their lees (the autolytic yeast particles) for a period of time to develop texture in the wine.
    5. Riddling: Clarification occurs by settling the bottle upside down and the dead yeast cells collect in the neck of the bottle.
    6. Disgorging: Removing sediment from bottle. The bottles are placed upside down into freezing liquid which causes the yeast bits to freeze in the neck of the bottle. The crown cap is then popped off momentarily which allows the frozen chunk of lees to shoot out of the pressurized bottle.
    7. Dosage: A mixture of wine and sugar  is added to fill bottles and then bottles are corked, wired and labeled.

Where can I find Sparkling Wine in Dry Creek Valley?

We have some incredible sparkling wine producers in Dry Creek Valley, but because the process of making these bubbly wines is timely and expensive, it comes in very limited quantities and goes almost instantly. When you see one of these wineries debut their sparkling wines – jump on it!

You’ll find a range of sparkling wines from traditional Blanc de Blanc to Sparkling Grenache and some incredible blends in between.

Sort by Wines on our Winery page for a start.


Add Some “Sparkle” to Your Vocabulary:

Blanc de Blanc – sparkling wine made from only white winegrape varieties

Blanc de Noir – sparkling wine made from red winegrape varieties

Brut -A dry sparkling wine, containing very little sweetness. This is the most popular kind of sparkling wine; typically enjoyed before or during meals.

Demi-sec – A sweet style of sparkling wine.

Non-vintage – when grapes blended from more than one harvest are used to make sparkling wine it is called non-vintage, or NV.


Champagne Glasses vs Flutes infographic by Wine Folly

Sources:

www.winefolly.com/review/how-sparkling-wine-is-made

www.winefolly.com/tutorial/champagne-flutes-or-glasses

www.richardgpeterson.com/champagne-glossary


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Your Cheat Sheet to Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

Besides looking at the bottle and seeing Dry Creek Valley printed right there on the label, we wanted to find out what makes Dry Creek Valley zinfandel is so recognizable and unique. So we asked the experts themselves – our growers and winemakers. Dry Creek Valley zinfandel thrives in our unique AVA thanks to the diverse soil, changes in elevation, climate and 100+ years of experience with growing the variety sure helps too. For full quotes from Nalle Winery, A. Rafanelli Winery, Kokomo Winery, Pedroncelli Winery, Dutcher Crossing Winery, Dry Creek Vineyard and Comstock Wines, continue reading past the infographic. 


What Makes Dry Creek Valley Zinfande Uniquel Infographic

 


Thanks to our vintners for sharing your invaluable insight on Dry Creek Valley zinfandel. We asked them a simple (not so simple) question to help provide details for the above infographic. That question was,  “what do you think makes Dry Creek Valley zinfandel so distinctive?” And here’s there full responses…

Doug Nalle, Nalle Winery

“The Dry Creek appellation has four quadrants that give Zinfandel different characteristics from port-like jammy, to full-throttle black fruit, to raspberry-strawberry to peppery-cherry Koolaid. Overlay this with multiple soil variations that are predominantly well-drained, and many aspect orientations, and you have a very complex ‘climat’. “

I’d also like to add that Dry Creek has a significant amount of historical old-vine Zin vineyards which are recorded in the Historical Vineyard Society: https://historicvineyardsociety.org/. Our Estate Old-Vine Zin vineyard is included: https://historicvineyardsociety.org/vineyard/henderlong-ranch. The HVS defines anything older than 50 years as an old-vine site (ours is 92 years old).  In some cases old vines carry a greater sense of place and tend to be more balanced in terms of production, yielding more concentration and depth in the final wine.

Shelly Rafanelli, A. Rafanelli Winery

Growing…. A temperamental grape that reflects the growing season and Mother Natures’s influences.  This makes every year unique and each vintage different, then the winemaker can personalize it with their own style of wine making.  Zinfandel likes to grow wings or shoulders which we cut off and then we like to separate canes and open up the fruit zone so that we can get as much even ripening as we can, something Zinfandel does not like to do naturally.  We also thin down the amount of fruit clusters after verasion.  This entails going through the vineyard multiple times during the growing season.  As growers we become very close to each and every vine.

Zinfandel has a great history and there are many old vines that are dry farmed, and also still managed in the head pruned style.  I do not know too many other varietals that are grown like this and still producing at 100 years old.  If only they could talk!

When I finally decide to pick our Zin grapes, they are usually one of the first reds to come in.  We do hand sorting and open top fermentation.  Their sugar/alcohol can be hard to predict because they like to soak up overnight in the tank, and they are known for their stickiness (stuck fermentation).  This can make for a lot of sleepless nights, but once they are finished they are a very rewarding wine.  The jammy fruit, balance and food friendliness is what makes Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel so wonderful.  You can drink them alone, with a meal, on the young side, or choose to age them.  They are a true reflection of their terroir and the people who have planted and farmed them in the valley for generations.

DCV Zinfandels can never be called generic or boring and I feel this is the best valley to grow them in:)

I also have been tasting and showcasing some of our older Zins,  1988, 1987, 1999.  They were great, and a true testament that Zin can age well!Erik Miller (Kokomo Wines) at Passport Vineyard Tour

Erik Miller, Kokomo Winery

We are the Goldilocks Valley! Not too warm (Alexander Valley) and not too cool (Russian River Valley) bit just right!

We also have a lot of diversity in our Zinfandel from the East side to the West side and the benches and hillsides to the valley floors.

Montse Reece, Pedroncelli Winery

Valleys in general, offer the most complex soils to grow grapes and Dry Creek Valley is not an exception. Zinfandel  grown in the Dry Creek Valley shines for its uniqueness and complexity. Our Zinfandels  show higher aromatics like spices and bold rich flavors. Making Zinfandel in Dry Creek Valley is not an easy task, you need to be familiar with the weather dualities, cool nights and  hot days  and monitor closely the maturation of the grape. Once in the cellar, Zinfandel benefits of slow fermentations to showcase all its potential. In bottle, Dry Creek Zinfandel is a fest for the flavor seekers, baking spices and berries dominate Dry Creek Zins.

Nick Briggs, Dutcher Crossing Winery

The soils play a role. Dry Creek displays its own unique soil types/makeups. The weather and micro climates also play a big role. We see lots of morning fog that burns off and can end in days well over 100 degrees F. Normally we also get afternoon breezes that help to cool everything down and then nighttime temperatures can drop all the way back down to the 60’s or even 50’s. These big temperature swings and fog help create some of the ripeness Dry Creek is known for while allowing the fruit to mature at a slow enough pace as well as helping to retain some of that natural acidity. We are also lucky enough to have growers who are willing to go the extra mile and dry farm there vines. This leads to lower yields of more intensely flavored bunches.

Tim Bell, Dry Creek Vineyard

I’ve worked with Zin from Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, and I really do think Dry Creek Valley Zin is the best.  What makes it distinctive?  Hard to say exactly, but I think the fact that we are at a nice balance of warm days and cool nights (Region II/Region III, I believe) gives us that special character in our Zinfandel.  We get beautiful red fruit flavors that don’t turn pruney with more spice and bramble/briar patch/sage character than any other Zinfandel region I’ve worked with.  I feel like we also get more even ripening on this notoriously uneven ripening variety.

Chris Russi, Comstock Wines

I believe Dry Creek Valley is one of the premier places in the world to grow Zinfandel.  Zinfandel needs this heat, during the growing season, for the fruit to reach full potential, which is the ripe, red fruit characteristics paired with the savory, black pepper attributes we find in the wine.  The fertile, alluvial soils help maintain the vigor even in the oldest vines in the valley, which can be well over 100 yrs old, and still producing fruit with incredible concentration.

 

 

 


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Wine Events: What’s the Best Fit for You

We love wine and it’s pretty obvious that that’s our thing. But we understand the initial thought you may have that wine events might not be for everybody – we disagree. We think that there’s a perfect wine event fit out there for you. Whether you’re not keen on crowds, you’re looking to see the world, get outdoors or focusing on purchasing wines there’s a niche for you. That’s what’s amazing about Sonoma Wine Country and Dry Creek Valley, is celebrating the diversity of what there is to offer.

There’s a reason that Passport and wine events become an annual tradition for many (like these longterm attendees) and it’s because they’re fun, celebratory ways to bring everyone together and enjoy doing what you love in a beautiful setting. Here’s what we’d suggest for your next wine event …


Intimate + Low Key

If crowds aren’t necessarily your thing, you can still do wine events! For example, some of our Prelude to Passport lunches are limited to just 20 seats like at DaVero Farms & Winery. And don’t rule out Passport weekend either. While some wineries are definitely a hustle and bustle, there a handful that keep their wine country pace and charm over the weekend.


Travel Focused 

If you are all about getting out and seeing the world – you should definitely be considering a wine cruise! The newest trend in travel feature amazing destinations along a scenic river or on a larger ocean scale, but with an incredible twist and emphasis on wine regions. Dry Creek Valley was the first to bring our local vintners on-board to pair with these itineraries. You’ll explore famous wine regions by day and enjoy your favorite Dry Creek Valley wines at night. Coming up this June, we’ll be heading to Bordeaux and, in 2020, we’ll be cruising the Mediterranean with an incredible itinerary.


Active & Outdoor

Wine is good for your heart and there are studies to prove it! But when you want to be a bit more active and feel that you’ve “earned” your wine then you’ll love our Vineyard Tour options for Passport. Many of our gorgeous wineries offer these tours year round and can include tastings and picnics. Learn about which of our wineries offer tours here or check out our events page to see what’s going on the valley.


Cellar Stocker – For the Case Special Seeker or Cult Chaser

Want to stock up on cases of wine or come across the hard to find bottle to add to your collection? The Passport to Dry Creek Valley is the perfect wine event for you. Many wineries offer specials on wines, are selling futures or feature their newest releases. Passport also opens to the doors to many smaller wineries that you may not be able to access on any other day thereby giving you the “in” to their unique, limited production and hard to come by wines. If you’re looking to buy wine – then Passport is the ticket for you.


All About the Fun

If you’re focus is maximizing your fun then sounds like you need to mark your calendar for our Friday evening birthday celebration, The Vintage Soiree. This year’s event will be held up at The Ranch overlooking Lake Sonoma and Dry Creek Valley. Our Pre-Passport, 30th Anniversary celebration welcomes you with a reception of diverse Dry Creek Valley wines paired with appetizers from local chefs, oysters and charcuterie. Then join us at our family table for a wine country casual sit down dinner prepared by local favorite Chef & Owner Liza Hinman from The Spinster Sisters.

Both cocktail dresses and cowboy boots are appropriate. Dancing and live music are complemented by gourmet s’mores and soul warming fire pits under the stars after dinner. The Vintage Soiree is the perfect way to kick-off Passport weekend and is sure to be a good time.

Eventbrite - Passport to Dry Creek Valley - 30th Anniversary

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5 New Year’s Wine Resolutions That You’ll Actually Want to Keep

It’s about a week into the New Year and I’m sure all of you are still going strong on your pledges for 2019! Who else thinks it’s unfair that January 1st came on a Wednesday this year? Don’t they know that you can only start new diets and routines on Mondays? This year we decided to stick with what we know best for our resolutions and think you’ll find these a lot more fun and fulfilling than your average detox.

Resolution #1: Try Something New

While we often find ourselves set in our own ways, the New Year gives us the extra motivation to try something different! In Dry Creek Valley, there’s all sorts of new wines and experiences happening. We’ve recently rediscovered our love for the hard to find, hand cultivated varietals such as Frick Winery’s Cinsault, Zo Wine’s Carignane, or Seghesio Arneis.

Browse by varietal on our Winery Profile pages and try something new this year.

Resolution #2: Travel and see the world.

We’re very excited for 2019, because for the first time Dry Creek Valley is going on three Wine Cruises! We’ll be exploring the flavors of Spain + Portugal on the Douro this April. And then in June, our Bordeaux cruise was so popular we added another sailing option immediately after! If you’re looking to getaway with some of Dry Creek Valley’s best wine, then you’re in luck because there’s still spots available on that second sailing. Make it happen and learn more about it here.

Resolution #3: See my friends more often!

Friends and family seem to only get together on occasions nowadays, so in 2019, make your own occasion. We’re loving the idea of starting your own “Wine Club” with your friends. Set a monthly date, assign a varietal to discuss, and taste. Everyone brings their own bottle to share and the host makes the cheese plate. There are so many easily accessible wine resources that make tasting wine easy and fun like it should be. You can also learn more about Dry Creek Valley’s most popular wines like Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Old Vine Zin and Rosé today.

Resolution #4: Indulge in a new self-care routine

2019 should is going to be a year of self-care. How can you expect to perform at your peak if you aren’t taking care of your own needs and self? And didn’t you know that a glass of red wine has some great health benefits too?  How about you spend Friday nights with a glass of Zin and that new series you can’t stop watching. Oh, that’s not new? How about Saturday nights with a glass of Dry Creek Valley Grenache and that new series you can’t stop watching. Or, go for a bike ride through your favorite wine country setting aka Dry Creek Valley.

Resolution #5: Embrace + celebrate another year around the sun.

Growing up isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. But when it comes to wine we’re all about it! Aged wine is complex and noteworthy. Also this year we’re all about celebrating Passport turning 30! We are so excited to bring in and revel this landmark year. We’re bringing some new things to the event this year and cannot wait to share them with you. Tickets go on sale February 1st at 10am pst, so mark your calendars. Learn more about Passport here.


Pairing Dry Creek Valley Wines with Your Favorite (and Not so Favorite) Holiday Activities

We all know that the Holiday season is filled to the brim with cheer, family, friends, Holiday parties, UPS deliveries, and festively shaped cookies but it also has its fair share of crowded parking lots, wrapping presents, fruitcake, and broken heirloom ornaments. Lucky for us all, there’s Dry Creek Valley wine to fit seamlessly into your perfect (or not so perfect) Holiday season. Here’s our expert advice –


Ugly Sweater + Wine Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Wine for Your Office’s Ugly Sweater Party

Who knew that finding a perfect ugly sweater while still looking presentable would be so complicated? Thankfully, picking the picture-perfect wine for your office’s party won’t be! Peterson Winery bottles come dressed with hand sketched animals – doesn’t their 2014 Dry Creek Zinfandel look especially festive, and bonus, it’s delicious!

Wine for Wrapping Presents

There are those who love to wrap up presents with ribbons and bows while others struggle to keep track of the scissors and tape. We think a crisp and refreshing, Sauvignon Blanc like that from Quivira Vineyards or Comstock Wines will keep your wrapping paper edges clean, your station organized and humming along to whatever carol currently on the radio.

Fireplace Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Wine for Sipping Fireside

Maybe you’re in the living room of your ski condo high in the mountains fresh off the slopes, maybe you’re on your own couch at home while the kids are watching a holiday movie, no matter your exact situation we can practically feel the warmth of our favorite fleece blanket and a glass of spicy, fruity and comforting Zinfandel in our hand. Try Dry Creek Vineyard’s Old Vine Zinfandel or any of Saini Vineyard’s multiple Zins to keep you extra warm this season.

Wine for Baking Cookies

Sugar cookies, snickerdoodles and chocolate chip – oh my! While you’re getting those cookies ready for the neighbors’ cookie plates, you’ll feel extra jolly as you sip on a buttery and smooth Chardonnay. For a classic California style, try the Home Ranch Chardonnay from Sbragia Family Vineyards. Or if you’re interested in a different style, you’ll love the newly released and highly acclaimed Chardonnay from Zo Wines . Just don’t forget to set the cookie timer!

Wine for After Christmas Eve Shopping

Cheers Photo by Alasdair Elmes on Unsplash

T’was the afternoon before Christmas and all through the town, the cars were a rushing and racing around. The parking lot was packed full – oh there’s a spot there! No wait, that’s a smart car, how is that even fair? You went in and grabbed the last thingamabob on your list, got in the line, and waited 20-minutes for an understandably less-than-cheery cashier to assist. Now you’re home, you made it through all those troubles. Surely what you need is a glass of Dry Creek Valley bubbles! Take a breath, look around – kids in bed, presents wrapped, all of this and more you’ve achieved, trust us, a glass of Amista Vineyards or West Wines is just what you need.  “Raise your glass for a cheers,” you say with delight. “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Wine for your Holiday Dinner

When planning that holiday dinner, you need to make sure have enough wine to go around! Why not supersize the wine to go with that Prime Rib? Magnums and other large format bottles make for a gorgeous and delicious centerpiece that always come with a story. All of our wineries offer large format bottles of their most favorite vintages. Just ask and you’ll be delighted by what’s inside! Our favorite magnums come from Bella Vineyards + Wine Caves or any of those found in these amazing gift boxes from Lambert Bridge Winery.


How are you pairing your wines this holiday season? Share with us using the hashtag #drycreekvalley for a chance to be featured on our social media channels!

Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

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Thanksgiving Dry Creek Wine Pairings

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Thanksgiving is a time to connect with family and friends over amazing seasonal dishes. While you are planning all your Thanksgiving dishes this holiday season don’t forget the most important part of your thanksgiving meal… the wine.  Zinfandel is a great Thanksgiving wine because it is a uniquely American wine. See below for our top pairings for zinfandel and more!

 

1. Smoked Turkey with Truett Hurst Zinfandel

Turkey is the most traditional Thanksgiving dish of them all and a smoked turkey that is already prepared means more time for family. The sweet, fruity flavors of a Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel are a great match for dark and smoked turkey meat. A fruity Truett Hurst Zinfandel pairs perfectly with our classic thanksgiving main dish.

Click here to explore Truett Hurst wines

 

2. Honey Baked Ham with Armida Pinot Grigio

For some, a honey baked ham is a Thanksgiving delicacy. Honey baked ham is salty with a sweet honey glazed skin. Honey baked ham and Armida Pinot Grigio pair nicely together as the acidity in the wine is a nice balance to the sweetness of the ham.

Click here to explore Armida’s wines

3. Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Bella Vineyards Chardonnay 

Mashed potatoes are creamy and delicious Thanksgiving side dish. Chardonnay has a light body and is a great pairing with creamy and lightly seasoned dishes such as mashed potatoes. Bella Vineyards Chardonnay, light on the oak, would be a fantastic addition to this classic side dish.

Click here to explore Bella Vineyard’s wines

4. Green Bean Casserole and Crispy Onions with Chateau Diana Riesling

Green bean casserole is a creamy delicious side dish with crunchy crispy onions.  A fresh, dry Riesling with stone fruit flavor will balance the creamy and crispy textures of the green bean casserole. Chateau Diana’s Riesling is the perfect pairing for this classic side dish.

Click here to explore their wines

 

5. Mushroom and Sausage Stuffing with Dutcher Crossing Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a light red wine with earthy undertones. A  perfect pairing with classic sausage and mushroom stuffing for your Thanksgiving meal.

Click here to explore Dutcher Crossing’s wines

6. Cranberry Sauce with Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc

The acidity and sweetness provided by cranberry sauce is the perfect accent to your turkey, mashed potatoes or stuffing. When adding cranberry sauce to your Thanksgiving dish, pair with a crisp and herbal Sauvignon Blanc to add the perfect touch to your meal.

Click here to explore Geyser Peak’s wines

 

Feeling full?? A sparkling wine with any Thanksgiving dessert is a light and delicious way to end your meal!

 

 

7. Pumpkin Pie with Sbragia Family Vineyards Sparkling Wine

Pumpkin pie is everyones favorite way to end a meal spent with loving family and friends. To celebrate the beginning of the holiday season and a delicious pumpkin pie pair with a Sbragia Family Vineyards Sparkling wine.

Click here to explore their wines

8. Sweet Potato Pie with Mill Creek Vineyards Gewurtztraminer

Although a less common Thanksgiving dessert, sweet potato pie is still an essential part of many families Thankgiving. A crisp and sweet Gewurtztraminer from Mill Creek Vineyards will compliment the sweet and creamy texture of a sweet potato pie perfectly.

Click here to explore their wines


National Grilling Month – Week 3 Ft. Ridge’s Wine Country Spiced Lamb Spiedini

We’re over half-way through National Grilling Month and over half-way through the winegrowing season. The winegrapes begin to change color (aka veraison) and warm sunny days transition into the most beautiful evenings.

This means we’ve been spending more time outside enjoying shared big plates of grilled goodies, pies, lots of laughs and, of course, Dry Creek Valley wine. For week 3 of National Grilling Month, we’ve got the perfect recipe from Ridge Winery for your next al fresco meal.


Ridge’s Wine Country Spiced Grilled Lamb Spiedini with Grapes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley (divided)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground lavender
  • ¼ teaspoon hot chile flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds boned leg of lamb, fat trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound red flame seedless grapes
  • 10 bamboo skewers, soaked in water overnight

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, 1 tablespoon parsley, salt, smoked paprika, cumin, thyme, coriander, lavender, chile flakes, and pepper. Add lamb and mix to coat thoroughly.
  2. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  3. Thread cubes of lamb alternately with grapes onto 6 or 7 skewers.
  4. Lay skewers over a solid bed of medium-hot coals or medium-high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 3 to 4 seconds). If using a gas grill, close the lid.
  5. Cook, turning skewers as needed, until lamb is browned on all sides but still pink in the center (medium-rare: 5 to 6 minutes), or just barely pink in the center (medium: 6 to 7 minutes).
  6. Pair with Bold, full-bodied zinfandels. Try it with Lytton Springs (excellent with older vintages too).

    Recipe provided by Chef Jesse McQuarrie of Feast Catering

Why this pairing works: Ridge Lytton Springs is an incredibly balanced wine that will please all of your guests. It has the rich, brambly fruit flavors you’d expect from a wine that’s 74% zinfandel but also structured tannins and balanced acid – making it a perfect complement to the spices like thyme and lavender in this grilled dish. If you choose a vintage that has been in the bottle for a few years, you’ll find more complexity and a softer style of red blend.  Check out Ridge’s website for more pairings specially crafted to pair with their variety of wines.


View past recipes here:

Amista’s Strip Steak with Arugula Pesto

Martorana’s Olio di Gio Pesto Marinated Grilled Shrimp

Pedroncelli’s Grilled Italian Sausages with Fennel, Red Onion and Basil Gremolada

Seghesio’s Grilled Berkshire Pork Chops with White Cheddar Polenta, Swiss Chard and Blueberry Compote


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NATIONAL GRILLING MONTH – WEEK 2 FT. AMISTA’S STRIP STEAK & PEDRONCELLI’S GRILLED SAUSAGE

The celebration continues as we feature weekly grilling recipes from your favorite Dry Creek Valley wineries and wines.

For week 2, we’re featuring Amista’s Strip Steak with Arugula Pesto & Pedroncelli’s Grilled Sausage with Fennel, Red Onion and Basil Gremolada. What’s the first pairing that comes to your mind? Keep reading and find out what each winery chose to pair with these grilled delicacies.


Amista’s Strip Steak with Arugula Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless strip steak about 2 inches thick
  • 5/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 springs thyme
  • 4 tbsps unsalted butter
  • 10 ozs baby arugula
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 4 tbsps finely grated Parmesan cheese


Directions

  1. Heat the BBQ until hot; lower to medium heat. Lightly rub the steak with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the steak to the grill and cook over moderate heat until browned on the first side, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, herb sprigs and butter.
  2. Turn the steak to the other side for 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn the steak on each of it’s sides until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Lay the steak flat, baste with the garlic butter. Continue to cook the steak for about 3 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125° for medium-rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the arugula and cook for 10 seconds, then drain and cool under running water. Squeeze out the excess water and transfer the blanched arugula to a food processor. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts, the Parmesan and the olive oil. Pulse to a coarse paste. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.
  4. Thinly slice the steak and arrange on a platter. Spoon the pesto over the steak, sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts and serve.
  5. Pair with Amista’s Cabernet Sauvignon for a “wow” moment.

Why this pairing works: This Cabernet has rich concentrated blackberry and a touch of roasted strawberry jam. It opens up to big, broad tannins that are bold and balanced making it an incredible pairing with grilled meats.


Pedroncelli’s Grilled Italian Sausages with Fennel, Red Onion and Basil Gremolada

Ingredients:

  • 4 Spicy Italian turkey sausages
  • ¼ C olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • red pepper flakes
  • ½ t kosher salt
  • 1 large red onion, cleaned, cutting into 12 wedges
  • 2 medium bulbs fennel, cleaned and quartered
  • ½ large head of cauliflower, sliced vertically to create ‘steaks’ about 1 inch thick
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh basil, cleaned
  • 1 oz pecorino romano cheese, grated
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to medium-high. Drizzle olive oil on vegetables, lightly salt for grilling. Once grill is heated place a grilling mat or aluminum BBQ tray on one side and add onions and fennel. (for ease of grilling you may want to blanche or microwave the cauliflower before placing on the grill or grill pan) Simultaneously grill sausages, being careful not to let the grill “flare up”. Vegetables should be lightly caramelized and fork tender.
  2. In a food processor add basil, garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, lemon zest, pine nuts and salt. Blend until nearly smooth. Add olive oil a little at a time and emulsify.
  3. Assemble the plate drizzling the Gremolada over the sausage and cauliflower. Sprinkle with pecorino romano cheese.
  4. This flavorful recipe will pair with many of your favorite Pedroncelli’s wines – try it with Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma Classico or Zinfandel.

Why this pairing works: This versatile recipe complements the freshness and acidity in Pedroncelli’s Sauvignon Blanc or, if you prefer red wine, the structure of Sonoma Classico and its mild tannins make this a wonderful grill-side pairing.


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National Grilling Month – Week 1 ft. Martorana’s Olio di Gio Shrimp and Seghesio’s Pork Chops & Polenta

We’re celebrating National Grilling month all July long with our wineries’ favorite BBQed pairings ranging from the classic to the adventurous. We all know Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is the quintessential wine to pair with all things grilled – and trust us, you’ll get some of those pairings, but did you know that Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rhone wines and Cabernet can also complement the savory goodness that your grill imparts?

For week 1, we’re featuring Matorana’s Olio di Gio’s Pesto Marinated Grilled Shrimp and Seghesio’s Grilled Berkshire Pork Chops with White Cheddar Polenta, Swiss Chard and Blueberry Compote. Can you guess what these experts paired with these grilled delicacies? You’ll have to read and find out!


Martorana’s Olio di Gio Pesto Marinated Grilled Shrimp

Picture source:Cook Your Food.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
  • 4 tablespoons Olio di Gio olive oil from Martorana Family Winery
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

Directions:

  1. To make the pesto, pulse the basil, parsley, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, Olio di Gio olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. Marinate the shrimp in the pesto for at least 20 minutes, up to overnight, in the fridge.
  3. Skewer the shrimp (if using bamboo skewers, soak for at least 20 minutes prior to grilling).
  4. Grill the skewers over medium-high heat until cooked, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  5.  Serve with lemon wedges and a glass of 2017 Sauvignon Blanc or 2016 Chardonnay from Martorana Family Winery.

Why we love this pairing: the herbaceous qualities of thyme in the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc perfectly complement the fresh herbs used in the pesto while the nutty characteristics from the Chardonnay shine when next to their pine nut and parmesan friends.

You can find Martorana’s wine and olive oil via their website or their tasting room on West Dry Creek Rd


Seghesio’s Grilled Berkshire Pork Chops with White Cheddar Polenta, Swiss Chard and Blueberry Compote

This is an easy and delicious summertime dish – so don’t be intimidated by the steps. You can marinate the pork, cook the chard and make the compote one day ahead of time as well, leaving just the polenta and grilling Berkshire Pork Long-Bone Chops for the day of the meal.

PORK

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 each Berkshire Long-Bone Chops
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

The pork should be marinated a minimum of six hours but 24 hours would be ideal if you have the time. Toss all ingredients together and keep cold. You should pull the pork out of refrigerator and allow to come up to room temperature for at least an hour before grilling.

POLENTA —

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup fresh grated aged white cheddar cheese
  • 3 T butter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring the stock and milk to a boil.
  2. Whisk in polenta and continue to whisk until polenta sets – around 4-5 minutes. Then cook on low heat until soft.
  3. When finished cooking, add butter and cheese, taste and add salt if needed.
  4. You can keep covered and hold warm until you cook the pork.

CHARD —

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 bunches Swiss chard – destemmed, cleaned and cut into 1 inch strips
  • 2 each cloves of garlic sliced thin
  • ½ lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sweat garlic in oil on medium heat until soft, then add leaves of chard.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, and allow chard to wilt.
  3. When wilted, season with salt and pepper to your taste and add the juice from ½ of one lemon.
  4. If made ahead of time just heat up in pan on medium flame.

BLUEBERRY COMPOTE —

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T plus 1 t of cornstarch
  • ¼ cup port
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 each shallots diced fine
  • 1 T of butter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Coat berries in mixing bowl with sugar and cornstarch using a spoon. Make sure cornstarch and sugar are distributed evenly. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
  2. Sweat the shallots in butter using a small sauce pan. Do not allow any color on the shallots.
  3. Once the shallots are soft, add port and red wine vinegar and reduce by ½.
  4. Add the blueberry mixture and cook until everything starts to thicken slightly and berries begin to soften.
  5. If preparing the day ahead, allow to cool at room temperature and then refrigerate. To warm at a later time, heat gently in sauce pan or in oven to prevent scorching.

ASSEMBLY —

Pull pork from marinade and scrape off excess marinade with the hands to prevent garlic from burning on grill. Cook over medium-high charcoal until desired doneness is achieved. I generally pull mine at 145 degrees for a pink and juicy medium. Enjoy with a glass of Seghesio’s 2015 Cortina Zinfandel.

Why we love this pairing: this recipe joins together savory and sweet so well that we feel it highlights the best qualities in this bottle of wine – its subtle white pepper spice and classic dark cherry and raspberry notes make it truly a perfect barbecued pairing.

You can find Seghesio’s wine online, at their tasting room, or at a variety of wine shops and grocery stores near you.


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