• #PairItWithPed: Soup's On!

    March 2, 2021 15:29

    #PairItWithPed: Soup's On!

    Soup is always welcome in our house-from Minestrone to French Onion Soup and everything in between. In my house we are a year round soup family. Of course there are changes in types and vegetables as the seasons and temperature outside comes into play. Pairing wines with soup is as easy as pairing with any other dish. I have so many to choose from among the recipes posted on our site-but these are some of my favorites. 

    The other day my dad had a hankering for Split Pea Soup. Ed is a fan of this soup as well so away I went gathering the ingredients. It is one of those hearty winter-time choices with the wonderful aromas of the herbs and the ham filling the air. Nice and thick with tender chunks of carrot and smoky ham this soup calls for our Rosé or on of our red or Sonoma Classico. And sharing the pot of soup with my parents made me happy.

    Another favorite of many is Classic French Onion Soup. I often think this takes sooo much time but it really is just a matter of cooking down the onions and then letting the herbs and beef broth do their magic. Toasting slices from a local bakery’s French bread and then piling some Gruyere on top and melting it all over the soup gives such depth of flavor and richness. Pair with our Wisdom Cabernet or try our Chardonnay if you want something lighter.

    Minestrone is much loved and a hearty soup all on its own-just add bread. And you don’t have to be Italian-American to enjoy it. I had read about using parmesan rind in a soup as it cooks-it adds a depth of parm-deliciousness. If you have some pesto handy that will perk up the flavors in this soup even more. Paired with Sangiovese or Sonoma Classico you are set.

    With a swirl of pistou (or pesto) you have a tasty vegetable-based soup. Soup Au Pistou is a great combination of veggies and herbs with the piquant flavors of pistou. Paired with our Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay you have a winning combination.

    I have made this one for a very long time-I found it in a newspaper so the clipping is well used and now I can make it from memory. I have brought my Turkey Sausage Vegetable Soup to church soup night and found many fans of the flavor-especially our friend Barb. I’d make this once a week for 9 months of the year if I could-and you can never have too much chard! Pair up with our Mother Clone Zinfandel for a treat.

  • #PairItWithPed: Veggie Times

    February 1, 2021 14:29

    #PairItWithPed: Veggie Times

    My sister Joanna has been a vegetarian for many years. I love the challenge of coming up with dishes she likes when we gather together for meals. Many of the recipes I have collected are either vegetarian or sometimes can easily be made vegetarian. The good news is these all go well with wine-who said being vegetarian is boring!

    The funny thing is she doesn’t like mushrooms and eggplant-which are usually the foundation of many vegetarian dishes. Having a family member who prefers this world of food definitely expanded my recipe horizons. When you consider the term vegetarian you could go down one of two roads: One can be uninspired and dull or the other full of creativity and layers of flavors. 

    For me, one of the first ‘a ha’ moments in wine and food pairing happened when I made carrots with dill-butter sauce for dinner and paired it with our Sauvignon Blanc. This was more than 30 years ago and I still remember the moment when the wine and food synergy really came together-the herbaceous part of the Sauvignon Blanc matching so well with the earthy carrots and dill. Wine knows no boundaries when it comes to matching with vegetables-even artichoke and asparagus can be tamed with butter or olive oil and spices.

    Meatless meals have become very popular in the last few years and we aim for one a week. One of our favorite weeknight meals is a pizza made with lots of vegetables-in fact Ed prefers this to other offerings with sausage or pepperoni. There really isn't a 'recipe'. We pick up an already made pizza dough (Costeaux is our favorite-a bakery here in Healdsburg) but there are many alternatives in stores. The sauce is simply tomato sauce with fried shallot or onion and herbs like oregano and basil. You can give it a spoonful of pesto if you have some on hand and make sure to cook it down (15 minutes or so) with a splash of red wine. Prepare the dough, spread the sauce and add sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and Kalamata olives along with parmegiano and mozzarella. Bake in a 400 degree oven on a pizza stone or baking sheet. Pairing with our Mother Clone Zin or Sonoma Classico is perfect.

    While there is such a diverse vegetable world out there-including winter squash, root veggies, and tomatoes it takes a recipe to pull things together to match them with wine. Long cooked stews, borrowing from world cuisines, using starches like potatoes or pasta bring the flavors together for hearty meals. Eggs in frittatas are wonderful ways to add lots of veggies and flavor. How about grilled cheese 'frichi' with tomato soup.

    I linked a few recipes above and there are many more of my favorites under the new addition to my recipe website with the inspired title of Vegetarian. Dive into the world of veggies and don’t forget the vino!


  • #PairItWithPed: In Port We Trust

    December 1, 2020 11:11

    #PairItWithPed: In Port We Trust

    Port and the holidays go hand in hand and so does winter-the cold weather just calls for a little extra something at the end of the evening. Our Four Grapes Vintage Port is a traditional style dessert wine. I'll pair up what I think are some great recipes with this dessert wine-savory or sweet you'll find something to pair up this winter.

    First up some background on why we make a traditional style of Port. To be clear this isn’t a late harvest wine-it is made from four Portuguese varieties we have planted on the Home Ranch: Tinta Madeira, Tinta Cao, Souzao and Touriga Nacional. It isn’t the last fruit in during harvest, rather it is picked when ready. Once the fermenting has begun the process is stopped by adding neutral spirits (unaged Brandy) in order to have some residual sugar. Typically there is 19% alcohol and 9% residual sugar.

    Why did we choose to make this wine? Our neighbors Raymond Burr and Robert Benevides were the first to plant these varieties in Dry Creek Valley. They did this for two reasons: Robert is of Portuguese heritage and Raymond wanted a wine he loved to be served to his many guests to their ranch. We made the first vintage in 1990. Coming from a half acre there was too much for their guests so we bottled it under Burr-Benevides Vineyard and it became very popular in our tasting room as guests discovered its unique qualities. Winemaker John Pedroncelli traveled to Portugal and the Douro Valley to learn more about this dessert wine and how he should go about making it here in California. The rest is history, well almost.

    The vineyard first planted by Burr-Benvevides became a victim of virus and only a few years later needed to be pulled up. Our sales were doing so well John decided to make way for the four grapes to be planted on the Home Ranch. These vines are now 25 years old and well established. The combination makes a delicious fortified wine-one that ages for 3 or more years in neutral barrels which adds the necessary complexity and layers of flavor. Today there are only a handful of acres of these varieties in California but did you know American vintners have been making port-style fortified wines for almost two centuries. Prior to Prohibition, port wines accounted for about 20 percent of all domestic wine production. At the turn of the 20th century port was California’s best-selling sweet wine. In the years prior to Prohibition, California wineries made about 5 million gallons of port annually. Even during Prohibition, port accounted for about 20% of all legally produced California wine.

    To experience this tasty wine I have a few recommendations. I am one of those Cheese Course enthusiasts where the cheeses complement the wine-using blue mostly but I would suggest an aged Gouda as well. A simple brownie sundae especially with a dark chocolate sauce would do nicely. Reduced and poured over vanilla ice cream is a winner too. Simply in a glass shared with friends and family is another way to end a meal and a memorable evening. And if you have the patience this wine develops well with time in the cellar.

    A few highlights from the collection on our website-happy baking and cooking with this versatile wine!  

    My favorite 3 ingredient recipe comes from an event a Dry Creek Kitchen several years ago. I named it Portspresso as it is a 50/50 blend of both espresso and our Port with a dollop of chocolate whipped cream! Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen has carried our Four Grapes Vintage Port since the day they opened!

    Ed developed this Pork Tenderloin with Port Sauce recipe many years ago and it stands the test of time. 

    These Mini Chocolate Cupcakes Cousin Maureen Davison made were based on a recipe I found on the internet using Cabernet-I asked her to incorporate the Port and she created these tasty little treats. 

    Brownies! With port-soaked dried cherries and a ganache that gilds the lily. This recipe was shared with me by Joanne Young of Robert Young Estate and she used our port in it. It has been a star dessert over the years. Port Soaked Dried Cherry Brownies with Port Chocolate Ganache

    As an appetizer these French Onion Bites with Port-Onion Jam developed by Tasting Room Manager Gary will be the perfect starter (and the bonus is if there is enough leftover ‘jam’ you can use it in many ways including as its own side dish).

    There are so many recipes to enjoy either with our Four Grapes Port or including it in a dish. Enjoy pairing your favorite dessert or dish and let me know your perfect Port pairing. Send me the recipe ( is always room for more on our page. 

    Our Portuguese blocks in the fall.