• Women's History Month: We Are Family

    March 8, 2021 14:22

    Women's History Month: We Are Family

    A while ago I took part in a seminar entitled “Growing up Among the Vines” and one of the stories I told was about my sisters and I building vine houses under head pruned Chenin Blanc vines. I remember it was cool inside the canopy of long canes and large leaves in the days just before harvest. We had our own vine village. This and many other memories are with me as I reflect on four generations of family ownership.

    March is Women’s History Month designated each year by proclamation from the President. Women’s History Month is chosen each year to celebrate the achievements and contributions made to our great nation. We have been quietly working in our corner of Dry Creek Valley with women in every generation contributing to the success of the winery.

    As a third generation member and the oldest of four Pedroncelli daughters my experience is filled with many memories of growing up side by side with the family business.  My grandmother Julia, matriarch of the first generation, kept the books, entertained many visitors with her cooking and hospitality, and helped our family business blossom. Daughters Margaret and Marianne, sisters to John and Jim, took part in the early years out in the vineyard and farm. Later Margaret, along with husband Al Pedroni, became a longtime grower of Zinfandel, an extension now of our estate vineyards farmed by daughter Carol.

    Grandparents, aunts, uncles, dad and cousin celebrating Sunday dinner.

    Also from the second generation, my mom Phyllis took over bookkeeping when my parents moved to the family home at the winery in the mid1960’s. She weighed in grape trucks, managed the office and later went on marketing trips with my dad doing all she could to help the winery go forward. Christine, uncle John’s wife, worked side by side to further the business as well. Her interests took her into the world of politics with many community and civic activities including the first woman president of the Santa Rosa Junior College Board of Trustees, appointed by Sonoma County on the Dry Creek Zoning Committee, part of the committee to build the Geyserville Educational Park, Chairman of the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees and many other accomplishments. While no longer with us she blazed her own trails.

    Christine, Jim and Phyllis partners from the second generation.

    In the third generation, my sisters Cathy, Lisa and Joanna all have made great contributions throughout the years as well as cousin Maureen, who is a board member of JPW Inc, is also know for her singular talent as chef. Fourth generation member Denise is our graphics designer. Our daughter Adrienne is a winemaker in her own right down in the Central Coast of California. To this day we work side by side here at the winery each of us using our own talents like the previous generations to shepherd our interests forward. I am honored to follow in the footsteps of such great examples and strive to do more and be more in the coming years. A toast with Rosé in my glass to generations of women in our family-93 years and counting!

    The Pedroncelli sisters Joanna, Julie Lisa and Cathy.


  • Note From Home: Holding Steady

    April 2, 2020 08:48

    Note From Home: Holding Steady

    Knee deepWe’ve been knee deep before-take a look at my uncle John standing knee deep in a flood-this is right outside of our cellar some 60 years ago. We’ve seen a few decades of challenge, we’re farmers after all and are holding steady. This current crisis, while we stay at home and do our best to keep our heads above water, is another challenge much like the Great Depression, recession, fires, or 9/11. 

    What did we do when met with those challenges? We held steady and found ways to deal with the situations. My grandparents, who had just bought the property two years ahead of the Great Depression and in the middle of Prohibition, managed by working the farm to support their young family as well as selling the grapes to make a modest living.  My dad Jim created to offer a recession-friendly priced wine and found a spot for grapes without having to pull out vineyard. Two years of major fires tested us and made us more resilient-bringing the community together. And the 9/11 tragedy brought the country together.  

    One of the joys of writing these notes are the responses I am receiving from you. You inspire me with your stories and memories, you’re keeping busy with eyes to the future and the end of this thing called Shelter in Place. Here are some snippets of the comments and observations:

    We are hanging in there discovering how to clean closets, walk together and talk to one another. It will pass and maybe we all can learn from this.

    We are hanging in there. I am bored sitting at home. Over 40 years of making (sales) calls and now a different world.

    We are using this time to relax but be productive, too, because once we can bust out into the real world, I’m planning to visit as many restaurants as possible and get back to the gym! 

    Wisdom from a 70+ year old friend: "What is this teaching me?" For me it's teaching me to be resourceful with what I have. I have a garden that feeds us. A refrigerator full of main staples. A sink with running water. A husband that can still provide. Two sons. One now living in with us and the other getting home safely from Brazil and quarantining in the bay area for 2 weeks and soon will join the clan. My love language is cooking. So this is where your wine comes in...I open a bottle of Pedroncelli wine, play some country music in the kitchen and create a yummy, intentional and nutritional meal for my family. That scenario is my solace, my peace of mind. Thank you Julie for your heartfelt and authentic correspondence. 

    Hold Steady LadsAs a healthcare worker in Washington State I am directly involved in caring for patients who are infected I would just like to say thank you. You and all the others who are sheltering at home are all playing a big part in beating this beast. We will get through it! I have a trip to Sonoma County tentatively planned for June and am hoping and praying it will happen as planned.  I can't wait to drink some Friends with friends. Stay well. 

    I'm inspired to spend this time to be more productive in my writing, I've cleaned out my 'closet' of files, I'm spending time being thankful for what I have, learning to be patient while waiting to hug my grandsons (especially my newest one), following Shelter in Place orders because it will help end this, and holding onto hope for gathering together again.

    What does it take to hold steady? How about courage and wisdom. It takes courage to be a farmer and producer to get through this time, it takes courage to rally the forces around us, be creative and not be overwhelmed. It takes wisdom to know 'this too shall pass' and learn what this situation is teaching us and then passing this wisdom along. Hold steady, hold tight and hold on-6 feet apart. 

  • Pantry and Wine Friendly Recipes for a Pandemic

    April 1, 2020 14:08

    Pantry and Wine Friendly Recipes for a Pandemic

     In a recent post I mentioned I was trying to come up with wine tips-outside of hand sanitizer-and cooking with it was one of them along with what I have learned about the chemistry of using wine in a sauce. I have gathered hundreds of recipes over the years and always strive for what I call 'pantry friendly' recipes-you know, the ones where you don't have to go to a specialty store to buy an ounce of caviar.

    Let’s begin with one of my favorite recipes because polenta is a comfort food I grew up with-think of it as Italian grits. Parmesan Polenta with Sausage Ragu

    I found this recipe while searching for easy dinners and while it takes a little bit of time between cooking the sauce and the polenta, Sunday dinner anyone?, this brings simple ingredients together deliciously. Here are a few photos when I made this not long ago.

    Pantry ingredientsHere are a few tips: buy fresh basil-nothing like fresh to give a dish the best taste but in a pinch use dried basil-a teaspoon of dried to a tablespoon of fresh herbs. I buy the better grade canned tomatoes-but whatever you have on hand should work. Regarding the type of sausage, I like spicy but you can use the sweet Italian type and will still work, you can also replace pork sausage with turkey sausage very easily. 

    garlic and onions

    pouring in the tomatoes

    Your pantry, my pantry-there may be a difference in what you keep or have on hand. Sometimes Ed just shakes his head at my ‘substitutions’ and I admit they don’t always create the same recipe. Don’t be afraid to be creative-if you don’t have leeks use onions. If you don’t have ground turkey use ground beef. Cooking at home doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow the instructions, measure out the ingredients, take your time-we have a lot of it these days. Planning ahead-there’s another tip. Pre-COVID119 I would go to the store almost daily after work to get a quick weeknight dinner together. Secretly I love grocery shopping but let’s keep that between us. Now I plan ahead to go to the store twice a week so I am following our shelter in place order.

    Now, besides the tips I received about ways to use up wine, like turning leftover wine into ice cubes and later on using them in sauces or drinking the same wine you used in the recipe at dinner, I also received a question about the bank of recipes I have stored on our website-I have been adding to the different categories for many years. I am a recipe hound and have collected quite a few from many sources including family, staff, newspapers, local chefs, authors and recipe sites. Here are some of my favorites and I hope they become yours!

    You know the can of chickpeas taking up a spot in the cupboard? Dress it up by roasting them-use as a snack or in a salad for lots of flavor: Spice Roasted Chickpeas

    This soup is a staple in our household-spicy, tummy filling and healthy: Chicken Tortilla Soup

    Alternately this soup uses up lots of veggies, the kitchen sink approach: Minestrone

    Here is a simple, tasty and easy dinner idea: Chicken and Rice Pilaf

    My mom Phyllis has been making a version of this for many years-both Mom and I find we do it a bit differently each time: Chicken Scallopini a la Phyllis

    Here is a family favorite from our pre-empty nest days-I found this in Adrienne’s cookbook for kids. Easy, flavorful and filling-the trifecta of the perfect family recipe-use beef and make it Sloppy Joes: Sloppy Toms

    Each month I send out an enewsletter and part of it includes 2-3 recipes I find that are wine friendly. If you’d like to be on the email list let me know and send to I'll sign off here like I do in the column: don’t forget the vino!