August 10, 2020 10:29
One of my favorite bands is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Tom always seemed to sing straight to me with his lyrics and style. The song, The Waiting, in the title of this post is from one of my favorites (although I think I have about 20 of their songs on my list of best loved tunes).
So-how is the waiting? How are things going? Have those habits been formed? Have you taken a mental vacation or a real one? Have you had enough of forgetting your mask like I do—and I have at least five of them right now? These restrictions, in order to keep us safe, make me feel like life is now on hold. And waiting. It really is the hardest part because patience, for me, is not one of my strong suits. How about you?
Recently I wrote about our 93rd anniversary and the times my grandparents lived through: Prohibition and the Great Depression. Together they started their own venture that would become my family’s multi-generation business. While the world feels prohibitive right now I think during my grandparent’s days and these we do find a way forward.
We’re still waiting this out at the winery too. Like many of you I search through articles or emails to find the latest County and State guidelines and wait for the regulations to be lifted or changed-sometimes it seems daily or weekly. Harvest is looming, labor has been and will be more difficult to come by and there will be changes in the way we handle harvest this year to keep everyone safe. The tasting room has been open by reservaion per those guidelines requiring us to do tastings outside. We may have to close when the weather cools down because it will be too cold for you all to enjoy tasting outside. We’ll switch back to curbside pick up as part of our COVID Plan ‘C’.
Life does go on because it must. Grapes ripen so we move forward with vintage 2020. While we are experiencing interruptions to daily life there are life events happening because, like nature, we all do go on. Babies are born and, thanks to technology, family and friends all have access and rejoice with the new parents. Marriages are taking place albeit in much smaller groups of close family with the BIG celebration planned later. School will continue in the format parents had to deal with in the spring and teachers are scrambling on how best to educate.
I recently saw an article written by Rick Steves, the world traveler and TV host of many shows, in The Atlantic, “For the past 30 years, I’ve spent every summer abroad in Europe. Now I’ve realized that traveling isn’t just a pastime—it’s a mindset.” And he goes on to talk about how he has adapted his life to the pandemic with a traveler’s spirit.
Prohibition ended, harvest will be over before we know it, and this pandemic will end. Looking at history and what has taken place over the years gives me hope of a better, new world ahead. I would love to wait it out with you-we've enjoyed virtually connecting with many different friends (shout out to Florida and Alaska among others-you know who you are!) and our visits make us more connected and less lonely. Wine is what we have in common and brings us together. I can't wait until we can, virtually or in person, visit over a glass of vino! Contact us at email@example.com or send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Lyrics from “The Waiting.” Genius, 2020, https://genius.com/Tom-petty-and-the-heartbreakers-the-waiting-lyrics
July 27, 2020 09:22
93 years ago (July 22, 1927) my grandfather signed the papers on the purchase of a home, vineyard and shuttered winery near the town of Geyserville in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. I often wonder what the day was like-did it hold trepidation for him and his young family? Were there hopes that Prohibition would end soon and they could make a living selling wine? Or would they move on to something else? The legacy they created that day spans four generations and 9 decades here in Dry Creek Valley!
My grandparents, both immigrants from northern Italy, came to the United States separately in the early 1900s. My grandfather arrived along with his sister Caterina (she later died in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic) and found work around the Placerville and later Redding area. My grandmother came with her mother and sister to meet my great-grandfather who had found a place in Redding CA.
My grandparents met, as the story goes, when my grandfather was selling vegetables to local businesses and met my grandmother when he called on their hotel-just about 10 years after they had arrived in the United States.
They married, settled in Dunsmuir, and a few years later they pulled up roots and moved to Geyserville leaving behind family and friends. Giovanni & Julia arrived at the new property with three children between the ages of 7 and 2 years old along with all of their worldly possessions. In light of history it was a challenging period with Prohibition in full swing and the Great Depression following just two years later.
During this COVID time of sheltering in place I have to imagine it was almost the same feeling as we have now: being cut off from family and friends, striking out into new territory, not knowing what will happen in the next weeks and months. There weren’t many neighbors to begin with, the town of Geyserville was three miles away and they didn’t have friends nearby.
The beauty of this story comes with the knowledge of the hard work it took to overcome the odds and to wait patiently for the times to change. It was another 6 years of Prohibition before it was Repealed and almost 10 years for the Depression to end. All the while supporting a young family which welcomed one more child in 1932, my dad Jim.
They started by first selling the grapes to head of households in the area and launched a new family business of making wine in 1934. The ensuing years saw many changes in the way the family worked the land and made wine. I stand in awe of what they were able to achieve from there. I must remember what it took to get through those times because, like all of us, I need the reminder of better days to come.
If you would like to take a trip down memory lane click here for our history gallery.
July 24, 2020 15:39
While I was on vacation I decided to put together some of the responses I have received from my 'Notes from Home' over May and June 2020. Some are how you have coped with working from home-or being retired and staying home. Some are about how you happened upon Pedroncelli in your travels. They warm my heart, make me laugh out loud and also make me think as I read over them. This compilation, while you were the authors, means so much to me, my family and staff. Thank you all for sharing! And by no means stop writing me vintage stories and notes from your homes!
From YOUR Vintage Story:
Doug & Jan, Circa 2007: “My wife, Jan and I found Pedroncelli on our cross country trip from our home in the Finger Lakes area of NYS to my brothers home in Fresno via Yellowstone, Portland beer scene. As we headed south I decided to pull off at the Geyserville exit and saw the signpost for Dry Creek Valley. We spotted you sign and said “Why not?” We arrived at opening and tasted with a couple of newly weds and enjoyed at great tasting including you 4-Grape Port with dark chocolate covered espresso beans. Way to start the day. We’ve been fans ever since. Love you guys and the wonderful food and wine pairings. When we want Calif. wine we trend to Sonoma and Dry Creek. We love your Bushnell Zin. Best wishes from Upstate NY.”
Bruce: “My story starts around the summer of 1980. A friend from Windsor took me wine tasting to your winery and that day the winemaker, John, was doing a 10yr vertical pouring and said it was very special. I was new to wine tasting and did not know that tasting vintages from 1979 down to 1969 was as special as it was. Also in those days, there were no charges for the tasting, the good ole days! After that day, Pedroncelli Zinfandel would be one of my favorite wines.
Part Two & Three of my story happens around 2013-14. On a trip south (from McKinnleyville CA) to see my daughter, I stopped in to do a tasting. The lady that was working there was a local. We started chatting about wine and I casually said, "I see you have a new tasting room". And she said,"No it’s been here a long time". I replied it's been 23 or 24 years since I was here. I joined the wine club that day.
On the return trip from my daughter's place. I stopped in on the way back. Again, around 11:00 clock, middle of the week, same employee working, I'm tasting some wine, looking out a window towards the parking lot, when a couple of old guys get out of the shiny black SL500 Mercedes and come into the tasting room. The employee tells the gentlemen that there is a 5.00 tasting fee, and they answer, no problem. Then the driver of the Mercedes says to lady, "is John in today" and she explains John has gone home for the day but can she say who asking? He says "Davis Bynum", and at this point the employee is visibly nervous and excited at the same time. She tells him that Jim is here and will call him and within a minute Jim arrives in the tasting room. At this point, the lady says,"Mr. Bynum there will be no charge for the tasting" and I said “with that Mercedes he could afford a 10.00 tasting”. Everybody laughs and Davis said, I like your style young man, (I was 58-59 at the time and he was well into his 80's. I had finished my tasting and bought a couple of bottles to offset the 5.00 fee and decided it was time to go. I wish I would have stayed a little longer to watch two icons of the wine industry discuss wines and life. A Pedroncelli fan 40 plus years and counting.”
Wesley, circa 2015: “I don’t think we’ve met, but we are big fans of Pedroncelli, having been introduced through wine.woot back in the day. We live in Rochester, NY, and have visited the winery twice- once Jon Brown gave us a great tour and we met Jim in the tasting room when he came in for a glass of Wisdom cab. The second time we met Colin and he showed us around. We have had good luck, at least for our first two kids, finding some birth year wines way late in the game. I remember calling Jon in 2015 when our oldest daughter, Brooke, was twenty, to see if you guys had any 1995 wines still in the cellar. I’m pretty sure that Ed walked through the whole warehouse and ended up finding a magnum of 1995 Three Vineyards Cabernet that he didn’t know was there. Jon sold it to me for $50. I was shocked! We opened it to celebrate Brooke’s 21st birthday on April 22, 2016. The wine was fabulous, and the empty bottle still lives up on a shelf in our wine cellar, reminding us of the wonder of bringing our first child into the world.”
From A View from 1985:
Mark: “Great reading about your experience in 1985. In 1985 I had just completed my first year of grad school at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. I had a summer job at Busch Gardens working up data for food service and rides at the theme park. My wife Catherine and I had a 2 year son and we had passes for the park for the summer, so I worked many hours compiling data for the park (pre-desktop computing) and the family could hang out in the park. A year later I graduated with a master's degree in business finance and off I ran to work in Washington, DC for several years. A lot has transpired in the last 35 years, some good and some bad, but hopefully we learn and appreciate the fact that we made it to June of 2020.”
John and Sheryl Allen: Well, in 1985 we (wife Sheryl and 5 yr old son Jamie and I) lived in Seiad Valley, in the home we still live in today. Jamie is 40, has a nice wife Emily and 3 wonderful children, and they live 3 miles from us. They have a creek on their property about the size of Dry Creek with a swimming hole to keep us all cool. I was beginning my career with the US Forest Service performing forest inventory (measuring trees) and fighting forest fires. We made frequent trips to Healdsburg to visit my dad, Bob Allen on S. Fitch Mtn. Rd., since my mom Ruth passed away in 1983. We often came to your tasting room to taste and buy wine. Our trips are less frequent now, but every now and then we come down and see our friend Tom H. and stay at Geyserville Inn and eat at Catelli's. I've been retired for 7 years, and now we tend our garden and orchard on 4 acres, make my mom’s raviolis (original recipe from northern Italy), drink your good zin and enjoy living in the woods! Before COVID, we used to travel and golf, and stay at our second home in Ashland Or. I hope we can do that again soon! We love your Sonoma Co. and our Siskiyou Co. ----- Take care and enjoy and wish for better times!
Richard V.: “Our first visit to Pedroncelli Winery was to the barn tasting room. Two older gentlemen were pouring the wine and talking and telling stories. It had to be more than thirty-eight years ago because our daughter had not been born yet. In later years we visited with her at about age 10 or 11. At that time there was an art exhibit in the room off the new tasting room. Our daughter was really enthused for some of the art and wrote a note to the artist. The artist answered her little note and she was so totally excited to hear back from the artist! My wife and I still try to stop by the winery when we are in the area. Also, we are now members of the wine club. Good luck and keep up the good work!”
Steve: “Early 80’s was the time of our first visit to Pedroncelli. First purchase was either Mother Clone or a Cabernet, I’m not sure. I remember one year on a Celebrity Cruise we were excited to find a Pedroncelli on a Celebrity Cruise and got them to save enough bottles for us to have one each night at dinner. It is still difficult to find your wines in our Des Moines stores but we order regularly online to keep our stock current. My personal favorite is the Port with chocolate dessert. Dr. doesn’t want me to eat desserts so haven’t had any in a while. It’s a Pedroncelli chilling right now (Chardonnay) for dinner tonight. Keep up the good work and keep the great old favorites as many wineries are following the trendy wine of the month path.”
“It’s Judy, the healthcare worker from Washington State. I’m the one who was looking forward to visiting and having some Friends Red on my trip in June. Thankfully we are making progress in these challenging times and I’m so happy things worked out! We were able to visit last Sunday and Gary did a wonderful job with our tasting. We were so glad to visit as “Life Opens Up” in Sonoma County. I just received my shipment and look forward to enjoying each and every bottle. Stay well.”
Mark: “My wife and I are club members and have been for a few years now. I can tell you that we treasure your wines. I’m originally from CA but we’ve been in Texas for 25 years. We consider your wines the best quality for the price and we’ve visited many wineries all over the world. When we receive a club shipment, or a case we have ordered it brightens our day (and month) in many ways. During these times we have certainly enjoyed many a glass of Pedroncelli wine on our back porch. We live way out in the country and quarantining at home has not been a huge chore for us. Your wine has certainly made that easier to deal with. Things in Texas are opening up a bit but being where we are, we would pretty much like to spend our time here anyway. My wife can work from home and I am retired so we are certainly not complaining. I also realize that not all are as lucky and I hope for their sakes that things improve quickly. We wish you the best and please keep doing what you do.”
Dean: “All is well here in Omaha, NE. Luckily we have an acreage about 10 miles from mid town Omaha so have the ability to get out to garden, etc. Always lots to do. Is nice to be a “semi hermit”. The garden is responding well to the warmer weather but still need to rain. Tomatoes have set on and even the parsnips are growing. Last year that did not happen as we had lots of rain and not a lot of warm weather. Been eating fresh asparagus daily from our garden for the past month or so. It is getting to the point that Ann and I look at each other and say “what are we going to have with asparagus tonight.” We have an English couple in their mid to late 80s who live up the road so share asparagus and rhubarb with them on a weekly basis. They are very much concerned about the virus so are homebound on their acreage. Otherwise, no complaints as of this date. Just finished reading an interesting book, American Harvest. Saw a review of it in The New Yorker and thought it was one to read. I found it rather fascinating. Since your family is in agriculture, you might find the book, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, by David R. Montgomery interesting. At the ranch we have various meadows and sloughs that are virgin prairies. We are working on a number of conservation projects including the removal of eastern red cedar trees, the bane of pastures. Time to head up there tomorrow to check things out. Need a long drive to get away for a bit. Hope all is well with you. Keep smiling and remember, it could be worse! (My uplifting thought for the day). (Grin).”
June 29, 2020 11:27
Where were you in 1985? This year marks my 35th at Pedroncelli Winery so June is a special month for me as it is the anniversary of the start of my career in the family business. 35 years ago…more than half my life and the other half was spent growing up here. I did move away to attend college in Marin County (go Penguins) but always came home to visit with family and it is how my path back home began.
Post college, as I drove back and forth from the East Bay to Geyserville, I was missing Sonoma County quite a bit (by the way the place I lived in was right next to the Del Norte BART station and the track ran above the fence). After the invitation from my father Jim (actually a meeting in the case goods warehouse), I agreed to make the move back home and work for the family. Once home, I supplemented my liberal arts education with classes at the Santa Rosa Junior College where I learned from the greats-Richard Thomas (vineyard) and Bill Traverso (wine marketing) among others.
As I eased into the business of wine I began in the Tasting Room working with cousin Richard. I eventually made my way into the office and began doing administrative work. Writing fact sheets and then the newsletter was a natural extension of my education as an English major. 2020 also marks the 30th anniversary of writing newsletters in various formats over the years. 10 years ago I switched from printing the newsletter to the electronic version. My blog posts on Vino in my Dino began 6 years ago. Those projects represent thousands of words about the winery, our history and family as well as musings and opinions over the years.
In light of this year and all the COVID 19 sheltering in place, wearing of masks, and physically distancing ourselves helps me put some of these things in perspective: my grandparents started from scratch in 1927. Two years later the Great Depression began. They made it through and I have realized by talking to my late uncle John and dad Jim and hearing their stories of the early years made me realize it wasn’t a ‘fun’ time. I imagine it must have been hard for my grandparents to make a living and to feed the family. But because of the land they bought, they were able to have a farm, to sell grapes to support the family and learn a new way of life that would span 9 decades and four generations.
In the time I have worked for the family business I have seen huge swings and changes in how wine is sold and talked about. The internet, of course, is the biggest change in how we communicate our story and messages-website, social media channels, email and newsletters. Marketing wine nationally and globally are now par for the course. My newsletters have always communicated what was going on and where we were headed.
Reflections on my first newsletter-dated Spring 1990, Vol.1 No.1 (by clicking here you'll go to our gallery for the rest.)
The format here is the typical four-page newsletter with the information in order of importance-front page with news, the middle pages featuring varietals and new releases and the back panel reserved for the shorter messages of signing up to receive the newsletter and information on upcoming events-in this case it was for the Passport to Dry Creek Valley which many of you are familiar with as the trademark event of our area.
As I read through it some things remain the same because of who we are-can’t change the beginnings or the middle. The history of the first and second generations are in place. You’ll see we made 12 wines at the time including Chenin Blanc, Gamay Beaujolais and Riesling. Today there are other varietals planted in their place (Syrah instead of Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon instead of Riesling). Wisdom comes with farming a variety and finding out another one does even better in its’ place or is an answer to what our friends like to drink. Palates were evolving from lighter sweeter wines to more complex wines. We were also known as a ‘best value’ winery. This stand the test of time-this week Dan Berger wrote about our wines and included here his thoughts on the value our wines represent.
The next pages were a bit of a mish mash-I was learning the ropes obviously. Interestingly the new releases for that time of year include three wines we no longer produce-White Zinfandel, Dry Chenin Blanc and Gamay Beaujolais. I gave an update on the cellar as well as talked about how long we had grown and produced Cabernet Sauvignon-and how long to age it with the suggestion of buying a case of our 1981 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
What have I learned? To tell the story-even if it is from my perspective and to tell it in a way that reflects who I am and who we are. I enjoy being a storyteller what with our rich history, generations of farming wine grapes and making wine allows for many opportunities to see things from all angles. Those stories, like the newsletters, create a timeline of the Pedroncelli family and what we have accomplished over 9 decades-and 5 generations.
How about you? I bet a lot of things have changed in that time. 35 years ago Back to the Future was the number one movie, the KC Royals won the World Series (remember baseball?) and the 49ers won the Superbowl. Memories of Live Aid, The Cosby Show and, fittingly, Aretha Franklin’s voice was named a natural resource of Michigan. Tell me-did you have a bottle of our Gamay or Chenin Blanc back then? Did you buy a case of the 1981 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and do you have any in your cellar? Did you visit the tasting room when it was in the case goods warehouse (which is where I began)? Or earlier did you meet my grandfather who welcomed people in to taste in the 1950s/1960s? I look forward to hearing your stories as always and won’t be resting on my laurels as I have even more to write about in the coming years.
June 24, 2020 11:46
Like the woman in the Mervyn’s ads so many years ago we eagerly awaited the reopening of our tasting room-the first time we have been closed to the public in our 9 decades of operation. We are thrilled to be open once again having first received the green light from the state and then about a week later the go ahead from Sonoma County. With some additional guidelines, of course, thanks to COVID19.
Since March 16 the ‘Plan C’ on how we would re-open and operate in the period following the mandated closure of wine tasting has been on our minds. What would be expected, how we’d keep everyone safe, what would tasting be like, all under consideration. We do know this new experience will be shared everywhere because similar guidelines were developed from dining in at restaurants to going to the grocery store-If you are going inside masks and physical distancing would be required. Not quite the same as wine tasting in 2019 for sure. After nearly three months and a few virtual tastings along the way we have thrown open the cellar door with what I’ll call the COVID19 twist.
We are taking reservations which is another first in our tasting room history-we have always been a ‘walk right in, step up to the tasting bar’ kind of place. Also, and this comes as no surprise to everyone during this time, masks are required of staff and visitors-at least for our guests they can take off the mask once seated at their table in order to enjoy the wine tasting experience. Physical distance between parties is also a requirement as well as monitoring visitor flow so we don’t get too crowded. Think of it as your own private tasting area replete with wine, friends and your own ‘table’.
Another new development is in the way we offer our wines for tasting, once you are here, in the form of wine flights. Wine flights were something we were thinking about before COVID19 and was kicked off by our tasting room manager Gary. It was a way to navigate our 20 wines by offering suggestions and putting together wines with a theme. Hence the name of today’s Note from Home: IpsumLoremPourSomeMoreum. Ed and I were working on the copy for the flights and most everyone is familiar with the IpsumLorem filler as a replacement when copy isn’t quite ready yet, right? He filled in with this phrase and I got a kick out of it.
But I digress. By organizing these flights into groups like The Burgundian (Chardonnays and Pinot Noir); Classic Dry Creek Valley (Flagship Zinfandels & Petite Sirah) or The Road Less Traveled (our small lot wines and unusual varieties) we felt it would be easier for our guests to make their way through the number of wines we make. We also offer Create Your Own Flight and left it up to you to choose your favorite wines-it’s how we roll here at Pedroncelli.
Nonetheless, we are determined to make your visit here a pleasant one, although there are things we ask of you!
- Make a reservation by sending an email or calling the tasting room 707-857-3531 option 1
We can take a few walk-in guests, but space is limited.
- Bring your favorite mask, and wear at at all times when you are away from your table.
- Sanitize your hands (you'll see the cool little dispensers as you enter.)
- Keep physically distant from other guests--at least six bottles of Zin laying end-to-end.
- And most of all please join us when you are feeling your best-or else we’ll have to take your temperature!
By the way, for those of you still homebound or far away and won’t be traveling soon we’ll be offering our tasting room flights virtually if you'd like to order your in-home version. We will be happy to connect with you to talk about the wines at a mutually convenient time of course! email@example.com is the way to reach us for those.
- Make a reservation by sending an email or calling the tasting room 707-857-3531 option 1
June 24, 2020 11:05
My notes from home over the last three months have included many topics during COVID19 and I’d like to revisit one of them and check back in with you-how are you? Or as Joey from the comedy series Friends said, How you doin’?
Day Ninety Whatever and 11 weeks into sheltering in place. Apologies for the reminder but we are all still here, summer is beckoning, things are opening up but the state and county here caution us all to remain vigilant. I don’t think it is the stay at home that gets me so much as it is being hyper-aware when I am out doing the necessary or usual things. I had an actual doctor’s appointment-not a virtual one. I was stopped at the door to have my temperature taken and asked a barrage of questions ending in did I know anyone who was ill with the coronavirus in my household. Personally, I’d lead with that question!
All things considered I am working through the stages of SIP: happy to work from home, overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, wondering why so and so has time on their hands to do puzzles, not know what day it actually is let alone the date, and finally forgetting to take my mask with me. I've learned to bring extras.
These days the eyes have it. Eye contact is key-has anyone realized how our eyes tell all when we have a mask on? While out the other day at the grocery store I was reminded of a memory from years ago by looking into the eyes of Jordan my checker (shout out to Big John’s Market and their checkers-all doing a wonderful job!). We took the kids to a Gold Rush place in Coloma CA and part of the experience was a stage coach ride. We were riding along when suddenly we were stopped and the door flew opened to reveal a bandit with a bandana mask, shades of SIP! My eyes locked with his-and I realized he wasn’t really into his role -perhaps an off day for this fellow. He continued with the “robbery” and we continued on our way saved by the sheriff, or the stage coach driver. The memory of how revealing his eyes were at that moment reminded me when I look at people today our eyes are the windows of our souls!
How are you doing? If I were to look into your eyes above your mask what would I see? I have heard from many of you and so far you are maintaining a healthy outlook on life at home/work at home/retirement at home/homeschooling at home and have made adjustments at this stage in the SIP game. While some of the states and counties are opening up earlier than California-lucky you-I am still waiting to throw open the doors of our tasting room and say directly to you, "how you doin'?"
May 27, 2020 10:57
There’s Plan A and Plan B. Both of these have merit because the first plan is backed up by the second. A year ago I would never have thought we’d need a Plan C. Sheltering at home and limiting our forays into the community have been a part of our lives for weeks. Have you received your ‘getting out of jail free’ card? We haven’t just yet at home or at the tasting room but it is coming. The weather is warming up, outside venues like parks are opening up and we are making plans to throw open the doors with a few tweaks, of course, because of COVID-19 measures. So Plan C it is.
This ‘new’ normal is going to govern our lives over the next year or so. There is no ‘boldly go’, more like slow and steady wins the race. Until the virus abates, or a vaccine is discovered, we are going to socialize in a new way. We always took for granted the hugs and kisses, handshakes and pats on the back but the ‘new’ normal includes continued social distancing, wearing face masks, sanitizing like crazy-as if we haven’t already!
The state and county are doing their best to phase back into things-phase 1 and 2 have been accomplished and now onto Phase 2B and beyond. In a way our “Get Out of Jail” card or Phase 3 will allow more freedom and allow more movement-and like the state of California says we are going to take it very slowly in order to protect all of us. Tasting room visits, once given the green light, will include some changes for the foreseeable future. We are working hard to put together a memorable and friendly visit.
First and foremost is safety of all-staff and visitors. Secondly we still need to distance ourselves so reservations for any visits will be taken which is a first for us. We have been a tasting room with walk in ability since we opened. Thirdly I am now taking ‘eye enhancement’ classes so I can communicate above my mask. While we won’t be able to gather in large groups in the beginning we will certainly make you feel at home!
When formulating Plan C I realized we already have some of this down. When we were sheltering in place we gained some experience in the retail world. We have now grocery shopped in a different way, bought things at stores or other essential places masked and protected, had a video doctor’s appointment or have perhaps done a curbside pick-up.
Our Plan C will include a whole new wine tasting experience at Pedroncelli-maybe I should call it Plan P? First up, there will be some prep work ahead of your visit to make sure we know how many are in your party, what you’d like to do, what day and time you’d like to come by. We’ll use a touchless system to take your reservation. We’ll set a place for you, have our tasting list ready with some flight choices or have you choose your own flight. We’ll provide you with effortless service, regale you with the stories behind the Pedroncelli name or the wine you are trying, and we’ll enjoy each other’s company even though we are maintaining a safe distance.
I had a dream the other night about our new tasting room experience post-COVID. I was back in an episode of MASH with the doctors as tasting attendants and I was sitting at a table full of test tube samples. Glad I woke up and it wasn’t true! Needless to say our new plans for you will include all the things for a great experience: tasty wines, a sense of humor and you!
May 27, 2020 06:14
During the last 11 weeks we have been on a kitchen journey while staying at home. Most of us have discovered the joys of working with what we have on hand or finding new ways to cook chicken. Many famous chefs are making short videos as if you are cooking with them-Jacques Pepin is my favorite. Ordering online for groceries became a new norm for some, curbside pick up for others or we suited up and went to the store with list in hand-something about being masked made me forget half of the things I needed on my first couple of trips.
Needless to say eating is one of those things we all have in common, right up there with enjoying wine. One of the joys of writing my newsletters and these posts is receiving messages back from you, my readers. And every once in a while I get recipes which is like opening up a surprise gift, I am an avowed collector if you didn’t know. In the last couple of months I have received notes about home cooking and what you were fixing that night along with which wine to go with the meal or what you were experiencing while trying to be creative. You sent me recipes or I found them on Facebook. Either way here are three from the last 2 months and thank you all for sharing your recipes!
Pollo a la Romana: This recipe comes from our club members the Kings, Donn & Judith. I saw the photo of the finished dish on Facebook and requested it for this story. While this isn’t the typical recipe laid out it is the way I cook-improvisation!
Seriously, you know how it goes; you start with a recipe, add and modify and adjust for quantity, and hope it comes out good. Pollo a la Roma is essentially an Italian chicken stew, reduced and thickened, and served with any pasta; orzo is good.
I improvised on a recipe by using quartered artichoke hearts, a package of exotic mushrooms, a big yellow onion, bacon instead of prosciutto, red wine instead of white, and I used canned tomatoes from our garden from last season, and chicken tenderloins (whatever they are). I used at least 10 ounces of red wine to get the liquid volume that I wanted, along with the quart of cooked tomatoes. I used 2.7 lbs of tenderloins.
Otherwise, you brown the chicken; set it aside; sauté the bacon, onion, red and yellow pepper. Then add in a quart or so of diced tomatoes. Add in your spices, and salt and pepper. We used Italian parsley, thyme and rosemary because we grow it. I think you could use any herbs that you want. One thing I do is- I don’t sauté garlic anymore. I add the fresh, chopped garlic into the tomato sauce, and let it stew. I feel that sautéing garlic is too hot for the garlic and you lose flavor.
Then you add back the chicken, adjust the salt and flavors, simmer for at least an hour, and stew it down to your preferred consistency. Serve with pasta of your choice. Donn asked me to make certain to tell you the pictured wine was not used for cooking! Of course, we drank the pictured wine (2016 Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel) with our meal and thought it was spectacular.
Paella a la Montse: our winemaker and I were asked for recipes to pair with our wines for a New York retailer promotion for cooking at home. Knowing this is one of Montse’s favorite dishes as well as a taste of home (she is from Spain) I asked her to share it-along with her wine recommendation.
My paella recipe (for a seafood paella):
1 lb of clams
1 lb of shrimp, peeled
1 lb small scallops
1 green bell pepper
1 can of small diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves minced
Saffon 1 pinch
Pimenton or smoked paprika 1 teaspoon
Spicy pimenton or cayenne (optional) ½ teaspoon
Turmeric (optional) 1 pinch
Rice: bomba or medium size 2 cups
Fish broth (4 cups)-recipe included below.
Salt & pepper
Note: It is important to use a Paella pan or a flat wide base pan, a cast iron pan is good too.
You need to make the fish broth separately. This is a quick way to do it: In a pot add 4 ½ cups of water, salt, the clams (previously clean and scrubbed) and a pinch of saffron. Bring to a boil. Remove the clams when opened (discard the unopened clams) and set them aside. Remove broth from heat. Reserve.
Heat olive oil (2 tablespoons) in Paella pan over medium high heat. Add shrimp, salt, cook each side until pink. Remove them from pan and set aside. Add onion, cook 5 min or until translucent, add diced bell pepper and garlic. Cook for another 10 min. Add diced tomatoes and all spices. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes. That’s what we call the Sofrito.
Add rice and mix well with the Sofrito. Add broth, shrimp, clams and scallops, (salt and pepper to taste). Cook at medium heat for 5 minutes, then cover and cook to low heat until rice has absorbed all broth. Remove when done and let it rest, covered for 5 minutes. Serve with a wedge of lemon. Enjoy with our white wines, rosé, Sangiovese or even our Pinot Noir. Salut!
Date Nut Cake: this was sent in by Bill Kammer. I made this right away knowing my family loves this kind of combination. He said, “We got the original recipe from a sweet lady of Swiss decent – we miss her as she passed away quite a while ago. Most of the parenthetical comments are our modifications. It will fool you into thinking it is a Chocolate cake, so I have it with a Pedroncelli Red."
Step 1: 1 Cup Chopped Dates (the date pieces dusted with flour work best) 1 ½ Cups of Boiling Water & 1 tsp Baking Soda(get the water boiling before you chunk in the dates) Put the dates and soda in a bowl; then pour the boiling water over and let cool.
Step 2: Cream: ½ Cup Shortening (we use Butter), 1 Cup Sugar and 2 Eggs then: Add to the cooled Date Mixture
Step 3: Sift: 1 ½ Cups of Flour, ¼ tsp Salt, ¾ tsp Soda
Step 4: Blend: The Mixture of Step 2 alternately with Step 4 ingredients Then: Pour into a Greased 9 X 13 Baking Pan
Step 5: Mix: 1 Package of Bitter-Sweet Chocolate Chips, ¼ Cup of Sugar (Optional), ¾ Cup of Chopped nuts Pecans and/or Black Walnuts (we use almost 1 ½ Cups). Sprinkle this mixture over the batter so it stays on top.
Step 6: Bake 350 degrees 40 – 45 Minutes.
As Jacques Pepin likes to say ‘Happy Cooking’ and I like to say ‘Don’t forget the vino’.
May 21, 2020 08:24
Following the progress at our estate vineyards helps keep things in perspective. While we all shelter in place (hopefully not for much longer) the vines are happily making their way toward vintage 2020. I visited with Mitch Blakeley, fourth generation family member, to check in and get his perspective about what it going on out in the vineyard.
We farm 115 acres of vineyard between the Mother Clone, Home Ranch, Three Vineyards, Wisdom, Alto Vineyards, Bench Vineyards, East Side Vineyards and Bushnell Vineyard with 11 varietals planted between all of them. Some of these are small blocks while other encompass 30 or so acres between them. It all adds up to quite a bit of work for Lance Blakeley, Vineyard Manager, and Manuel Diaz, Vineyard Foreman along with Mitch who is not only in the vineyard he also led the certification process for sustainability in both the vineyard and winery.
Here are some in depth details about what is going on right now as we follow the vineyard this month in the bloom phase. Bloom or flowering (I’ll use the terms interchangeably) takes place about 6 weeks after budbreak, the first growth in the vine since winter dormancy which typically takes place in March. The leaves and shoots lengthen during the next month or so and small ‘bunches’ form. Bloom is when the future bunch of grapes breaks into tiny flowers-the smell is heavenly!-with crop set following in the next few weeks.
Follow the vineyard as I recap Mitch's comments on what is going on this month: The rain, while not as heavy compared to 2019’s six inches, actually mirrors almost to the day the time it rained the third week of May in last year. Over a week or so about an inch and a half of rain fell this year. What did this do to the vines? While April was warm and a few days in early May were over 90 degrees it became cold and rainy, slowing bloom time down. One of the benefits of receiving rains in the spring: it saves water. Mitch predicted they would be able to skip a full cycle of operating the drip irrigation system in the vineyards. Vines rely on interspersed drip irrigation during the dry months of summer and late rain helps delay the initial cycle of watering.
Flowering in some of the varietals, like Cabernet Franc, went quickly and is almost complete. Slow bloomers like Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon were just beginning. Zinfandel was at about 40% and other grapes like Sangiovese and Petite Sirah were somewhere in between. Rain will sometimes knock off some of the flowering which in turn might lower the production of fruit. It remains to be seen if this has happened in our vineyards-crop set takes place in June so we will know more by the end of next month.
The vineyard crew continues with tractor work, weed maintenance and suckering, which is the most important during this time because a vine will push lots of growth in the spring. If not taken care of by stripping off the multiple offshoots this will overburden the vine and eventually would inhibit getting a ripe crop if allowed to continue. Suckering takes place over the whole vine along the arms and at the base. Some of the wood is softer in varietals like Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc-so they will be suckered next but right now the crew is working on the Zinfandel and Cabernet as the vine trunks and arms are harder wood and harder to sucker as things begin to dry out. We are expecting 90 degree weather the last week of May and this accelerates the conditions so the crew is busy now in these vineyards in order to get ahead.
Thanks Mitch for the update. We've farmed for four generations and have seen many different scenarios throughout those years. This vintage will go in the books as one of the most unusual because of COVID19. As farmers we look forward to the next phase of growth because the vineyard naturally follows the tilt of the sun, the ebb and flow of weather and creates something new each year.
May 21, 2020 08:17
*Cue Mission Impossible theme music: da da da, da da da, da da: We are on a mission today to discover COVID Operations in and around the winery and out in the market. We are all working under challenging guidelines while we try to operate as normally as possible. This brings out the creativity in all of us-especially here at Pedroncelli.
Spring Ops: The vineyards continue their march toward harvest 2020 and May is the growth spurt the vines need to get going-the phrase April showers bring May flowers isn’t lost on the vines. Budbreak back in March progressed through warm days in April to push the growth forward and now we are seeing the clusters forming and this month they begin their flowering phase-the next step toward crop set. The vineyard crew is busy with their list of things to do while being aware of the current social distancing and sanitizing protocols.
Bottle Ops: Bottling continues through this month as the wines are unaware of the current situation. Winemaker Montse Reece and cellarmaster Polo Cano prep the wines and make sure the bottling room is set up so the cellar crew can remain safe and apart. A cellar is one of the most sanitized areas at any time so rest assured our wines have always been and always will be produced in the safest of ways.
Think Different: It matters when you are a mid-sized winery selling wine across many channels and some of them are compromised (restaurants for one). Jim, Ed and I are busy working with our wholesalers and exporters to fill in the gaps while we all stay at home. Virtual tastings with some of our retail accounts and their customers have become a regular occurrence rather than travel into the market. Zoom sessions with our national sales team-either one on one or in a group-are the norm for now. This doesn’t replace the personal touch and we are working on different ways to connect.
At Your Service: Colin Sinclair, Club Ped’s manager, successfully worked with Ed to get the May club shipment out and we even packed this one in house and we made the decision not to include any printed materials-in order to be as 'touchless' as possible. Colin, Gary and Lizzy are connecting with our friends-you may have received a call or email from them. We have curbside service for our neighbors-something we have been doing since my grandparents opened the cellar door.
Reach out and touch someone, virtually: Unless you are living under a rock without a computer you know the world of the internet has taken on a whole new mission: connecting us during this time of separation. Personally we’ve had cousin zooms, grand and great grand kid zooms with my parents, cocktail parties, birthday celebrations, COVID Coffee Chats and, as previously mentioned, virtual meet ups with wine stores and their customers in several states. Sharing our stories, reminiscing, making new friends and visiting old ones are done in a different way but ultimately we are reaching out and remaining safe in this way.
Making these operations possible is what we are immersed in at the moment-and we are preparing for what will come once shelter in place is removed. What that will look like is currently being shaped by government but also with an eye to adapting to a new way of visiting with you. And you can bet, even though we have to maintain a safe distance, our hospitality will be as welcoming and engaging as it has been since my grandfather’s time. We may need to be physically distanced and our goal is to be socially connected with you.
- Follow the Vineyard
- Note from Home
- Postcards from Home
- Seasons in The Cellar
- Tasting Room
- Vintage Notes
- Women's History Month
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Block 007 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Holding steady
- Harvest 2022
- Courage Zinfandel
- Seasons in The Cellar
- Heat wave
- Sonoma Classico
- Four Grapes Port
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Cellar Master
- American Oak
- Finding Your Roots
- Follow the Vineyard
- Crop set
- food and wine
- COVID Coffee Chat
- Library Wine
- Sonoma County
- Down to Earth
- Mother Clone
- French Oak
- 1974 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Dry Creek Valley
- Bushnell Vineyard
- cooking with wine
- note from home
- Lake Sonoma