• A Pedroncelli Taste Up

    January 27, 2017 12:46

    Moving into the 21st century for a winery celebrating 90 years can sometimes be a challenge or easy. This was one of those easy moments. Cooking was involved and this made it easy for me. We worked with Robert Larsen, The Larsen Projekt, to set up a virtual tasting with several members of the blogging community reaching from coast to coast.

    I chose a recipe and the wines we’d be tasting along with it. Thinking of my grandmother Julia I chose one that closely resembled her own cooking-she didn’t write anything down so it is up to the ensuing generations to take a stab at her delicious meals. Parmesan Polenta with Sausage Ragu was my choice and I paired it with three of our wines: Signature Selection Chardonnay, Mother Clone Zinfandel and Family Vineyards Petite Sirah.

    Parmesan Polenta with Sausage Ragu pairing

    Parmesan Polenta with Sausage Ragu cooking

    Parmesan Polenta with Sausage Ragu


    The chosen day and time was January 26 at 4pm in order to touch base with our east coasters and friends in the mid-west in order for us all to have a chance to make the meal. I uploaded several tweets ahead of time in order to give them some information on the winery, family and wines. We queued up the computers and hosted two bloggers at the winery as well-@luscious_lushes and @wizardofwhiskey.

    Questions and fingers flew as we tasted each of the wines and also dug into the tasty polenta. We were also trending on Twitter which I heard was a good thing-nice to be trendy! The link will bring you to the conversation as well as the many photos shared of each blogger's success with the recipe. I answered as many of the inquiries as possible-and enjoyed sipping and eating along the way.

    Here are some of the exchanges which you can follow in the link above:

    @Pedroncelli Why the decision to begin a winery mid-Prohibition? #ped90th (@Fiery01Red)

    @Pedroncelli gets it right: Their wines are made w/ food, friends and family in mind! #Zinfandel #wine #food #lifeisgood#winelover #PED90th (@myvinespot)

    Reconnecting with Dry Creek Valley with @Pedroncelli for #ped90th (@DrinkWhatULike)

    All in all it was a fun and informative evening. A toast to all with a splash of Mother Clone Zinfandel in my Dino (it was my favorite pick and pairing of the evening).

  • Wine WITH Food

    November 23, 2016 15:04

    Wine pairings have happened over the ages without much thought other than wine goes well with food whether it was a snack, lunch or dinner. It rounded things out, made life more enjoyable. Water will do the trick for sure but there is the synergy between wine and food or wine with food that prompts me to write about it today.

    I grew up in a family of six with at least one grandparent joining us for dinner each night. Wine was and is always a part of this meal for me. To be honest I don’t remember my parents making a big deal about it. There was food and there was wine. End of story. For my grandparents and my parents WINE was our way of life so why wouldn’t it be part of the meal? I consider myself one of the lucky ones-growing up among the vines, looking out at the same vineyard view from my office (formerly my bedroom), and having this life become my lifestyle.

    I still remember the first time it clicked, the pairing of our Sauvignon Blanc and carrots with dill and butter sauce. The interplay of those ingredients along with the herbaceousness of the wine sang on my tongue, elevated a weeknight meal, and became a remarkable memory for me. From these humble beginnings, from childhood to that memorable night, I began to collect wine friendly recipes. Between my newsletters and website there is a great mix of old and new cuisine, many of them collected from magazines, cookbooks and lately digital media. My favorite go-to for many of them come from Janet Fletcher of Planet Cheese and Michele Anna Jordan, columnist and chef for the Press Democrat as well as family recipes and my own creations.

    I share them with all of you in hopes you’ll find that moment when wine and food sing, a pairing that might include Chardonnay with Wild Mushroom Soup or our Mother Clone Zinfandel with Parmesan Polenta and Sausage Ragu like it did with friends this last Saturday. A toast to those meals and the holidays-making spirits bright with some Vino in my Dino.

    Dad, Mom, Ed and me in the Heritage Room, pre-holidays. Cheers!

    Wine Family Pre Holiday

    Photo credit: Dianna Murphy Photography

  • Blackberry Ramble

    July 8, 2016 13:07

    Blackberries are THE fruit of summertime for me! When I was growing up here at the winery we used to make blackberry jam by the pint, usually helping my grandmother by seeding the berries before they became jam in a huge colander. Our home was infused by the sweet smell of berry jam bubbling on the stove. In later years the blackberry component in Zinfandel was always easily recognizable to me, easy to pick out in the aromas and flavors of this grape and I attribute this to my experience picking the ripe berries and making them into jam in our kitchen.

    One Christmas my aunt and uncle gave our son Joe the book Blackberry Ramble. I will be bringing this book to read to our grandsons while we vacation in Truckee this month. Coincidentally blackberries were a theme at Joe and Ashley's July wedding a few years ago as it was part of the message delivered by Ed when he presided over their marriage.

    Earlier this week Ed and I took our own ramble to the blackberry patch along Canyon Road. It is the simple things in life like berries with which we celebrate birthdays (Ed) anniversaries (Joe and Ashley) and a first triathlon (Adrienne). I look forward to our time away so with some Zinfandel in my Dino, I’ll toast summertime and vacation-may we all relax and count our blessings!

    Freshly picked blackberries-the smell was heavenly and brought me back to my childhood. Destined for Blackberry Crisp and blackberry ice cream!

    Blackberry Bowl

  • Dear Dino: Salads

    March 17, 2015 16:33

    As the transition from winter to spring happens this week-and it has been spring-like here for awhile-we’ll talk about spring greens and pairing them with wine. Salads in general are a challenge to pair with wine. Truth be told they are a large part of my daily meals and are included for lunch and dinner. Let’s take a look at what is involved in order for there to be a bridge between the salad and the wine: the components, the dressing and the style of wine. I tend toward bitter greens but my workhorse salad base is Romaine. Meats like bacon is a favorite as is grilled chicken or beef. If I am in the mood for cheese I’ll add some cheddar or parmigiana. Other add-ins include the usual suspects but I do use green onion as it is the most mild in that family. Dressing is either vinaigrette or creamy depending on my mood.

    To match these combinations with a wine I consider the style-is it light and fruity or full and oaky; is it tannic or highly acidic? Look for lighter wines with salads-not necessarily sweet but fruity. Our Sauvignon Blanc and friends.white make great candidates for vinaigrette style dressings especially since the Gewurztraminer in the white blend makes for a spicy and floral base. Chardonnay is a nice companion to creamy dressings especially green goddess or even Ranch (homemade of course).Our Dry Rosé of Zinfandel is a great choice for salads with salty elements like cured meats, cheeses or nuts due to its crisp acidity. If you want to consider a red wine, I recommend Pinot Noir which is lighter in tannins. For a wine dinner I once paired our Pinot Noir with salad by roasting Portobello mushrooms with salt, pepper and olive oil. I used some of the pan juices from the mushrooms in the salad dressing-lowering the acidity and boosting the flavor. I also added shaved Parmigiana which contributed a richer element that matched well with the woodsy mushrooms. Your salad bowl is your palette, use your imagination with ingredients and the wine. Go green this spring!

    Dungeness Crab Salad is a favorite to pair with our F. Johnson Vineyard Chardonnay-thanks to Gary Gross for the photo.

    Dungeness Crab Salad

  • Dear Dino: Sweets and Wine

    February 12, 2015 17:22

    Does chocolate really go with Cabernet Sauvignon? Does Zinfandel pair well with snickerdoodles? These are only two of the things to consider when thinking about pairing wine with desserts. I am adding my thoughts on the subject today as we plunge toward Valentine’s Day, a holiday rife with sweet things. In a winery’s or restaurant’s desire to showcase all of their wines I often see the suggestion to pair dry red wines like Cabernet, Zinfandel and even Petite Sirah with desserts. I am not a fan of these pairings and luckily for us we make a Port that does pair well with most desserts. (Although, frankly, I prefer a tasty Stilton and toasted walnuts as the perfect pairing with Port style wines). I recommend going with less sweet confections-perhaps richer in butter, some caramelization, and featuring nuts for a good tie between the wine and dessert. On one occasion when our wine paired well with something sweet we were at an event and placed next to a bakery featuring a vast array of cookies. Ed tried our Mother Clone Zinfandel and snickerdoodles and loved the two together-there is a hint of cinnamon that links to the flavors and fruitiness of the Zin. He also enjoyed pairing their chocolate topped macaroon with our Rosé where the coconut resonated with the flavors in the wine. In my efforts to include using wine in desserts to help bridge the gap even further-like our Mini Port Chocolate Cupcakes or Poached Pears in Spiced Red Wine, it helps to have the addition of wine to link the two. A bit more advice-consider the wine you are serving with dessert: is it a bit fruity or soft, with lower tannins? This style will pair better with certain sweets. Are you pairing it with chocolate? It can be a tasty experience but too much sugariness and I think you have lost the connection between the two. I have included a few links which I hope will help you and me in our search for a perfect pairing. I will enjoy the moment with a bit of Zin in my glass and a snickerdoodle or two.

    While these are some great ideas, all of the wines are in the dessert wine category.

    Here are the recipes in our dessert section of Pedroncelli's recipes-enjoy!

    More recommendations for you.

  • Food for thought

    December 23, 2014 12:13

    I remember one gift I always look forward to and was from my great Aunt Rena. She always gave my family a big box of cookies-of all kinds-and my favorites were Lemon Lassies and Butterscotch Chip. My grandmother was able to get the recipe from her for the Lemon Lassies before she passed away and I am grateful to have it today. Other family dinner memories include the Ravioli my grandmother made at Christmas, they were so light and the sauce so flavorful-but that recipe is lost because we didn't have her write it down. The memory of the meal will suffice for me. Overall, our family tends to keep things pretty simple even for holiday meals. Especially for Ed and me. We serve Prime Rib (this is the one and only time we do) along with all the usual sides. We will include a sparkling wine kick off (we chose a magnum of Roederer Brut Rosé this year) and our Block 007 Cabernet Sauvignon will be paired with the roast beast. I consider our wines in the style of tried & true food friendly. It seems I always have a hard time choosing which wine I’ll pair with dinner because of this. We’ll likely include a bottle of Pinot Noir and Zinfandel as well-there are 10 of us for dinner and lots of palates to please. I do have quite a collection of recipes on our website (click here) and many of these are family favorites which have graced our table year in and year out. Merry Christmas! And pass the Cabernet Sauvignon.

    1970 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Mull This Over

    December 18, 2014 12:18

    Since this is the holiday season, and we do like to celebrate, here are a few ideas for cocktails made with our wines as well as one after dinner coffee drink. These add a bit of pizzazz to your party or dazzle to your dinner. You are always welcome to share a glass or two without all the frou-frou but then it wouldn’t be the holidays, would it?

    friends.white Punch


    Strawberry-Basil Rosé Sangria

    Pedroncelli Mulled Wine


    Portspresso by Dry Creek Kitchen, Healdsburg CA. Good to the last drop!


  • Dear Dino

    November 13, 2014 13:07

    Wine and food. Both are a passion for me. I am sure you have heard of ‘food friendly’ wines or the perfect pairing between a wine and a certain recipe. While on the road visiting my markets I talk about the relationship between the two quite a bit. It comes up in conversation especially when presenting wines at a restaurant account. Retailers are also interested because it helps them with customer service. When someone arrives at 5pm looking for dinner wine, they can offer choices that will go well with the meal. I learned a few years ago that one of the best ways to pair wine with food is this: a foundation of fat, fat and a little more fat. I am going overboard here but make sure there is some fat in the dish to build a bridge between the flavors whether it is butter in a sauce, a rich stew or a nicely marbled steak. I think this is why cheese is such a good choice when it comes to a great pairing with wine. These richer foods blend nicely with a wine framed by acidity and medium tannins. When a wine is in balance (the definition of a food friendly wine) there won’t be a battle between the two in your mouth. From my kitchen to yours, eat and drink well.

    Here are some of my suggested pairings with our Merlot- explore our recipe index for more ideas

  • Dear Dino 2014

    October 7, 2014 15:20

    A discussion on cooking with wine from my point of view.

    One of the things I learned, besides pouring myself a glass, is to keep things simple. I have loved to cook almost as many years as I have loved wine, learning from my grandmothers and mom. They always kept it simple and delicious. I'll grab an onion out of the pantry and imagine the possibilities—sometimes I don’t know what I’ll be making until the onion hits the pan. Simmering stews and pasta sauces are the perfect way to introduce some Zinfandel or Merlot-a half cup usually does it for added zip. The longer it simmers the better the flavors meld. Too short and you have some alcoholic flavors I don’t find very complementary. Or if you have some leftover Port, add a 1/4 cup to the pan after browning meat and, along with a chopped shallot and a dash of balsamic vinegar you'll have a savory sauce to pour over your pork tenderloin or chicken breast. I have found it is easiest to experiment with all kinds of wine in different dishes-chili, cakes, soups-well everything but my morning eggs that is. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy a sip in your Dino while dinner is simmering away.

    Click here for some wine friendly recipes-enjoy!