Pairing Pros/Recipes

Silver Oak Cellars

Author: Julie Fadda Powers
Jul, 2014 Issue

Silver Oak Cellars Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with Wagyu Beef Burgers


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Ram's Gate Winery

Author: Julie Fadda Powers
Jun, 2014 Issue

Ram’s Gate Winery 2011 Carneros Chardonnay with Little Gem Salad
 


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Verse & Chorus

Author: Julie Fadda Powers
May, 2014 Issue

Verse & Chorus with Beef Short Ribs, Rosemary Polenta and Guanciale Roasted Brussels Sprouts


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Peter Mondavi, Sr.

Author: Alexandra Russell
Special Wine Issue, Oct, 2013

Peter Mondavi, Sr., president/CEO and lead ambassador of C. Mondavi & Family and Charles Krug Winery


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P.B. Hein Vineyards

Author: Julie Fadda
Oct, 2008 Issue

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Beef Bourguignonne


This year marks the first release of P.B. Hein Vineyards wines. Owner Paul Bernard Hein is a self-taught winemaker whose family originally planted grapes on Mt. Veeder in 1879, but who didn’t get into the wine business himself until 2002. As an amateur, he gained popularity by winning several awards. Now with his first commercial release (the 2005 vintage), he’s already garnered awards from both local and international wine competitions


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Watkins Family Winery

Author: Julie Fadda
Oct, 2008 Issue

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Rack of Veal with Porcini Mushrooms


The Watkins family has been growing grapes in Sonoma County since 1979, but it wasn’t until 2003 when production was increased to include people beyond friends and family. The winery specializes in producing small amounts of mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and a Zinfandel/Petite Sirah blend. We tried its 2004 Cabernet from the Barn Block Vineyard of Mt. Veeder, which is young and rich with elements of dark fruit, minerals, currants and coffee. Winemaker Randall Watkins grew up in the Sonoma Valley, and after traveling to produce wine even as far away as Chile, has returned to his roots. His 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon is paired here with a recipe from chef Carlo Cavallo of Sonoma Meritage restaurant (just off the Plaza in downtown Sonoma).


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Thumbprint Cellars

Author: Julie Fadda
Sep, 2008 Issue

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Ahi Tuna with Peaches and a Honey Sesame Antique


Winemaker Scott Lindstrom-Dake was using a gold pen to decorate his unlabeled wine bottles for family and friends when he accidentally made a thumbprint in some wet ink—and totally dug the way it looked. The next thing he knew, Thumbprint Cellars was born. This was in the mid-1990s, soon after he realized his winemaking hobby (his parents were long-time growers) was becoming his true calling. By 2000, he and his wife Erica began making wine at a bonded winery in Healdsburg, and now produce several varietals and have a tasting room near the downtown square.


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Peterson Winery

Author: Julie Fadda
Aug, 2008 Issue

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Grilled Lamb with Blackberry Relish


Put some Syrah with some grilled food on a hot summer night and you’ll have a winning combination. Now one of the top 10 varietals planted worldwide, its complex flavor profile lends itself very well to this season’s culinary delights. Originating in Northern Rhône, it’s also referred to as Shiraz in places like Australia, New Zealand and even in the United States. It’s also been used as a popular blending grape, especially during less stellar years for commonly stand-alone varietals. But when it’s grown in warmer regions—and especially at higher altitudes—it can be a true knockout on its own. The end result depends largely on the winemaker’s style, but its backbone provides a wonderful palate with which to work.


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Round Pond Estate

Author: Julie Fadda
Jul, 2008 Issue

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Pear, Feta and Mixed Greens Salad


Bob and Jan MacDonnell purchased the first parcel of Round Pond Estate in the early 1980s. Since then, it’s grown to include orchards, vineyards and its own olive mill (one of only two that operate in Napa Valley). Today, Bob and Jan’s son and daughter, Miles and Ryan, are its proprietors.

 


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Paradise Ridge Winery

Author: Julie Fadda
Jul, 2008 Issue

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Tangy Cilantro Lemon Sensation (Seafood Marinade)


The first time Holland-born Walter Byck saw what would eventually become his 156-acre Santa Rosa estate overlooking the Russian River Valley, he told his family he’d seen paradise. Thus, Paradise Ranch was born. Within the first year of owning the property, the Bycks planted Sauvignon Blanc. Their winery opened in 1994 and now offers several varietal blends and single-vineyard offerings. From April to October, visitors are invited to “Wines and Sunsets,” where they can bring a picnic, enjoy some wine and take in the view starting at 6 p.m.


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Altamura

Author: Julie Fadda
Jun, 2008 Issue

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Frank’s Fabulous Mushroom Polenta in the Oven


Napa natives Frank and Karen Altamura established their winery in 1985 and, to this day, it remains the only winery in Wooden Valley (where Karen’s family originally settled in 1855). Frank began his professional winemaking career at Sterling Vineyards, then went on to Caymus. He says one of his most important discoveries during the learning process was not to have preconceived expectations from a vineyard, but to discover the flavors the vineyard offered instead.


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Ferrari-Carano

Author: Julie Fadda
Jun, 2008 Issue

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Radicchio and Licorice Risotto


Upon visiting Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery’s “Villa Fiore” wine center in Dry Creek Valley, you’ll immediately notice not only its high-quality wines—but its absolutely amazing gardens and views. For example, each spring begins with 10,000 tulips and daffodils in full bloom, and year-round, you can tour the landscape of more than 2,000 species of trees and shrubs, annuals and perennials. It’s honestly a sight to behold.


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Vinum Cellars Rose'

Author: Julie Fadda
May, 2008 Issue

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Pan-Seared Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Sauce and Braised Leeks


Vinum Cellars is a collaboration of friends and winemakers Chris Condos and Richard Bruno (who’s also the director of winemaking for Don Sebastiani & Sons). They met as students at UC Davis, went on to establish their careers, then reconvened when they made their first Vinum wine together—a Chenin Blanc called “Pointe Blanc.”
  


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Gann Family Cellars Rosé

Author: Julie Fadda
May, 2008 Issue

 

 

Fruit and Brie Quesadillas


It was the mid 1980s when Gretchen and Michael Gann Schmahl realized just how much they appreciated wine, and their dream of someday owning their own vineyards began to grow. It was finally realized in 2003 with the founding of Gann Family Cellars in Healdsburg.


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Conn Creek Cabernet Franc

Author: Julie Fadda
Apr, 2008 Issue

 

 

Cold Steak Salad with Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes


Founded in 1973 by Bill Collins, Conn Creek Winery focuses on rich, intense Bordeaux-style wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It also offers “Anthology,” a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The winery is located near Conn Creek in the Rutherford district of Napa Valley.


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Mi Sueño

Author: Julie Fadda
Mar, 2008 Issue

RolandoHerrera.jpg   Mi Sueño

  Chardonnay


  Tostadas de Jaiba (Crab on Fried Tortillas)
Owner/Winemaker Rolando Herrera  

Mi Sueño is Spanish for “My Dream,” and Rolando Herrera, its owner and winemaker, took only 20 minutes to come up with the name. Perhaps it was because it took him 20 years to make his dream a reality or maybe just because it sounds good—I’m just not sure. What I am sure about is, he makes some excellent wine. Having worked his way up from harvests at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars to becoming its cellar master, then to assistant winemaker at Chateau Potelle, winemaker at Vine Cliff and director of winemaking at Paul Hobbs, he’s definitely paid his dues.

 


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Chalk Hill Chardonnay

Author: Julie Fadda
Mar, 2008 Issue

 

 

Sunchoke Bisque with Crispy Bacon


It was the spring of 1972 when Chalk Hill proprietor Fred Furth (also a prominent lawyer and philanthropist) first spotted the property he knew he’d call home—while piloting a small plane over Sonoma County. Originally owned and planted by Sarah and John Rich in the 1860s, the 242-acre parcel has since been expanded by Fred and his wife Peggy to 1,477 acres, which include 350 vineyard acres, their home, offices, winery, stables, guest houses, equestrian pavilion, sporting fields, native parks and more. The property also holds a one-acre organic garden.


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The Prager Family

Columnist: Julie Fadda
Feb, 2008 Issue

Prager Winery and Port Works in St. Helena has been serving up Ports and dessert wines since Jim and Imogene Prager’s first harvest in 1980. Now in the hands of the family’s second generation (Peter, Jeff, Mary, John, Katie and brother-in-law Richard Lenney), it offers five types of port as well as two dessert wines and a few table wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and, sometimes, Chardonnay). Prager’s ports are known for their distinctive and not-too-sweet character. 

Beyond the wines, Prager offers chocolates, a Port chocolate drizzle (to top your favorite desserts or fruits) and Port vinegars. The winery also has a couple bed and breakfast suites—perhaps the perfect way to end a day of wine tasting in the Napa Valley.


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Castle Vineyards

Columnist: Julie Fadda
Feb, 2008 Issue

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Castle Vineyards

  Port


  Molten Chocolate Cherry
  Cakes

 

Castle Vineyards Owners John and Kathleen Sweazey  

    Winemaker Vic McWilliams found his calling when he was invited to a friend’s house to help make a barrel of wine in 1978. And what started as a hobby soon blossomed into a career. He founded Castle Vineyards in the early 1990s, and its first commercial vintage was produced in 1993. The winery now produces 5,600 cases annually and has recently been acquired by owners John and Kathleen Sweazey. McWilliams remains behind the winemaking wheel, where he crafts 5,600 cases of small lot wines from vineyards owned or managed by Castle. The winery offers Pinot Noir, Viognier, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Merlot, Zinfandel, Late Harvest Viognier and Syrah Port.


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Trentadue Winery

Columnist: Julie Fadda
Jan, 2008 Issue

Leo and Evelyn Trentadue purchased their 208-acre Alexander Valley property in 1959 (it was originally owned by Andrew Bouton, a French botanist whose property was frequented by Luther Burbank). In 1962, the Trentadues began planting grapevines. First came Carignane, then (after some experimentation to see what grew best) Sangiovese, Petite Sirah and Merlot. Today, the winery produces several other varietals as well as ports and, yes, sparkling wine.

Bulgarian-born winemaker Miro Tcholakov says, “Our non-vintage Cuvée is made mostly from Chardonnay grapes and a small amount of Pinot Noir. Throughout the years, it became a very popular item in our tasting room—and rightfully so. It has the classic aromas and flavors of apple, pear and citrus rounded by a touch of roasted nuts and subtle minerality. The mouthfeel is refreshing with balanced acidity and a touch of sweetness on the finish. It’s a great match for a variety of foods during the holidays.”


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Mumm Napa

Jan, 2008 Issue

When Champagne house G.H. Mumm sent Guy Devaux to the United States in 1979 to find what he deemed the best winegrowing area here, Devaux chose Napa Valley. By 1987, Mumm Napa’s winery was completed and a new era began. At his passing in the mid-1990s, Champagne-born Ludovic Dervin took the winemaking helm, using the traditional methods for which the winery is known. Today, it produces seven sparkling wines—and every grape used comes from Napa Valley. 

Visitors to the Mumm Estate can enjoy complimentary tours for an insider’s view of how and where the wine is made. The winery also has two art spaces, one with rotating collections of fine art photography, the other with a private collection of Ansel Adams’ photographs.


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Renteria Knittel Vineyard

Dec, 2007 Issue

Ask almost any winemaker, and he or she will tell you a great wine starts in the vineyard. So it only makes sense that Renteria Wines had just such a beginning—literally. Owner Salvador Renteria began his career in 1963 as a vineyard worker at Sterling Vineyards. By 1987, he started Renteria Vineyard Management, which is now one of the largest grape-farming companies in Northern California. Sal’s son, Oscar, assumed leadership of the company in 1993. It was his idea to begin making wine.

The Renteria family now owns 52 acres in Napa Valley. They launched their own wine label in 1997. Along with winemaker Karen Culler, they produce 2,000 cases of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon annually.


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Renteria Knittel Vineyard

Dec, 2007 Issue

Ask almost any winemaker, and he or she will tell you a great wine starts in the vineyard. So it only makes sense that Renteria Wines had just such a beginning—literally. Owner Salvador Renteria began his career in 1963 as a vineyard worker at Sterling Vineyards. By 1987, he started Renteria Vineyard Management, which is now one of the largest grape-farming companies in Northern California. Sal’s son, Oscar, assumed leadership of the company in 1993. It was his idea to begin making wine.

The Renteria family now owns 52 acres in Napa Valley. They launched their own wine label in 1997. Along with winemaker Karen Culler, they produce 2,000 cases of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon annually.


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Brogan Cellars

Dec, 2007 Issue

If—after the increase in Pinot Noir’s popularity—you haven’t heard of Brogan Cellars, you just weren’t listening. (And if you have, you know what I mean.) So perk up your ears, because this is some of the most luscious, velvety, well-rounded, sexy and flat-out wonderful wine you can find.

Winemaker/owner Margi Wierenga’s magic touch might possibly be in her genes (her father being Burt Williams of Williams Selyem). And much like Burt, Margi set up shop in a garage in Dry Creek Valley. She’s still there, but has since expanded her operation to Hopland, where she lives. She also sources all her grapes from her favorite Sonoma County growers, and even some from her father’s vineyard in Anderson Valley.


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MacMurray Ranch

Columnist: Julie Fadda
Nov, 2007 Issue

 

MacMurray Ranch

  Pinot Gris


  Stuffed Artichoke Hearts

 

MacMurray Ranch
Winemaker Susan Doyle Williams
 

    MacMurray Ranch is named after actor Fred MacMurray (of “My Three Sons” fame), who purchased the property from the Porter family (descendents of Colonel George Porter) in 1941. MacMurray raised his family there with his wife, actress June Haver. Their daughter, Kate MacMurray, now lives and works full time on the ranch, where its Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are made.  

    Winemaker Susan Doyle, who hails from Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania, crafts MacMurray Ranch wines with a balance of art and science. The 2005 Pinot Gris has melon and peach aromas and flavors balanced with crisp citrus and spice elements. Its clean finish makes it the perfect pairing for this stuffed artichoke hearts recipe by Kate’s mom, June. 


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