Wine, Food, Farms, and Finds
Good food and wine sustain us best when produced with care and shared with friends.
Sign up for our monthly newsletter to discover what’s new from California’s trend-setting wineries, farms, and kitchens.
Autumn in a Bowl
Harvest Report: The winegrapes are in and the 2019 vintage looks superb. Given the long growing season, it was a nearly perfect year to be a grape. While limited areas in Sonoma County were affected by the Kincade Fire, most vineyards and wineries were not impacted. Now, the communities and people who were affected are coming together to recover, and the winemakers are wrapping up this year’s harvest.
As soon as their wines finish fermenting, many winemakers will slip off for a vacay—a rare moment of repose before it’s time to plant a cover crop, ideally before the winter rains begin. The cover crop will prevent erosion (especially on hillside vineyards), replenish soil nutrients, and contribute organic matter when it’s eventually plowed in.
As California’s wine families wrap up their harvest, home gardeners are doing the same, taking down tomato trellises and pulling up the squash vines. With fewer duties in the vineyard and garden, there’s more time to hang out with friends. Why wait until Thanksgiving to give thanks and gather around the table? A butternut squash and fennel soup is the fall farmer’s market in a bowl; serve as a first course for dinner or the main event. Open some wine, pass the bread, and celebrate what our farmers provide. Soup’s on!
LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
California wineries go to great lengths to nurture relationships: with customers, employees, suppliers and communities. They may not broadcast it, but California Certified Sustainable wineries take concrete steps to keep these constituents happy. Some wineries encourage employees to volunteer in the community on company time. Others raise funds for charitable causes, such as community health and research, breast-cancer research, music education in schools, or the local volunteer fire department. And all generously donate their wine to numerous local and national causes. Investing in employees is also a priority at Certified Sustainable wineries.
Turley Wine Cellars pays college tuition for the children of employees who need assistance. Talley Vineyards grows produce for a CSA box and offers the box to employees at cost; unsold produce from the winery’s farm stand is free to employees. Spottswoode Winery covered the costs of restoring an ailing creek in St. Helena. In ways large and small, visible and not, sustainable wineries strengthen communities.
When it comes to red wine, Merlot is the go-everywhere grape. It’s sturdy enough for steak, but with tannins gentle enough to make it work when vegetables are center-of-the-plate. It’s a prized blending grape with Cabernet Sauvignon, softening that variety’s robust tannins, but also approachable and aromatic on its own. With this thyme-scented vegetable soup, pour a Merlot from one of the California appellations known for it, such as Napa Valley, Central Coast or Sonoma County. For the white wine drinkers at the table, add a bottle of Chardonnay; its creamy texture will complement the velvety soup.
Meet the Grapes: Explore more wine pairings
Wine Institute is an association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses from the beautiful and diverse wine regions throughout the state. Wine Institute works to create an environment where the wine community can flourish and contribute in a positive fashion to our nation, state and local communities. For information please contact email@example.com.