Wine, Food, Farms, and Finds
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Steak of Your Dreams
Show Time for Winegrapes: Harvest is well underway in California’s vineyards, which means grape growers can take a breather. (Winemakers, not so much.) Time to celebrate the conclusion of another growing season with tacos-and-mariachi parties for the vineyard crew and a collective sigh of relief. Pretty soon, another vintage will be in barrel, starting its slow evolution from fresh, grapey fermented juice into elegant and long-lasting wines.
Now is a great time to visit California wine country. The sweet aroma of fermenting juice is in the air, and the vineyards are cloaked in splendid fall colors. But if you can’t make it to the Golden State this month, you can still feast like a Californian.
As summer gives way to fall, California home cooks are giving their grills a workout before the rainy season begins. A thick Porterhouse steak, seared until crusty, then sliced and topped with a fistful of arugula and shavings of sheep’s milk cheese, is a worthy contender for your grill’s last hurrah. On the side: the ultimate garlic bread, toasted on the grill, rubbed with fresh garlic, and lavished with California extra virgin olive oil. If you still have garden tomatoes, halve a ripe one and rub the cut side all over the toast.
If you’ve been saving a California wine for a special occasion, well, what are you waiting for? No cut of beef is more deserving. Cabernet Sauvignon, with its elegance, intensity, and strong tannic backbone, is considered the king of reds for good reason. Slice the steak, pull the cork, and raise a glass to the 2019 vintage.
To eat and drink like a Californian wherever you are, take a look at Wine Country Table, a cookbook that celebrates the state’s sustainable harvest.
Primed for Success
Winegrapes are an extremely high-value crop in California. Alas, each vintage’s outcome is not entirely up to the farmers. Nature always has the last word. But California grape growers set themselves up for success by farming sustainably, with practices that build soil health, create habitat for beneficial insects, and keep their vines as resilient as possible.
California’s winegrape harvest is the culmination of a year-long cycle that resumes almost as soon as the previous harvest ends. In the fall, growers sow a cover crop to help minimize erosion, replenish nutrients, and smother weeds. In spring, when the growing season begins, they monitor soil moisture intently; sophisticated underground probes determine when vines need water to guarantee that growers don’t waste a drop. Many modern viticultural practices, such as deficit irrigation (keeping vines a little thirsty), aren’t just better for the environment. They yield higher-quality, more consistent fruit, too.
“Red meat with red wine” is almost always a sensible strategy. While it’s a rule to break on occasion (steak tartare loves bubbles), it won’t often lead you astray. A grilled bone-in cut of beef has that primal, charred aroma that calls for a red wine with sturdy tannins. The hefty Porterhouse—king of steaks—commands respect. Only a muscular red wine can stand its ground in such company. With this recipe, all signs point to a Cabernet Sauvignon from one of California’s top regions. (Napa Valley, Sonoma and Paso Robles come to mind.) A recent vintage with rich, youthful fruit or a mature bottle softened by age? That’s up to you, but you are in for a regal meal either way.
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.
Certified sustainable producer Jordan Winery, owner of the Wine Country Table website and magazine, consents to Wine Institute’s use of its trademark for this book. Find food, wine, entertaining and travel tips at www.winecountrytable.com.