Thursday, February 8, 2018

Sausage Kale Sweet Potato Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ lb. Italian sausage, casings removed (I used 4 Italian sausage patties)
1 lb. sweet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and diced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
¾ cup small pasta (shells or bow tie)
4 cups chopped greens, such as kale, Swiss chard (or both!)
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

To Make: In a 5qt pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add sausage and salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, breaking up sausage with spoon, until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.
Add diced sweet potatoes, broth and water. Bring to a boil.

Pair with Vines on the Marycrest Syrah! Cheers!

Recipe by:

Vines on the Marycrest
2014 Syrah "Round Midnight"

Round Midnight is back. A big, rich expression of Syrah in this GSM blend with nice structure and depth. Try pairing this with spicy sausage and an aromatic cheese fondue. It displays a classic Syrah nose of white pepper, black fruit with some floral notes on the mid-palate. This wine opens up nicely and loves to be decanted!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Adelaida Cellars ~ 2015 Picpoul Blanc
The nose shows aromas of ripe pineapple, grilled bread, hazelnuts, and lemon brings fresh fruit and complex notes to the fore. It is rich and toasty with pineapple and lemon fruitiness and has dried fruits and savory spices which offer excitement and a crisp mouthwatering edge. Toasted green tea and fresh lime notes linger on the finish. Try pairing this wine with butternut squash ravioli with sage brown butter, California spring rolls with mildly spicy chili sauce, pear parmesan, candied pecan and rocket salad.

Grey Wolf Cellars ~ 2014 Jackal (Zinfandel) The Fableist ~ 2015 Petite Sirah
Friendly, deep, fruit-driven and jammy this wine represents a different structure to most in this Paso Robles Wine Club allocation. Filled with ripe, rich fruit and a host of spices, this zinfandel splashes heaps of raspberry while suggestions of anise & blackberry dance on the edge of the tongue. This wine is a meal in itself although a spicy chicken breast will go really well with it. The winery sold out of this wine and we picked up the last bottle for our allocation! Drink and enjoy through 2020

L’Aventure ~ 2015 Optimus
60% Syrah, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Petit Verdot 100% Estate grown fruit from L’Aventure Vineyard 60% new French oak and 40% 1-year-old French oak with malolactic fermentation in barrel. Length of aging: 14 months, No fining, no filtering. The 2015 Vintage was one of the most surprising vintages. Harvesting only 30% of the regular crop due to shatter, which occurred mainly on the Cabernet Sauvignon, but also on the Syrah and Petit Verdot. This did not affect the quality of the wine, but it did affect the quantity significantly. In terms of style, the wines reflect more a “cool year” vintage which means more complexity and spiciness and not so much on the power. You will find these wines beautifully structured, full bodied, with a very nice, long finish. Drink now through 2027

Lone Madrone ~ 2016 Grenache Blanc
A clean representation of the Grenache Blanc Varietal, it is crisp on the first impression and typically weighty on the palate. Atypical of Grenache Blanc this wine is lower in alcohol than you may expect at only 12.5%. The combination of weight and mouthfeel are indicative of the intensity of this wine. It exhibits plenty of fruit both citrus and some stone fruit along with a beautiful lengthy finish. Drink now through 2019, 92 Cases Produced

Lone Madrone ~ 2013 Nebbiolo
A friendly Nebbiolo! This 100% Nebbiolo is so nicely balanced and fruit forward at only 5 years young, it is very unexpected. Nebbiolo’s can be tannic, woody and abrasive when they are young and the wines fruit is difficult to enjoy without decanting From the time you open the 13, it displays bright red fruit on the nose and very balanced acids and tannins on the tongue. Red fruits and some leather notes hiding in the background keep the complexity interesting and very enjoyable. A moderately long finish round out the wine. Drink now through 2022

Lusso Della Terra ~ 2015 M Series Merlot
Floral aromatics jump from the glass, followed by bright red fruit and a noticeable oak presence. On the palate there is a beautiful marriage of cherry and blueberry, with notes of plum and a wonderful integration of vanilla. I enjoyed a lovely spicyness right in the middle of the palate. A soft, juicy tannin structure with a well rounded mouthfeel and texture, this is not your average Paso Robles Merlot. Only 20 cases produced! We are really happy to have found this one. Drink now through 2024

Mitchella ~ 2014 Malbec
This limited production wine has a characteristic velvety texture .It starts with a rich purple color and intense aromas of sweet spice and juicy black fruit, vanilla, violets, and a hint of cinnamon. Following on the mid-palate,there are distinct notes of cassis and black cherries. Soft ripe tannins present a long silky finish. This wine can be enjoyed now drink through 2022.
Only 50 cases produced.

Vines on the Marycrest ~ 2014 Round Midnight
65% Syrah, 32% Grenache, 3% Mourvedre.‘Round Midnight is here. A big, rich expression of Syrah in this GSM blend with nice structure and depth. Try pairing this with spicy sausage and an aromatic cheese fondue. It displays a classic Syrah nose of white pepper, black fruit with some floral notes on the mid-palate. This wine opens up nicely and loves to be decanted! Drink now through 2022

Monday, September 11, 2017

Pacific Rim Salmon with Kenneth Volk 2014 Verdelho

1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice               5 teaspoons sesame oil, divided

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce                  2 teaspoons honey

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish                1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley                5 green onions, coarsely chopped

8 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)                     
In a small bowl, combine the pineapple juice, soy sauce, horseradish, parsley, 3 teaspoons sesame oil, honey and pepper. Pour 2/3 cup marinade into a large resealable plastic bag; add salmon and green onions. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, turning occasionally. Add remaining sesame oil to remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate for basting.

Drain and discard marinade. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Grill salmon, skin side down, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 8-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork, basting frequently with reserved marinade. Yield: 8 servings.

Originally published as Pacific Rim Salmon in Taste of Home August/September 2008, p4

Balsamic Braised Beef Short Ribs with Dark Star Cellars ~ 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Prep time 10 mins Cook time 6 hours Total time 6 hours 10 mins

Serves: 4-6 servings
2-3 lbs. of bone-in beef short ribs
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
15 oz. can of tomato sauce
½ cup of balsamic vinegar
4 whole dried dates
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon of black pepper

Spice Blend:
2 tablespoons of course sea salt
1 tablespoon of dried rosemary
1 tablespoon of dried sage
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of onion powder
1 tablespoon of paprika

1. In a small bowl, mix together course sea salt, dried rosemary, dried sage, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and black pepper.
2. Pat dry bone-in beef short ribs. Rub spice blend into both sides of the short ribs.
3. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Add coconut oil to pan and sear the short ribs for 2-3 minutes per side or until slightly browned.
4. Put the short ribs in a slow cooker with a tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, whole dried dates, and smashed garlic cloves.
5. Cook for 4-6 hours on low or until beef is tender.
6. Serve with Honey Roasted Carrots Notes: Recipe from Practical Paleo

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Risotto with Snow Peas and Shrimp with Seven Oxen 2014 Mourvedre

2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice                                   
1 cup (1/2 inch) diagonally sliced snow peas
3 cups water         
1 cup shelled green peas (about ¾ pound unshelled)
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
¼ cup minced shallots

1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cups Arborio rice or other short-grain rice

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 1/3 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth

¼ teaspoon black pepper
¾ pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined


1.       Bring clam juice and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
2.      Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add shallots, and cook 1 minute. Add rice, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add remaining juice mixture, ½ cup juice at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of juice mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Stir in shrimp, snow peas, and green peas; cook 4 minutes or until shrimp are done, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and remaining ingredients. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Note: Substitute frozen peas for fresh, if desired

Monday, May 15, 2017

The 11 Distinct Wine Regions of Paso Robles

Original Article Appeared:

When the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area was established in 1983, it contained just five bonded wineries and 5,000 acres of vines. Now home to more than 200 wineries and 32,000 vineyard acres, it was divided into 11 smaller AVAs in 2014:

Adelaida District

Rugged terrain spanning Santa Lucia slopes and foothills with lots of limestone-rich, calcareous soils, modest marine influence and high average annual rainfall of 25 inches. Wineries/vineyards: Tablas Creek Vineyard, Halter Ranch Vineyard, Justin Vineyards and Winery, Adelaida Vineyards & Winery, Daou Vineyards.

Creston District

A warmer region with less rain, about 11 inches per year, spanning a plateau at the base of the La Panza Range with fertile alluvial soils, granite and sedimentary rock. Wineries/vineyards: Chateau Margene, August Ridge Vineyards, Shadow Run Vineyards & Winery.

El Pomar District

Old terraces and hills with rich, loamy soils, some calcareous rock and sandstone, moderate rainfall and strong marine breezes with heavy fog. Wineries/vineyards: Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery, AmByth Estate, Still Waters Vineyards.

Estrella District

Rolling plains in the Estrella River Valley with deep, mineral-rich alluvial soils and high day-to-night temperature variations of up to 40 degrees. Wineries/vineyards: J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Le Vigne Winery, Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery.

Geneseo District

A warmer area of upfaulted hills along the Huerhuero-La Panza fault with low rainfall featuring alluvial soils along with older granite and gravel cementation. Wineries/vineyards: Eberle Winery, Robert Hall Winery, Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery, Cass Winery.

Highlands District

The warmest district in the region, with diurnal temperature swings over 50 degrees, at the base of the La Panza range with deep alluvial soil. Wineries/vineyards: Shell Creek Vineyards, French Camp Vineyards.

San Juan Creek

A younger river valley with sand and clay loam soils in a warm, low-rain area with high temperature swings. Wineries/vineyards: Red Cedar Vineyard (which crosses into the Estrella district).

San Miguel District

The footslope of the Santa Lucia range, covering Salinas and Estrella river terraces, with a moderate climate, deep sandy loam and some clay loam. Wineries/vineyards: San Marcos Creek Vineyard, Locatelli Vineyards & Winery, Caparone Winery.

Santa Margarita Ranch

Spanning high mountain slopes of the ancient Salinas River bed and its current path, with a mix of alluvial soils and the highest rainfall in the region, at 29 inches. Wineries/vineyards: Ancient Peaks Winery.

Templeton Gap District

Rolling slopes and broad terraces with a pronounced marine influence from ocean breezes and fog, decent rainfall and loamy soil with spots of calcareous rock. Wineries/vineyards: Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards, Castoro Cellars, Peachy Canyon Winery, Zenaida Cellars.

Willow Creek District

A hilly region with a strong marine influence, rain between 24 and 30 inches a year, and lots of limestone-rich calcareous and loamy soil. Wineries/vineyards: L’Aventure Winery, Opolo Vineyards, Denner Vineyards, Rotta Winery, Niner Wine Estates.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Blue Cheese-Pepper Steak Wraps with Hammersky Merlot

12 ounces boned top round steak
2 tablespoons Water
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
4 (8-inch) fat-free tortillas
Cooking Spray
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 onion cut into ¼-inch thick wedges

1 medium red pepper cut into ¼ inch strips

  1.  Trim fat from beer; slice into ¼-inch strips. Set aside.
  2.  Combine the mustard, black pepper, garlic, and salt in a large bowl. Add beef, tossing to coat.
  3.  Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef mixture; sauté 4 minutes until done. Remove from pan; keep warm. Add mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add water; cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in beef mixture and vinegar. Remove from heat; stir in cheese.
  4.  Warm tortillas according to package instructions. Spoon 1 cup mixture onto each tortilla; to each serving with ½ cup lettuce, and roll up.  

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 wrap)