Winelandia 6-Packs for Summer

SUMMER SIX-PACKS ARE SOLD OUT! Thanks for the interest!

Is summertime making you thirsty? Forget the beer, pick up a 6-pack of wine! We’re offering two new summertime 6-packs in our online shop, featuring our favorite wines for summer. Choose from French or Californian wines, and save 10% off retail when you buy a 6-pack (discount is worked into the price). Free delivery in San Francisco, $5 delivery in Oakland/Berkeley/Peninsula. Limited time offer!

Email orders@winelandia.com if you have any questions.

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Making Wine at Home

A few years ago, as my obsession with wine was picking up steam, I decided that I wanted to make my own wine. Some of my friends thought I was crazy, while others thought it was really cool and wanted to help out. I spent a few months reading winemaking books and home winemaker forums online, preparing myself for the 800 lbs. of Dry Creek Syrah grapes that were destined for my garage.

My first vintage was 2011, a notoriously difficult year for grape growers and winemakers in California. We had a long, cool summer, followed by rain at the end of the growing season. Anyone who picked their fruit before the rains were able to produce age-worthy, complex, structured, and focused wines, while those who waited until after the rain were running into issues such as the grape’s sugar content getting diluted by the rain water and mold. My grapes fell into the latter category, and we had to make a quick decision to harvest before the problems we were encountering in the vineyard progressed. We had to drop about 10% of the fruit before harvest, which had grown moldy from the moisture.

botrytis_grapes_webThe wine that I produced that year was rife with issues, and my inexperience compounded by my generally worrisome demeanor was a recipe for disaster. I cried a lot that year in the corner of my garage, not knowing what to do when I ran into various problems. I did eventually get that wine out of the barrel and into the bottle, as a last-ditch effort to see if it would come around – it smelled like the inside of a brand new garden hose from the moment it was finished with malolactic fermentation. I now have about 10 cases of home-made Syrah that smells like nail polish remover and rubber “aging” in wine storage. What I’ll end up doing with that wine is still TBD.

Fast forward another year, and I decided to give winemaking another shot. 2012’s summer was shaping up to be a short and hot one, and I was able to source some Russian River Valley Zinfandel from a gentleman up in Santa Rosa for just $1/lb. This was also the year I got married, just about a month before harvest – I actually planned my wedding to be early enough where it wouldn’t interfere with my winemaking (I’m a girl with priorities, okay?). Four friends helped me pick those Zinfandel grapes at 24 degrees Brix on the foggy morning of October 6th, 2012.

pickingpartyMy 2012 Zinfandel was a joy to make. I had all of the equipment I needed, better understood what to expect, and had my routine down a little bit better. I actually enjoyed the winemaking process, and didn’t shed a single tear the entire time! I had two 44-gallon fermenters bubbling away, along with a couple of carboys full of saignée that would make a lovely, early-drinking rosé.

My Zinfandel spent about 13 months in a neutral French oak barrel, and I was unsure how good it would be once bottled. I bottled it in May, and since then the wine has really come around. It’s absolutely delicious – floral, rich, balanced, fruity without being jammy, and spicy, with elegant structure for a Zinfandel. I still have a few carboys I need to bottle, which I swear I’ll get around to soon!

I am planning to make only rosé from that same vineyard this year, which means I’ll be picking my grapes a little earlier than I did in 2012. I just paid a visit to the vineyard a few weekends ago, to see how the fruit was coming along. They had just started verasion, and the farmer is planning to thin the fruit this week.

2014 ZinIf you are interested in making your own wine, and you have the space/resources to make it happen, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s hard work, and akin to having a newborn baby for the first few months. Should you wish to take it up, I recommend the following books and resources:

The Way to Make Wine by Sherridan Warrick
From Vines to Wines by Jeff Cox
Winepress.us – an online home winemaking forum, moderated by small commercial producers and home winemaking veterans.
MoreWinemaking.com – a website selling affordable home winemaking gear.

Most importantly, make sure you have plenty of friends who will be supportive of your endeavor and eager to consume your finished product.

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One Wine a Week: A Tribute to Grace 2013 Rosé of Grenache

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Many people have heard me to say that the Grace Grenache is my favorite wine ever – and if I had to pick only 5 or 10 in the world, that wine would probably be on the list. Now, I know this isn’t just one wine – Angela Osborne makes several different Grenaches from a few different vineyards, and she has made rosé from a few of those vineyards as well. However, there’s consistency in style and treatment here that unifies her label. All grenache, all floral, elegant, and, well, graceful. The fact that I’ve had this rosé in my fridge since the last wine club shipment is sort of a feat in and of itself, but I was waiting for a suitably beautiful day, and a suitably delicious meal to pair it with.

Night opened: Sunday

Days to drink: Technically, 4 – I finished the last half-glass last night because I didn’t want to waste it

Paired with: Grilled steak and tomato panzanella (night 1), and whole wheat pasta with corn, arugula, and ricotta (night 3)

I was excited and had high expectations when I opened the bottle, and I was not disappointed. This rosé is extremely pale in color but that belies its intensity of flavor, which is huge. It’s got a strong backbone of acid that cuts through every sip and every bite of food, but the nose is all sorts of flowers. It really was a wonderful complement to the steak salad, which had a nice diversity of flavors in it, but was light and fresh in its own way. The wine did not overwhelm, it did not make anything taste sour or off, and the food also lifted the wine above the dish so that when you were drinking it between bites, you could enjoy both the interplay of the flavors between the two. It also made a great palate cleanser. It’s got this great tropical element to the aroma, which sort of makes you think Sauvignon Blanc, but the taste is crisp and juicy in a way that SB just can never be.

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On night two, however, I have to say that I was shocked at the turnaround this wine made, which makes me think I did something to cause it. Night two, I drank it straight with no food, and the acid was a little overpowering. The wine just didn’t shine in the way it had the first day, and I couldn’t discern all of the fruit or floral flavors or aromas that I could on day one. Tala said, “maybe it was a lemon day,” which is a biodynamic wine joke. My personal opinion is still out on this aspect of biodynamics, but I won’t lie – my first thought was whether it was a root or a leaf day – or maybe it was something I ate, or maybe it was too cold, who knows. In any case, it was not a situation where I was willing to give up, so I put the cork in it, tucked it into the fridge, and decided to try it again the next day.

I’m really glad I did! On night three, I had it with whole wheat spaghetti with arugula, corn and ricotta mixed in. Very simple and straightforward, pretty light, and also delicious. On this night, the wine had lost some – but definitely not all – of its acid, and the florals and tropicals were back in a big way. It was not as successful a pairing as with the panzanella because the wine had lost some of its acid, but it still tasted remarkably good for a fresh, natural, young wine on day three. Given the wine’s elegance, I would’ve expected it to fall apart at this point and it was clearly on the downhill, but still tasted great. The acid fading out really brought forward the floral elements – jasmine, rose, gardenia; it smells like your grandmother’s powders or old-timey perfumes in the very best way. So fresh and flowery.

I think this rosé is a highly versatile and extremely delicious wine – it surpassed my expectations and I’d pick it up again in a heartbeat. Very food friendly, and I’d love to try sipping it again, maybe in the sun, on a back deck, on a Sunday afternoon. You can, too! It’s still available in the shop.

Introducing our Summer Wine Club Offer

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**Our Summer Wine Club selections are SOLD OUT! You can still join the wine club and we would be happy to put together a customized collection for you, or you can simply begin to enjoy your 10% discount and purchase directly from our online shop.**

Summer’s finally here, and so are our summer wine club selections. This time around we are featuring some of the best French and American wines we’ve had all summer, from some of the most exciting small producers in the industry. These unique and crowd-pleasing wines are perfect to bring along on picnics or summer barbecues, or simply to enjoy with a friend on a warm summer night.

Want to get in on the action? Join the Winelandia wine club by filling out the form at https://signup.winelandia.com/

2013 Mas del Périé “Tu Vin Plus Aux Soirees” Red Blend, Southwestern France
2013 Wind Gap Trousseau Gris, Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard, Russian River Valley
2011 Pierre Frick Cremant d’Alsace Riesling/Auxerrois Blend, Alsace
2013 Hervé Villemade Rosé of Pinot Noir & Gamay, Cheverny
2012 Forlorn Hope “San Hercurmer delle Frecce” Barbera, Amador County
2013 Jolie-Laide Pinot Gris, Windsor Oaks Vineyard, Chalk Hill

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2013 Mas del Périé “Tu Vin Plus Aux Soirees” Red Blend

Blend: Cabernet Franc & Côt (Malbec)
Region: France>Southwestern France>Cahors
Vineyard: Biodynamically farmed. 1100’ elevation.
Tasting Notes: A great wine for summer – it’s medium bodied, soft, and supple while retaining a juicy and inviting character that makes you want to take another sip. This is a burger wine if we’ve ever had one – beef or veggie, it doesn’t matter! A fun and versatile wine that everyone will love.
Food Pairing: Barbecue ribs, grilled chicken, burgers, carne asada tacos
Production Notes: Manually harvested, fermented whole cluster for 10 days with indigenous yeasts. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal SO2. The name of this wine is a pun referencing a line from a popular French television show, and roughly translates to “You are not partying with us anymore”.
Winemaker: Fabien Jouves
Bio: Fabien Jouves is a young winemaker in Cahors who began converting his family’s estate to Biodymanic farming in 2004. He initially intended to study medicine, but instead went on to study viticulture and oenology as his parents were struggling with the family vineyard. He now farms all 22 hectares of the family’s estate.

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2013 Wind Gap Trousseau Gris, Russian River Valley

Blend: 100% Trousseau Gris
Region: US>California>Sonoma>Russian River Valley
Vineyard: Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard
Tasting Notes: A light-bodied, bright and citrusy wine. It’s a perfect wine to drink on a hot day, and goes especially well with seafood and salads. It’s very easy drinking, but not simple – more like straightforward. Crisp, cool, clean.
Food Pairing: Nectarine & burrata watercress salad
Production Notes: Organically farmed grapes, whole clusters are foot crushed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete eggs. This wine is aged in both stainless and neutral oak for just a few months and always released the year it’s made – it’s meant to be enjoyed fresh and young.
Winemaker: Pax Mahle
Bio: Pax Mahle is a cornerstone of minimal intervention winemaking in northern California. Mahle found his way to winemaking through his work as a sommelier, and has, since the mid 2000s, focused his efforts on the Wind Gap label – cool climate wines often made from single vineyards. His winery was first in Forestville, and has since moved to a convenient location in Sebastopol. Many other wines Winelandia has featured have been influenced by Mahle’s guidance and mentorship, including Ryme and Jolie-Laide.

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2011 Pierre Frick Cremant d’Alsace Riesling/Auxerrois Blend

Blend: 50% Auxerrois Blanc, 50% Riesling
Region: France>Alsace
Vineyard: Biodynamic (Demeter certified) since 1981. Clay & Limestone soil.
Tasting Notes: The bouquet of this elegant sparkling wine is rich with white flowers and coconut, while on the palate it shows lively citrus, almond, and white peach. The bone dry finish leaves a lingering limestone minerality. A gorgeous wine perfect for a casual gathering or a special celebration.
Food Pairing: Alsatian onion tart, cheese plates, oysters
Production Notes: Hand-harvested and whole-cluster pressed. Fermented in foudre with native yeast. Aged in 3000L foudre. Secondary fermentation with RS from the primary fermentation and acacia honey. No added SO2 during vinification, and a small amount added at disgorgement. No dosage. 2 g/L residual sugar.
Winemaker: Pierre Frick
Bio: Pierre Frick is the 12th generation to farm and make wine from his family’s land. He first converted the entire estate to organic viticulture in 1970, and went on to convert it fully to Biodynamic in 1981.

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2013 Hervé Villemade Rosé of Pinot Noir & Gamay

Blend: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Gamay
Region: France>Loire Valley>Cheverny
Vineyard: Certified organic. 12-36 year old vines.
Tasting Notes: Floral, fruity, and light on it’s feet, with juicy acidity and abundant fruit flavors.
Food Pairing: Grilled salmon, arugula salad with goat cheese and roasted beets, charcuterie
Production Notes: Hand-harvested, fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. Bottled with minimum SO2.
Winemaker: Hervé Villemade
Bio: Domaine du Moulin is Hervé Villemade’s family estate, founded by his grandparents. Hervé took over winery operations in 1995, and followed in his parent’s footsteps by initially farming using conventional methods. Following these practices, he found the work and wine to be bland. Soon after, Villemade both developed a serious sulfite allergy and discovered natural wine. Deeply inspired by the soulful wines of Lapierre, Gramenon, and Foillard, Villemade began converting the estate to organic viticulture in 2000. He now makes a variety of wines with little or no sulfur added.

P71700182012 Forlorn Hope “San Hercurmer delle Frecce” Barbera

Blend: 100% Barbera
Region: US>California>Sierra Foothills>Amador County
Vineyard: Shake Ridge Vineyard. Sustainably farmed. 1500’ elevation on sandstone, soapstone, quartz, schist, and decomposed granite. Iron-rich, large grain, 80% rocks.
Tasting Notes: A bright and fresh red wine with notes of red fruit, white pepper, and earth. The long finish leaves flavors of pomegranate, along with fine, grippy tannins. Excellent now but could also take some age.
Food Pairing: Barbecue ribs, burgers, grilled portobello mushrooms with balsamic reduction
Production Notes: This wine is named after a miniature donkey who was shot with an arrow by an unknown assailant and resides not far from the vineyard. Fermented whole-cluster with native yeast. Bottled without fining or filtration. Aged 12 months in neutral oak. 87 cases made.
Winemaker: Matthew Rorick
Bio: Matthew Rorick is a surfer and Gulf war veteran. After the war, he returned to southern California where his grandfather encouraged him to study enology. Forlorn Hope was started in the mid-2000′s. His focus is lost and forgotten varieties, age-worthy white wines, and easy drinking reds. Rorick employs minimalist winemaking methods; he ferments with indigenous yeasts, leaves the grape clusters whole, and only uses small additions of SO2. He was the SF Chronicle’s 2013 Winemaker to Watch, and yes, we are watching!

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2013 Jolie-Laide Pinot Gris, Windsor Oaks Vineyard

Blend: 100% Pinot Gris
Region: US>California>Sonoma>Chalk Hill
Vineyard: Windsor Oaks Vineyard
Tasting Notes: Aromas of citrus, melon, and orange blossom. Lightweight and electric on the palate, with a little spice and ample length on the finish. Far more complex and interesting than your typical Pinot Gris, and one of our favorite wines of the summer.
Food Pairing: Poached salmon with citrus, summer stonefruit salads, cheese plates, grilled seafood, grilled carrots
Production Notes: The grapes were gently foot-stomped whole cluster, then left on the skins overnight to soak. The juice was able to pick up a little color from the skins, without extracting any weight or tannins. Pressed whole-cluster into stainless steel, where it underwent a 12 day spontaneous fermentation at cool temperatures. Once dry, it was racked and aged for 6 months in 2:1 stainless steel and neutral oak vessels, with no malo or lees stirring.
Winemaker: Scott Schultz
Bio: About 2 years ago, I was up at the old Wind Gap tasting room with some friends. Scott made wine in the same facility, and he was the one pouring the Wind Gap wines that day. We chatted a bit about wine-making and the business, and afterwards it seemed like I’d run into him every time I was at an industry event. It turns out Scott makes some of the most unique and highly sought-after wines in California, in minuscule quantities of course. In 2013, his fourth vintage, Scott produced only 500 cases of wine.

 

 

 

One Wine A Week – 2011 Adega Vella Ribeira Sacra Mencía

Several months ago, Tala and I were discussing my waning wine consumption. There is only one in my household who drinks wine, and I was finding myself dumping a lot of wine down the drain because I couldn’t keep up with the open bottle. Now don’t get me wrong – I drink a lot of wine in general. At dinners, at tastings, at wine bars, etc. I just wasn’t opening a ton at home, which is kind of a shame. So Tala challenged me to drink one wine a week. And I’ve been keeping true to that, going through some older inventory from storage, and staying on top of my Winelandia subscriptions – you know we’re club members too! Which brings us here. A recurring weekly series cleverly titled One Wine A Week.

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This week’s wine was the 2011 Adega Vella Mencía, from Riberia Sacra. 100% Mencia, and 100% natural Spanish red.

Night opened: Monday

Days to drink: 3 nights, 2 days total (finished while writing this post!)

Paired with: whole wheat pasta with fresh mozzarella and doctored up, home-canned tomato sauce, baked with breadcrumbs on top. And padron peppers on the side.

This wine was a lot less rustic than I was expecting, which is a nice thing. I’ve become accustomed to Spanish reds that are in our area of preference (minimal intervention, focus on sustainability, good stewards in the vineyard and the cellar, etc.,) to be a little… rough around the edges. Maybe a little lacking in integration, or even a bit harsh. This wine is super fruity, delicious, and much more elegant than I thought.

It paired surprisingly well with my dinner of what’s in the fridge/on the shelf, though it wasn’t perfect. What would you pair with padron peppers, anyway? I’m not sure. However, the glass I had just by itself last night on the sofa was delightful. It had opened up nicely, with great flavors of cherry and bright, juicy fruit, but it wasn’t overwhelming or over-extracted. That was definitely its moment in the sun.

If I were to open this again (and you still can! There’s some in the shop right now!) I would do so, decant it – or pour it back and forth a few times between two large vessels – and then enjoy a glass of it on a warm evening. I often shy away from opening red wine “just to drink” because so many of them are overpowering, and knock you in the face or the teeth or the stomach. I usually just want something pleasant and easygoing in my glass. This was exactly that, in a red wine, and very worth the price.

We Went on the Korbel Tour, Y’all

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If I had a nickel for every time Colleen and I drove past the Korbel winery on River Road in the Russian River Valley, I might have enough money for a BART ride to the East Bay. Truth be told, I hadn’t had a Korbel wine in many years, if ever. All I knew is that they mass-produce sparkling wine. Colleen and I have been saying that we need to go on the tour for years…

Well, just this last weekend, Colleen bought me a night at our favorite somewhat-sketchy wine country hotel, The Sandman, as a birthday gift. It’s a magical place; loads of pillows, hot tub, pool, Carrow’s across the parking lot, and most importantly a waffle iron in the continental breakfast room. That’s right, after sleeping atop your mountain of pillows, you can wake up and go eat as many waffles as you can before you rupture your stomach, then get into the hot tub. It’s heaven. Rooms are only about $100 per night and they have good availability.

Looking for things to do to pass the time while in wine country (or Winelandia, we we call it), we decided that a trip to Korbel was in the cards. We are big fans of cheap-or-free things to do, and we’ve pretty thoroughly burned ourselves out on wine tasting in the area. At the very least, we thought it would be fun to pretend to be wine tourists for the day.

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Above: Colleen being a wine tourist

The tour itself lasted about an hour and was led by a very enthusiastic guide. She showed us some of the older structures which were built when the winery was a saw mill. The land the winery resides on used to be a dense old-growth redwood forest, which was clear-cut to make room for the winery. They milled and sold the wood to builders in San Francisco, and later built a winery. Next, the guide took us down to the old cellars, by far the most interesting part of the trip. Down there they had huge, old, large-format oak casks, which until about 2012 were used for aging the Korbel wines. These casks were retired and left in the cellar since they would be difficult to remove due to their size. I noticed the barrel hoops were loose and the staves were beginning to separate, due to being left empty.

P7120018Next, we were taken to the area where the wines were riddled before riddling was taken off-site. The second owner of the Korbel winery actually invented an automated riddling rack, which made the riddling process much easier and faster than doing it by hand. It was a pretty cool machine, and with the flip of a switch the bottles on the riddling machine would rattle and shake, then jolt into another position. The tour guide demonstrated this process, which was both noisy and fascinating.

P7120026There were oddities all over this place, strange equipment from yesteryear that you would probably need a historian to identify. If anyone knows what this thing is, please let me know, because I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me (and was also too lazy to ask!).

P7120010At the end of the tour, we were taken to a room which hosted the World’s Largest Bottle of “Champagne”, as well as the World’s Largest “Champagne” Goblet. This was definitely the icing on the cake. The only thing left to do was taste the “California Champagne” that made Korbel a household name.

P7120027After being led to the tasting room, we tasted a flight of 8 wines, picking the ones we thought were most interesting. Our favorite was the Korbel Brut “California Champagne” made from organic grapes, which was the most palatable of all the wines. I lost it when we got to the “Moscato Frizzante California Champagne”, because there is just so much wrong with that sentence.

In conclusion, the Korbel tour is full of history and interesting factoids about the early California wine industry, how Korbel survived prohibition, and the industrialization of Korbel wines. We learned why Korbel is allowed to call their wine Champagne, which is something that France wants them to stop doing. The building itself is really cool, and worth checking out if you’re in the area with some time to kill. The tour is free, as is the tasting. More information can be found here: http://www.korbel.com/winery/

 

 

 

 

Wine of the Week: Matthiasson 2013 ‘Linda Vista’ Napa Valley Chardonnay

Steve Matthiasson is quickly becoming a household name amongst wine lovers – he is making some of the best and most compelling wines today in California. A farmer at his core, Steve Matthiasson grows many things in addition to grapes, and is a highly sought-after viticultural consultant. His list of credentials is long, and he was even called the SF Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year.

I recently attended a trade tasting where Matthiasson was pouring his wines, and I was lucky enough to meet him and taste through his current offerings. I was particularly drawn to his Linda Vista Napa Valley Chardonnay, an affordable and beautifully balanced wine. It’s rich and flavorful, with acidity that’s balanced by body – a no-brainer for the Winelandia shop. Fermented and aged in 100% neutral French oak, from which it picked up texture and creaminess without any oak flavor (my favorite kind of chardonnay!).

The fruit comes from the Linda Vista vineyard in Oak Knoll, a plot of vines that are farmed by Matthiasson but owned by someone else. The vineyard is literally across the way from his farm, which I’m sure makes it easier to keep a close eye on the health of the vines and fruit. The care taken in the vineyard really shows in the wine, and it’s the finest example of an affordable California chardonnay that I’ve found all year.

This wine is SOLD OUT.

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Winemaker:  Steve Matthiasson
Bio: The SF Chronicle’s 2013 Winemaker of the Year and nominated for a James Beard award in 2014, Steve Matthiasson is one of Napa Valley’s top viticultural consultants. With over 20 years of experience, he is certainly no newcomer. He is known for championing Italian grape varieties in California, producing wines from grapes like tocai-friulano, refosco, and ribolla gialla. A Whittier college graduate and former San Francisco bike messenger, Steve now lives on his 5 acre Napa Valley farm with his wife and children.
Region: US>California>Napa Valley
Vineyard: Linda Vista Vineyard. Clay soil.
Blend: 100% Chardonnay
Aging: Neutral French oak
Production Notes: Whole cluster pressed, settled for 24 hours in tank, then fermented in neutral oak barrels. During aging, half of the barrels were stirred once, which added creaminess while still preserving freshness and minerality. 2/5 of the barrels were allowed to go through malolactic fermentation due to the high acidity of the 2013 harvest. Never racked, fined, or cold stabilized. Sterile filtered before bottling.
Tasting Notes: Notes of apples, stonefruits, and melon, with a slightly honeyed character and mineral backbone. Balanced and elegant, this is a great Chardonnay for a hot summer day!
Food Pairings: Roasted chicken, oysters, cheese plates.

Recipe: Pork Wonton Soup a la Tala

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I’m going to tell you a secret: There’s a French-style butchery in San Francisco’s Dog Patch neighborhood that has the best quality meat in the city with a price tag that won’t make you balk. It’s called Olivier’s Butchery, and they don’t have a single freezer in their whole shop. You can browse their amazing selection of fresh pre-cut meats, roasts, and groceries, or special order any cut of meat you like and Olivier will cut it to order. This place has been my go-to since I learned about it, and I’ll never go to Whole Foods again.

Occasionally, Olivier will offer a “Meat Box”; for a set price you receive a menagerie of meat products of his choosing. The draw is that you save money (15%-20% off retail) by purchasing in bulk. Everything is vacuum-sealed so it can go right into your freezer. This is a great way to force yourself to branch out and try cooking something new, as I did with the ground pork that came in my Olivier’s Meat Box. After a bit of googling, I decided that an Asian-style dish would best showcase this ground pork. I settled on Pork wonton soup, as I had some home-made tonkotsu broth in my freezer.

Before we begin, let me clarify one thing: There is absolutely nothing authentic about this recipe. It’s my creation, utilizing local ingredients, heirloom vegetables, and stuff I found in my ‘fridge. You can adapt it any way you like – change the filling of the wontons, use a different kind of broth, top it with anything you like. If you’re a purist, it’s probably not the recipe for you.

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Pork Wonton Soup
Serves 2, with plenty of leftover wontons to freeze and enjoy later
Prep time: 30 min + 1 hour of waiting
Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
Wontons-
1 package square wonton/potsticker wrappers
1 lb ground pork
1 small head of cabbage (I used savoy), sliced very thin
2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled & grated
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. peanut oil

Soup base-
4 cups low-sodium or unsalted broth (I used pork tonkotsu broth, but you could substitute chicken or anything else you have on hand)
Splash of Shaoxing rice wine (optional)
Soy sauce, to taste
Salt, to taste

Toppings-
Handful of watercress or thinly sliced green onions
Drizzle of sesame oil
Drizzle of hot chili oil

Method:

  1. Heat a medium skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
  2. Add 1 tbsp. peanut oil and heat until it shimmers.
  3. Add thinly sliced cabbage to the pan and sprinkle with a little salt to get it to release it’s liquid (you could also throw in a splash of Shaoxing rice wine to get it going). Turn the heat down to medium, toss in the pan, and cook until tender (approx. 8-10 minutes).
  4. Remove cabbage from the pan and set aside to cool.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, grated ginger, minced garlic, green onions, cooled cooked cabbage, 1 tsp. sesame oil, and 1 tbsp. soy sauce. Use two forks to mix the ingredients until well-combined. Put in the refrigerator for 1 hour to let the flavors meld together.
  6. Meanwhile, heat your broth in a small saucepan. Add the rice wine, salt, and soy sauce to taste (it should be salty, but not too salty. If you over-salt it, just add some water). Turn heat down, cover, and keep hot. This is your soup base.
  7. Prepare the work surface to make your wontons. You will be making them in batches (I did 10 at a time), so your work surface should be large. Put a big plate or cutting board off to the side to place your finished wontons on after you make them.
  8. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add 3 tbsp of salt and keep it hot until you’re ready to cook your wontons.
  9. Get a small bowl of water and place on your work surface – you will be using it to wet your fingertip to seal the wontons.
  10. Lay out 10 square wonton wrappers on your work surface.
  11. Remove your wonton filling from the refrigerator and spoon it into the center of your wonton wrappers. I found that 1 heaping teaspoon of filling was the right amount for the size of my wrappers – yours may be a different size, so just be sure not to overfill (they will be hard to seal if they are overfilled).
  12. Start to make your wontons. I do them systematically in batches of 10 – you will save a lot of time this way. You can fold them any way you like, there are a million ways to do it. This website explains 10 different ways (I used the “samosa with a twist”).
  13. Set your finished wontons aside and continue on to the next batch until you run out of filling or wrappers.
  14. Next, put enough wontons for two people (I can eat 7 or 8 of them, they are so delicious!) into the pot of salted, boiling water. Cook for 7 minutes. (Side note: You are going to have way more wontons than you can eat, and they freeze beautifully. Flash freeze your extra wontons by putting them onto a cookie sheet and into the freezer, uncovered, until frozen. Then put them into quart size mason jars or freezer bags and return to the freezer until you’re ready to eat more wontons.)
  15. Divide the cooked wontons between two large soup bowls. Ladle the hot soup base over the wontons.
  16. Top the soup with a drizzle of sesame oil, hot chili oil, and a handful of watercress or thinly sliced green onions. Enjoy with a yummy beer like Sapporo or TsingTao.

Go Wine Tasting in the Bay Area – Six Urban Wineries


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Ever want to go wine tasting, but the idea of driving all the way up to wine country put the squash on your desire? Perhaps you’re without a car, and want to enjoy the spoils of artisan wine from the comfort of your own city? You’re in luck, because there are quite a few “urban wineries” all over the Bay Area. Whether you’re in the East Bay or San Francisco, there’s a winery for you. Here’s a list of our favorites!

Campovida
95 Linden Street
Oakland, CA 94607
510-550-7273
Campovida has a new urban winery in Oakland, opened just last year. They produce several Rhone varietal wines from their organic estate vineyards in Hopland, CA. The new tasting room is located near Jack London Square, and it’s a beautiful space. If you are doing the urban winery circuit in Oakland, be sure to pay them a visit. Open Tues-Fri 4:30pm-9:30pm and Sat-Sun 12:00pm-9:30pm. $10 tasting fee for 6 wines, waived with the purchase of a bottle.

Treasure Island Wines
995 9th Street
Bldg. 201
San Francisco, CA 94130
415-394-9463
There are a few wineries on Treasure Island these days, but Treasure Island Wines is by far my favorite. It’s a co-op space used by several winemakers that all share a facility and resources. Come by this winery on a Saturday or Sunday to taste through a collection of wines produced in their facility. This is an excellent value since they will often pour through everything they have open. Open Saturdays and some Sundays from 1pm to 5pm. $5 tasting fee refunded with purchase.

Bluxome Street Winery
53 Bluxome Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
415-543-5353
Bluxome Street Winery is a lovely winery and event space located in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco. It’s a fairly new facility but they make some tasty wines (mostly from the Russian River Valley AVA) and are open during the week. So, if you work in SoMa and are looking for a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, this is a great place to stop by and do a quick tasting at (or enjoy a whole glass of wine). They sometimes have a food truck parked outside. Open 12pm-7pm Tuesday thru Sunday. Tasting flights are $10-$15 and full glasses are $6-$15.

Donkey & Goat
1340 5th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
510-868-9174
Jared and Tracy Brandt are the proprietors of Donkey and Goat. Their wines are super-natural and made with Rhone varietals, Chardonnay & Pinot Noir. Donkey & Goat produces soulful and unapologetically honest wines, paving the way for many natural winemakers in California. The tasting room is located near the fancy shops at 4th Street in Berkeley and you shouldn’t miss this if you are in the area. Tasting room is open from 2pm-6pm, Friday through Sunday. Tasting fee is $10 and waived with a purchase.

Broc Cellars
1300 5th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
510-542-9463
Chris Brockway is the mastermind behind this great project, whose winery is located just a half a block away from Donkey & Goat. Brockway produces wines with a natural slant at a reasonable price point, mostly from lesser-known varieties. Stop by Broc Cellars if you are in the area and be sure to also visit Donkey & Goat while you’re there. Open Saturday & Sunday from 1pm-5pm. $5 tasting fee waived with purchase.

Dasche Cellars
55 4th Street
Oakland, CA 94607
510-452-1800
Dasche Cellars is located right by Jack London Square and produces some really outstanding Zinfandel. I am particularly fond of their native yeast Zinfandels, which are both delicious and affordable. These wines are made in a more old-world style with older French oak barrels, low SO2 levels, and without fining or filtering. They also produce a rosé, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon & Petite Sirah. Open Thursday thru Sunday from 12pm to 5pm in the winter, and until 6pm in the summer. Tasting fee is $10 and refunded with a purchase.