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These are some of my thoughts on the Habits of Highly Effective Winemakers – I would love to hear some of yours!!
1) Keep a notebook – write it down: these days, when you say notebook, you could be talking about a couple of things. A notebook to me is the one with paper in it. A notebook to someone quite younger may be a Mac Pro. Either one is great for keeping notes. You may think you’ll remember something, but in my experience, I always forgot what I wanted so much to remember.
2) Taste, Taste, Taste – yeah, I know it’s a great job…but someone has to do it…LOL Tasting the juice all the way through fermentation through aging is a must. (no pun intended) Don’t be surprised when the winemaker comes to your house and asks for a beer…
3) Stay up on new research, new technology, and new equipment – Things change every day. Modern technology is changing very quickly and we need to keep up with it. We should never be afraid to try new things.
4) Never be afraid to ask –
5) Source great fruit –
6) Stay focused –
7) Have fun – I have always said that if the winemaker is not happy or always in a bad mood, they will not make good wine…
I guess there are some of us who celebrate Valentine’s Day and some who don’t. And that’s ok…
It has been said that we shouldn’t have to wait for a certain day of the year to give a gift to that special someone in our lives. I believe that is true. Make each day special. Take the time to say a kind word or give a hug. It’s those moments that people remember. (of course they remember the diamond ring you gave them too ;-) ) But a continuous loving heart all year round is really what it’s all about.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Take a look around…there are so many people in your community who are in need this season and through out the year! Passaggio Wines has joined hearts with the Volunteer Center of Sonoma to help those less fortunate in our community. Come by the tasting room and take a heart from our Christmas tree and make it a special day for someone this Christmas. You can return the gift you purchased, gift wrapped, with the sticker applied to the package and we will deliver it for you.
Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Can you believe it??? We are at that time of year when we visit family and friends for the holidays. This year has gone by so fast…what did I do all year? Well…since you asked, here is a list of some of the things Passaggio Wines accomplished in the year 2014. I couldn’t have done it without the help of some wonderful friends!!!
* We teamed up with The Sassy Kitchen to have small intimate wine maker dinners and introduce recipes that pair with Passaggio Wines.
* Introduced new clubs to the Passaggio Wines Clubs
* Visited the Finger Lakes area and found some wonderful wines
* Opened a tasting room on the Historic Sonoma Square
* We tripled our production this year and added a few new varietals to the Passaggio Line up!!
* Joined Vin65 and revamped the Passaggio Website
* Got a puppy!!!
* We met a lot of wonderful new friends!!!
Thank you for a wonderful year…
Have a safe and joyous holiday!!!
WOW!! It’s been awhile since my last blog post! I got kinda busy with harvest. What a great looking vintage this year! All of Passaggio’s fruit is in and all I can say is “Whew!”
It seems to me that this harvest was fast and furious. Everything wanted to come in at once. The only thing I had to wait on was the Barbera. Now we can breathe a little while everything gets through fermentation and pressing. I can’t wait to see how this vintage turns out. I believe it’s going to be great.
I brought in Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauv Blanc, Rousanne, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Merlot, and Barbera.
Next up – bottling in February!!
Here we are…in the thick of harvest!!! Phoebe will be 11 weeks old this Thursday!! The Sonoma Tasting Room is doing great! The San Francisco Tasting Room is doing great! The 2014 Harvest looks great! Have I said the word “great” yet…? I have been known to say “awesome” a lot…(thought I’d change it up a bit ;-)
Just a bit tired but will keep you posted on this “awesome” harvest (there’s that word) – So far I have brought in Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauv Blanc, Rousanne, and some Pinot Noir. It’s looking good!!!
If you get a chance, stop by the Sonoma Tasting Room. We are pouring some “great” wines. Open today (Sept 15th) from 12-6pm…
Cheers to a “great” harvest
It’s official…the Passaggio Wines tasting room in Sonoma is two weeks old, harvest has kicked off and I’m getting a puppy next week!!
It has been very quiet in the house since Mattie (my Airedale) passed away last year. I miss her every day. There’s a place in my heart for this little girl too. Her name is Phoebe. I named her Phoebe because that was Mattie’s actually first name. Her name was Phoebe Maddison. We called her Mattie.
This little girl will join us on August 28th. She will be flying here, with her breeder, Charlene Johnson. They are flying here all the way from Connecticut. Charlene has been very instrumental in helping my heart mend from loosing Mattie to cancer. Phoebe will now be the new Passaggio Winery dog…as you can tell, she’s been practicing!! ;-)
I am sure you will see lots of photos soon!! Stay tuned for the arrival!
I am very proud to present the opening of the Passaggio Wines Sonoma Tasting Room. What a dream come true! I am very blessed to be surrounded by some wonderful people who have made this part of my journey come to life. Come on in for a great glass of wine!
Tasting room: 25 East Napa Street, Suite C, Sonoma, CA.
Hours: Mon 12-6, Tues closed, Wed closed, Thurs 12-6, Fri 11-6, Sat 11-6, Sun 11-6
Cheers to my friends and family!!
You can check out more photos on the Passaggio Wines Facebook Page!!
This has been such an exciting journey!! We are getting closer every day to opening the Passaggio Wines tasting room. Everything is coming together with the help of some great friends! I can’t wait for you to see it. I am thinking we will open very soon – so stay tuned!!
Look out Sonoma – here I come!
Oh my goodness!! That’s all I can say at this point!!
The Passaggio Wines Tasting Room is coming along great. The banquette seating and flooring have been delivered, and the paining will start soon. We also have been discussing wine bottle bags!! Do you know how many choices of bags there are out there? I think we have been talking about bags for weeks (well maybe not weeks but a few days anyway) ;-)
And of course we are having some wine while deciding…I must say the Passaggio UNMARKED 2012 Grenache is tasting very good!! I can’t wait for you to taste it in the tasting room!!
What kind of wine bottle bag do you like?
Cheers to bags!!!
I was sitting outside the tasting room while the Comcast technician hooked up the internet, telephone, and TV! Good grief, TV?? Oh well it came with the bundle package. The PG&E was hooked up a few weeks ago, and now the drywall is going up.
As I sat outside in front of the tasting room I was admiring the fountain and listening to the water…it was a beautiful day in Sonoma. I can’t wait to open!!!
For those following the transformation of the Passaggio Wines Tasting Room…
It’s so exciting to see the space opened up!!
Still lots to do – but now we have a clean slate to work with. PG&E is hooked up and Comcast is scheduled for the 11th. We are right on schedule!!! The tasting room menu and wine club sign up forms are in the design stages…I am very excited! The outside signage still needs approval. I have hired a couple of people to work in the tasting room – but we may need one more ;-)
We finally got the keys to the Passaggio Wines tasting room space…whoohoooo!!! Here we go!! We have lots of work to do to get ready to open. There will be some changes to the space over the next few weeks so stay tuned to watch the transformation…check out the before photos!!
Remember the last blog post of the choices for the back wall? The previous tenant had a painting hanging in that spot. That wall will be completely covered with one of the choices you saw in the previous post. If you missed it, you can view it here. Would love to hear your thoughts!
I feel like I’ve been gone forever from writing on my blog. I have been quite busy trying to get this new venture of mine going!!!
What a journey this has been. I started Passaggio Wines in 2007 with the release of my first 50 cases of Unoaked Chardonnay. I was on top of the world…and here I am today producing nearly 500 cases last year and ramping up for almost double that for harvest 2014. None of this would have been possible without the support from those who believed in me and drank lots of my wine ;-)
Here’s a glimpse of what I have been working on…Coming Soon to the Sonoma Square – Passaggio Wines Tasting Room!! I can’t wait to see you there!
After I wrote the title it sounded kinda funny to me. But what the heck – it’s my blog ;-)
I have been quite busy these past few months getting wines ready for bottling and I am very excited to say that all the 2013 Passaggio White wines and Rosé have been bottled. Whooohooooo!!!!
2013 is turning out to be a great vintage. The whites and the Rosé are fantastic. I was able to get the Rose Colored Glasses on the website as a pre-order and believe me, it’s going fast!! So if you would like to pre-order the Rose Colored Glasses you can do so here. I don’t think it’s going to last long!!
I think this video says it all – I am glad bottling is finally finished!! Cheers to 2013 Vintage!
If you love Pinot Noir you probably have heard of the PinotReport. It’s a wonderful newsletter written and published by Greg Walter, former Wine Spectator Editor. Greg calls himself the writer, taster, editor, publisher and chief bottle and wine glass washer for PinotReport. In 1981, Greg took a job as an editorial assistant for The Wine Spectator. He had a 14 year career with them, rising from editorial assistant to senior editor and ultimately serving six years as the magazine’s president. He left The Wine Spectator in 1994. He has since written a book and been a consulting editor and publisher for several magazines through his firm, The Carneros Group.
As I read the first line of the PinotReport, I knew it was something special. He says that his fascination with a great Pinot Noir is as much about the people involved in making the wine, the wine regions, and the foods that match well at the table. – in short, the lifestyle surrounding the wines. (sound familiar…?) If you’d like to read the PinotReport newsletter you must have a subscription. You can subscribe here.
I sent Greg a bottle of the Passaggio 2012 UNMARKED Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir a few months back for review. I have held my breath ever since (well, not literally but you get the picture) Much to my surprise, I received an email this week stating that my Pinot Noir had been reviewed in the PinotReport. Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive to open the email. When I did, I was very surprised and humbled. The Passaggio 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot got a 92.
There is nothing like getting together with wonderful friends. This video displays the fantastic evening with wonderful friends, great food, and awesome wines. Passaggio Wines loves these small intimate gatherings…I think we will do more of them ;-)
My good friend, Dan Goderis, better known as the Iowa Wino, contacted me a couple of months ago to do a talk radio show. I was excited to do it but then when the show was to air, I wasn’t available. We finally were able to put the show together yesterday. Wouldn’t you know it, Dan called and said his computer shut down and he was having a hard time rebooting it. ;-) Ain’t technology grand?
I waited and waited – listening to that interesting music (well, maybe not so interesting LOL) and finally Dan was able to get his computer to work. I wish I could have seen him behind the scenes… ;-)
This is what he said on his blog page. “All I can say is that old groundhog better never show his face around me. Right before we are going live for this weeks BlogTalk Radio show my internet and power glitch turned this relatively calm individual into 2 year old tantrum mode. Not only would nothing boot up quickly but it appeared it wanted to mess with me and start loading all sorts of updates. Note to self screaming at the router and laptop does not help nor does threatening to throw it in the foot of snow outside. Yes and while this was going on it was snowing outside and the poor winemaker was on hold thinking “I agreed to do what?” With music clips wiped out and the opening vanished we managed to duct tape the show together and had a fun little time. Thanks Cindy for being such a sport.
I invite you to listen and learn more about me…here’s the link CellarCast with Passaggio Wines
We had so much fun during the Passaggio Passionista Wine, Food, and Friends Get Together, we are planning another!!! Take a look at what The Sassy Kitchen might be cooking for us… “YUM” – and what a great recipe for Valentine’s Day!!! Enjoy!
Here in the bay area, it is Dungeness Crab Season. This makes me very happy. :-)
A few days ago I had the pleasure of attending one of my best friends 50th birthday party. The part was a surprise and we were all asked to bring something yummy. I had an hour drive so I needed something that would transport well, reheat in a crock pot and still be delicious.
For me, there was an easy answer. Dungeness Crab Bisque!!!
I had never made it so I searched recipes, read reviews and chose one. Of course then I changed it.
This soup can be prepared in a couple of hours if you are using live crab and in under an hour if using shelled crab meat.
Are you ready?
You will need
2 Dungeness Crab (approx 2 pounds each)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Carrot, Chopped
1 Stalk Celery, Chopped
1 Medium to Large Tomato, Chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
3 Medium Shallots, Chopped
2 Springs Fresh Tarragon Leaves, Chopped
2 to 3 Tbsp Cognac (Brandy)
1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
5 Cups Crab Boiling Water (you can use stock or water )
1/2 Dried Bay Leaf (or 1 small – you want a subtle flavor)
2 Sprigs Thyme Leaves
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Butter
Parsley or Chives (optional)
Long Matches – I’m adding this because it’s important for lighting the Cognac
My recipe is based on one made by Wolfgang Puck. I loved it but it was too thin for me so I made it a little thicker. I also precooked the crab in my recipe. I have no problem putting live crabs into boiling water, I can’t bring myself to cut them in half while they are still trying to pinch me. It’s just one of those weird things. (I’m the same with lobster. Ok killing it one way but not another – weird but true) The original recipe was also doubled. It makes a lot and for Valentine’s day, this could be the perfect “Dinner for Two”.
Start by filling a large stock pot with water and bringing to a boil. Add crab ( I had to do them one at a time). Bring back to a boil, cover and turn off burner. Leave the crab in the pot for 10 minutes. They will not be fully cooked. Move them to a sink or large bowl full of cold or ice water to stop the cooking.
Reserve the boiling water. I only have one stock pot that large so I poured the water into a large bowl.
When the crab is cool enough to handle, pull of the claws and legs and cut the body in half. Pull off the top shell and toss it. (You can keep and freeze it for stock) Clean out the gills. You really don’t want those getting mixed up in your soup.
Add the Olive Oil to stock pot over medium heat. Add the crab legs and bodies. Saute for about 10 minutes. This is bringing the flavor to what will be your soup base. (and it will finish the cooking of the crab) Remove the legs in about 5 minutes, keep stirring and turning over the bodies and claws. Pull out of the pot and set aside.
Add the tomato, carrot, celery, shallot, garlic, tarragon to the pot. Cook for 15 minutes.
Add the cognac and light it using a long “fireplace” match.
Once the flames die out, sprinkle the vegetable mixture with the flour and stir until well coated.
THEN add that delicious Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay (that you’re probably already sipping)
Add slowly while using it to de-glaze the pan and loosen the floured vegetable mix.
Now add the tomato paste, crab boil water, the bay leaf, thyme, a little salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne.
NOW add the crab bodies again. Not the legs or claws, just the body pieces.
Bring up to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Pull out the crab and set aside.
With either an immersion blender or a standard blender, blend the soup.
Reduce heat to low. Keep the soup warm but do not boil. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and cayenne as desired.
In a small sauce pan add the cream and butter. Reduce by about 1/2 (less is fine, it still works well)
SLOWLY add the cream to the soup. DO NOT BOIL.
Still well to blend.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Now it’s time to get back to that crab. Crack and clean the crab. (I did the claws and legs while the soup was simmering and then the bodies as soon as they were cool enough to handle)
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and add the crab meat. Top with chives or parsley if desired.
Serve with Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay.
The Sassy Kitchen
I was graced with dinner from The Sassy Kitchen the other evening. She stopped by the winery to drop it off. When I got home all I had to do was warm it up…how cool is that? I love the Passaggio Chardonnay Cornish Hens. You are gonna love this recipe…I think I could even make it ;-)
Straight from The Sassy Kitchen
“Passionista” Cornish Hens
2 Cornish Hens
1 1/2 Cup Passaggio Chardonnay
Salt and Pepper (or Seasoning blend of choice)
1 Tbsp Butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Prepare the birds by drying them as much as possible. I wrap them in paper towels and pat dry then remove the towels and place on more towels while I finish the prep. A little tip I learned a few years ago is that a dry bird gives you crisper skin.
Truss the birds with kitchen twine. There are several great videos online on how to do this if you’re not sure. (Click here for one on YouTube)
Pour the Passaggio Chardonnay into a cup or small bowl.
Using a meat injector (relatively inexpensive and so handy to have in the kitchen) fill the syringe with some of the wine in the cup. Pouring the wine in a cup or container will keep you from cross contamination issues. Inject 1 to 2 syringes of Passaggio Chardonnay into each breast half. I recommend going in at different angles from the same injection spot. You will see the breasts “plump”. You can also inject the thighs and legs. Just follow the same steps.
Season dry birds liberally with your preferred seasonings.
Remove paper towels from under the birds. Be careful to not squeeze the birds. You don’t want to squeeze out the wine. :-)
Place hens in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and continue to cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Check at 30 minute point and cover tips of wings with foil if they are browning too much. About 5 minutes before you pull them out of the oven, brush the birds with a little melted butter. (makes them “shine” a bit)
Remove from oven and carefully cut the twine. Check the leg/thigh area for “doneness”. Depending on the size of your hens, it may take a little longer in the oven.
Let the birds rest for about 10 minutes, plate whole or slice and enjoy.
**Want to try a little “twist”? Add fresh thyme leaves to the injection wine. Be sure they are finely diced. They will clog the injector’s needle if too large (or if you add too many)
Cooking with The Sassy Kitchen – Passaggio Pinot Noir Braised Lamb Shanks
This evening with The Sassy Kitchen was so much fun, and a lot of people are waiting for this recipe!! So here we go…straight from The Sassy Kitchen.
4 Lamb Hind Shanks. 4 to 5 pounds total weight. *
3 Large Carrots
2 Large Stalks Celery
1 Small Yellow Onion
1 Small White Onion
5 Cloves Garlic
12 Oz Tomato Paste
4 Cups Water
2 Cups Passaggio Unmarked Code Seven 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp Chopped Fresh Rosemary
8 to 10 Sprigs Fresh Thyme**
4 Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper
Heavy, well sealing Dutch Oven.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Give the carrots, celery and onions a rough chop and smash the garlic cloves. Put them in the food processor. Chop until you have a chunky “paste”. Set aside.
Put flour in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper.
Coat Dutch Oven liberally with olive oil and place on the stove over medium high heat. You want a HOT pan.
Dry Lamb Shanks with paper towels then coat them with flour. When the pan is hot, work in batches. Be sure not to crowd the meat and steam it – not brown it. Brown the meat well. Take the time to get it browned well on all sides. Set aside to rest and cool just slightly.
Drain the fat from the pan. You really don’t want all that extra meat fat in this dish. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and then add the vegetable mixture and salt and pepper to taste. This should be sort of searing as well. Cook while stirring for 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll want them brown but not burned. Move it to one side of the pan and add the tomato paste. Let this “brown” too. You will see it go to a richer deeper red. Stir both the vegetables and the tomato paste, separately for about 5 minutes and then blend them together.
Reduce heat to medium, add the Passaggio Pinor Noir and stir well. Let the wine reduce for a few minutes. Add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and water. Stir until well blended.
Place the lamb shanks in the pot. They should be almost totally covered. Place the lid on the Dutch Oven and put it in the oven. Total cook time is about 3 hours. Check and turn the lamb shanks in an hour and a half. If the liquid has reduced too much, add some water. (Skim fat if needed)
I served the lamb shanks over roasted garlic and olive oil mashed potatoes. I got the recipe from watching Lidia’s Italy. Click here for the link to Lidia’s garlic and olive oil mashed potatoes.
For the plating I also added some Chardonnay carrots. (recipe coming soon)
** For the Thyme, either tie with kitchen twine so you can easily pull the stems out OR remove the leaves from the stems and toss them in.
***I was serving the next day so I transferred them to a smaller, cool pot and refrigerated them overnight. They reheated well the next day. About 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven and they were up to temperature and ready.
How to Make a “Sassy” Gumbo – written by The Sassy Kitchen
About three years ago I ordered crawfish and had them shipped from Louisiana to California. My plan was to have a little crawfish boil and make a nice pot of seafood gumbo. As it turns out, one of my guests had a shellfish allergy. Naturally I panicked a bit. Then I decided to research chicken and sausage gumbo. I had never made it before but as with everything I have ever cooked, at one time or another; I had never made it before.
I found a few recipes I liked and I took pieces of each of those that I liked and created my own. I decided to add more meat and incorporate more than just plain chicken and sausage, change-up some seasonings, etc.
This gumbo was such a hit that I now have “Gumbo Parties” a couple of times a year. Depending on what I can get my hands on, the meats always change a bit but my basic recipe remains the same.
My basic recipe changed a bit last week when my friend Cynthia Cosco, who happens to be a winemaker, asked if I would try out some of her wines with some of my recipes. Now, for those that don’t know me, this was such an honor and I probably did actually squeal out loud a bit when she asked if I’d be interested in doing this. A few weeks later I met Cynthia at her tasting room and after trying several wines that she will be bottling soon, I left the tasting room with 4 bottles. In my handy wine tote, I had one bottle of each of these wonderful wines:
2012 Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio
2011 Passaggio New Generation Unoaked Chardonnay
2011 Passaggio Unmarked Code Seven Napa Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Passaggio Unmarked Code Seven Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
I began by opening the Pinot Grigio and the Chardonnay. I opened the bottles, poured myself a little of each and without food, I sipped them both. Back and forth, back and forth. Stopping, thinking, sipping, stopping… This went on for a while.
I had enjoyed Cynthia’s wines with my gumbo but hadn’t ever incorporated them into my recipe. Honestly, this still wasn’t the plan but in the flash with a glass in my hand, it changed. I must say, it was a tiny flash of brilliance. We’ve all had them. That flash where you’re drinking and cooking and think to yourself “I wonder what will happen if….” and while you’re still really in mid-thought, you pour your glass of wine into the pot. That’s exactly how it happened and it was a good thing!
Now it’s time to MAKE THE GUMBO! READY?
2 Pounds Smoked Sausage. Sliced about 1/4 inch thick. I mix it up. This time I used 1/2 pound Andouille, 1/2 Pound Pork Smoked Sausage and 1 Pound Turkey, Beef and Pork Smoked Sausage. I prefer the pork sausages and have also used pork and alligator sausage in the past.
4 Pounds Chicken Thighs. On the bone, skin and excess fat removed.
1 Pound Alligator Nuggets. You can add more chicken if you’d prefer. I had it so I used it. I have also used Alligator Legs.
1 1/4 Cups Chopped White Onion
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Yellow Onion
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Bell Pepper
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Celery
10 to 12 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup Flour (a bit more just in case)
3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil.
1/2 Cup Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
4 to 6 Bay Leaves. Personal preference to your liking
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cajun Seasoning Blend – I use Emeril’s Essence. It’s ALL IN THERE! BAM!!!
1 Cup Chopped Green Onion
1/3 Cup Chopped Parsley
4 Cups Cooked White Rice. Cook as desired. I keep this simple and cook the rice in water or chicken stock with a touch of butter and 1 bay leaf per cup of uncooked rice.
I HIGHLY recommend having everything prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. Once you start, it needs to be a smooth progression so that you don’t lose your flavors by having to stop and start, etc. The green onion, parsley and rice can wait a bit. You’ll have a few hours of idle time to do this.
Season chicken thighs liberally on both sides with your chosen Cajun seasoning blend and set aside for now.
Add 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil to a large stock pot and bring up temperature over medium to medium high heat. Working in batches, brown the sausage. Some will be crispy looking and some just a little cooked. Set on paper towel lined plate to drain.
Once you have browned all the sausage, once again working in batches, brown the chicken thighs on both sides. You’re not trying to cook it, just sear it. Set it aside to cool a bit then put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready for it.
Next, reduce heat to medium and de-glaze that stock pot with the Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio and then slowly add about half of the flour. Cook while stirring for a few minutes and then add 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil, stir and slowly add the remaining flour and another 1/4 cup oil (alternating) until you have a thick reddish-brown roux. Keep stirring for about 20 minutes. When you’re not using the wine, the roux goes from white to a chocolate-brown. When using the wine, it starts out a bit reddish-brown so it’s harder to tell what is happening. You still want to be sure that you are cooking the roux to coax out those incredible flavors that only a homemade roux will give you.
When the roux is ready, add the celery, peppers and onions. Stir well and get them all coated and gooey with the roux. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Toss in the cayenne, salt and pepper and then slowly add stock. Add the stock a little at a time while stirring. Adding it slowly keeps your roux from clumping like bad gravy. Once its loose and liquid, you can add the stock a bit faster and toss in the bay leaf. Add 10 cups and up to 12 depending on the size of your pot and the consistency you want. You can add 10 now and the remaining 2 later if you’d like.
Add sausage and simmer for 1 hour.
Add Chicken and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add Alligator and simmer for 1 more hour.
Using slotted spoon, remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool slightly. Remove chicken from the bone and chop or shred then return to pot and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning. Be careful. The flavors will continue to develop and it’s always easy to add salt and pepper later but removing it…. not so much.
Add the parsley, and about a Tbsp of Filé powder. Stir again.
Scoop desired amount of rice into a bowl, pour hot gumbo over the rice and top with chopped green onion. Serve with hot sauce and Filé powder on the table. Sometimes a couple shakes of each add a nice touch. **
Serve with a well chilled glass of Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio.
**I make my gumbo one to two days in advance. It keeps well and the “sitting” time really let’s those flavors “Do Their Thing”.
Good morning! It’s that time of the year when I start getting wines ready to bottle. I actually like this particular time. Tasting, blending, tasting, blending…not to mention all the things I have to get ready for the packaging. Labels, glass, corks, capsules…did I mention tasting? It’s very rewarding to see the wines come together in a way that you hadn’t imagined. They come into their own. They become what they were meant to be. (with a little help from the winemaker ;-) )
I want to tell you about a wine I really excited about this year. It’s the 2012 Passaggio UNMARKED Merlot. I sourced this fruit from my good friend, Carole Coplan. Carole bought this property a few years back. Now called Coplan Vineyards, this beautiful property is located at the northern cusp of the Carneros region in Sonoma Valley. This area is characterized by a long, moderately cool growing season tempered by maritime breezes from the bay and the Pacific. They sometimes have lingering early morning fog and warm afternoons. This environment provides optimum conditions for slow, even ripening and superior acidic balance for cool climate Merlot.
Merlot tends to have a range of fresh flavors such as plums, cherries, blueberries and blackberries mixed with cocoa and black pepper and spice tones. When it comes to food pairing options. Poultry, red meat, pork, pastas, salads – Merlot handles them all very well.
This will be Passaggio’s first Bordeaux red. The bottling is planned for March of this year and the wine will be released sometime this Fall. I hope you decide to try this small lot, artisan wine. You won’t be disappointed.
During the Holidays I am reminded of my Italian grandmother and her sisters who always did all the cooking, and in later years my Aunt Mary took over…I couldn’t wait to dig in to those wonderful recipes handed down from generation to generation. They were never written but handed down by actually cooking with the older women of the family. It was always a “little bit” of this and a “little bit” of that added to a dish. No ingredient was ever measured. (except maybe in baking) I have often wondered why they never wrote those recipes down…nonetheless I still have a few in my head and I’m passing this one down to you ;-)
Trying to remember some of the recipes that would pair well with my Unoaked Chardonnay I recalled the Fried Baccala Patties. This was not the traditional Baccala dish, although Grandma made that one too for the Christmas Holidays. This was something made up ahead of time and ate when anyone came to visit.
Remember, there’s no ingredient amounts…you can do it…I have confidence in you…
Ingredients you will need:
Salted Cod Fish
parmesan cheese (dried)
parsley (fresh and chopped)
Soak the cod-fish in water for a few days in the fridge – changing the water a couple of times a day
Drain water and squeeze water from fish – grind fish with meat grinder
Add your eggs (usually one per pound), breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, parsley
Make into patties about one to one and half inches thick
Fill frying pan with olive oil so that the patties are half-covered
Fry on both sides til golden brown – drain on paper towels
These make a wonderful seafood patty – hopefully you will enjoy them with your favorite white wine…I am thinking Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay for mine…
It’s Thanksgiving and I can’t wait for a few days of rest from all the harvest activity!
My good friend, Michelle Mazzara, gave me her new book, Dolce Vita USA Cook Book, and I wanted to share a side dish that I believe you will totally love having on your Thanksgiving table this year.
Thank you Michelle for the gift!!!
Mashed Sweet Potato and Yams with Blood Orange Liqueur
3 Sweet Potatoes
1 tsp. of freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of nutmeg
1 stick of unsalted butter
3 tsp. of brown sugar
3 tsp. of Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
3 tsp. of fresh orange juice
1/4 tsp. of salt and pepper
1/4 cup of fresh cream
1) Bake potatoes and yams at 380 degrees for 40 minutes or until done.
2) In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix
3) Scoop out potato and yam and add to bowl
4) Mash potatoes and yam in with rest of ingredients
5) Add to serving dish
6) Top with zest of an orange
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Holiday
Harvest has finally settled down. We have a few things still fermenting but all is well. The grapes looked fantastic this year! I’m predicting another great vintage! I am looking forward to sharing this vintage with you!
Here are just a few photos from Harvest 2013 – Enjoy
I couldn’t walk away from him. I asked if I could take him out of his cage. The attendant took him out and we became best buds almost instantly. He was the one…
When going through the adoption process at the front desk they asked “where the cat was going to sleep?” I looked at the girl behind the counter and said “anywhere he wants…”
When I got him home he needed a name of course. I have no clue why, but the shelter named him Larry. He had the longest whiskers on a cat I had ever seen (could it have been because he weighed 20 pounds?) so I decided to name him Whiskers. He immediately settled in and began running the house.
Whiskers became my best friend. He followed me around like a little puppy dog. He protected me from sock monsters and loved to sit by the stove when I was baking Salmon. (of course he would get a small bite) We had a fenced in back yard and he loved going out and just sitting in the grass. Our evening ritual was the same; he loved sitting next to me while I was on my computer and oftentimes helped me type. He woke me up every morning at 6am. We had our routine down. Or I should say I had his routine down…
It wasn’t long after Whiskers that Mattie was brought into the house. Mattie is an Airedale. She was 8 weeks old when I got her and of course Whiskers explained to her who was the boss. They became friends but Mattie knew who was in charge.
Whiskers soon developed some eye problems and had to have surgery on his left eye. Over the years he lost sight in that eye. He later developed diabetes. I gave him two insulin shots a day for the rest of his life. He had to have his blood sugar checked every now and then and his insulin adjusted. His immune system became weak and he was not able to go outside anymore. His back legs didn’t work that well and he kind of shuffled as he walked. It was amazing that he could sense when a vet visit was upon him…as soon as I went to get the crate, he would go under the bed just out of reach.
Over the years Whiskers earned the right to be called “Mr. Whiskers.” He remained my loyal friend.
At the beginning of the year, Mr. Whisker’s health began to deteriorate. We made several visits to the vet and were faced with having to put him under to pull some teeth. We soon realized that he was a little older than we had first thought. The vet said that Mr Whiskers was about 19 years old.
While Mr. Whiskers rallied a bit, he was tired and weak. He began not eating and not drinking. He soon had to have fluids given to him. Since he would not eat, I wasn’t able to give him his insulin shots. He began to deteriorate very fast. I had to call the Vet and was told to bring him in that next day. I was going to have to make some hard, hard choices.
It was about 3am. Mr Whiskers decided it was his time. I picked him up and held him in my arms for a couple of hours. He breathed his last breath at 6am that morning. My heart stopped for just a moment.
It’s been over a year now…
I miss him terribly – that day eight years ago when the shelter placed him in my arms, he claimed his space in my heart…and he will always remain there.
Passaggio Pinot Noir was harvested on 9/16/2013. Warnecke Ranch on the Russian River in Alexander Valley is a beautiful property in the historic Chalk Hill district. I am looking forward to making this wine and what it will bring to your table…
Follow Your Passion
Mattie is starting to get her personality back post surgery. It’s been two weeks…we are making great progress. She’ll be back at the winery in no time!!!
Mattie got her stitches out and is resting. Having a pretty good day!
Well, predictions were right for Harvest 2013…it came early! The 2013 Passaggio Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio came in full 10 days earlier than 2012 and the grapes looked fantastic…I actually think they look better than last year’s!
It was a brisk morning in Lodi when they picked fruit at 6:30am. I always love this time of year. It’s a time when thoughts of the outside world normally fade away as the sound of grape laden buckets takes over and harvest becomes the center of all activity. It’s a peaceful time when I can forget about everything else and just focus on harvest. This year, though, has been a little different. Mattie, my Airedale and Passaggio Winery dog, has undergone bone cancer surgery to remove her left front leg. It has taken its toll on me for sure. My heart is heavy and my spirit is weary. Mattie is actually doing better than I am. She seems better each day. Still not quite able to stand on her own, but she is getting better. I am sure she will be running…well, I understand it may resemble a hop… around the winery before you know it. I am very thankful for all the support, hugs, thoughts, and prayers during this difficult journey. Barbara, my neighbor and wonderful friend, has been such a huge support. She made dinner twice for us and visits Mattie at least twice a day for belly rubs. Mariah, my pastor, brought a care package of snacks…doggie treats for Mattie and ice cream for me! Friends from all over the world are leaving social media messages of encouragement…wonderful words of encouragement and daily advice.
For these things I am very grateful….
An old phrase you might hear around the winery is “rack to bottling” – which means get the wine ready for bottling by racking it to a tank.
Yesterday I racked the 2012 Passaggio UNMARKED Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir to tank. These grapes came from the Petaluma Gap area of the Sonoma Coast. The Sonoma Coast extends from San Pablo Bay to Mendocino County. The Petaluma Gap area extends from the Pacific Ocean to San Pablo Bay. This area produces some of the best Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. Wind and fog are its trademark and the word “Gap” got its name from the actual gap in the mountain that stretches from the Pacific to the town of Petaluma. The early morning fog, intense heat in the afternoon, and very cool evenings are a great growing climate for Pinot Noir.
The 2012 Passaggio UNMARKED Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ready for bottling on August 16th, 2013.
Stay tuned for more!!!!
- Shine On, Sonoma Coast (courtneycochran.com)
Sulfur Dioxide is a chemical compound with the formula SO2 and is responsible for the wording on wine labels “contains sulfites”.
One of the most important things to do in the wine making process is to make sure the sulfur is at the appropriate level in the wine. There are a few ways of checking this and I use the A/O method. I adjust my SO2 levels depending on the pH level in the wine. The test only takes 10 minutes per wine.
Here are a couple of reasons to add sulfur to wine:
First, it is a microbial agent which helps curtail unwanted bacteria growth. Second, it helps keeps the wine fresh and protects it from browning. We don’t want the sulfur levels too high though. That’s when you smell that burnt match smell. So it’s important to keep good notes and write down everything you do in your wine makers notebook.
Check out the 15 second instagram video
It’s one of my favorite parts of wine making…I love blending. The 2012 Passaggio UNMARKED Pinot Noir is ready for blending. This wine comes from a single vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. I am very excited about bottling it on August 16th. But before we do, we have to get it ready!!!
Stay tuned for more photos and videos of the 2012 Pinot blending and bottling…
Check out the new page on the Passaggio Wines blog – Follow Your Passion. I have moved the Follow Your Passion blog from blogger to WordPress.
Check out these wonderful friends of mine…
I guess some of you are wondering what happens in the winery during this time of the year…or maybe not. LOL
It’s kind of quiet in the winery although we are gearing up to do some bottling. I have been cleaning. Yes, cleaning. Cleaning is just something that we are constantly doing in the winery. It’s one of the most important things we do as well as one of the most things we do. We are constantly cleaning. This week I was cleaning the production area and the Passaggio SS Drums. Hard work but it sure makes you feel better when it’s all clean… ;-)
These Passaggio SS Drums are ready to be rinsed!!!
It has been a wonderful summer thus far…oh my! Is it actually summer already? LOL
This summer, for me, has started off with an amazing Mediterranean Cruise! What a trip! We went to Rome, Sorrento, Sicily, Zakynthos and Corfu, Dubrovnik and ended with Venice. Rome was my absolute favorite place! We arrived in the city several days before meeting with the cruise ship and spent every moment walking through Rome…what a gorgeous place! My first time in Italy! I am still smiling from the experience…
When in Rome…they say, do as the Romans do. See the Vatican, visit the Colosseum, eat gelato, walk the Spanish Steps, eat at tables outside the restaurants, eat gelato, order the pasta, drink the wine, eat gelato…need I go on…? It was so much to take in…did I say eat gelato? I am ready to go back…
I soaked up the lifestyle while I was there. I realized that I do not do it right here. Being too hurried every day, too stressed, too many things on my calendar, etc. This trip changed my life, so to speak. I am trying to find that happy medium, that moment of “ahhh…bliss…” It will take some time, but I know I can do it!
Another unexpected plus in Rome…I also met a Facebook friend for the first time! Barbara, who lives in Italy, saw in my postings that I was heading her way and caught a train to meet me in Rome…how cool was that?!?
Meet the Winemaker – yep that’s me!!
I am looking forward to this event at Dogpatch Wine Works tasting room. I hope you join me and share a glass of Passaggio Wine on April 18th from 5-8pm. 2455 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107.
Come and hear my story of how I got started in the wine industry and where I plan to take the Passaggio brand…
Click here for more details
March 15th – Passaggio Wines on the calendar for bottling. The days leading up to this date were intense. Trying to coordinate getting all the packaging paraphernalia to the winery on time was quite a task not to mention getting the wine ready too. It actually came down to the wire. The capsules and corks were to arrive on the 14th. Two o’clock went by and the UPS driver had all ready dropped a package off at the winery and it wasn’t the capsules and corks for Passaggio Wines bottling. I immediately got on the phone to the company and they had me down as bottling on the 25th…oy vay!!! Needless to say, you can bottle without capsules, but you can’t bottle without corks!
The company realized their mistake and had the capsules and corks to me at 7am on the 15th. Now that’s cutting it close…geez!
The day went very smooth. I had wonderful friends who took part in this memorable occasion. It makes bottling more of a non stressful day when you have great people helping you get through it. Passaggio Wines bottled the 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Rose Colored Glasses, and newly added to the line-up this year – Sauvignon Blanc.
Shout out to Dave Gifford, Chris Nelson, Justin Rose, and the Luna Sei group for all their help!!! You guys are awesome….
- Luna Sei Moon Mix 2010 Red Table Wine (fiftyshadesofwine.org)
Labels, capsules, bottles and corks…oh my! The winery has been pretty quiet this past month but I have been busy behind the scenes as I gear up for bottling. The Passaggio 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Rosé are scheduled for bottling. Added to my Spring line up is the 2012 Passaggio’s UNMARKED Sauvignon Blanc…I am so excited! I’ve been diligently doing market research (hint. hint) and tasting through some very good Sauvignon Blancs. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it…LOL…and I am happy to declare I am very excited to get this wine on the market!!!
The Passaggio Sauv Blanc grapes are from Lake County. This photo shows the beginning of the process. My good friends from the Luna Sei wine-group sourced and picked these grapes…here they are helping sort. The 2012 UNMARKED Sauvignon Blanc will be a great addition to the spring / summer Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. We will be racking, fining, and cold stabilizing in the next couple of weeks. We will be bottling the middle of March. Wait til you see the label for the Sauv Blanc – you’re gonna love it…. ;-)
Stay tuned for what’s next…
It was a beautiful day in Napa last Saturday. I attended the 25th Year Anniversary release of the 2010 Flora Springs Trilogy. Upon my arrival they handed me a wonderful glass of Chardonnay. I walked through their beautiful caves which opened up to a breathtaking view of the vineyard. What a fabulous event! There were food stations set up where you could taste from Farmstead, Grapevine Catering, ZuZu, Morimoto’s Restaurant, and TraVigne.
I saw one of the largest paella’s I have ever seen. :-) The live band was fabulous and of course the 2010 Trilogy was outstanding.
One of my favorite stations was the making of homemade mozzarella…
Thank you Flora Springs for a wonderful event – can’t wait for the next one…
- Napa: Iron Chef Morimoto’s Four Rules for Eating Sushi (Like You Know What You’re Doing) (jaunted.com)
There are so many new video apps to choose from…I am at a loss for which one is best. I thought I would let you choose for me. There are two new ones out. One is “Vine” and the other one “Cinemagram”
Passaggio Wines always tries to keep up with the latest things happening in social media. It is happening so fast these days that I am finding it harder and harder to keep up. Take a look at what I created from these two apps and let me know what you think. What do you think is trending…?-
Vine (video1) - Unleash Your Inner Winemaker
Vine (video 2) – Food Pairing with Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay
Cinemagram – playing with Mattie
- Cinemagram Takes On Vine With New Mini-Movie Feature (appadvice.com)
What an exciting time for so many sports fans out there!!!! Happy Super Bowl XLVII…are you ready?
I want to share a great Super Bowl recipe from one of my favorite recipe books “100 perfect pairings” written by a good friend, Jill Silverman Hough. I thought these mini pesto burgers would go great with the 2011 Passaggio UNMARKED Pinot Noir. What could be better than sitting in front of the big screen watching your favorite team, surrounded by wonderful friends, awesome food, and great wine. These sliders will be a big hit - trust me!
mini pesto burgers – serves 6
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
6 slices provolone cheese
1 tomato, cut into 6 slices
6 white, whole wheat, or sourdough dinner rolls, split horizontally
(photo taken from page 106 in “100 perfect pairings”)
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts,garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and pulse to finely chop, scraping down the bowl as necessary. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and process until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Set the pesto aside.
- Shape the beef into 6 patties, about 3 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Cut the provolone cheese slices so that they are 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
- Prepare the grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate. Sprinkle both sides of the patties with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
- Grill the patties to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium. During the last minute, place a slice of provolone cheese on top of each patty and place the rolls cut side down on the grill, to melt the cheese and lightly toast the buns.
- Place the tomato slices on the bottom halves of the rolls, pesto, and the top halves of the rolls and serve.
Have a great Super Bowl Sunday – I hope your favorite team wins…
Passaggio Wines is proud to announce it is now part of a tasting room in San Francisco. This is just one more step on the wonderful journey I have been on since 2004. The tasting room is such a huge part of building the Passaggio brand. For those who sell on-line only…I have been there. It is not easy. How do you entice others to buy your wines without tasting them? I have poured at events, special tastings, parties, etc. This is not an easy task to do, plus an expensive one, especially to those making small lots of wines. We don’t have much to give away at first. We want to build our brands large enough to sustain us at least to the following harvest so we can make another vintage for you to enjoy. That’s what you call “passion”
For those who don’t know anything about the “Dogpatch” area of San Francisco, it has a rich history. The Dogpatch area was originally part of the Protrero Nuevo and closely tied to “Protrero Hill.” Dogpatch has its own neighborhood association. It shares merchant association, Democratic caucuses and general neighborhood matters with Protrero Hill.
The area was officially designated a historic district of San Francisco in 2002. The name originated mostly because of the packs of dogs that would run that neighborhood and scavenge discarded meats in Butchertown (a slaughterhouse district in BayView) This area survived the earthquake of 1906, therefore making its houses some of the oldest in the city dating from the 1860’s. The earliest immigrants were European factory workers. Over time, this area became more blue-collard and working class until its recent gentrification.
I have come to the part of my journey where I can pour for you in a tasting room so you can enjoy the fruits of my labor (no pun intended). So you can say to your friends and family “Hey, have you tried those Passaggio Wines? I know of a tasting room where you can find them. You are going to love them…”
I hope to see you at the tasting room. You can find me topping barrels, running wine analysis, or just sitting quietly on the beautiful leather sofa in the tasting room area.
You can find DogPatch Wine Works at 2455 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107.
The hours are: Thursday: 4pm – 8pm
Friday: 4pm – 8pm
Saturday: 12pm – 7pm
Sunday: 12pm – 5pm
I jumped into the wine industry with a passion. Doesn’t everyone? Wine can be such a luring, compelling, sexy, passionate drink. There are so many wines out there to try. Who isn’t on the hunt for great wines at a great price these days? Who doesn’t like finding those small gems that are tucked away in the crevices of the Wine Industry?
I am on the hunt for you…people who are passionate about wine. I am looking for people who believe in finding special wine that is unique and often not heard of…wine that is made with passion…wine that brings life to your table, and wine you enjoy sharing with your friends and family. I am on the hunt for those who want to be part of something special.
Yes…I am on the hunt for you!!!
I want to share my passion with you.