Review: Sonoma Valley Portworks

#PetalumaMade DisclosureSonoma Valley Portworks in Petaluma, CAOur third stop of the day on our  #PetalumaMade wine tour was Sonoma Valley Portworks.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve developed an appreciation for port.  Last year I had a terrific port from Brentwood, CA that paired very well with a rich dark chocolate.  So, knowing we’d be tasting some port and not knowing if chocolate would be available, I came prepared and brought my own (my favorite Ghirardelli Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree).  I am glad to report I didn’t need it!

Co-Owner Caryn Reading at Sonoma Valley Portworks in Petaluma, CAThe co-owner Caryn Reading was a very gracious host, and very excited to embrace us bloggers and social media.  She was all ready to ask us our best practices on blogging and using Instagram to promote SVP, and I’m so happy to report that she’s a frequent user now!  She had lots of cheese, fruit, and yes, chocolate ready to pair with our selections.

We tried two varietals of the Sonoma Valley Portworks Aris: a 2007 Petit Sirah and a 2008 Petit Verdot.  It was paired with, among other things, a cheese from Beehive Cheese Co. called Barely Buzzed, which is an espresso & lavender hand-rubbed cheese that was actually very good, and paired well.  One of the members of our tour group, Chrissy, is an untrained cheese monger, and schooled us on cheese a bit while we tasted.

We moved on to my absolute favorite, their Cask Reserve port that was simply outstanding.  I was surprised how much I liked it without any food pairing.  The layers of flavor that hit your mouth in waves were shocking and wonderful.  It was sweet, but not too sweet or too dry, either.  I didn’t expect such a rich flavor experience, but I had to bring home a bottle to share this amazing experience with my friends, family, and husband.

Sonoma Valley Portworks in Petaluma, CAAfter tasting the Deco Port with some dark chocolate truffles and the Duet Sherry, I reluctantly tried some of the Sonomic Almost Vinegar made from Gewurztraminer grapes.  I was NOT disappointed!  It was peachy and cirtrusy and thick and sweet.  Like the best parts of a local honey, and the same consistency.  I’ve never tasted anything like it, and immediately grabbed the last bottle off of the shelf!

Sonoma Valley Portworks in Petaluma, CAI’m excited to take my friends back to check in on Caryn’s social media exploits and introduce them to these amazing wines and terrific vinegar from Sonoma Valley Portworks!

Sonoma Valley Portworks is the only winery in Sonoma County specializing in ports and after-dinner wines.

Check out Sonoma Valley Portworks and like them on Facebook!  You can also follow them on Instagram.

613 Second St.
Petaluma, CA 94952
707-769-5203
Yelphttp://www.yelp.com/biz/sonoma-valley-portworks-petaluma-2

Review: Pittman & Davis Peaches

Pittman & Davis Disclosure

A package of peaches from Pittman & DavisIt’s amazing the impact that receiving a package can have on someone when they work from home.  Especially someone with a love of peaches like mine!

Pittman & Davis has been offering deliciously juicy tree-ripened fruit and gifts since 1926.  Recently, they were kind enough to send me a shipment of California Peaches to taste and tell you all about!

Packaging

Pittman & Davis California PeachesBefore receiving the shipment, I was a bit worried about the condition of the fruit once it arrived here.  I know that, because of California agricultural regulations, they were shipping from within California so it wouldn’t be that far of a commute from the tree to my mouth.  Each individual peach was packaged in it’s own foam pod with plenty of foam spacing between them to save the delicate skin.

There was also a protective slab of foam on the top, as you can see here, to further make sure that the peaches were not damaged in shipping.  Upon careful examination of each peach, there were a couple of little bruises, but I expected much worse considering how easily peaches tend to bruise when just hanging around the kitchen minding their own business, let alone being shipped.

Taste

Pittman & Davis California PeachesTree-ripened apparently makes a huge difference between the peaches I normally pick up at my local Safeway and these Pittman & Davis peaches.  They were immediately juicy, sweet, and the perfect texture.  Opening the box was heavenly just for the ripe fresh smell, which I definitely didn’t expect considering the amount of cardboard and foam involved.  Sometimes peaches can be a bit grainy, but these were everything you’d want in a peach.  I was very impressed that they were ready to eat upon receipt.  I assumed that they were likely shipped slightly under-ripe and would need a day or two to ripen.  It seems that the growers ship them at just the right time so they’re perfect by the time they get to your door!  When their website says “with each bite the sweet juice will be dripping down your elbows”, they’re not kidding!

Price

A shipment of 9 sweet California peaches from Pittman & Davis costs $44.85 with free standard shipping.  While this seems a bit pricey, consider the packaging costs to make sure these delicious gems arrive in good condition and the convenience of getting them straight to your door.  Yellow peaches at my local Safeway are currently $2.49/lb. so while they are cheaper, they’re not as good as these peaches.

Verdict

While the cost may be prohibitive to make Pittman & Davis your every-day supplier of peaches for your smoothies, it’s a great gift for a friend or loved one who could use a little sunshine in the form of a juicy, fragrant, soft peach.

Review: Azari Vineyards

#PetalumaMade DisclosureKaveh Azari & Nico ready to pour Luma BlancOur second stop on the #PetalumaMade wine blogger tour took us just down the road to Azari Vineyards, where Kaveh Azari welcomed us along with their winemaker Niko.  We first tried their riesling blend, Corkscrew Luma Blanc, a very crisp, tasty, and affordable wine ($20 retail) that they just started bottling.  It was very citric with aromas of apricot and flavors of white peach and orange.  It was so new it wasn’t even labeled yet, which I learned is what’s called a “shiner” by some in the industry.

My "shiner" of Luma BlancAzari Vineyards typically only produces 100 cases each season and most wines go for $60-$70 so they’ve actually started a second label, Corkscrew, to be more accessible and affordable to the average consumer.  One of the wines we tasted from the Corkscrew label was their rose, which was very lovely indeed.

Kaveh told us more about why Petaluma wines are so unique.  The wind coming in from the San Francisco Bay makes the grapes smaller and their skins thicker.  In turn, this makes their wines very fruity, but somewhat dry.  Interestingly, grapes have been cultivated in the Petaluma area long before their more famous Napa County neighbors!

Delicious wood-fired pizza made at Azari VineyardsOutside of the tasting room they have a traditional wood-fire pizza oven and made us some deliciously simple cheese with prosciutto pizza.  I’m not usually a huge fan of prosciutto, but it was just enough to give the pizza some body.  And that crust was to die for!  It definitely made for a very unique tasting experience to have our wine with the lovely pizza.  Not a pairing I’d have immediately thought of, that’s for sure.

We finished off our pizza and tasting at Azari with their Corkscrew Luma Rouge, which is a blend of 95% syrah and 5% vigonier.  It was delightful, even more so because Azari donates 5% of the Luma Rouge proceeds back to the Petaluma community through various organizations.  Drink wine and give back?  Sign me up!

Azari Vineyards is a family-owned winery producing ultra-premium Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Riesling from their 10-acre hillside estate.

Check out Azari Vineyards and like them on Facebook!  You can also follow them on Twitter or Instagram.

1399 Spring Hill Rd.
Petaluma, CA 94952
707-658-1235
Yelphttp://www.yelp.com/biz/azari-vineyards-petaluma

Review: Saltonstall Estate

#PetalumaMade DisclosureSaltonstall Estate olive tree orchard and vineyard

Our first stop on our #PetalumaMade wine tour was Saltonstall Estate.  Saltonstall is a sprawling 170-acre estate with both olive trees and pinot noir vines.  Sam & Marina Saltonstall bought the property in 1995 as a hobby project and have recently begun bottling their own award-winning olive oil now that the trees are mature enough to produce fruit.

The wines & olive oils we tasted at Saltonstall EstateMarina was a gracious host and her wines and olive oil were terrific. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked her 2008 Pinot Noir but I really enjoyed the 2009 Fizzy White made with pinot noir grapes as well.  It was a lovely way to start off our day of wine tasting!  They find that their property is actually colder than most of Petaluma, which affects the skin of the grapes even more and changes the flavor.

The real winner for me though was the Oregon White Truffle Olive Oil.  Heaven!  I don’t usually care for most olive oils alone as I feel like there’s not enough flavor to make it worth it, but this was flavorful and rich while still being light.  I am still kicking myself for not purchasing a bottle from her when I had the chance.  I guess that means I’ll have to go back!

Oregon White Truffle Olive Oil from Saltonstall EstateThe sprawling grounds are lovely and it’s definitely worth a visit when in Petaluma! We made an appointment to visit during the week, but their normal tasting room hours are Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Be aware that it’s cash only – so be sure to hit the ATM before heading down Spring Hill road for your olive oil fix!

Check out Saltonstall Estate and like them on Facebook!

2805 Spring Hill Rd.
Petaluma, CA 94952
707-658-2581
Yelphttp://www.yelp.com/biz/saltonstall-estate-petaluma

Nut-Free & Dairy-Free (but not Taste-Free) Pesto

Photo Courtesy of Yannic Meyer on Flickr

Nut-Free & Dairy-Free (but not Taste-Free) Pesto
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sauces
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 4 c. basil, stems removed
  • ¼ c. sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin butter (heaping)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • ½ tps lemon pepper
  • Juice of ½ lemon
Instructions
  1. Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor & blend well.
  2. If you need to thin out the sauce, add more extra virgin olive oil.
  3. To really make this an allergen-free dish, serve over cooked rice pasta.