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    Windsor, CA 95492
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Life By The Glass

Carefully Curated. Completely Engaging.

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Roasting with Winter Herbs

Roasting with Winter Herbs

Nothing warms the soul during cold weather quite like savory roasted meats, and nothing can elevate a dish from cozy comfort food to dinner party showstopper quite like the infusion of fresh, aromatic herbs.

Here at Sonoma-Cutrer, the chef’s garden is chock full of fresh herbs like mint, rosemary, cilantro and parsley. The aromas of these herbs infusing their flavor into meat and veggies fill the air as the winery’s signature roast dishes take center stage for the season.

This winter, liven up your lineup of roast recipes with dishes that take full advantage of fresh, cold-season herbs. To inspire you, here are a few of our Sonoma-Cutrer chefs favorite roast ideas,

Every kitchen needs a go-to roast chicken recipe, and this herb-infused version is a perennial favorite, thanks to the flavors of rosemary, thyme, parsley — and a whole lot of garlic. Pop open your favorite bottle of Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay to use in the dish, then enjoy a glass over dinner.

Or try this roast chicken accompanied by a side of herbed french fries, a can’t-miss classic made with rosemary and parsley.

A truly versatile herb, mint is commonly paired with lamb in the Mediterranean. Take advantage of all that beautiful mint flourishing in your winter garden in this irresistible lamb dish with mint salsa verde. Lock in the flavors by searing the meat on the stovetop, then finish it off with a brief roast in the oven. Create a perfect pairing with Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

Any of Sonoma-Cutrer’s Pinots also make the perfect sidekick to classics like beef tenderloin and pot roast with winter root vegetables. And when you prepare your favorite roast dish with the freshest herbs of the season, chances are there won’t be a bite left.

Have a few herbs left over? Trim the stems and put them in a cup of water, then cover loosely with a plastic bag and refrigerate. Change the water and trim the stems daily for the best results. The exceptions are mint and basil, which are best kept at room temperature.

Bon appétit!

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Simple Tips for Cooking With Wine

Simple Tips for Cooking With Wine

Cooking with wine shouldn’t be intimidating. Follow a few essential tips to select a suitable wine for your recipe, and you’re well on your way to enhancing the flavors of your favorite dishes.

First things first: Skip the bottle of “cooking wine” found on grocery store shelves. Often laden with salt and additives, this “wine” won’t add much to your work in the kitchen. The rule of thumb is to avoid cooking with a wine you wouldn’t enjoy drinking.

When mild-flavored recipes call for wine, opt for a crisp white. Acidity and citrus can bring out the delicate flavors of seafood, while a creamy Chardonnay can complement richer recipes ranging from lobster dishes to chicken with cream sauce.

You can’t go wrong reaching for a bottle of Russian River Ranches, Sonoma-Cutrer’s most versatile Chardonnay. Light, medium bodied and easy to pair with a wide range of foods, it’s well suited for everything from seafood salads to marinades for meats and vegetables.

When a recipe calls for a red, be mindful of tannins. These bitter compounds are concentrated when cooked and can become harsh and astringent. Play it safe by opting for a smooth Pinot Noir, such as Sonoma-Cutrer’s Vine Hill. This medium-bodied red with rich fruit flavors accents ingredients rather than overpowering them.

Any of Sonoma-Cutrer’s Pinots work well for a classic beef dish like boeuf bourguignon, but you don’t have to limit this refined red to meat dishes. Need an inspired hors d’oeuvre for your next cocktail party? Try serving dried cherries in a Pinot Noir reduction prepared with Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

When you’re unsure about what to use in your recipe, opt for the wine you’ll be serving with the meal. After all, good pairings work just as well within a recipe. And as Julia Child once famously quipped, “If you do not have a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it, for a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one.”

Which brings us to the best part about cooking with wine — the glass you get to sip while whipping up your masterpiece.

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Flavor Bridges

Recipes

The main objective of pairing -food and wine is pleasure. We should drink and eat what we like despite what any food or wine expert says is right or wrong. It is best to be open-minded enough to try different wines and foods. It is nice to try different varietals with the same foods. If you open multiple wines, open them at the same time and try each with your dish to see which you think pairs the best.

Using flavor bridges sounds complicated, but it can be as simple as using the same or similar wine in a dish that you plan to serve. For example, use a Chardonnay in your white wine butter sauce and then serve the same Chardonnay with the dish. A medium-bodied to full-bodied, dry and crisp Chardonnay like Sonoma-Cutrer’s Sonoma Coast paired with a grilled sea-bass with a Chardonnay butter sauce creates a bridge and continuity of flavors. Serving wine that has similar flavors as your food dishes will help emphasize those flavors.

Using flavor bridges is just one of the many ways to match food and wine. While there are exceptions to the above general guidelines, it will work more times than not. Remember to pair wine and foods of similar weight for best effect. By implementing a few, simple techniques, you will definitely enjoy a more exceptional experience than the boring red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat. Give it a try and see where it take you!

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Grand Cru Barrel Program

Grand Cru Barrel Program: All About the Oak

Sonoma-Cutrer is known for its dedication to craftsmanship, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the winery’s Grand Cru Barrel Program. The meticulous process of creating a single hand-crafted barrel takes nearly three years.

Why spend so much time and effort on a humble aging container? Simple: Each oak barrel plays a significant role in the flavors that end up in your favorite glass of Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay.

It all starts with the finest French oak, hand selected from individual forests in the heart of France. Professional merrandiers, along with our winemakers, choose specific trees that meet Sonoma-Cutrer’s exacting standards, including straight, tight oak grain with minimal knots, which can cause barrels to leak.

The location of the trees is equally important, as each variation infuses the finished product with distinct flavor notes. For example, the tight grain oak found in slow-growth trees common to cooler climates contributes structure to the wine that allows the fruit to express itself — perfect for the crisp, mineral Les Pierres Chardonnay. Slightly wider grain oak adds caramel and spice characteristics, which complement wines like The Cutrer.

Once selected, the oak is split by hand and seasoned outdoors for 24 to 36 months. Exposure to the elements helps reduce sap, tar and resin in the wood. More importantly, it rids the oak of harsh, bitter tannins. During the seasoning, the splits are turned every 6 months to ensure all unwanted characteristics are leeched from the wood.

Two small family-run tonnellerie’s (coopers) in the Burgundy region then craft the seasoned wood staves into barrels. A relationship that goes back decades, these Old World master craftsmen create barrels specifically suited to the styles of wine produced by Sonoma-Cutrer.

Finally, the barrels are “toasted” over a low, wood-burning fire for up to an hour, depending upon the desired result. Toasting transforms the barrels from a raw, sawdust-type of wood to oak that’s infused with vanilla, caramel, spice and other wine-enhancing compounds.

When it comes to blends like Russian River Ranches and Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, the winemakers play the role of chef. Just like their culinary counterparts, who add a variety of spices to any given dish, the winemakers mix oak from various forests and toast levels to add complexity.

At Sonoma-Cutrer, where attention to detail extends to every corner of wine production, aging Chardonnay is its own art form.

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Why Leftovers Are a Foodie’s Best Friend

Entertaining in style takes a lot of effort. Chances are, you spent some time selecting the perfect heritage meats, organic veggies and Sonoma-Cutrer wines for your impressive dinner spread. Why waste an ounce of your invested efforts?

Nose-to-tail eating, a term used to describe the practice of cooking with all parts of the animal, has been getting a lot of attention lately at trendy restaurants. This holiday season, why not bring this eco-conscious practice into your home by getting creative with your leftovers?

Often overlooked items like picked-over bones, vegetable trimmings and even those last few sips of wine can be used to turn up the flavor on future meals.

Meat bones are worth their weight in gold when used to make stock. Did you treat your guests to a prime rib roast, smoked turkey or traditional holiday ham? Don’t even think about tossing those bones. Homemade stock can add depth and incomparable flavor to everything from soups and stews to grain dishes and sauces.

Stocks are also an ideal place to use up stray carrots, extra stalks of celery, onions and fresh herbs like thyme and parsley. Once you’ve tasted the difference homemade stock makes, you’ll never go back to the store-bought variety.

Can’t stomach another second in the kitchen? Understood. Simply freeze the bones until you’re a little more inspired. The same goes for veggie trimmings, including carrot tops and onion skins, which you can throw into your meat stock — or save for a flavorful veggie version.

Skip cruciferous veggies in your stock (they’ll make it taste sour), but don’t toss any leftover Brussels sprouts, cauliflower or even broccoli stems. Instead, roast them up with any remaining herbs and serve over rice, or throw them in a tasty frittata.

As for all those quarter bottles of wine leftover from your festive dinner? Cook with it. Pour any lingering wine into ice cube trays, freeze and you’ll be prepared the next time you need to deglaze a pan or whip up a sauce.

With a little foresight, you can make the flavors from your high quality ingredients last all season long.

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Toast the Host!

The holidays are packed with festive events, from cocktail parties and celebratory dinners to New Year’s bashes. And while your calendar may be packed with a variety of occasions, there’s one cardinal rule that applies to any holiday event: Never show up empty-handed.

You can’t go wrong presenting the host with a nice bottle of wine, but deciding which one to bring can be daunting. Have a little fun this holiday season by matching the wine you give with the “personality” of the gathering you’re attending.

Use this cheat sheet to find a bottle of Sonoma-Cutrer wine to complement any type of occasion. Then, apply the same personality-matching principal to all of the individuals on your gift list.

Heading to a festive dinner party? Go with a versatile white like Sonoma-Cutrer’s Russian River Ranches Chardonnay. While you shouldn’t count on the host opening your bottle on the spot, it’s a nice gesture to bring a wine that’s ideal for entertaining and pairs well with a wide range of foods.

This versatility also makes Russian River Ranches perfect in a pinch. Did a neighbor or coworker give you an unexpected gift? While you may not know their specific wine tastes, this medium-bodied white is a popular favorite among a wide range of pallets.

If a gift exchange or other intimate gathering is part of your evening plans, bring along a wine that can add depth to a warm holiday gathering, such as an elegant bottle of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Packed with juicy dark fruit, this silky red is best savored over good conversation in front of a crackling fireplace.

When it’s time to ring in the New Year, opt for a white wine that’s worthy of toasting an entire year, such as Sonoma-Cutrer’s Founders Reserve Legacy Chardonnay. Perfectly suited for a special occasion, this limited-release wine also makes an ideal gift when only the best will do. Sure to impress anyone from your boss to your significant other, this rich, creamy and complex Chardonnay will leave a lasting impression.

With these three iconic bottles of Sonoma-Cutrer wine on hand, you’ll be prepared for the festive holiday season.

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Sonoma-Cutrer’s top priority is always to protect the health and wellness of our guests and employees. Our team has been actively monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, especially as it relates to Sonoma County, CA. We have decided to suspend all tours and tastings at Sonoma-Cutrer beginning March 14, 2020.

As we all navigate through this dynamic situation, our goal is to further minimize risk to our valued guests, employees and the potential spread of the virus to their families and communities. While we expect this disruption to our tours and tastings to be temporary, our closure will remain in place until this health emergency subsides and officials declare it safe to resume normal activity. 

In the meantime, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us directly. You may contact our tasting room at (707) 237-3489 or [email protected]. For wine club questions, please call (707) 237-3498 or email [email protected]. We will be checking our phone messages and emails daily.

Additionally, you may find information as it pertains specifically to Sonoma County, CA at sonomacounty.com/coronavirus.

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