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We were pleased to welcome writer Elaine Chukan Brown from the fantastic blog, Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews, to Small Vines Wines for fruit thinning and wine tasting with our very own Vigneron, Paul Sloan, and co-owner, Kathryn Sloan.

Elaine has become one of the most recognized names in the wine and food blogging world with her wine review blog, Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews. She recently has been named by Imbibe Magazine an Imbibe 75 “Person to Watch”, as well as becoming a Best Food Blog Award Finalist by Saveur Magazine. Her amazing work has been recommended several times by The New York Times Diner’s Journal, and in both The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times.  Her wine blog has been a finalist in six categories at the Wine Blog Awards including the 2014 Wine Blog Awards Best Overall Wine Blog.

As the morning West Sonoma County fog slowly burned away, we greeted Elaine at our Barlow Homestead Vineyard. Little did she know, we had plans to begin fruit thinning our vineyards that day. With a camera around her neck, pruning shears in one hand and a pencil and notebook in the other, off we walked into our High-Density Pinot Noir Barlow Homestead Vineyard for the first fruit thinning pass of over 25 hand vine care passes.

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Photo Credit: Elaine Chukan Brown

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Photo Credit: Elaine Chukan Brown

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Fruit thinning is a method grape growers use in order to better ripen their grape clusters and ensure a higher quality thus creating a complex wine. They do this by evaluating each vine and meticulously dropping the fruit (cutting excess clusters) and leaving them on the ground below to decompose and provide more nutrients for the vines. Timing is crucial, and this method is best done during the beginning stages of veraison, the signal that harvest is between 45 to 60 days away.

Impeccably low-yields (per vine) are vital to improved wine quality in Pinot Noir- and balanced wines are made more easily and more naturally from balanced vines. Small Vines follows the Grand Cru standards from Burgundy, which allows only two grape clusters per shoot, a maximum of 8 shoots per vine and never more than 16 clusters per vine. At a mere 1-2 pounds per vine- a low-vigor, high-density vineyard balances each vine at lower yields, naturally. These small vines produce tiny cluster that have tiny, thick-skinned berries creating concentration and amazing structure in the wines.

After a thorough explanation and demonstration by Paul Sloan, Elaine grasped the sheers and began cautiously sifting through the vine’s shoots. This process can be very nerve-racking for ANY viticulturist due to the anxiety of “throwing away” perfectly good fruit that looks healthy and beautiful just for the sake of exceptional wine quality.

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Small Vines Wines would like to thank Elaine from Hawk Wakawaka for her visit. We love to share our passion for our vineyards and wines and we welcome all who would love to come learn and taste our hand-crafted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Rosé of Pinot Noir. For a tasting and vineyard tour with our vigneron, be sure to set up and schedule an appointment at 707-823-0886 or info@smallvines.com

Photo Credit: Elaine Chukan Brown

Are you having a 4th of July party? Be sure to impress your guests this Friday with a memorable and tasty meal.

Here are three simple recipes to pair with a Small Vines Wines Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir.

 


 

Grilled Corn with Pesto

Grilled ears of corn take on a smokiness that pairs well with a garlicky pesto.

 

INGREDIENTS

6 ears corn, husks and silks removed
½ cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
3 cups basil leaves
½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
5 oz. grated Parmesan
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn off burner on one side. Brush corn with oil and grill until kernels are slightly charred and tender, 8-10 minutes.

2. Purée ½ cup oil with basil, nuts, Parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Brush corn with pesto.

Serves 6

 


 

Classic Potato Salad

This cool, creamy potato salad is spiked with pickle relish and red onion. 

 

INGREDIENTS

2 lb. small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 ribs celery, minced
½ medium red onion, minced
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. dill pickle relish
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

Put potatoes in a 6-qt. pot and cover with salted water by 1″. Bring to a boil over high heat; cook until just tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl along with celery and onions. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, relish, parsley, mustard, salt, and pepper; add to potatoes along with eggs and toss. Chill.

 Serves 4-6

 


 

 Lexington Pulled Pork

In Lexington, North Carolina, pork shoulder is chopped and served with a tart tomato-based sauce.

 

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE RUB:
4 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground white pepper
1 tsp. cayenne
1 bone-in, skinless pork shoulder (about 6 lb.)

 FOR THE SAUCE:
3 cups ketchup
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. kosher salt
2½ tsp. ground black pepper
1½ tsp. cayenne
 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Make the rub: Mix paprika, sugar, salt, mustard, garlic powder, both peppers, and cayenne in a bowl. Rub pork all over with spice mixture. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a 4-qt. saucepan, whisk together ketchup, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups water; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes; cool.

3. Prepare your grill using the kettle grillbullet smoker, or gas grill method, (see links for instructions) using apple wood chunks or chips (see Fuel and Flavor). Place shoulder on grill grate. Maintaining a temperature of 225°-275° (if using a kettle grill or bullet smoker, replenish fire with unlit coals, as needed, to maintain temperature; see instructions), cook until a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion reads 190°, 4–6 hours. Remove shoulder from grill; let rest for 20 minutes. Shred pork, discard bones, and toss in a large serving dish with 1½ cups of the sauce. Serve with remaining sauce.

Serves 12

Recipe Credit: Saveur.com


 

Pair with:

Small Vines Wines 2013 Rosé of Pinot Noir

From obsessively tended vines in three of our outstanding Estate vineyards, this intentional Rosé is hand-selected slightly earlier and taken straight to the press. It is Bright, crisp, dry, and refreshing. This Rosé pairs perfectly with a summer day with friends, family and a barbeque.