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Smaller, better in Sebastopol

BY PEG MELNIK- October 25, 2014

Small Vines Wines owner Paul Sloan works on special imported tractors from Europe designed to work in his narrowly planted vines. (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)

Small Vines Wines owner Paul Sloan works on special imported tractors from Europe designed to work in his narrowly planted vines. (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)

A mysterious apple tree taught Paul Sloan his first lesson in winemaking when he was 10 years old.

“For whatever reason, that tree with the smallest apples had the flavors that were the most intense,” he said.

Today Sloan and his wife, Kathryn, are the vintners of Small Vines, a Sebastopol brand that is based on the Burgundian model of winemaking and vineyard management. The philosophy embraces the practice of getting smaller yields from higher-density, European-styled spacing of vines.

The Sloans say they reap fewer pounds per vine in order to produce higher quality fruit. It’s a nod to the tasty apple tree Sloan grew up with on his family’s 250-acre ranch in Santa Rosa.

The couple sit beneath a grove of redwoods on their property in Sebastopol. It’s a 12.5-acre spread, and they’re in the midst of building a winery not far from their house, the historic Barlow homestead that dates back to 1897.

The Barlows were prominent apple and berry farmers. Today the family name is well known for its apple processing plant in Sebastopol, which has been transformed into a food and wine haven with wineries, retail shops, artisan studios and restaurants in the mix.

Kathryn, 45, said living in a historic house suits the family, most especially their two children: Dakota, 11, and Savannah, 8.

“Instead of a Queen Anne Victorian, it’s a farmhouse. . . . We’re humble farmers. I live in an old house. I wear my grandmother’s ring and we value traditional winemaking methods.”

Small Vines Wines owners Paul and Kathryn Sloan (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)

Small Vines Wines owners Paul and Kathryn Sloan (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)

It all began with a fascination of pinot noir.

Sloan, 42, was a 19-year old busboy at the Kenwood Restaurant, and then owner Susan Schacher had a daily ritual of reveling in a glass of pinot noir at closing time.

“I said to myself, ‘This pinot noir varietal has to be very special,’ ” he said.

In 1993, Sloan began working for John Ash restaurant in Santa Rosa, and within six months he became assistant wine steward there. “There was a wine library at John Ash, and I was really engaged,” Sloan said. “I devoured the books.”

While working at John Ash, Sloan was offered a taste of a $3,000-plus bottle of Burgundy — the Domaine de la Romanee Conti.

“A man poured me a generous glass and he said, ‘Enjoy this throughout the evening. It may just change your life.’ ”

The pricey Burgundy did just that. “Things just started churning inside me and I wanted to make wines of the highest level of purity and authenticity.”

After working for the late Warren Dutton of Sebastopol’s Dutton Ranch and studying viticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College, Sloan was at a crossroads. He was accepted to study at California Polytechnic State University, but he was eager to begin his brand.

Dutton, who mentored the couple, encouraged them to travel to France, since they wanted to follow the lead of the French. After several research trips, the Sloans founded Small Vines in 1998.

The husband and wife team seems to be the perfect yin-yang for the operation. Sloan covers farming and winemaking, while Kathryn tackles the business side of the operation. Meanwhile, both continue to be adventuresome, which isn’t surprising considering they began their courtship as rock climbers.

“Paul is one big adventurer,” said Kathryn. “Rock climbing, surfing, scuba diving. It’s hard to keep up with this farmer who has a lot of energy.”

Small Vines Wines owners Paul and Kathryn Sloan imported special tractors from Europe designed to work in the narrowly planted vines.

Small Vines Wines owners Paul and Kathryn Sloan imported special tractors from Europe designed to work in the narrowly planted vines.

The Press Democrat online article can be found here:

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/2988469-181/smaller-better-in-sebastopol

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. 

scallops_pinot

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

With Creamy Mascarpone Polenta and Warm Roasted Pepper Salad

6  sea scallops
6  bacon strips
1  clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3  tablespoons olive oil
2  red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into thick strips
2½ cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon piment d’Espelette or paprika
¾ cup instant polenta
3 tablespoons mascarpone
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup dry white wine
4 large basil leaves, torn
Salt to taste

Wrap a strip of bacon around each scallop. Slide rosemary twigs or bamboo skewers into the scallops to secure the bacon and to make the scallops easier to turn when sautéing. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Toast the garlic in the olive oil until light golden-brown, swirling the pan constantly. Add the peppers and season with salt to taste. Cook just long enough to heat the peppers through, then tip them onto a plate and set aside.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Season with salt and piment d’Espelette. Whisk in the polenta and cook for 10 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and fold in the mascarpone. Adjust the seasoning. Set aside, covered, until ready to serve. If the polenta cools, it will stiffen up. If this happens, reheat the polenta over low heat as you vigorously whisk in a little more stock to restore the creamy texture.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick sauté pan until smoking. Season the scallops (leave them on the skewers) with salt and pepper. Sear the scallops, and then reduce the heat to medium-high once they’ve begun to color around the edges.

Shake the pan gently so the oil gets under the scallops; this helps them sear and color evenly. Flip after 3 minutes and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove the scallops from the pan and keep in a warm place loosely tented with aluminum foil.

Pour the wine into the pan and simmer for 1 minute, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the peppers, and cook until the wine has fully reduced. Remove from heat and toss in the basil.

Spoon a pool of polenta onto heated plates. Lay a skewer of scallops over the polenta and then pull out the skewer. Serve the warm pepper salad on the side. Serves 2.


 

Pair It

Small Vines Wines Estate Cuvée Russian River Valley Pinot Noir; $50

The scallops call out for an elegantly structured Pinot from the Russian River Valley or Sonoma Coast. The cooler imprint of these regions will impart a smattering of spicy pepper to the wines, subtly accenting the pepper salad without overpowering the delicacy of the scallop. Small Vines’ Vigneron, Paul Sloan, hand selected our best barrels and crafted from obsessively tended vines. This precise Cuvée marries our excellent Estate vineyards together. The 2012 vintage blessed us with perfect weather throughout the farming season. Excellent fruit set resulted in dense clusters requiring meticulous vine-canopy management to organically protect the fruit. Adhering to strict Grand Cru standards, we hand selected each cluster and berry by starting with a framework of no more than 10 buds per vine followed by over twenty hand-work passes through the vineyard. This obsessive attention to detail in the vineyard gave us wines of amazing concentration and structure, with exquisite balance.

Recipe courtesy Charlie Palmer, chef and owner, Dry Creek Kitchen