As we drove towards Porter Creek Vineyards, the first thing I noticed was a small canary-yellow sign above the winery’s banner that read: “Organic farm, do not spray.” I smiled.
My husband Marc and I were visiting Sonoma for a much-needed rest. I didn’t want our trip to turn into an endless stream of winery visits and wine tastings. But under no circumstance did I want to miss Porter Creek.
We’d first tasted Porter Creek’s wines three years earlier, at Peter Lowell’s restaurant, a mecca for local food in nearby Sebastopol. It was the Carignane Old Vine that we’d swirled in our glasses. The wine was so memorable that I’ve been a fan of Porter Creek ever since.
Now here we were, in Porter Creek’s tasting room and I could hardly wait to try the new vintages.
Last year, my husband Marc and I made our very first trip to the Finger Lakes. Evan Dawson, the brilliant wine writer for The New York Cork Report, was entirely responsible for the decision to head north. His passion for the wines of the Finger Lakes convinced me that I should take a closer look at the region.
(In an earlier post, I’ve written about our first meeting with Evan, and our visit to Hermann J. Wiemer winery. If you’d like to read it, click here.)
On the eve of our departure, Evan graciously emailed me a chapter of his soon-to-be-published book, Summer in a Glass. I was grateful to get an insider’s peek. Evan’s writing brims with passion for grapes, wines and the Finger Lakes. Marc read it aloud as I drove, our excitement growing with every page.
The chapter in question was about Morten Hallgreen, the talented winemaker of Ravines Wine Cellars. By the time Marc had read the last line, we were 30 minutes away from Ravines. We decided we needed to pop in, even though the tasting room was about to close.
You might think a red would be an outlandish choice to serve with a salad, but if there’s a salad that demands a red wine, it’s Salade Niçoise.
Try a light red such as Pinot Noir, Chianti, Bardolino, Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages or Rioja-Crianza.
The wine must be light, round, with red fruit flavors and soft tannins; and on hot summer days, it can be even be served slightly chilled (60ºF).
Recipe: Niçoise Salad with Grilled Vegetables with Basil-Mustard Vinaigrette
Wine pick: Heron Wines, 2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, CA. $15.
Deep ruby red with ripe fruits and plum notes, this is a classic California Pinot Noir. Light, flavor-full and beautifully balanced, the Heron Pinot Noir picks up on the savory flavors of the caper berries, olives and vinaigrette while being right at home with the grilled vegetables.