Ascension Cellars Full Throttle Chili

How to Host a Chili Cook-off

Summer is officially here and soon the 4th of July will call backyard chefs everywhere to polish up their grill of choice, chill some beer and start taking orders.

Hamburgers and hot dogs are fine, but this year try kicking up those burgers and dogs with chili. Don’t settle for the canned stuff, though.  Invite your friends to bring along a pot of their favorite chili and have a chili cook-off! It’s simple, fun, slightly competitive, and may just become an annual tradition at your house.

As the host, you’ll definitely want to stock up on the hot dogs, hamburgers, turkey burgers and all the condiments, sliced tomatoes, grilled onions, guacamole, lettuce and sautéed mushrooms. Include an assortment of sliced cheese like cheddar, Swiss and blue.  Put out big bowls of slaw and potato salad, or maybe a macaroni salad with eggs, pickles, olives and bacon.

Chili Cookoff

Set up a long table and cover it with something fun and decorative like bunting or just red and blue tablecloths. Preferable something machine washable because it’s going to get messy – this is where all the pots of chili will be set up for tasting.  You’re going to need to have access to an electrical outlet and a power strip or two. Ask your guests to bring their chili in a crock-pot that doesn’t have their name on it. This should be a blind tasting. As the chilis arrive, place a numbered card on each crock-pot and keep a list of which number belongs to which guest.  Plug them in, cover and keep them warm. Place a long handled serving spoon in front of each pot on a paper plate. When all the chilis have arrived the tasting fun can begin.

For the tasting you’ll need small disposable cups and spoons, and dishes with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. After everyone has tasted the chilis, hand out small pieces of paper and pens for each taster to write the number of their choice for best chili. Have them place papers in small basket then tally the votes to determine first, second and third place winners.

While the grill master is busy cooking up the hamburgers and hot dogs announce the winners and award them prizes. Get creative and fun with your prize selections. They don’t have to be expensive.

Then it’s time to enjoy the BBQ and the chilis along with beer, margaritas and, of course, your favorite Paso Robles wines.

Ascension Cellars Trinity to pair with Chili

Here’s a winning Chili recipe from Ascension Cellars winemaker, Erick Allen. He recommends pairing it with their Ascension Cellars Trinity GSM Rhone-style blend. (75% Grenache)

Chili Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. of ground beef (we like ground sirloin)
  • 1 lb. of your favorite ground breakfast sausage, (we like Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage)
  • 1 – 15.5 oz. can of pinto beans, juice and all
  • 1 – 15.5 oz. can of kidney beans, juice and all
  • 1 – 15.5 oz. can of black beans, juice and all
  • 1 – 15.5 oz. jar of Chunky Salsa Medium – Hot or your preference
  • 1 – 14.5 oz. can of diced “fire roasted” tomatoes, juice and all

Spice List

  • 3  Teaspoons of ground Cumin
  • 3 –Teaspoons of ground Chili Powder
  • 1  Teaspoons of ground Paprika (we like sweet paprika)
  • 2-1/2  Teaspoons of Dried Oregano
  • 2  Teaspoons of ground Garlic Powder or four (4) minced garlic cloves
  • 2  Teaspoons of fine Kosher Salt or two (3) teaspoons of course Kosher Salt
  • 2  Tablespoons of ground Onion Powder or two (2) finely chopped onions

Beer or Water: 1 Cup of Guinness Draught Beer or your favorite beer or 1 cup of filtered water

Garnish Toppings for Your Chili

  • 2- Sweet Onions, Chopped I like Vidalia Onions
  • 1- Bunch of Cilantro, Chopped
  • 1- 16 oz. bag of Cheddar Jack or Mexican Blend Grated Cheese
  • 1- 16 oz. Container of Sour Cream, Full, Half or Fat Free
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Avocado Chunks


  • 1-16 oz. Container of Non Fat Greek Yogurt, Fage or Chobani for Sour Cream
  • 2 – Kits of Six Gun Chili Mixin’s or Carroll Shelby’s Custom Chili Kit

Chili Thickener (Optional)

  • 2  Tablespoons of ground Masa Flour


  • 1 8-10 qt pot with lid.
  • 1 large soup ladle to accommodate your “largest pot”
  • 1 small mixing bowl for your spices


Add the Spices or large brown pouches of your preferred “chili kits” to 1- cup of Guinness Draught beer or 1-cup of water and whisk for one minute in a bowl and set aside. Drink the rest of the Guinness.

Ascension Cellars Chili Cookoff

Brown hamburger and breakfast sausage, 3 lbs. total, with optional 2 chopped sweet white onions and then drain the grease. 

Add all of the beans, salsa and the tomatoes, juice and all, to meat. Stir chili spices or kit and Guinness or water mixture into the meat and tomatoes. Bring to a slow boil. Now add cayenne pepper to your desired heat level. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes or longer.

*As an option, the masa flour can be used to thicken the chili. Mix it with warm water to a batter thickness and add to the simmering chili 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired thickness. Your call. Once ready, keep pot on low and allow your guests to build their own bowl of goodness with their desired toppings.

Pozole – Warming You Up This Winter

Pozole, the traditional corn soup, or stew, from Mexico, is a great way to ward off the chill of winter.

Alma Ayon, proprietress and chef at Sundance Bed and Breakfast in Paso Robles, enjoys a break from gourmet cuisine once in a while. During the cold fall and winter months, she looks to a traditional family favorite, pozole, to take the chill off a day in the vineyard. Who can deny the comforting feeling of putting together a soup or stew and letting all the spicy aromas fill the house?

So put the pork up to cook, and use the time to binge watch your favorite TV series, read a book, or……  And don’t forget the wine. Alma suggests pairing this dish with CASS viognier.


Serves 8-10


Pozole with Cass Viognier



Pork and Broth:

3 lbs. boneless pork butt, cut in 2½ inch chunks

14 cups water

½ onion

1 bay leaf

3 25 oz. Cans Mexican Style Hominy (rinsed)

Kosher Salt or Knorr Chicken Bouillon

Red Sauce:

5 Ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed

5 Guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed

½ onion

5 garlic gloves

4 cups water


Finely shredded cabbage

Thinly sliced radish

Dry oregano (Mexican)

Limes (quartered)

Cilantro sprigs


Place the pork, ½ onion, bay leaf, salt, in a large pot and cover with 14 cups of water. The pork should be completely covered by about 4 inches of water. When the water comes to a boil, skim the surface and cook covered over medium heat for 2 ½ hours. Skim a few times during cooking process.

In a separate medium pot, cook chiles, onion and garlic for approximately 20 minutes. In a blender (Vitamix) purée the chiles with the water, onion and garlic. Strain and add to the pork. Add the hominy and cook everything together in low heat for an additional 20 minutes. Pork should be falling apart tender.

Adjust salt — most abuelitas, grandmothers, prefer to season soups with Knorr Chicken Bouillon, instead of salt, for a more flavorful broth.

Note: Pozole is a soup. Add chicken broth to the pot is the liquid level is low and adjust salt as needed.


Serve in deep bowls and garnish with shredded cabbage, radish, cilantro and a pinch of crumbled oregano. And don’t forget to squeeze some lime juice!  Serves 8-10

Pozole - Back Roads Wineries


Malolactic Fermentation

What is Malolactic Fermentation?

wine barrels - malolactic fermentation

Visitors to the Shadow Run Vineyards and Winery Tasting Room often ask about the dozen or so wine barrels stored along the walls.  Yes, they do contain wine.  These are the wines that have not completed the secondary fermentation.  As everyone knows grape juice goes through a primary fermentation when sugars turn to alcohol.  Not everyone knows that there is another fermentation that occurs after the primary fermentation, called malolactic, in which the sharp malic acid in grapes is converted to softer lactic acid.  As a result the wine tastes less crisp and more creamy.  All red wines go through malolactic fermentation, but white wines are a different story.  The winemaker decides whether she wants a “softer” or a “crisper” style white wine and if “crisper” is the choice, then the wine is not allowed to go through malolactic fermentation.  However, Susan, the winemaker at Shadow Run Vineyards, wants softer for most of the whites.  The reason the barrels are in the tasting room is that the malolactic fermentation prefers temperatures above 60 degrees (F) and their barrel storage room is too cold.

Visit the Shadow Run Vineyard You Tube Channel and join Aaron Hunt, Susan and Les Evans for a behind the scenes look at life in Paso Robles Wine Country.

So is it Primitivo or Zinfandel?

So is it Primitivo or Zinfandel?  And who really cares anyway?

At August Ridge we make Primitivo as part of our focus on the traditional Italian varietals.  Primitivo is a confusing wine for many people – until you taste it!  Let go of the confusion and just enjoy what is both a familiar and a different experience.  Then the questions will start coming- they always do…

The story apparently begins nearly five hundred years ago in Split, Dalmatia (now Croatia) with a traditional variety known locally as Tribidrag.  Through different mechanisms of chance and intent, that variety, or a version of it, came to rest in Puglia (the heel of the boot of Italy) in the 1700’s and in California sometime in the 1840’s.

For the romantic there are all sorts of wonderful stories of French Monks bringing Primitivo to Italy from France for the founding of a Benedictine monastery at Gioia del Colle in the Murge during the 18th century or of a Hungarian aristocrat ‘Colonel’ Haraszthy bringing Zinfandel vines back from Europe as part of his efforts to promote the California wine industry and his fledgling Buena Vista winery in Sonoma.  Unfortunately we find that modern research again has taken the delight from folk tales by bringing clarity when it is not needed!  It appears that the Priest in Puglia (which is an area of busy ports for the Mediterranean trade and only a short trip from Dalmatia) selected a well-known variety that was primitivo or early ripening.  And Primitivo is indeed a clone that tends to ripen two to four weeks earlier than Californian Zinfandel.  Not too many years later in 1829 and across the Atlantic a Long Island nurseryman, George Gibbs, received a shipment of cuttings from the Austrian Imperial Nursery that included the Black Zinfardel  from Hungary (then part of the Austrian empire) which he promoted as a table grape and of which we have record of being made into wine by the mid 1840’s.

Then disaster strikes.  Croatia which had a deep and respected wine culture was hit by the dreaded phyloxera which essentially wiped out almost all trace of their previous vinicultural glory.  And thusly Primitivo and Zinfandel became known as different varieties of grape with only rumors of a below-stairs connection whispered by gossips and malcontents.

This all came to an end in 1993 through research led by Professor Carole Meredith of UC Davis (and to be fair, there were others involved…) when she used DNA fingerprinting to connect Primitivo and Zinfandel as different clones of the same variety.  She then went on to trace Primitivo and Zinfandel to a very few vines found only in Kaštel Novi and known as Crljenak Kaštelanski that appear to be the variety still in its original home.  And that is a very short summary of over twenty years’ worth of work.

All very well and good, I hear you say.  What’s it to me?  What does the wine taste like?  That is a very good question and quickly and simply answered.  Primitivo – known at August Ridge as Zinfandel’s sexy Italian cousin – tends towards the peppery and spicy with the fruit and floral playing a lesser role.  In Primitivo the fruit flavors tend towards the darker with blackberry predominant.  This compares with the strawberry/raspberry of Zinfandel that leads the nose and palate into a less dominant pepper and spice structure.  Primitivo is Zinfandel upside down!  Oh, and they both make good dessert wines.

Food pairing is the same: simply grilled meats, simple pizza pies, nuts and cured meats.  But watch the sweet BBQ sauces!  Pairing sweet and fruity is tricky so don’t do it for guests unless you have tried it at home first.

August Ridge Primitivo 2013

And now you have it and now, perhaps, you care.  Enjoy your August Ridge Primitivo and smile knowingly as your guests respond with delight at the unusual spicy complexity and tuck into another rack of those twelve hour smoked ribs on offer.

If you really want to talk about this more come by the winery and see me at any time…

John Backer


August Ridge Vineyards


Note: BRW member winery, Still Waters Vineyards, also produces a Primitivo. Try both and compare the differences and similarities.

Clafoutis for Christmas Breakfast

by Susan Evans – Shadow Run Vineyard


Clafoutis – a Christmas morning tradition at Shadow Run Vineyards

We all have a favorite holiday meal.  Perhaps it is an annual luncheon with friends, a brunch with neighbors, a special dinner with candles, crystal and Grandmother’s china or a scrumptious breakfast on Christmas morning.  And while many families prepare traditional dishes that are repeated every holiday season, we enjoy experimenting with at least one new recipe each year.  And because we are winemakers, we are always curious about, “what wine will pair with this dish?”

A favorite dish for Christmas breakfast is Clafoutis, a classic French dessert typically baked with fresh cherries.  Clafoutis is easy to prepare, not too sweet, and is just custardy-eggy enough to make a luscious breakfast dish. Our French neighbor has taught us that any fruit in season (except apples which won’t cook through) can be used to top Clafoutis.  In summer we use fresh peaches and at Christmas we substitute fresh pears for the cherries.  We drizzle the baked Clafoutis with a touch of our late harvest viognier, Jess, and serve with a dollop of cold whipped cream.  Because Jess has the classic viognier flavors of peach, apricot and pear, it pairs beautifully with this traditional French dish. Enjoy Clafoutis warm from the oven with a glass of chilled Jess.

Clafoutis with pears



1 cup whole milk

3 eggs

½ cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp melted butter

½ cup flour

1 – 2 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

2 tbsp sliced almonds (optional)

2 tbsp Jess for drizzling

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and melted butter.  Mix the flour into the batter last, and whisk until smooth.  Pour batter into a 9 inch pie pan.  Arrange pear slices on top of the batter.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds, if using.
Bake 25 minutes
Drizzle 2 tbsp of Jess over the finished Clafoutis

Serve with whipped cream and a chilled glass of Jess.  Heaven!

International Cabernet Sauvignon Day

Celebrate International Cabernet Sauvignon Day, August 27th, 2015, with the Back Roads Wineries of Paso Robles.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the Paso Robles AVA’s most widely planted wine grape variety, making up almost half of the grapes grown across the 32,000 acres under vine. While cabernet has been king in Paso Robles for decades, it is in the past 10 years that the diversity of cabernet styles from the area have emerged as cutting edge wines from this robust wine producing region.

Many of our Back Roads Winery members produce outstanding cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc and we invite you to visit often and explore the Paso-bilities.


Meanwhile to help you celebrate your Cabernet Day, Mitchella Vineyard and Winery has  shared 3 cabernet-friendly recipes for you to try. They won the Paso Robles Rotary Winemaker’s Cook-Off “Judges Choice” with the Petite Sirloin Burgers.Whether you try one of these delicious recipes or just throw a thick rib-eye on the barbecue, enjoy the day and the wine with good friends and family. Cheers to #CabernetDay!

Mitchella at the Paso Robles Rotary Winemakers Cookoff

The Mitchella crew at the Paso Robles Rotary Winemakers’ Cook-off


Beef and Beer Stew


Cabernet Sauvignon with Beef and Beer Stew - Mitchella Winery



2-3 Pounds of Beef Stew meat or other cut into 1” cubes
1/4 Cup Flour
4 Cups Beef Broth
1 Bottle Dark Beer
2-3 Large Sweet Onions—Thinly Sliced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
2 Teaspoons Paprika
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Walnut
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Bay Leaves

In a food storage bag, combine the flour, paprika, and salt. Add the beef cubes and toss to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring, for about 4 to 5 minutes, until browned. Do not over crowd, cook in batches, remove and set aside. Heat the remaining oil in the pot with the scrapes, add the onions and cook until translucent, about 10-15 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and cook another 2 minutes. Add the beef broth and scrape any remaining bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the beef and collected juices, add the thyme, bay leaves, pepper, and beer. Cover and simmer on low for 2 hours. Remove the bay leaves. Serve over noodles or rice.




1 Cup Shredded Chopped Chicken
1/2 Cup Golden Raisins
1 Tablespoon Mexican seasoning (1/2 Cumin and 1/2 Garlic Powder)
1/2 Cup shredded Mexican cheese
4 Tablespoons Cowboy Ike’s Cabernet Jelly (or to taste)
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon of finely chopped canned Chipotle peppers
1 (15-ounce) box refrigerated pie crusts (recommended: Pillsbury)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine chicken, golden raisins, seasoning, cheese, jelly and chopped chipotle peppers.

Unroll pie dough, using a 3-inch round cutter, dusted with flour and cut out as many rounds as possible, 10-12 for each sheet, should have between 20-24 rounds. Beat the egg lightly in a small bowl, set aside. To assemble empanadas, fill the center of each round with approximately 1/2 tablespoon of the mixture. Brush half of the perimeter of each dough round with the egg wash. Fold over 1 side of the round to make a half circle. Crimp the edges of each empanada with tines of a fork. Place empanadas on prepared baking sheets. Brush each top lightly with egg wash and sprinkle each with a little of the remaining cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.


Petite Top Sirloin Burgers with Rustic Cheddar, Caramelized Onions and Heirloom Tomatoes

2 ½ pounds Fresh Ground Top Sirloin (90/10)

8 oz Assorted Wild Mushrooms or Baby Bellas

1/3 Cup High Quality Red Wine like Mitchella

12 cloves Garlic

10 Slices Rustic Aged Sharp Cheddar

4‐6 Small Heirloom Tomatoes

2 Medium Sweet Onions

1 Cup Fresh Aioli or Mayonnaise

1 Tbsp Salt

2 Tbsp Ground Cumin

4 Tbsp Olive Oil

2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar

1 Pound Butter

2 Baguettes San Luis Sourdough

1 Cup Arugula


Makes approximately 40 mini burgers

Coarsely chop six cloves of garlic and sauté in 2 tbsp of olive oil, coarsely chop the mushrooms and add to the garlic, continue sautéing for 10 minutes, add 1/3 cup red wine, simmer until liquid is reduced.

Remove, and cool mushrooms in large mixing bowl.

Thinly slice onions and sauté in 2 tbsp of olive oil until a light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Carefully, add 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar stir until reduced, quickly add, still stirring 2 tbsp of brown sugar, simmer until caramelized, about 7 minutes. Remove to small bowl and cover.

Add 1 tbsp cumin to one cup of aioli or mayonnaise, mix well, refrigerate. Quarter the slices of cheddar cheese. Slice the tomatoes into 2‐3” rounds. Slice the sourdough baguettes in to ¼ inch slices.

Add 1 tbsp cumin to cooled mushrooms, 1 tbsp salt, and fresh ground sirloin. Mix and form into small patties, just less than 1/8 cup per patty. Add butter and 6 cloves of garlic to heat proof pan on BBQ, add sliced sourdough, grill on BBQ until golden brown. Grill hamburgers for 2 minutes, turn add cheese, remove when cheese has melted.

Assembly: Sliced sourdough, 1 tsp cumin aioli, burger with cheese, heirloom tomato, caramelized onion, arugula, then top with sliced sourdough. Enjoy!







Barbecue Italian Style in the Back Roads of Paso Robles

by Mary Morwood Hart of AmByth Estate – August 2015

arrosticini with salad

A brief history of the dish…..

Phillip and I have traveled throughout Italy practically every year for the past 17 years (it helps that Phillip has a sister who lives in Tuscany). But a couple of years ago we spent 10 days in the Abruzzo region visiting a fellow winemaker/friend. We tasted a dish that is unique only to Abruzzo and we were blown away. It is so simple, yet so tasty.  All it is is skewered mutton.

Arrosticini is the food of the mountain shepherds – it is easy and tasty. Typically it is mutton that is cubed in ¼” x ¼”. The cubes are then laced with bits of fat to soften the mutton. The skewers are marinated for a couple of hours and cooked over open fire or a special grill just for the arrosticini. At AmByth, we cook them in our “beehive oven” (a Portuguese clay oven) on a salt block. They can also be bar-b-qued.

We serve the Arrosticini as a second course with a side salad of arugula and radicchio, tossed with tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, thinly sliced cucumber, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds with a shallot/lemon juice/Dijon mustard/evoo vinaigrette dressing.  The first course could be fresh pasta with a barely sautéed zucchini sauce.


Recipe—Serves 4

1 pound rough piece of lamb—prime cuts not necessary, the more fat, the better. We use shoulder, stew meat, etc. At AmByth we raise our own lamb, so we have an abundance of meat to select from

Cube the lamb pieces into ¼” to ½” pieces. Thread them onto 8 skewers with plenty of pieces with fat evenly distributed


Marinate the skewers for a couple hours in the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tbs chopped rosemary and 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic

Grill until cooked and sprinkle with salt and pepper

Wine Pairing: 2011 AmByth Sangiovese

AmByth Estate is Paso Robles’ first and only winery to produce Demeter certified Biodynamic wines. We utilize the Biodynamic method of farming to enhance our observations of nature, and use these intimate insights as tools that allow our 20 acres of vineyards to express their true character through the grapes it produces.

Estate Vineyards: Mark’s Vineyard, StoneCross Hill, Terrace, PlayGround.

  • Estate Varietals Grown: Whites: Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc. Reds: Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Counoise, Carignan, Sangiovese, Tempranillo
  • Estate Olive Trees: Arbequina, Arbosana, Lechen de Sevilla, Cornicabra, Picual, Hojiblanca, Empeltre, Manzanilla

Gelfand Vineyards Food and Wine Pairing

Gelfand Vineyards shares their wine country recipe and wine pairing.

Gelfand Vineyards is a small, family owned and operated boutique winery in Paso Robles, California, specializing in BIG REDS.  Although we have been around since 2001, we are virtually unknown outside of the area, except to our 900 wine club members who have found us during special open dates.  (We are only open to the public 3 weekends out of the year during festivals). We produce about 1500 cases a year, all coming from our estate grown Cabernet, Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah grapes.  We don’t have a distributor, so you wont find us at your local wine shop, or in any fine dining establishment.  But if you have the chance, please visit us during the Vintage Paso Zinfandel Weekend in March, Wine Festival in May or Harvest Wine Weekend in October, or just call for an appointment. We’d love to see you!

Gelfand Vineyards Petite Sirah

For this months recipe,  pairing our rich and full bodied Petite Sirah with a pork tenderloin was a no brainer. The two just seem to belong together.  The flavoring of the pork along with the bouquet of the wine compliment one another beautifully. Accompanied with a small salad, and the balance of the bottle of Petite left over from the recipe ( unless consumed while making the dish) it makes a perfect weeknight dish for just two or a great meal to serve to family and friends with your best china.

Enjoy and “Drink the Dream”

Jan & Len Gelfand


Pork Tenderloin with Gelfand Vineyards Petite Sirah

(although some my refer to this dish as Gelfand Vineyards Petite Sirah  with Pork Tenderloin)

1   pork tenderloin

1   tablespoon olive oil

¾   teaspoon Kosher salt – divided

½   teaspoon black pepper – divided

1 ½ cups   blackberries

¼   cup finely chopped shallots

1   tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

½ – 1 cup   Gelfand Vineyards Petite Sirah  ( it is permissible to double this amount and use half of it to enjoy while making the recipe)

¾ cup   chicken stock

1.       Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.   Add oil to pan.   Swirl to coat.  Sprinkle pork with ½ teaspoon of both the salt and pepper.  Add pork to pan and cook for 8 minutes, turning on all sides till browned.  Transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet.

2.       Bake 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 160 degrees.   Transfer meat to a cutting board: let rest.

3.       Add blackberries, shallots and thyme to skillet and sauté 2 minutes or until slightly softened.  Add wine, and cook one minute or until syrupy.   Add chicken stock and any juices from the pork.

4.       Cook 5 minutes or until thickened and reduced to about ½ – ¾ cup.  Stir in remaining salt and pepper

5.       Cut pork into ¼ – ½ inch slices and serve with the sauce and an additional glass – or two – of Gelfand’s Petite Sirah.




Carriage Vineyards Bed & Breakfast Finishes Renovations

Carriage Vineyards B&B, one of the many wonderful lodging options located in the Back Roads area of Paso Robles wine country,  is delighted to announce the completion of  renovations.

In the last year, Carriage Vineyards B&B  has completed renovations on all four suites as well as many improvements to the common areas.

Carriage House B&B room Paso Robles California


Owner, Larry, Smyth, marvels at how fast 13 years have gone by since opening the B&B, in which time they have hosted 6000 guests! Their Grape Ed 101 vineyard tours and the Carriage rides are very popular and offer a unique wine country experience.  Guests are pleasantly surprised when they come upon the Carriage museum while strolling the vineyards.

For details on a wine country getaway at Carriage Vineyards B&B,  visit their website and request the Winter Special – 3 nights for the price of two through March 15, 2015.

Sculpterra Vineyards and Carriage Vineyards B&B create the perfect spring or summer wine country menu.


Comfort Food from Paso Robles Wine Country

by Sara Pritchard – Pomar Junction Vineyard and Winery

Just in time for Valentine’s Day…or any day really – delicious comfort food with a twist!

Nothing says lovin’ like a slow cooked meal of  comfort food paired with a wonderful bottle of wine. This recipe for a beef roast with purple mashed potatoes, asparagus, and herbed roux gravy is sure to impress your sweetheart. Dazzle your dinner companion(s) with your culinary creativity (not everyday you see purple mashed potatoes) and your superb wine knowledge and pairing skills by serving the meal with a bottle of Pomar Junction’s “The Crossing” GSM blend.

About the wine:

Pomar Junction "The Crossing" GSM blend Paso Robles

Our inaugural classic Rhone blend displays a floral nose with hints of blackberries, caramel, and herbs de Provence. A savory mouth feel is supported by flavors of red currants and charred cedar, with a distinctive lingering finish of supple tannins. The Brohaugh Ranch, where a portion of the grapes were sourced, has exceptional Southwest facing blocks that bring out the best of these varieties. Drink now or hold on for a few years to let it develop and age.

CASES: 242

COOPERAGE: 33% New French Oak

AGING: 22 Months

Beef Roast, Purple Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus, and an Herbed Roux Gravy paired with The Crossing (GSM)

Slow cook a lightly salted beef roast with fresh sprigs of rosemary on top . Keep the drippings for the gravy.

The gravy should be made with an herbal roux of rosemary, sage, and a small amount of lavender. Place the herbs in 1 Tbsp of melted butter and cook over  low heat for about 10 minutes to infuse flavor and then strain. Add 1 Tbsp of all purpose flour to butter (should be equal amounts of butter and flour) and cook at low heat until the flour browns (as for a brown roux). Add the roast drippings and additional beef stock (to make one cup) and whisk until the desired consistency of gravy is achieved.

The purple mashed potatoes should be skinned only of coarse  spots,  boiled for 20 minutes or until soft, and mashed with heavy cream or butter.

Blanch the asparagus and then saute’ whole in butter until lightly charred. Salt to taste.

Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus

Serve the roast in chunk portions, not slices, pushed apart slightly with a little gravy poured over. Serve the potatoes with a lavish amount of the herbed gravy, and the asparagus as prepared with a small amount of drizzled olive oil. Garnish the dish with rosemary.

Happy Valentine’s Day!