The Wine & Bread Journey

Our new tasting room has brought to fruition many of the ideas and dreams my family has had for a long time. We are now settled amongst our vines and get to watch the day-to-day life of the vineyard. We are now offering new wines and some are estate grown such as the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, or 2016 Malbec (both “yummy” I may add). With the concept of new food offerings, my dad and I discussed starting with the basics…wine, cheese, and bread. I knew at that moment that we had to do bread in house as there is nothing like homemade bread. It was a daunting thought, but one I knew was necessary to accomplish what we wanted.

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In 2017 my bread journey began when I was by chance watching a cooking episode featuring Nancy Silverton, the founder of La Brea Bakery. The video inspired me and I knew exactly what I needed to do. I began reading about bread science, which in some ways is very similar to winemaking. It’s about yeast, flour, water, and temperature. Of course, it took me a little time to understand this as I am more right brained. Even though I began to understand the basics I felt unsure where to begin.

A month later I had Chef William Carter walk into our downtown tasting room with his sweet wife, Katherine. They are the owners of the gorgeous Canyon Villa in Paso Robles, which is a very special place to me as I had photographed it previously. Chef Wills and I began to talk about bread and before I knew it, I had a teacher and a mentor. He shared his enthusiasm for artisan breads and specifically sourdough. We discussed doing a starter from our Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and it was something he could help me with. I was thrilled!

Once harvest arrived, I gathered the grapes and brought a bucket to Chef Wills. He was wonderful enough to begin the starter as I was in the midst of the busy harvest season. He knew I badly wanted to be there by his side, so he texted me updates through the process. Purple, bubbly…there it was, our Cabernet Sauvignon Sourdough.

Almost exactly a year ago in (Jan 2018), I arrived to the kitchen of the Canyon Villa, bread naive and unsure what to expect, but excited none the less for bread lessons. Chef Wills took three days to show me the ropes and then another three days to have me show him what I learned. It was a great time for both of us amongst the lightly flour dusted air. We fed starters, including our Cab starter, which had turned out beautifully. He showed me how to revive a starter. If you are not familiar, bread starters can out live us as long as they are fed!

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I learned about the importance of temperature and baking styles as well as how sourdoughs are a living thing. I began to see how you could combine flours to create more flavor. Sticky hands and happy smiles later I realized not only had I begun a bread journey, but I was further understanding what my dad, husband, and Cody had been doing in the winery.

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There was something about learning how to control yeast that made me connect that much more with the wine process. In winemaking, the yeast is what creates alcohol by feeding on the sugar of the grapes. In bread making, the yeast is what generates energy and growth by feeding on the flour and water.

It was very special time and I am so grateful to Wills for giving me the opportunity.

Nervous. Staring at a new kitchen with new ovens. “Oh, my gosh, can I do this?” I had only really baked on my own for a handful of times and now the pressure to get bread done for customers was real. The time was here. I took baby steps and began with the focaccia. Once I was able to do that, I pulled out the Cabernet sourdough starter and stared at it. I followed the steps and a couple days later the smell of bread filled the upstairs of the tasting room. We began to cut into the first loaf and to my surprise it was perfect. I tried hard not to seem too much like a giddy child as I walked around to the team saying, “try this…it turned out,” but I was like a proud kid thrilled to show the family. Ultimately, I was happy to finally share the work with the customers.

A month in something happened. The sourdough started to be flat and was uncooked in the middle. I was discouraged and frustrated. I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted the best for our customers. I pulled out my notes and bread books and began reading. I frantically looked online at discussions for answers. I wanted to call Wills, but knew it was in the midst of his busy season. So, I began testing. I finally figured out it was the starter and due to my busy schedule, I was not feeding it enough. I began working hard to rectify it and the starter began looking and smelling happy again. Our sourdough was back on track and I realized that much like life (and winemaking), you never arrive…you keep learning and growing. It is for this reason I love baking bread, photography, and wine because they are all processes that are a constant learning experience. This realization encouraged me to start playing more like I do with photography.

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Most recently I have started doing a hand ground rosemary with olive oil on top of the focaccia. It’s a small change, but one I like. I use a whisk to flick the oil onto the focaccia sponge and it makes me feel like I’m doing a Jackson Pollock. Also, I started doing a simple white bread (still delicious) to help me on weeks when I know I don’t have time to bake a Cab sourdough.

While I love all the breads, my favorite is still the Cabernet Sauvignon Sourdough as it holds the most memories for me. It makes me think of this whole process…the life of yeast, our vines, my family, my time with Wills, and the joys & trials of bread baking. It has been a lot of work, but I am so beyond grateful for this ongoing journey. To learn one skill such as bread and to have it spur realizations in other areas of life is priceless.

Cheers for reading through this long blog and I hope you’ll stop by soon for some wine, cheese, and bread!

-Cecily


If you would like to start your own bread journey, I really enjoyed Tartine’s book. I’ve spotted it at the General Store in Paso Robles.

 

Vineyard: Pollination Rows

A very beautiful, sustainable practice in the vineyard is pollination rows. This is something I just learned in the last year as my knowledge of this industry never stops growing, so I wanted to share about it as we are in the midst of spring time with lupin, mustard, and poppy covered hillsides.

Pollination rows are when we put in pollinating, native plants (wild flowers!) through out the vineyard. The mix we put down is allowed to grow for the majority of the season so the flowers can seed. This then becomes an open invite for beneficial insects such as the praying mantis and lady bug. These wonderful insects eat bad bugs such as aphids and spread the seeds into other rows of the vineyard. So, this creates an overall healthy environment for not only our vines, but the insects we love! Not to mention it’s absolutely beautiful. As you can guess this reduces our need for spraying, which always puts a smile on our vineyard manager’s face. The best part, since we’ve been doing this for years, is that it works very well. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Check out below the photos from last year that we submitted to the AG department. Thank you Linnea of our vineyard management company, Vineyard Professional Services, for sharing these!

Have a great Wednesday!

Cecily

Quick Fact: Did you know dust brings aphids into a vineyard (or crop)? That’s why we have signs on dirt roads that say speed limits in an attempt to control the dust. Aphids suck nutrients from a plant, which can stunt growth and wilt leaves. An infestation can create havoc and there’s only 4,000+ species of aphids. Cue the “More You Know” jingle.

Vineyard: Bud Break

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Bare lines of vines, a coo of a pigeon in the distance, and the crackling of footsteps as a vineyard manager passes through the rows in the morning light. He has done this many mornings, but his steps stop as he notices something different. There it is…light green, soft, even a little fuzzy…it is a bud.

Each year we eagerly wait for bud break to occur. This is when the vines push open leaves much like other plants during the spring. Dormant vines awake when daylight and temperatures increase, which encourages the vines to pull up stored water and macro-nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) from the roots to the limbs. This up-flow of water and nutrients push open the buds. You would think that after leaves push open that it would mean photosynthesis would occur immediately, but it does not. It takes the vine a little bit of time, leaves the size of about silver dollars, before that process begins.

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One of the most important parts of bud break is that it is a measurable starting point for the vineyard. We can actually start the clock for when pivotal moments will occur. For instance, we now know we are about 150 to 200 days away from harvest depending on the grape variety. It seems like this then would mean that bud break itself is actually a markable date, but it’s not that simple. This is still farming, which means everything is variable. When bud break occurs depends on a few things. Each terroir is different. And you can probably guess, each variety of is different.

A cooler terroir means that bud break will be later, while a warm terroir like in Paso Robles, CA will have an earlier bud break. In Paso Robles, we have seen buds as early as February. Although for us this year (2018) we are running a little slower as we have had a cooler spring. Each year is different! Another factor is micro-terroir. The difference between locations of vines in a single vineyard will even come into play. A hillside vine will have bud break because of its elevation, but a lower valley vine will still be dormant. Lastly, varieties will have bud break at different times. In our Adelaida Vineyard, our  Malbec and Cabernet Franc had bud break first, but the Cabernet Sauvignon hit the snooze button. As you can see, there are many variables that go into this and this is just one part of the vine cycle!

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While there are variances in the cycle, one consistent thing is temperature. Vines are very dependent and particular about temperature. Vines prefer gradual temperature increases for bud break, but they don’t always get that. Sometimes they get awoken from slumber with a warming trend and then hit with a freeze. That is why vineyards have tall fans to help with frost protection. A freeze will damage the cellular tissue in the leaves and the leaves will then turn black. It’s awful. This then kills the growth for your year and can sometimes decimate a vineyard. Bud break is basically the infancy stage of the vine. You want to protect it because the leaves are soft and fragile at this stage, much like you would with a newborn (and well, we all know parenting doesn’t stop there). So, that is the one thing all farmers can count on is frost season and the need to be vigilant.

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We have a mobile, quieter fan it’s so cool. Contact us if interested.

After bud break, we now watch as the leaves begin to grow (obviously). Photosynthesis will begin at a certain point and once that happens the shoots of the vines will really take off as the vines will receive something that they love, much like humans, carbs! Up next is flowering, so stay tuned.

Happy Friday and hopefully this gave you something to think about while you sip your wine…cheers!

-Cecily

Rain in the Forecast – Time to Pair

With more rain in the forecast, at least in some parts of the country, it means staying in. Here’s some fun pairings for staying in this weekend!

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2014 Zinfandel paired with Games – The lighter body, raspberry notes, and playfulness of the Zinfandel will pair perfectly with game time.

We love games in the family. Chinese Checkers, Bananagrams, Yahtzee, Scribblish…there’s too many! One fun game to check out is Bubble Talk, which is like Apple to Apples but with photos. A fun twist is to add some personal old photos to the stack for more laughter…the more embarrassing and ridiculous the better. Another game that we love/hate is Clue. We love it because it’s a classic, but some of us hate it because SOMEONE always wins (David Parrish, no fair Professor Plum!).


2013 Petite Sirah paired with Reading – The moody Petite Sirah will lend itself to a thoughtful and quiet time with its large palate of purple fruit and rich tannins. It will give you something to think upon, just like a book.

Growing up my parents read a lot, but unfortunately, I never got into reading quite like they did. My parents, David & Lynn, love reading mysteries and James Herriot books because the stories remind them of our farm life. After meeting Ethan, my interest for reading has grown. We sometimes read together and there is something so idyllic about it for me. We usually read something for personal growth like C.S. Lewis. Lately, I can be found with my nose in a book about bread…there are so many bookmarks. The great thing about reading is that it can be for groups, solo, and with wine!


2013 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a Blanket & Fire – The Cabernet will be another great lingering wine for the palate with its black cherry and cocoa notes making it perfect for savoring the moment. This might even be perfect with some cheese…make a picnic by the fire with maybe some gouda, charcuterie, and bread.

This is almost a duh, but there is nothing like watching the weather with a cozy blanket and a warm fire near by. I like to pull my two fur ball dogs into the blanket, while we sit on the floor and watch the wonderful drops of rain. It’s peaceful and relaxing…something we all can use in our busy lives.


What about a white?! Okay, okay. So, I’d say get to cooking or baking with the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. I find this to be my cooking wine as it gets my creativity going with its lightness and brightness. Maybe make a pizza from scratch, or learn a new recipe.

Lastly, all that’s missing is music…what’s your jam in the kitchen? I must be an old soul as I listen to a lot of acoustic guitar, instrumental music, and a little French cafe. My go to for a rainy day is Dave Brubeck.


Whatever your plans are for the weekend, may they be enjoyed and stay dry!

-Cecily

 

Meet: Lynn Parrish

We wanted to revisit getting to know our team as Parrish Family Vineyard is very much what it is because of our team. So, here’s your chance to learn more about them!

First up, Lynn Parrish, who is an owner and has been an integral part of the team behind the scenes.

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What do you love about Paso Robles?
That it is thriving and growing, but still has that small town appeal.

Where is your favorite spot on the Central Coast?
My home in Creston where we planted our first vineyard (1995). It’s a little slice of heaven.

What are you passionate about?
Any project I tackle be it gardening, work on the ranch, or during the winter months some kind of craft work. And, of course, my 30 year long passion of weight lifting!

How do you take your coffee?
Black in the morning and half-and-half with sweetener in the afternoon.

What is your favorite dish?
Almost anything cooked in a slow cooker.

What is one job you’ve had before that would surprise people?
I was a firefighter for the US Forestry during the summer breaks when I was in college.

What is your favorite family tradition?
Celebrating the 4th of July at our place in Creston down at our little lake.

What is one of your favorite memories at the winery?
When David and I single handedly made our Cabernet Sauvignon in 2009.

Wine & Christmas Movies

Cheers!

Happy Thursday!

It’s almost the weekend and I thought it would be a great time to share some fun pairings, but not the edible kind, more like the feeling kind. The holidays are (for the most part) very warm and fuzzy with wonderful family traditions….a twinkling tree, warm cookies, joyful symphonies, glasses of cider or wine, and Christmas movies. Christmas movies were a staple in our house and we had a list we would faithfully watch every year. We still do even if my parents and I aren’t under the same roof. So without further ado, here are a few of our favorite movies paired with our wines:

2013 Sauvignon Blanc – How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1966

2016 Estate Rosé – Love Actually, 2003

2013 Silken Blanc – White Christmas, 1954

2014 Zinfandel – The Santa Clause, 1994 & Home Alone, 1990

2013 Petite Sirah – Christmas Carol, 1951

2012 Reserve Silken – While You Were Sleeping, 1995

2013 Reserve Silken – Miracle on 34th Street, 1947 

2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946  

It looks like I’m going to be busy with this list! What would you pair with your favorite Christmas movie?

Cheers!

Cecily

 

Serving Wine

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Happy Friday!

The seasons have surely changed here in Paso Robles with cloudy skies, showers, and autumn leaves. It’s definitely gotten chillier. With the drop in temperatures, it brings up what temperature is recommended to store and serve wine at? We get this question quite a bit in the tasting room, so with Thanksgiving just around the corner it makes sense to serve up some tips in preparation. I’m sure there have been moments of “How to serve Cabernet Sauvignon” when planning for the holidays, well at least this girl has.

Our PFV Wine List:

Sauvignon Blanc: 45˚-50˚ F for serving

Chardonnay & Viognier Blend: 50˚-55˚ F for serving

Rosé: 45˚-50˚ F for serving

Zinfandel (cool grape,lighter style): 55˚- 60˚ F for serving

Petite Sirah: 60˚- 65˚ F for serving

Cabernet & Petite Sirah Blend: 60˚- 65˚ F for serving

Cabernet Sauvignon: 60˚- 65˚ F for serving

Of course some prefer 40˚F white wine, or 70˚F red wine, and that’s totally fine. It reminds me of Blast From the Past with Christopher Walken’s character preferring Dr. Pepper warm, while most of the public prefer cold. Everyone has his or her preferences and that’s what makes wine like art, it’s subjective.

Wine Storage

For wine storage, the recommendation for long term storage is 55˚F. If you do not have a wine fridge (understandable), I generally recommend a regular fridge over a dark closet because wine ages 4 times faster in those conditions. What does this mean? It means that it will loose structure, color, and could possibly develop faults. I just wouldn’t plan on long term storage in a regular fridge.

Hopefully this information was helpful. We hope that your Thanksgiving is filled with warmth, love, and memories. I feel so thankful to have my family, good food & wine, and a home as I know that not everyone has these things. If you are looking for a way to give this season, we work with Must! Charities and Paso Robles has a free meal at the Centennial Park on Nov 23rd that needs support. And lastly, there is a wonderful wine event to continue the support of Santa Rosa/Napa/Sonoma in December!

Cheers & Blessings,

Cecily