The end of summer is the perfect time to explore Sonoma County. Sunny days, a little cooler evenings and all the flavors of summer harvest around us. It is harvest time in the wine country and the grapes are making their way on their magical journey from the vine to the bottle.
Chef Stevo is in heaven with all the wonders of Sonoma that surround us. Still seeing peaches come in every week from Dry Creek Peach and Produce. I saw a whole crate of Sun Gold tomatoes dropped off in the lobby today. Fresh sweet corn, micro greens, heirloom tomatoes, Gravenstein apples from Sebastopol, Romanesco zucchini, and I had the most wonderful bowl of berries earlier today for breakfast.
And lucky me- everyone's garden is overflowing and they are bringing in basketfuls of goodies to share. I have sitting on my desk a spaghetti squash, some patty pan squashes, all kinds of peppers (I still can't keep all the names of the peppers straight), cucumbers, and heirloom tomatoes from just about everybody I know. And then I go to a Farmer's market and get tempted with even more. I made such a pot of beans last week with just some leftover chicken, some bacon and just about every vegetable I could get my hands on.
Picking blackberries for jam and pies just about everyday- so many it is all we can do to get them into the freezer. I have such a great recipe for a peach and blackberry cobbler that is so simple and luscious.
And I am going to have to try drying some of these tomatoes- everyone I know is giving me tomatoes. My mother used to just put tomatoes in a quick hot water bath to skin them and then pack them tightly in washed out half gallon milk cartons - tape them shut and stack them in the freezer (they fit so nicely too). Unfortunately, I don't have enough freezer space but it was an easy way to have almost fresh tomatoes all year.
Diane Peterson wrote a great article for the local Press Democrat last week about how to handle these gardens that seem to ripen all at once. Freezing, canning, pickling, drying...she shared some great simple recipes for pickles.
And from what I am hearing about the grape harvest- the word is all good. Almost a perfect growing season and things are moving along nicely. Here at Farmhouse Inn we warn our guests they may run into a few tired (and sometimes grumpy) wine makers this time of year. I don't know if you know it but a lot of the harvesting is done at night. There is such an energy this time of year- you see those big freeway lights out in the vineyards and the rumble of the grape trucks everywhere.
Here's a great photo taken by our friend Sonoma County photographer George Rose over at J Vineyards...just to give you the idea.
The wineries are celebrating Harvest with all kinds of events all over Sonoma County. Here's a link to another article in the local paper from writer Virginie Boone for more information on the goings on... Sunset dinners, wine blending boot camps, music, crush events, Farm to Table dinners, harvest luncheons, all topped off the first weekend of October with the Harvest Fair .
The Harvest Fair is one of my favorite fall events. It is so down home, family oriented with the big plus of lots of wine too. You can actually taste the award winning wines all in one building - some of it paired with food even. And a store on site where you can buy your new loves.
Sonoma County has another great event that is coming in mid-September that I hope you will try to make. The 2nd Annual National Heirloom Expo is right here in Santa Rosa and has caught world wide attention from last year's expo...including this video from Martha Stewart- no YouTube, just a link but definitely take a look.
So mark the date - Sept 11, 12, & 13 and come see us! Ill save you some tomatoes...