Lunch with Russ Weis, President of Silverado Vineyards

I recently sat down for lunch at Hearth ’61 with the President of Silverado Vineyards, Russ Weis, when he was in Phoenix. We tasted 3 wines while Russ told us the Silverado story, about life in Napa Valley surviving recent wildfires and about the wines.

Russ was practically born into the wine business as the son of grape growers in Madera, California. Russ started his career in Napa Valley in 1987 at Christian Brothers Winery then went on to Robert Mondavi Winery in 1993. He joined Silverado Vineyards in 2004.

The Silverado Vineyards story

Silverado Vineyards was started in 1981 by Diane Disney and her husband, former football player and movie producer Ron Miller. The 6 historic vineyards owned by the winery date back to the 1800s and are located throughout Napa Valley. The winery is currently owned by Ron and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, with plans to keep it in the family for several more generations.

The wines are made by winemaker Jon Emmerich and associate winemaker Elena Franceschi. All wines are “Grown, Produced and Bottled by” the winery, one of a few Napa Valley wineries that can say that. A small portion of grapes are sold to other wineries.

With over 300 acres of vineyards the wines express the differing terroirs, giving each wine its unique complexity and character. The winery and home vineyard are in the Stags Leap District along the Silverado Trail.

Tasting the wines

During our lunch we tasted the 2016 Carneros Chardonnay and proprietary Cabernet Sauvignons GEO and SOLO from the 2014 vintage.

The chardonnay comes from the Vineburg and Firetree vineyards in the cooler southern part of Napa Valley. The wine is aged in French oak barrels with some in new oak. The wine is clean and well-balanced with oak and acidity. Bright fruit that the Carneros region is known for makes this a great wine to drink by itself or paired with food. It made a nice complement to our shrimp cocktail. The chardonnay is the winery’s second largest produced wine, at just under 10,000 cases.

The GEO Cabernet Sauvignon uses grapes grown on the Mt. George vineyard in Coombsville. The Millers bought the vineyard in 1987 and was the first vineyard planted to grapes in the Coombsville AVA. A splash of Petit Verdot is blended before the wine was aged for almost 2 years in mostly French oak. The wine was soft and enjoyable with good tannins giving you the typical Cabernet mouthfeel taste of blackberries and cocoa and drinks well. Only 2,200 cases are made.

The SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon was the last of the 3 wines we tasted. Made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine is named for the fact it’s made from a single clone. The Silverado- Disney Heritage clone was given “Heritage” status by UC Davis because the new clone was carefully observed and had adapted to the unique soil of the Stags Leap District. It’s one of only 3 Cabernets with this status and the only one from Stags Leap District.

The bold fruit comes from the Silverado Vineyard and offers currants, cassis and plum nuances. It’s aged in 100% French oak with 38% new oak. The wine pairs well with grilled red meats and roasts. 2,400 cases were produced.

Visiting the winery

Silverado Vineyards is open daily by appointment. The winery is at 6121 Silverado Trail, Napa CA. 94458. For reservations call 707-257-1770 or visit their website.

Switchback Ridge Winery dinner at The Market Restaurant + Bar by Jennifer’s

Phoenix restaurants are running around crazy the next 10 days with the holiday rush in 5th gear. After 2019 begins restaurateurs and staff take a needed breather it will be back to serving hungry visitors and locals. The Market + Bar at Jennifer’s jumps back into it on January 9th with a wine dinner with Switchback Ridge Winery.

The four-course dinner will be paired with a unique menu from chef Jennifer Russo and wines made by legendary Napa Valley winemaker Bob Foley. Founder Kelly Peterson will be flying in from Calistoga to co-host the dinner and speak about the wines.

Switchback Ridge sources all the grapes for their wines from the families Peterson Family Vineyard run by Kelly’s mom and dad, John & Joyce Peterson. The winery makes 3 red wines with a small production of less than 3,000 cases.

Switchback Ridge Winery pairing menu

The big & bold red wines require a bold menu and it is as follows……

Hourglass Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Grilled Prawns with Bottarga Risotto

Giant prawns seasoned with flakey salt and Gilroy garlic brushed with extra virgin olive oil lightly grilled until color bursts creamy Italian arborio risotto with vanilla bean backnotes served with grated Mediterranean bottarga lime and lemon zest

 

Switchback Ridge Merlot 2014

Roasted Breast of Duck with Hoisin

Breast of duck, seared to mid-rare with a hoisin glaze Yukon gold potato gratin, braised Belgian endive and fresh mint leaves

 

Switchback Ridge Cabernet 2014

Bing cherry Demi-Glace over Lamb Loin

Boneless Colorado rack of lamb roasted to a warm mid-rare served with a bing cherry demi-glace and tender cooked bulgur wheat and snipped fresh watercress

 

Side by Side

Switchback Ridge Petite Syrah 2015 & Switchback Ridge Vintage Petite Syrah

Deconstructed Bleu Cheese Cheesecake

Honey black pepper macerated blackberries layered with bleu cheese cheesecake with vanilla wafer crust

 

The dinner is $95 per person at starts at 6:30 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling (602)626-5050.

The Market + Bar by Jennifer’s is at 3603 E. Indian School. Rd Phoenix 85018.

Zuzu releases dates for Monday Night Chef’s Table for coming months

Zuzu and executive chef Russell LaCasce  know how to pull off exciting off menu dinner events. Diners and wine geeks should be excited for their continued success as the next four months of their monthly Monday Night Chef’s Table is set.

The signature restaurant at Scottsdale’s Hotel Valley Ho will offer guests a 4-course dinner paired with wines from prestigious wineries. A guest from the winery will be on hand to speak about the wines and pairings. Although all the menus are not finalized the wineries are and dates are as follows….

August 27th Frog’s Leap Winery– Guests can expect a menu of cabbage cured salmon, charred jumbo asparagus with prosciutto and lobster, dry aged pork chop, and chocolate pot de crème with almond crumble.

September 17th- Wagner Family of Wines

October 22nd– ZD Wines

November 12th– Willakenzie Estate

Each of the dinners start at 6:30 p.m. and cost $75 ++ per person and reservations can be made at http://www.hotelvalleyho.com/ or by calling 480-376-2600. Zuzu is at 6850 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251.