Cakebread Cellars

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Cakebread American Harvest Workshop Day 4 and 5

Today is our last full day of the Cakebread Cellars American Harvest Workshop.  After a very long day of picking grapes, making pottery and cooking dinner for 65 yesterday, we’re up early again, gathering at 6:30 am for a drive to the coast.   We’re visiting three artisan purveyors, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, Hog Island Oyster Company and Della Fattoria, a bakery, and in my opinion the best bakery in the United States.  I love their pumpkin seed and polenta breads.  I have been to all of these places, on video shoots when I was producing the TV show In Wine Country.  But I was always working and didn’t experience it as a regular visitor might. It’s about a 90 minute drive from Napa Valley to Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese, in the Point Reyes National Seashore.  While the marine layer is thick this morning, the scenery, with the water…

Cakebread American Harvest Workshop Day 3

Morning Day 3 On our third day of the American Harvest Workshop at Cakebread Cellars we have a super early call time uggh — 6:30 am so we can go pick grapes.  Lucky for us they didn’t have us get up for a 2 am night harvest.  Breakfast waiting for us in the vineyard again, the sweetest strawberries and pastries from Bouchon Bakery, good fuel for the work ahead.  We’re picking in the Foster Road vineyard in Carneros, and these grapes go into the reserve Chardonnay.  Quite a big responsibility our crew has, we better not screw it up.  The most important thing is that we start and end with 10 fingers.  I’ve picked before, but it’s always fun to be in the vineyard, wrangling clusters from the vine, and tasting a few sweet grapes as you pick.  In no time at all we’ve filled two bins and send them…

Cakebread American Harvest Workshop Day 2

We start day two of Cakebread’s American Harvest Workshop at Suscol Springs Vineyard ranch in south east Napa, where there are vineyards as far as the eye can see.  I’ve never had breakfast in a vineyard and this one is a treat – a Mexican breakfast, huevos with red sauce and tortillas.  Day one was a great introduction and I can’t wait to see what today brings. Mark McDowell, the  chef from Hawaii, brought a gift with him – fresh strawberry papaya – yum!  With full tummies we set off into the vineyards with Bruce Cakebread, who was at one time the head winemaker.  He talks to us about Napa Valley – what makes it unique as a wine growing region, thanks to the soils and climate. Hard to believe this ranch was a cattle grazing pasture up until 2007 when the Cakebreads planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah…

Cakebread American Harvest Workshop Day 1

Right in the middle of harvest, the busiest time at any winery, Cakebread Cellars in Napa Valley invites five chefs from around the world, a group of local artisan food producers and food and wine enthusiasts to take part in the American Harvest Workshop, a five day intensive on food and wine. It’s a hands-on program, with the chefs and other participants literally getting their hands dirty, picking grapes, harvesting veggies from Cakebread’s winery garden, and creating and cooking two five-course dinners for 65 people. As we gather on day one for orientation and a tour of the garden, I can’t help thinking this feels a little like Top Chef. No, it’s not a competition, but the five chefs will be working together as a team, and this is the first time they’ve met each other. Culinary Director Brian Streeter, who is our leader for the workshop, has them choose…

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