Where the Harmonious Blending of Two Russian River Ag Families Results in Exceptional Wines
(Plus a black bean chili recipe to pair with their Syrah)
By Sage Priolo
Nestled in the beautiful tree-lined roads of the Russian River Valley lies one of my favorite wineries, Dutton Estate Winery. It’s not just a tasting room, but a full functioning winery with production facility on site, set in the middle of their vineyard. It is small scale with a large yet cozy tasting room, warm inviting staff, and flavorful wines. All of their wines are estate grown, and they only produce about 3,500 cases annually.
Dutton Estate Winery is owned by Joe and Tracy Dutton, both of whom grew up working with the agriculture of the area. Tracy’s great grandparents began farming apples in the 1920s and in 1949 her parents established Kozlowski Farms. Tracy helped the family build Kozlowski farms to what it is today and now you can purchase their original-recipe mustards, spreads, sauces, old-fashioned jams and much more.
Meanwhile, in 1964 Joe Dutton’s parents, Warren and Gail, purchased their first piece of land and called it Dutton Ranch. At this time the Russian River Valley was primarily known for apples, and in 1967 it is said that Warren was on of the first to plant grapes in the area. People thought he was crazy. Now, the ranch consists of 80 parcels of land, 1,150 acres of which are grapes including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Pinot Gris. It seems that Warren’s “crazy” idea was in fact genius, as Dutton Ranch boasts the oldest Chardonnay vines in western Sonoma County and sells grapes to approximately 60 wineries.
After the birth of their first child, Joe and Tracy wanted to create something for their children to grow, the way their parents had for them. So, in 1995 they purchased 20 acres of Chardonnay vineyards, a tasting room and a barn.Shortly after they released their first 1000 cases and named it Sebastopol Vineyards. It wasn’t until the 2002 vintage that Dutton Estate released the wine as we know it today. The wine was inspired by their love of single vineyard wines and their desire to reflect the individuality of each vineyard site.
Visiting the tasting room now, it’s clear that Joe and Tracy have truly developed a fantastic winery. Though they feature many different varietals, they specialize in Pinot Noirs, and, I have to say, their Pinots are superb! A tasting room staff favorite is their 2010 Manzana Pinot Noir, it’s a nice full bodied single vineyard wine.
The tastings are often led by their wine educator, Debbie Shubin. She is well educated on wine tasting and extremely knowledgeable on everything from pairing to where and why they chose specific vineyards for each wine. It’s an experience for both the novice and connoisseur alike. Shubin also runs their wine club program and ensures that club members receive exceptional treatment; they make it clear that they appreciate and enjoy the business of each and every client.
Most often they will feature an appetizing little treat to indulge in while you’re wine tasting – their chef Cynthia Newcomb is always cooking up something delicious to pair with their wines. Or, you can purchase a cheese plate and sit out on their patio enjoying the beautiful view of the surrounding vineyard. They also feature recipes on their website with pairing suggestions, including gougeres (cheese puffs) to enjoy with one of their Pinots.
Tasting is available daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You have the option to create your own flight, or select a preset “estate flight” for $10, or a “reserve flight” for $15. Estate and Reserve flights include four of their chosen wines and a cheese and salami plate. The fee is waived when you make a purchase ($30 purchase for estate tasting or $40 purchase for reserve tasting). While I am not one to frequently spend $40 on a bottle of wine, this is a case where I make an exception and splurge. I feel some of their wines are truly worth it. My current favorite is the 2010 My Father’s Vineyard Syrah.
If you have a group, large or small, you can reserve a VIP tour and tasting for $25 a person, $15 for wine club members. This includes a tour of the vineyard and barrel room and you get to taste the wine from the barrel during its fermentation. It also includes a variety of food samplings prepared by Chef Newcomb, designed to enhance the distinct characteristics of their wines. You will eat in their private dining room, which views their chardonnay vineyard – not too shabby!
Dutton Estate is located at 8757 Green Valley Road (Hwy. 116 & Green Valley Road) in Sebastopol Calif. For more information give them a call at (707) 829-9463 or visit the website: Sebastopolvineyards.com
Here is a warm fall recipe from Dutton Estate’s chef, Cynthia Newcomb, to pair with their Dutton Estate 2010 My Father’s Vineyard Syrah. This wine is available for $40 on the Dutton Estate website.
Chef Newcomb says, “The 2010 My Father’s Vineyard Syrah (nine barrels made) is a great example of a cool climate syrah, with alcohol at 13.2 percent. It has the bold flavors of Syrah but with a lighter weight. It is a perfect pairing with a full flavored (but not hot) chili, which I like to serve with North Carolina cornbread. The cornbread is particularly moist, almost like a spoonbread, due to the ratio of wet to dry ingredients.”
Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
(Enjoy with North Carolina Cornbread, recipe below.)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups diced onions
1-2/3 cups diced red and/or yellow bell peppers (about 2 medium)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Ancho Pasilla chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (or cayenne)
Three 15- to 16-ounce cans black beans, drained, liquid reserved (or 1 pound dried black beans, cooked*)
One 16-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
Chopped fresh cilantro
Grated Monterey Jack cheese
Heat oil in heavy, large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and bell peppers, sauté until onions soften, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about three minutes. Mix in chili powder, oregano, cumin, and chipotle; stir two minutes. Mix in beans, and tomatoes, and ¼ cup (or more) reserved bean liquid. Bring chili to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors blend and chili thickens, stirring frequently, about 45 minutes. (Alternatively, chili can be transferred to crockpot and left on low to cook slowly without having to stir). Ladle chili into bowls. Pass chopped cilantro, sour cream and grated cheese separately.
*Black Beans: Quick soak beans by putting them in a large pot with 2 tablespoons salt and 10 cups of cold water and bringing to boil over medium heat. Boil one minute. Cover and let soak for one hour. Drain and return beans to the pot with enough water to cover by 1-1/2 inches. Cook the beans until tender, about 45 minutes to one hour. Check the water periodically; add more if necessary to keep the beans covered. Drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid.
North Carolina Cornbread
1 cup sour cream
1 cup canned creamed corn
½ cup (1 stick) melted unsalted butter
1 cup stone ground corn meal, medium grind
¾ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ tablespoons sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
Whisk wet ingredients (eggs, sour cream, creamed corn and melted butter) until blended.
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, then incorporate wet ingredients until blended.
Pour into prepared pan and bake until inserted toothpick comes out clean (about 40 minutes).
Keep any leftover cornbread in refrigerator. Since it is so moist, it is more perishable.
Note: Make 1.5 times for 8 x 10 pan, and use entire can of creamed corn.