Ever wanted to replicate the lifestyle of California’s storied wine country? Pouring a glass of Sonoma wine won’t suffice on it’s own. And, putting guacamole and Monterey Jack cheese on a burger might pass muster during Big Ten tailgating, but it hardly reflects the culinary legacy of the wine country.
Now, Chicagoans can bring the Golden State’s understated gourmet aplomb to their bungalows, brownstones and breakfronts. One of Sonoma County’s most acclaimed vintners, chefs, businesswomen (keep the hats coming) and a fine writer to boot – Christine Hanna – has combined all these traits in her new book, The Winemaker Cooks, which is now on sale at local bookstores. (Click here to read a full review by Thomas Caestecker.)
More than just a cookbook or another contrived entertainment guide, Hanna’s work is marked by a lyrical prose – regularly interspersed with practicality. It contains more than 100 recipes, compelling photographs and seasonal sensibility.
“In the fall, we bring in the grapes,” Hanna writes, of her vineyard… rites. Grapes, of course, are her business – her life’s work. But, she adds, harvest season also includes “tomatoes, onions and eggplants. The farmers’ markets are open… with a dazzling array.”
As for wine, Hanna’s vineyards produce a diverse array of true-to-varietal wines that include fresh, crisp whites and full-bodied reds. Perhaps the greatest value – and also one of the most acclaimed in the Hanna Winery portfolio – is the rich, yet fresh Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley 2009. It pairs with many of the light appetizers in The Winemaker Cooks.
Closer to home, many Midwesterners and Chicagoans alike are picking the last of their ripe tomatoes and other garden treats as the first freeze rapidly approaches. With the autumn chill and inside time increasing, it’s a great opportunity to expand one’s knowledge of how to throw a great party, and serve some delicious wine and food. The Winemaker Cooks is a California riff on a local serving of warmth and hospitality.