Clif Notes

Clif Family Winery in Mendocino County

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Thursday, July 7, 2016

Blog Post Written By Laura Barrett

I made a day trip out to Mendocino County yesterday to check on our Gewurztraminer and Grenache vineyard sites. This time of year, I travel north about once a month and it’s always a spectacular day. I try to get an early start and head north through Calistoga into Alexander Valley through Geyserville and past Cloverdale before taking the windy 128 over to Boonville. Ferrington Vineyard is just north of downtown Boonville and is the home to our Gewurztraminer. It’s always a quick stop, as I walk the 4 rows in one block and 3 in another. The viticulture practices are very well managed here, so there is rarely anything to request. Yesterday, the vineyard crew was just finishing up the last of the seasons canopy management, removing leaves on the morning side of the vine. There is no sign of softening yet, which tells me harvest will be at least 10-14 days later than last year. It was foggy and cold, as usual in the early mornings in Anderson Valley.

When I leave Ferrington, I head back through downtown Boonville and northeast on highway 253. This mountain pass almost always takes me above the fog line as I head into sunny and warmer Ukiah. My first stop in this eastern part of the county is Venturi Vineyards, a new grower partner for us in 2016. This site is owned by Larry Venturi, whose family emigrated from Tuscany in 1917. Larry tells stories about his family and the history of the ranch. My favorite is when he laughs about how they built highway 101 through the middle of his ranch! I check on our small block of organic, dry farmed, head trained Grenache. I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with this fruit this year as part of our Clif Family Grenache red wine program!

Headed back on Highway 101 south, I pass through the town of Ukiah and head east to the Talmage bench to see Rory Bartololmei. The Bartolomei brothers are 4th generation in the family, who have farmed the land since the early 1900’s. We have been purchasing this Grenache block for several years now, and it is the site of our sought after Rose´. Rory and I chat about fruit set, politics and Clif Bar as we walk the rows. I’m always asking for more grapes, but I’m forced to look to the newly planted Grenache vines in the neighboring block and think wishfully to 3 or 4 years down the road. On my way out of the ranch, I stop to pick some blackberries on the side of the dirt road.

So, after about 200 miles round trip, I return to St. Helena. A bit groggy from the ride, I am thankful to have these wonderful sites in Mendocino County that offer diversity to our wine program. I am also thankful for these grower partners, who care so deeply about their land. I enjoy working with their grapes, appreciate their friendship and cherish these out-of-county days.

Layered Parfait with Meyer Lemon Marmalade Curd

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Recipe by Executive Chef John McConnell


6 eggs
1 cup sugar
Zest of 3 lemons
1 cup lemon juice
4 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
½ tsp kosher salt
1 10 ounce jar Clif Family Kitchen Meyer Lemon Marmalade
1 16 ounce container Mascarpone
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 package of Granola

Cook the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium saucepan, whisking continuously, over low heat for 10 minutes or until thickened. Do not overcook, as the eggs will curdle. Set aside. In a blender, blend the 10 ounces of Clif Family Kitchen Meyer Lemon Marmalade until larger pieces of Meyer lemon rind are chopped. Inside the blender atop the chopped marmalade add the curd mixture and blend on low speed. Add one tablespoon of cold butter at a time, until butter is incorporated, add salt. Pour the Meyer lemon curd into a glass container, cover surface with plastic wrap and allow mixture to cool in refrigerator.

While mixture cools, whisk the mascarpone, buttermilk, vanilla and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix well until combined and slightly thickened. Refrigerate until the parfait is ready to be assembled.

In a clear jar layer ingredients starting with granola, then mascarpone cream, and Meyer lemon curd. Continue layering ingredients until desired height is achieved. Finish top layer with granola.


Vietnamese Style Noodles

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Recipe by Executive Chef John McConnell

Vietnamese Style Noodles with Grilled Sweet and Spicy Beef

1 10 ounce jar Clif Family Kitchen Green Pepper Jam
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup lime juice
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp Sriracha hot chili sauce
1 lb skirt steak or hanger steak
2 (3 ¾ oz) packages of Cellophane (soybean thread) noodles
1 red bell pepper (julienned thinly)
2 medium carrots (julienned thinly)
¼ cup torn basil
¼ cup torn mint
½ cup chopped peanuts

In a large bowl whisk Clif Family Kitchen Green Pepper Jam with fish sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, and Sriracha. Divide mixture and set half aside for the noodles and the other half for marinating the steak. In a large gallon size baggie place steak inside with half of the green pepper jam mixture. Marinate the steak overnight.

In a large pot, bring six quarts of water to a boil. Boil cellophane noodles for three minutes and allow noodles to sit in hot water for another 2 minutes before draining. Drain noodles and immediately mix noodles with reserved green pepper jam mixture and set aside.

Remove steak from refrigerator and allow to warm to room temperature. Season steak with salt on both sides. On a very hot grill or grill pan, grill the steak to your desired temperature. Do not remove any of the pepper jam marinade from the steak before grilling, as it will caramelize nicely on the steak. Rest meat at least five minutes before slicing against the grain.

Serve noodles on a large platter surrounded by julienned bell pepper and carrots, basil, mint and chopped peanuts. Place sliced meat on the noodles just before serving.

Auction Napa Valley

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Friday, May 27, 2016

Blog Post Written By Laura Barrett

The annual Napa Valley Wine Auction is a highlight in our cyclical season of wine growing. It comes each year during the first weekend in June, where wine collectors, tasters and vintners gather to raise money for the non-profit organizations of the Napa Valley. Vintners provide unparalleled hospitality to wine auction guests in a weekend of dinners, parties, unique wines and unforgettable experiences. In return, the Napa Valley Vintners Association donates proceeds to our community health organizations and children’s education. It’s a weekend where we all dress up, feel good, and have a grand time.

In our 7th year at the Napa Valley Wine Auction, Clif Family Winery will showcase the 2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from our Cold Springs Vineyard at Friday’s Barrel Auction, where 10 lucky bidders will win a case of the wine in barrel (to be collected at bottling time – June 2017.) I have carefully selected this wine from our Foza Block, named after a 50 mile, steep ride that Gary and Kit enjoyed during their year in Italy in 2015. And this wine shows the same kind of muscle is takes to ascend its namesake. With loads of dark fruits – black berry, blueberry and plum - the aromatics are so well integrated with the 80% new French oak (especially for just 8 months in barrel.) The palate has great depth and richness, with well-balanced tannins throughout.

To our auction guests – be sure to visit us at the barrel hall and get a sneak-peak into what the 2015 vintage has to offer from Clif Family Winery!

A Day on the Truck

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Friday, April 22, 2016

Blog Post Written By Laura Barrett

My grandparents owned a restaurant when I was growing up and I was one of the few family members to not work there. After working a day at the Clif Family Bruschetteria, I’m not quite sure why I passed up this great opportunity!? I loved being in the kitchen! As part of a team building effort, we were all invited to work with our culinary team for a morning. Today was my day.

I arrived at 8AM and the kitchen was buzzing. Music was loud, coffee was brewed and everyone was hard at work. I started with assembling a 4lb cookie kit. For those of you who have had Chef John’s salted chocolate hazelnut cookies, you know this was my lucky day. I measured out all the ingredients, placed carefully on a sheet pan, labeled, and put away for another rainy day baking project. Do you know that even the brown sugar is organic? The eggs where the most delicate and beautiful I have seen, similar to what you would find being laid at your neighbors coop. As I snapped a photo of the recipe, I knew that it was these quality ingredients that I really needed in order to have these delicious treats at home.

Next, I made hummus – two batches of what goes into our Dip Duo. Fresh squeezed lemon juice from the farm. Sonoma Vinegar Works red wine vinegar. Again, the highest quality ingredients sourced from local farms and vendors.

After my prep cook training, I then helped the truck crew get the truck set up and loaded. We put all the beautifully prepared foods in their designated spot and turned on all the equipment before I got to sit co-pilot on the very slow 0.10 mile drive into position at Velo Vino. At this point I got to work on the truck, and I grilled the first 20 or so pieces of Model Bakery bruschetta bread. 35 seconds at a 45 degree angle, another 35 seconds at the opposing 45 degree angle, flip it and do it again. My grill marks were superb (at least by the 20th piece.)

By the time the lunch crowd showed up at the truck, it was time for me to head back to the winery. It was truly a feel-good kind of day. I enjoyed spending time with my co-workers that I don’t see on a daily basis. I now have a greater understanding of what goes into each delicious item that I so frequently eat for lunch. And, I have a much greater appreciation for food truck operations and what it means to bring fine dining to a street corner near you.

Grilled Halibut Kabobs

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Friday, April 15, 2016

Recipe by Executive Chef John McConnell

Grilled Halibut Kabobs with Toasted Pistachio Dukkah

1 lb. Halibut fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces (purchase large center portion measuring at least 1 inch, no tail piece)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pint pitted green olives (we used Castelvetranos)
1 small red onion, cut in ½ inch pieces
1 lemon, juiced
4 tbsp Clif Family Kitchen Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
2 tbsp Clif Family Kitchen Toasted Pistachio Dukkah
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
Salt and pepper to season

Marinate cubed halibut pieces in juice of one lemon and 2 tablespoons of CFK extra virgin olive oil for about 15 minutes. Thread ingredients onto the skewers (if using bamboo skewers soak in water prior to using) starting with red onion, then halibut, cherry tomato, and green olive. Repeat this pattern twice per skewer, ending with more red onion. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

On a very hot grill or grill pan, grill kabobs until the fish is completely cooked through, about five minutes per side. Remove kabobs from grill and season all sides with CFK Toasted Pistachio Dukkah.

Serve the halibut kabobs over Greek yogurt seasoned with salt and pepper and garnish with remaining 2 tablespoons CFK extra virgin olive oil.


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