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Christopher McFarland
 
June 30, 2016 | Christopher McFarland

Recipe of the Day, 6/30/16

With Von Holt Wines' 2015 Linden Ridge Vineyards Rosé of Grenache, we think we have achieved a stupendously refreshing wine for these hot summer months, with juicy notes of melon and citrus. It is ready to drink now, so we thought what better to pair it with than something you can cook on your outdoor grill while enjoying the company of your friends and family? And for our city-bound friends sweltering through the dog days of summer without access to a traditional grill, this simple yet elegant dish of shrimp and polenta can just as easily be cooked on a grill pan.

Grilled Shrimp and Chived Polenta Cakes with Von Holt Wines' 2015 Linden Ridge Vineyards Rosé of Grenache

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 c. milk
  • 1 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing the dish)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • small bunch chives
  • 1 1/2 lbs. shrimp
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
  • large pinch kosher salt
  • large pinch black pepper
  • scallions, sliced for garnish

Butter an 8"x8" Pyrex dish. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine milk, cornmeal, and butter, and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, over medium high heat. When mixture begins to simmer, add sugar, salt, and chives, and keep stirring until thick, about 15 minutes (when it is getting thick enough, the polenta will begin to pull away from the sides slightly as you stir). Pour into prepared pan and allow to cool and thicken until thick enough to slice, about 3 hours.

Place shrimp, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil in a large bowl and toss to combine. Thread onto skewers (soaked wood or metal); place in the fridge until polenta has set.

When polenta has set, carefully flip the Pyrex dish and un-mold the polenta onto your cutting board, and cut into 4 even pieces. Preheat grill or grill pan to high heat.

Gently grill polenta slices until grill marks form, and polenta is heated through, about 8 minutes. Remove from grill and reserve. Grill shrimp skewers until shrimps are pink and beginning to char, about 3 minutes per side. Serve with some sliced scallions for garnish.

Open a slightly chilled bottle of Von Holt Wines’ 2015 Rose of Grenache. and enjoy the fruits of your labor with the fruits of ours.

Cin cin!

Your friends at Von Holt Wines.

Time Posted: Jun 30, 2016 at 2:08 PM
Christopher McFarland
 
September 6, 2015 | Christopher McFarland

Recipe of the Day, 9/6/15

​

Labor Day marks the end of summer, and for many of us, that means that kids and teachers are headed back to school. Too often, school nights can seem a maelstrom of catching up, calming down, and getting things done, and simple tasks like cooking for the family can often seem incredibly daunting, especially when dealing with the demanding and unsophisticated palate of the average child. To help out, our recipe team at Von Holt Wines has chosen a meal simple and delicious enough to satisfy the fickle tongues of your kids, yet complex enough to put a smile on your face as well, especially when paired with our 2013 Heintz Family Vineyard Chardonnay, which was just awarded 92 points by Wine Enthusiast.

Mexican-Style Chicken and Rotelle with Von Holt Wines' 2013 Heintz Family Vineyard Chardonnay

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS​

  • 12 oz. rotelle (also called ruote or wagon wheels, depending on brand)
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced into rough 1" cubes
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • red onion, chopped into 1/4" dice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 large chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (from can), seeded and minced, plus 2 tsp. adobo sauce
  • 1/2 c. frozen corn
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 lb grated queso blanco or Mozzarella cheese (you'll want 1 1/3 c. of the grated cheese)
  • 1/4 c. coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the rotelle, and follow the directions on package to cook until al dente. Drain the rotelle.

While you're preparing the noodles, heat up the canola oil in a large, deep skillet (you'll be adding the noodles in towards the end, so use a big enough skillet to accomodate tossing the noodles in the sauce) over medium-high heat. Season the diced chicken with salt and pepper, and cook until it is lightly browning, approximately 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion has softened and the chicken has fully cooked through, likely 4 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, chipotle pepper, and reserved 2 tsp. adobo sauce, and cook 2 minutes more. Add the corn, season the mixture with salt and pepper and cook just a minute more for the corn to heat through.

Add the rotelle and the 2 Tbsp. olive oil to the sauce and toss to coat. Turn off the heat, add a cup of the grated cheese, and toss again. Finally, transfer the pasta to bowls, top with the remaining grated cheese and chopped cilantro, and serve.

Open a bottle of Von Holt Wines' 2013 Heintz Family Vineyard Chardonnay and enjoy the fruits of your labor with the fruits of ours.

Cin cin!

Your friends at Von Holt Wines

Time Posted: Sep 6, 2015 at 2:29 PM
Christopher McFarland
 
August 6, 2015 | Christopher McFarland

Recipe of the Day, 8/6/15

Speaking of watermelons, Mark Twain wrote: "It is chief of this world's luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat." Later, he affirms that it could not have been a watermelon that Eve ate in the Garden of Eden: "...because she repented."

There is little on this earth as unrepentantly delicious as a fresh slice of watermelon, and the craze for pairing it with a strong cheese like Feta in salads is in full swing this summer. We wanted, however, to make this on trend dish a main course for four, so we added delicious grilled chicken and a balsamic reduction for a flavor combination that will knock your socks off.

Even better, pair it with our 2012 Terra Alta Vineyard Viognier, which is light enough on its feet for the hottest of summer days, yet complex enough in its mingling of white flower and honeysuckle to stand up to the richness of these strong flavors.

Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad with Von Holt Wines' 2012 Terra Alta Vineyard Viognier

Serves 3-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tsp. all-purpose seasoning (or your own spice blend: for this recipe we enjoy paprika, dried oregano and mint, garlic powder, salt, and a dash of cayenne)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 c. baby spinach (also feel free to try arugula the second time round for a spicier salad)
  • 2 c. cubed watermelon
  • 1/2 c. bleu cheese crumbles
  • 1/2 c. sliced or crushed almonds (or if you're concerned about their effect on the drought, may we suggest macadamia nuts as a rich, but heart-healthy, alternative?)

Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and, over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-25 minutes until the balsamic vinegar is significantly reduced and starting to become syrupy; you can use the back of your spoon to test.

Meanwhile, heat a clean grill pan (or if you have one, your outdoor grill, oiled and cleaned) over high heat until the pan is screaming hot, at least ten minutes (for an outdoor grill, a medium-high fire will prevent the chicken drying too quickly). Pound the breasts in a sealed plastic bag until an even 3/4" thickness throughout, then season with your spice mixture and drizzle with olive oil. For chefs with a hair more time, you'll get the juiciest breasts if you throw them in salted water for 30 minutes after pounding and before seasoning; if you go this route, lightly rinse the breasts after removing them from the brine and omit the salt from the seasoning of the chicken. Coat the surface of your hot grill pan with cooking spray (it will begin to smoke immediately) to aid in removing the chicken later.

Cook the chicken through, flipping only once to keep the integrity of your grill marks. Timing on this will vary with the thickness of your chicken breasts and the heat of your pan, perhaps 3 minutes per side, but you can test the doneness with either a meat thermometer (160 degrees... as the meat rests it'll reach 165, which the FDA recommends, although a juicier breast can be removed at 150 with no unhealthful effects), by cutting into the breasts until the juice runs clear, not pink (you will lose some juiciness with this method), or for the advanced chef, by using the thumb-middle finger "firmness" test. Once removing the chicken from the pan, let it rest for five minutes, then cut into small cubes.

In a large bowl, layer the spinach with the chicken, watermelon, bleu cheese, and almonds, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Top with additional olive oil if desired.

Then open a bottle of Von Holt Wines' 2014 Terra Alta Vineyard Viognier, and enjoy the fruits of your labor with the fruits of ours.

Cin cin!

Your friends at Von Holt Wines

 

 

 

Time Posted: Aug 6, 2015 at 6:48 AM
Christopher McFarland
 
March 15, 2015 | Christopher McFarland

Recipe of the Day, 3/15/15

Julius Caesar: The Ides of March are come.
Soothsayer: Ay, Caesar, but not gone.

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Act Three, Scene One

 

The Ides of March, or 15th of March, is a day that has gone down in infamy as the date Cassius, Brutus, and the rest of the self-styled Liberatores of the Roman Senate assassinated Julius Caesar, the famed general and dictator of Rome. From Plutarch to Suetonius, from the stage of Shakespeare's Globe to HBO's Rome, this story of politics, fear, betrayal and blood has been told and retold over the years, emphases and sympathies changing with the ideologies of the times, but we can know a few things for certain.

From the post-mortem report (the earliest autopsy in recorded history, CSI fans), we know that Caesar was stabbed 23 times, but that only one of the wounds was considered serious enough to have been fatal. From the historical record we know that while the conspirators' intended goal was to protect the Roman Republic from becoming a monarchy, this act of violence instead directly (and ironically) led to the dissolution of the Senate and the establishment of the Roman Empire. And from the modern-day populace of Rome we know that the murder of Caesar in the Capitol is as deeply etched into the very consciousness of Rome itself as the great paintings of Raphael, the hulking grandeur of the Colosseum, or the delicious legacy of Roman - or Laziale - cuisine.

While the rich of Ancient Rome ate a widely varied diet from all over the lands they had conquered (including such gruesome demonstrations of wealth and power as large pastries filled with thousands of wrens' tongues), your average Roman ate rather simply, with just a handful of ingredients per recipe. With this in mind, we have created a authentically Roman meal of three simple courses to pair with our wines that would have been recognizable to Caesar and the Liberatores, but which can also be found at any resturant in Rome today. Enjoy them together for the full Roman feast experience, or a la carte for a more simple meal.

 

Antipasto: Carcioffi alla Romana (Artichokes, Roman style) with Von Holt Wines' 2012 Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay

Von Holt Wines' 2012 Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay, which leads with its nose of honeysuckle and stone fruits and opens up into flavors of citrus-laced Asian pear and lemon custard, is the perfect match for this classic Roman dish of artichokes prepared simply with mint, parsley, and white table wine.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
3/4 c. PLUS 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 artichokes
Vinegar, or lemon or lime juice
Bowl of water
1/2 c. dry white table wine
3/4 c. boiling water

After chopping the herbs and mincing the garlic, combine them along with a pinch of salt and 1 tbsp. of the olive oil in a small bowl. Meanwhile, you'll want to splash a little vinegar or lemon or lime juice into a bowl of water. This will help keep the artichokes from turning brown during the trimming process.

Halve the artichokes across their bodies, discarding the tops, and remove the tough outer leaves, leaving the tender inner leaves intact. Remove all but an inch or so of the stems. With a spoon, paring knife, or other scooping/scraping tool, remove the purple "furry" chokes from the inside of each artichoke half and discard, putting the "cleaned" artichoke in the bowl of vinegared water. Once all the artichokes have sat in the water/vinegar mixture a couple minutes, remove and place in a deep pan, standing on their stems, in such a way that they are nestled snugly enough that none of them have room to fall over. If your only deep pan is too wide, buy one or two more artichokes and repeat the above steps, as standing upright is an important part of the cooking process (you will not mind the extra leftovers, trust us).

Place your pan over a medium flame. Pour the wine and remaining 3/4 c. olive oil over the standing artichokes, sprinkle them with another pinch of salt, and pour the boiling water over it all. Cover your pan and let simmer for 1 hour. These artichokes can be prepared ahead of time and are delicious at room temperature, but are also amazing hot right off the stove, especially if your glass of 2012 Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay is, not cold, but ever-so-slightly chilled.

 

Primo: Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti with cheese and pepper) with Von Holt Wines' 2012 Suacci Vineyard Pinot Noir

Perhaps the simplest of all Roman cuisine, in that there are fundamentally only three ingredients, its very simplicity is what makes Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe one of the most difficult dishes to master. The key thing to keep in mind whenever working with only a few ingredients is that the ingredients themselves must be of the highest quality. Your black pepper MUST be freshly ground, the more aged you can find your Pecorino Romano the better, and while it is irrelevant whether you use fresh or dried pasta here (we'll give the recipe using the latter), the higher quality the initial pasta the better the final result. We've suggested spaghetti here as it works excellently with the sauce and is readily available, but if you want to dine like a true Roman, try and find some Tonnarelli, which is identical to spaghetti except that the noodles, looked at from above, are square rather than round.

While this meatless dish pairs splendidly with white wines, we prefer it with our 2012 Suacci Vineyard Pinot Noir. With its light body, it contrasts pleasingly in mouth feel with the melted cheese, and its hints of pomegranate give just enough tartness to balance the floral heat of the black pepper.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. spaghetti (or tonnarelli)
1 3/4 c. finely grated (about 1/2 lb.) Pecorino Romano cheese (or 1 c. Romano and 3/4 c. Cacio de Roma)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Coarse salt
Pot of water

Bring unsalted water to boil in a tall pot while you finely grate the Pecorino cheese. The water should not exceed 3/4 of the pot's height. When the water boils, add the salt, but bear in mind that the Pecorino is a fairly salty cheese, so perhaps use half the amount you would normally in seasoning your pasta water. Add your pasta, and cook to al dente, uncovered, BUT, and this is a must to get the creamy texture of a true Roman Cacio e Pepe, during the last 1-2 minutes of boiling your noodles, cover the pot with the bowl you will be serving the pasta in to heat it.

Remove a ladleful or two of the now starchy pasta water and set it aside near your serving bowl while you drain the pasta. This starch will help the fats from the cheese to amalgamate well with both the pasta and the water. Transfer the drained pasta to the serving bowl you've heated. Gradually incorporate most of the cheese and some of the water into the pasta bowl tossing VIGOROUSLY until you get a creamy consistency, adding cheese when it becomes too watery and water if it begins to dry out. When it is creamy, add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and toss. Serve with the remaining 1/4 c. or so Pecorino for garnish, and refill the glass of 2012 Suacci Pinot you began while cooking. Buon appetito!

 

Secondo: Abbacchio a Scottadito (Grilled Lamb, "Burning Finger" style) with Von Holt Wines' 2012 Pratt Vineyard Pinot Noir

While our lighter Pinot pairs well with pasta, for our lamb course we had to go with Von Holt Wines' 2012 Pratt Vineyard Pinot Noir. Juicy on the attack, then opening inwards to more subtle cherry and cranberry flavors, the Pratt Pinot is excellent for any red meat. Also, with its bright ruby red coloring alongside the pinkish-red center of a properly cooked lamb chop, we're truly ending our Roman meal with the Ides of March theme... Brutus would be pleased.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

12 small lamb chops/cutlets with rib bone "handle" exposed (around 2 lbs)
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, quartered
2 tsp minced rosemary leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon wedges, for serving

Mix together the extra virgin olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add lamb chops and marinate for 30 minutes, while you get in the mood with our Pratt Pinot. Meanwhile, heat up your grill, gas grill, or grill pan over a high flame.

Grill your lamb chops for 2-3 minutes on each side for medium rare, and plate and eat RIGHT off the grill (mind those burning fingers!) with lemon wedges squeezed over the top... in the words of Casca, the senator who stabbed Caesar first: "Speak hands, for me!"

 

Whether taken all together or enjoyed one at a time, we hope you find these recipes and wine pairings helpful, and enjoy the fruits of your labors with the fruits of ours! As always, let us know how you liked these food pairings in the comments section below, and stay tuned for our next installment in this series. Also if there's something particular YOU like to eat with our wines, send us the recipe: we're always excited about new food pairings!

 

Cin cin!

Your friends at Von Holt Wines

 

Time Posted: Mar 15, 2015 at 12:00 AM
Christopher McFarland
 
August 22, 2014 | Christopher McFarland

Recipe of the Day, 8/22/14

On our recent trip to Istanbul, we were astounded and delighted by the sights and sounds of this stunning city. However, it was the taste and scents of this ancient culture - the tangy, spicy, smoky mezze before each meal; the briny, pine-accented breeze off the Bosphorus; the notes of violet in our honey and loam in our tea; and of course the Spice Bazaar itself, redolent of apricot and sumac - that really sparked our imaginations. In that spirit, for the first in our wine pairing series, we thought we'd pair our 2010 Hoppe-Kelly Syrah, with its hints of spice and black fruit and nose of violet, with a classic dish dating all the way back to the early days of the Ottoman Empire: Lamb Moussaka.

 

Lamb-Zucchini Moussaka with Von Holt Wines' 2010 Hoppe-Kelly Syrah

This recipe serves eight, and for ease of cooking, I've separated the pre-assemblage process into three discrete steps, each with their own list of ingredients, so be sure you have everything on hand, including at least one large skillet, one medium saucepan, and one two-quart casserole pan, before you begin.

STEP ONE

1 tbsp. butter
1 c. onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. sumac (optional)
2 lbs. ground lamb
1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled & sliced
1/4 c. fresh dill, chopped
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet and saute onion on medium until transparent, then add the minced garlic just for the minute it takes to get aromatic. If you have it available in your spice pantry, I'd strongly suggest adding the sumac to this mixture of alliums, as it'll give them a little tartness to help brighten up some of the richer flavors. Regardless, after the garlic has released its flavor, add the ground lamb and increase the heat slightly as you stir to brown. Add the tomatoes, dill, parsley, and tomato paste, stir until incorporated, and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat or remove the mixture from the pan entirely and set it aside.

STEP TWO

2 tbsp. cooking oil
3 lg. zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/8" strips
1 1/2 tbsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
3 potatoes

When working with zucchini in casseroles, it is advisable to cut them into slices ahead of time and, salting each layer, lay them in a colander during the rest of your prep time (and up to two hours ahead of time). Then gently press them with paper towels when you remove them for use. This will help remove the excess moisture from the zucchini and your casserole will better maintain its structural integrity. In any case, heat the oil in a skillet and saute the zucchini slices until tender, adding the dried oregano (and salt, if you haven't used the salt method to dehydrate your zucchini) about halfway through. Remove from pan and set on paper towels. Peel and slice potatoes, and brown on both sides in the same pan, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

STEP THREE

2 sticks butter
1 c. flour
4 c. milk, hot
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 c. fresh Kasseri cheese, grated (if you can't find a medium-firm sheep's cheese from the region, Romano is an acceptable substitute)
3 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
Dash of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Melt your butter in a medium saucepan and slowly integrate the flour while stirring until you have a smooth paste. Also slowly, drizzle in the hot milk (which I begin heating over a low temperature while cooking the potatoes), still stirring, until the entire mixture is smooth and thick. Mix in the slightly beaten eggs and the grated cheese, and cook for two minutes before seasoning with the dill, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

ASSEMBLY

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Lay the potatoes from step two across the bottom of a two-quart casserole dish. Cover with half the lamb-tomato mixture from step one. Then layer half your zucchini, the remaining half of the meat mixture, and the final half of the zucchini slices. Pour your cheesy "pudding" from step three over the top, then put the whole casserole in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes (50 usually works, but if you're a late pre-heater or a compulsive oven opener, give it 60).

Let rest for 10-15 minutes, pour yourself a glass of Von Holt Wines' 2010 Hoppe-Kelly Syrah, and enjoy the fruits of your labor with the fruits of ours.

 

Let us know how you liked this food pairing in the comments section below, and stay tuned for our next installment in this series. Also if there's something particular YOU like to eat with our Syrah, send us the recipe: we're always excited about new food pairings!

 

Cin cin!

Your friends at Von Holt Wines

 

Time Posted: Aug 22, 2014 at 9:49 AM
Christopher McFarland
 
August 20, 2014 | Christopher McFarland

Grapelive.com's Wine of the Day, 8/20/14

Thanks to grapelive.com for their glowing review of our 2012 Pratt Vineyard Pinot Noir! 93 Points.

 

Read the review here.

Time Posted: Aug 20, 2014 at 1:14 PM
Pam Miller Von Holt
 
September 2, 2011 | Pam Miller Von Holt

Von Holt RRV Pinot in Twin Falls!

Von Holt Wines was in a Wine Trials tasting up in Twin Falls Idaho last week! Our 2009 Russian River Pinot Noir was matched with exquisite main dishes prepared by a wonderful caterer from Oregon. Imagine cinnamon braised short ribs with romesco; roasted heirloom potatoes with a charred scallion oil; summer herb slow roasted salmon; corn and heirloom tomato salad with a basil vinaigrette and, finally, a chilled shrimp salad with green beans and melon, shaved radishes with an Asian dressing. The delicate RRV Pinot showed everyone attending that a California Pinot can have powerful fruit without sacrificing complexity and lower alcohol levels.  It matched perfectly with the menu and really delivered as a food friendly wine! The Pinot was well-received by all with many compliments. Chris and I could not be more pleased.

Time Posted: Sep 2, 2011 at 4:14 PM
Peter Alig
 
June 28, 2011 | Peter Alig

Ronald Reagan and Von Holt Wines

The direction of U.S. Secret Service agent Chris Von Holt’s life changed forever on a freezing January day in 1985.

Ronald Reagan had just been inaugurated for the second time, and Washington, D.C.-area hotels were bustling in preparation for the dozen or so Inaugural Balls marking the occasion.

Fortunately, Von Holt had enough seniority in the Secret Service not to be stuck outside on such a brutal day. Rather, he was stationed in the kitchen of one of the more prominent hotels, making sure that only authorized personnel entered the ballroom from the kitchen.

While his attention was focused undividedly on the wait staff, cooks, and hosts, during the occasional lull in activity he could not help but notice the numerous courses leaving the kitchen, and the empty plates returning. He counted up to five courses served, a meal he was not accustomed to witnessing.

“It turns out the event in the next room was being hosted by a delegation from California,” he said, “which certainly helped explain why the meal was so sophisticated.”

And, of course, so was the wine.

“In 1985 California wines were taking the nation by storm, and the names on the bottles leaving the kitchen were names most if not all wine enthusiasts would recognize today,” Von Holt recounted.

He even managed to squeeze in some words with the head waiter, who explained to him why certain wines were leaving the kitchen with certain dishes.

“I found this information fascinating, and I could suddenly see myself devoting more o f my time to exploring wine and food, once my days in the Secret Service were over.”

All in the Family

Chris’s wife, Pam, had been exposed to the joys of good food and wine even earlier.

Pam’s best friend growing up was French, so evening visits were spent around the table where wine and food were enjoyed side by side. One of her college friends ended up becoming a Master Sommelier, and conversations with him broadened her understanding of food and wine even further.

Pam successfully pursued accounting as a career, and while she is still involved in her profession, Chris’s retirement from the Secret Service created an opportunity that both of them had considered but never thought they could pull off.

They were now living near San Jose, CA, where Chris had spent the latter part of his Secret Service career. San Jose is an easy day trip to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, the birthplace of the wines Chris saw leave the hotel kitchen on that cold day in 1985.

“It was now or never,” Pam said. “Chris and I decided to make our own wine.”

Von Holt Wines

It is fitting that the seed for Von Holt Wines was planted in Chris Von Holt’s mind on such a frigid day. When Chris and Pam decided to enter the wine industry with Von Holt Wines, they opted to buy grapes from some of Sonoma County’s coolest growing regions.

One thing Chris and Pam learned from their conversations with the head waiter and the Master Sommelier was that wines with good but not overpowering acidity were the most food friendly. Grapes grown in cooler regions tend to be harvested with higher levels of acidity than grapes grown in hotter regions.

According to Pam, “Chris and I had tasted so many wines over the years that simply overpowered our favorite foods, so we consciously focused on making wines with elegance rather than brute strength. Good acidity can be a source of that elegance and freshness we were looking for.”

“We also wanted to make wines with personality,” she added, “wines that tasted like they came from a particular spot on earth, so Chris and I focused on making wines from single vineyards, not several vineyards blended into a single bottle.”

Chris and Pam also chose to make wine from Pinot Noir and Syrah, red grapes particularly suited to cool climates.

After much searching, in 2008 Chris and Pam picked their first Syrah grapes from the Hoppe-Kelly and Old Lakeville Vineyards. Their first Pinot Noir harvest took place a year later, with fruit originating from the Suacci and Ketcham Estate Vineyards.

“We are extremely pleased with our first releases,” said Chris. “Not only were we able to purchase the grapes we wanted, we were able to work with a great winemaker, John Fones, who produces our wines at a first-rate facility in downtown San Francisco.”

Pam added, “I never thought I would end up in the wine industry. It has been so rewarding and so much fun! We’ve met wonderful, passionate people, and we are thrilled to be associated with them.”

The production of Von Holt Wines is a mere 600 cases, 450 of which is Pinot Noir. To put that in perspective, the Napa Valley production of Robert Mondavi Winery is in the neighborhood of 300,000 cases.

“We would like to have made more,” said Chris, “but Pam and I were so selective when it came to fruit!”

NOTE: This article is scheduled to appear in the Summer 2011 newsletter of the Association of Retired Agents of the United States Secret Service (www.oldstar.org).
 

Time Posted: Jun 28, 2011 at 7:21 PM
Christopher Von Holt
 
June 17, 2011 | Christopher Von Holt

Labels, Labels and More Labels

Pam and I hope you enjoy the attached article on wine labels. We loved its combination of honesty and humor. When Pam and I started Von Holt Wines in 2008 there were immediate decisions to be made regarding what's inside the bottle such as what fruit to purchase and what barrels to use. The easy answers were top quality Sonoma Coast Syrah fruit and French oak. There were more difficult decisions regarding what's outside the bottle such as labels and capsules. We stood in numerous wine stores, grocery stores, and wine bars; and looked at countless bottles. We realized that we hated about 95% of all wine labels - even labels on some really good bottles of wine. We knew what we didn't want on our label - dance shoes and handcuffs. Many labels try to represent the owners, but we didn't want a cliche of dance shoes for Pam and handcuffs for me. We also didn't want a cute label of drunk monkeys. How drunk monkeys came to represent all the ridiculous labels out there, I don't know. What we did want is something quiet, classy, and representative of a fine bottle of wine. We hired a graphic artist who specializes in wine labels and she ran us through a couple of dozen major designs each with various reiterations. The result was what we had in mind all along - the family name artistically produced, the requisite information about the wine, and the VH swirl in the fog - representing the Cool Climate Character of our wines. We hope you like our label, and of course love our wine. Enjoy the article - hopefully with a glass of Von Holt Wine!

http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2011/06/sloshed_maybe_we_should_be_jud.html

Time Posted: Jun 17, 2011 at 3:47 PM
Pam Miller Von Holt
 
May 26, 2011 | Pam Miller Von Holt

Wine and Community

"Good friends, go in, and taste some wine with me;
And we, like friends, will straightway go together." - Julius Caesar

This quote speaks to me about community and the community of friendship. Chris and I have had an overwhelming response to our recent email. Your support and wonderful comments mean the world to us. Community is such an important concept in our lives. We thrive from our community of friends, families, associates, organizations and on and on. Chris and I were honored to come together with the wine community at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco last week to pour our 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and our 2008 Old Lakeville Syrah. This event was to raise money for the Japanese victims of the tsunami and earthquake. It was a great event for a great cause.
 

Time Posted: May 26, 2011 at 11:57 AM
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