Winery Blog


Decanting 101

If your friends and family know that you love wine, odds are good that you have been the recipient of several (if not more) wine aerators over the years. And if you’re like us here at Arrowood, most of those gadgets are unused and sitting in a box somewhere near your wine collection. The fact is, there are hundreds of distinct types of aerators out there - from fancy pour spouts to air sucking wine blenders - and all of them do one thing: add oxygen to your wine. They also all achieve the same goal, to increase flavor and soften edges, thus leading to a more enjoyable glass of wine. These devices all work to varying degrees and can be entertaining to use and show off at parties, however If you were to only keep only one, we would recommend the time-tested wine decanter.

Properly decanting your bottle of wine is simple, however it can lead to several questions which can make things more complicated. What types of wine are best for decanting? How long do I let the wine sit before drinking? Do I decant older wines or younger wines? The difficult part is that there are no standard answers. Often in the tasting room the answer to questions like these is, “Well, it depends.” Decant young wine if it is tannic or tight (meaning lacking robust flavor) and decant an older wine to remove sediment or if there are off aromas that may dissipate with oxygen. However, decanting light-bodied young wines might make the wine taste flat and some older wines after decanting lose their freshness. So, these are merely guidelines and suggest that you trust your palate.

After opening a bottle of your favorite Arrowood Cabernet, pour yourself a taste and answer these questions, is it delicious? – yes (well of course, it’s a bottle of Arrowood after all), but do you think it could be better?  If it tastes amazing with soft tannins, bright fruit and spice (perhaps it is a bottle of 2013 Proprietary Red Wine?) it might be best just to pour away and enjoy. If you are enjoying a bottle of 2014 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, the act of pouring it into a glass and giving a vigorous swirl may be enough aeration. The soft, plush fruit coming from hillside vineyards such as the Smothers-Remick Ridge, make this a great younger-drinking wine. This outstanding vintage is one of my favorite Arrowood wines at the moment and I highly recommend picking some up.

On another occasion, a bottle of 2012 Réserve Spéciale might be your cellar selection for the night. The initial taste is good, but perhaps it is not at its full potential. Now is the time to decant! Locate your favorite decanter and pour the entire bottle of wine into it, making sure to slowly pour down the side of the decanter. This increases the surface area of the wine, which will increase the oxygen level and will also allow you to see if any sediment is present in the wine.  For older wines, we recommend letting the bottle sit upright for up to a day to allow sediment to settle at the bottom. Once the wine has been poured into the decanter, taste it again. Wines such as our Réserve Spéciale are highly concentrated and complex, which will benefit from extended time in the decanter. Thirty minutes will be fine; an hour would be even better. Your patience will be rewarded as you taste what makes this year such a stunning vintage and can truly appreciate all the complexities the wine has to offer. We will be pouring our 2012 Réserve Spéciale at our Harvest Party this October. 

There will always be a debate in the wine drinking world on whether to decant or not to decant, and we advise that you trust your taste buds.  We want each Arrowood wine to express its full potential so when in doubt: Don’t hesitate, aerate.

Decanters, aerators, corkscrews shaped like parrots, stoppers made from old rusty doorknobs- all of these essential items are bountiful in both the world of wine drinking and your wine cellar junk drawer. We invite you to share your favorite wine accessories on our Facebook page or post them on Instagram using the hashtag #arrowodwinery


Clint Smith

Estate Manager and wine lover



Arrowood's Under the Radar White Wines are Perfect for Summer

Arrowood Winery is famous for Cabernet Sauvignon, but when hot summer weather comes, I like to reach for white wines, and so do our wine club members and fans. I only make a very small quantity of white wine -- about 500 cases a year. 

White Wine - Viognier Tag at Saralee's Vineyard
I’m really proud of both the Arrowood Viognier and Chardonnay -- the key to both of these white wines is the land. 
You hear a lot of winemakers say that wine is made in the vineyard. In a way that’s true, since all winemakers work with the fruit Mother Nature gives us each season. Lots of times nature doesn’t throw us surprises. But when the weather is good, the vineyard is the right place for that varietal and your vineyard team manages things just right, you get perfect fruit. 
That’s what’s been happening with our Chardonnay and Viognier, and both of these distinctive and beautiful wines tell a story about the vineyards where the fruit is grown.  

White Wines - Voluptuous Viognier

White Wines - Arrowood Viognier

Dick Arrowood who founded our winery was fond of Rhône wines, so he started making Viognier right from the start in 1986. Viognier (pronounced Vee-oh-knee-AY) is a slightly exotic grape that originally comes from France.  
The most famous and prized Viognier is from the small region of France called Condrieu — it’s legendary for its luscious flavors. It’s a dry wine (not sweet) but it overflows with aromas of peaches, apricots, honey and lemony floral scent. On the palate, it’s refreshing and rich at the same time. 
The Viognier from Saralee’s Vineyard is pretty famous too, because the entire block is planted in rows that curve around a hill. From the top it looks like a bullseye, and I’ve never seen anything like it. The grapes growing there get sun from 360 degrees.
Saralee’s Vineyard is out in the heart of the Russian River Valley.  It sounds like a quaint little patch of vines, but actually, it’s a sprawling vineyard that starts on a hill and then continues on for about 80 acres.
Richard and Saralee Kunde
The vineyard was named for Saralee Kunde, a legend in Sonoma grape-growing community for the way she supported agricultural education for local young people. She and her husband Rich made their own wine, and they also grew grapes that they sold to other wineries.
“She was just a great part of the community,” says Shaun Kajiwara, director of vineyards for Arrowood Winery. “She donated lots of time to helping kids with agriculture.”
And she also created a vineyard that’s like a grapevine museum, because it has so many different varieties and clones. 
“This is probably one of the best-known vineyards in all of Sonoma,” Kajiwarra said. “Saralee asked wineries what they wanted her to plant. That was rare.”
Shaun Kajmura, Director of Vineyards
Kajiwara says the curved rows mean the grapes don’t ripen evenly. The ones that get more sun are more ripe and sweet, while the less ripe grapes add more tangy, citrusy flavor.
Normally, that would be a problem, but for Viognier and aromatic whites, this setup is quite perfect because you get more complexity. You have some areas that get that ripe peach and nectarine and other areas you get more brightness.
It all comes together in a wine that feels luxurious on the palate. I love it on its own, but also with seafood or Thai or Asian food. One of the best pairings I’ve had was with butternut squash soup in the fall because of the warm spices like nutmeg just sang with the wine. 
You’ll have to be a wine club member or visit Arrowood to taste our Viognier, but once you do, it just might be your new favorite summer wine.

White Wines - The Perfect Chardonnay

White Wine - Arrowood Chardonnay

Chardonnay can grow anywhere but my favorites come from cool vineyards, just like in Burgundy, France. But we were lucky to find this little vineyard in Sonoma that’s the perfect place for making Chardonnay.
The fruit for our Chardonnay comes from the Carneros, and I think that’s an excellent choice. It’s in the middle of these rolling hills of Carneros and the fruit is amazing. 
The San Pablo Bay keeps the vineyard cool and foggy most of the time, so the grapes spend longer on the vine ripening and developing the flavors I want. Plus the vineyard is on a steep 20 percent slope, so the vines get some stress to add more complexity. 
I’m thankful to have such a great team managing the vineyard, and they pick it at just the right time. Because of these great growing conditions, we’re able to pick at lower sugar levels and higher acid levels, but still get all the ripeness in Chardonnay that California is known for. 
Nothing is added to the wine, which is pretty incredible. It’s very hands-off and we let the vineyard express itself. The natural yeast does its thing, and once fermentation is over, it gets aged in 2-year-old oak barrels, which add texture to the wine, but very little oak flavor. 
It’s a refreshing wine, that’s made for anything in the fish, chicken or even pork spectrum. Or just sipping on a hot day. With this one, I’m making the wine I like to drink.

California Portobello Burger

Bite into the refreshing, savory flavors of this California Portobello Burger seasoned with a Sonoma spice blend.
If you’re looking for a tasty vegetarian recipe or simply wanting to incorporate more veggies into your diet, then your going to love everything about the California Portobello Burger. I’m even willing to bet that if you serve it to your non-vegetarian friends (like I did), they won’t miss the meat even one bit. The portobello mushroom is perfectly seasoned with Arrowood Vineyards Sonoma spice blend that contains dried black trumpet mushrooms, pink peppercorns, Espelette pepper, cocoa powder & additional herbs and spices. To give it that California flare, we topped it with melted gruyere cheese, roasted tomatoes and crushed avocado. Yum, yum and yum!
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe

California Portobello Burger

serving size: 2
(2) portobello mushroom caps
4-6 Roma tomatoes
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp sea salt
2-4 slices of gruyere cheese
1 avocado, diced
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp jalapeno, de-seeded, diced
2 hamburger buns
1 cup arugula
2 tbsp Sonoma Spice Blend
Start by scraping out the inside of the portobello mushrooms and trimming the stem. Then drizzle mushrooms with olive oil and season with the Sonoma Spice Blend. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Slice 4-6 Roma tomatoes in halves and place on a lined sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh rosemary. Roast for 40-45 minutes and increase temperature to 400° if needed, and roast an additional 15-20 minutes.
While the tomatoes are roasting, make the crushed avocado mixture by combining diced avocados, tomatoes, onion and jalapeño in a small bowl. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and a sea salt. Combine and refrigerate until ready to plate.
When the tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven and set aside.
Heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and cook mushrooms on each side for 3-4 minutes, flipping once. Add the slices of gruyere cheese and cover. Let melt for 1-2 minutes.
Assemble the California Portobello Burgers starting with the bun, followed by 1/2 cup of arugula and the portobello mushroom and top with the roasted tomatoes and crushed avocado followed by the remaining bun. Serve with a glass of Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe
This is one of those recipes where it only takes one bite and you feel like you’ve knocked it out of the park. There are so many delicious flavors going on in this California Portobello Burger that you just keep going back for more, bite after bite. I can’t wait to serve these up to some friends this summer out on the back patio alongside a few bottles of my favorite Arrowood Vineyards Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine balances perfectly with the savoriness of the portobello mushroom and fresh flavors of the melted gruyere, roasted tomatoes and crushed avocados.
We’ve got a few extra portobello mushrooms in the fridge and can’t wait to make another round of these burgers. Hey, we have to do a fair amount of "taste testing" before we serve it to our friends right? Cheers to tasty summer ahead!
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe
Try out some of the other delicious recipes we’ve made using the Sonoma Spice Blend like the Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu served over Tagliatelle Pasta or the Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction.


Smothers-Remick Ridge Vineyard - 10 Interesting Facts

Smothers-Remick Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

1. Monopole

Smothers-Remick Ridge is a monopole vineyard for Arrowood. Monopole means that all the grapes from a particular vineyard are used by only one single winery.  In this case, all the grapes off Smothers-Remick Ridge come to the winery to be used exclusively for Arrowood wines.

2. Cabernet Sauvignon

The vineyard has been a component of the Réserve Spéciale Cabernet Sauvignon since 1992, the first vintage of our flagship wine. Although fruit sourcing has been very similar since that time, Smothers-Remick Ridge is the only vineyard that has made it into the Réserve bottling with every consecutive vintage. These blocks are chosen for their intensity in concentration, tannin quality, and overall aromatic contribution to the Réserve blend.

3. 11 Vineyard Blocks

The 17.6-acre vineyard is divided into 11 distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon blocks. These blocks are often divided up further into smaller lots in the winery, to understand different areas within a particular block.  With each block having distinct topography, exposure, spacing, and plant material, we end up with wines that have multiple expressions of this incredible site.

4. Smothers Brothers

Named by owner Tommy Smothers of the world-famous Smothers Brothers, the vineyard is also named after Smothers’ grandfather, Ed Remick, who lived on the property for 15 years with Tommy. Originally, we purchased grapes through a contract with Mr. Smothers, but our longstanding relationship has evolved into a partnership through which we now farm the vineyard year-round. 

5. Marcy Block

The Marcy Block, named after Tommy’s wife, is the primary block that makes the Smothers-Remick Ridge vineyard designate wine. The eastern-most facing block on the property with the rockiest soils, it is year after year the most distinct block, defined by its bright and decadent red cherry aromatics and plush tannins.  

6. Sonoma Mountain AVA

Smothers-Remick Ridge vineyard is located in the Sonoma Mountain AVA, a sub-appellation of Sonoma Valley, that encompasses the rolling hills to the west of the valley, and bordered by the eastern and northern slopes of Sonoma Mountain. At 600 feet, this site enjoys well-drained rocky soils and morning sun exposure that offer perfect conditions for high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon. 


7. Organically Farmed

Smothers-Remick Ridge is organically farmed, which works extremely well to achieve vine balance and maintain low yields.  The attention to detail and challenging work required to achieve organic status is a commitment to quality as well as the environment.

8. 32 Months in Barrel

The Smothers-Remick Ridge Cabernet is aged for 32 months in barrel. After approximately 16 months of aging, each individual barrel is selected and blended together in tank, then goes back down to barrel for an additional 16 months of aging. This allows the wine to integrate and age as a final blend, yielding the elegant and balanced structure this wine is known for.

9. Built to Last

Along with its history in our Réserve bottling, Smothers-Remick Ridge is also our longest ongoing vineyard designate Cabernet Sauvignon bottling.  Since the first vintage in 2007, we have saved cases in our wine library to follow and understand the ageability of this vineyard. 

10. Unfined and Unfiltered

Smothers-Remick Ridge Cabernet is bottled unfined and unfiltered.  Our Réserve Spéciale and vineyard designate Cabernet Sauvignons are bottled in this way to retain purity, complex aromatics, texture and more than anything else, the wine’s intrinsic personality.  

Enjoy the savory flavors of red wine braised short rib ragu served over a bowl of tagliatelle pasta. 

If there is one category of food that I can never get enough of, it’s pasta. Not just any pasta though. After having been to Italy I find it utterly important to buy the highest quality pasta if you want your dish to really hold its own. The thing with this recipe is the tagliatelle pasta doesn’t have to play the lead as the red wine braised short rib ragu is definitely going to be the star of the show. Now, I’m the first to tell you that cooking meats is typically not my strongest skill in the kitchen, but ever since getting an Instant Pot, it’s like I’m a culinary genius. I love meals that look like a million bucks, but are actually quite simple to make and that’s what this recipe is all about.
No Instant Pot? No problem! You can also modify to use a standard pressure cooker.
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
Everything that needs to happen in this recipe takes place inside the Instant Pot. Everything. From braising the short ribs to sautéing the onions and garlic and cooking it all down with a rich tomato sauce, it’s all done inside one pot and takes less than an hour to make. You can certainly make this recipe in a dutch oven or slow cooker, just plan on 7-8 hours. If you’re like me and are known to host impromptu social gatherings, the Instant Pot is a great way to make an insanely delicious meal that looks like it took hours of work in less than 60 minutes. That leaves me more time to enjoy the wine and food with friends and family!
Instant Pot Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
Instant Pot Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta


  • 2 lbs bone-in short ribs or 1/5 lbs boneless short ribs
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Sonoma Spice Blend
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 25oz jar tomato sauce (high quality ingredients)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle crushed pepper (optional if you don’t want extra spice)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1lb Tagliatelle pasta (cooked per instructions till al dente)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup basil, freshly chopped for garnish



  1. Using an instant pot, turn it to the sauté setting. While heating up, trim off excess fat and pat dry. Generously season with Sonoma Spice Blend.
  2. Once up to temperature, add the vegetable oil to the instant pot. Add the short ribs and sear on all sides until browned. Remove from pot and set aside.
  3. Add the chopped onion and garlic and continue to sauté until tender while scraping up the browned bits (this has tons of flavor!). Pour in the red wine and cook for approximately 2 minutes to deglaze the onion and garlic.
  4. Add the short ribs back to the instant pot followed by the tomato sauce. salt and optional chipotle crushed pepper. Add in 1/4 cup water OR add the water to the sauce jar, shake, and then pour into the instant pot (nothing goes to waste!). Set instant pot to the stew/meat setting for 35 minutes and once finished, let it naturally release the stem.
  5. While ragu is stewing, prepare the Tagliatelle pasta per the directions provided on the package. Cook to just al dente (firm to the bite, but not soft) as the pasta will continue to cook once removed from the heat. Drain and set aside.
  6. Once steam is all released, remove the lid and place short ribs on a cutting board. Trim off excess fat and remove any bones. Also, skim off any fat from the top of the instant pot then sauté again to thicken up the sauce. Once you’ve shredded the short rib, add back to the instant pot. Taste and sprinkle with salt & pepper if needed.
  7. To serve, plate first with the pasta followed by spoonfuls of braised short rib ragu and garnished with fresh parmesan and basil. 
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
There is so much to love about this red wine braised short rib ragu spooned over a heaping bowl of tagliatelle pasta. The rich tomato sauce pairs beautifully alongside the shredded short ribs and the authentic Italian pasta holds up the savoriness of the recipe while also being the perfect compliment to Arrowood Vineyards Proprietary Red Blend. The short ribs are seasoned with their custom Sonoma Spice Blend which contains dried black trumpet mushrooms, pink peppercorns, Espelette pepper, cocoa powder & additional herbs and spices. There is no hiding the fact that it gave the braised short ribs such wonderful flavor and paired perfectly with the savory aromas of the Proprietary Red Blend. It was forkful after forkful of serious goodness!
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
Don’t shy away the next time you see short ribs at the butcher! With a little bit of chopping, an Instant Pot, some Italian pasta and a bottle of wine, you’ve got yourself a culinary masterpiece that will really wow your family and friends. Cheers!

Dry farming isn't a new concept, but it has taken on renewed significance in the last decade. Plants can’t talk. But any gardener knows that if you listen and pay attention, your plants will tell you what they need.  Brown sunburned spots on the leaves say it’s getting too much sun. A lemony yellow tinge can mean too much water. A droopy stem is a plant’s way of saying “I’m thirsty.”

As a woman who makes her living crafting wine, Arrowood winemaker Kristina Shideler sees herself as a steward of the land. And she’s committed to letting her vineyards tell her what they want so she can craft great wine that’s also gentle on the environment.  
“It’s about catering to the specific vineyard blocks to get the best quality we can,” says Shideler. 
So Shideler is working with grapes from dry farmed vineyards and using new technology to create concentrated, intense Cabernet Sauvignon wines that are also better for the environment.

What is Dry Farming?

Dry Farm Arrowood Wine Vineyard
Dry farming simply means growing grapes without adding additional water. Throughout history, vignerons have dry farmed vines in Sonoma, Napa, and the Old World. People grew grapes where the soil and rainfall made it possible. It was a matter of necessity on many small family farms, where growers didn’t have the money or equipment to install elaborate irrigation systems. 
Frank Leeds says that’s what his uncle Roy Chavez did when they first started growing wine grapes in the Napa Valley in the 1920s. They didn’t call it dry farming back then, it was just how you grew grapes.  
“Guys weren’t running around with a bucket,” says Leeds, vice president of vineyard operations at Frog’s Leap Winery and co-owner of Chavez and Leeds Vineyards, which he runs with his daughter. “Now we’re down to less than 10 percent of us who dry farm.”
Raising a grapevine without added water forces it to be more self-sufficient. The plant must send roots deep into the soil to find water and nutrients it needs. “The vines are bigger stronger and more resistant to disease than irrigated grape vines,” Leeds said. “You’re so much healthier to get the roots down deep past the [diseases] that inhabit the top 18 inches of soil.”
But when vines are irrigated from a drip line, the roots stay shallow and concentrate near the easy source of water.  There’s no need for the plant to work, so it’s more vulnerable if that easy source of water dries up during a drought. 
Leeds, a past president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, says irrigation expanded in Sonoma and Napa as vineyards were planted in more challenging soils that weren’t ideal for growing grapes.  
But dry farming has come into focus as natural and biodynamic winemaking has become more popular, and young winemakers around the world revive older vineyards with strong deep-rooted vines. 
“If you use dry farm as a verb, not a noun, you can make your vines perform really well,” says Leeds. 

A Technical Solution

Thibaut Scholasch and Sebastien Payen Fruition Founders

Thibaut Scholasch and Sebastien Payen. Founders of Fruition Sciences.

But with hundreds of acres of vines, it’s tricky to know the status of every single one and how much water and nutrients it needs. That’s where innovations from a company called Fruition Sciences are allowing farmers to know exactly what’s happening inside the vine and when. The 10-year-old company founded by French scientists Thibault Scholasch and Sébastien Payen uses sap flow sensors and other technology that makes it possible for vineyards to keep the vine in balance and potentially increase yield while reducing water usage. 
“The theory behind precision farming is to match the site’s specific needs with any given input; we don’t want to oversupply the vines with too much of anything, including water,” says Shideler. “For high-quality Cabernet, the goal is to farm for smaller berries.” Small berries have a higher skin to juice ratio, so the wines have more complexity, concentration, and ability to age. 
Arrowood growers work with Fruition, as do Château Latour, Colgin, Viader and Wente Vineyards. In the spring, the team walks through a vineyard and places small sensors on each vine. The sensors allow vineyard managers to monitor how the sap is moving inside, the amount of nitrogen in the plant and when it’s time to reduce water so the vine concentrates on forming grapes rather than more leaves.
Fruition Dry Farming Cuff Sensor
“When we put the sensor on the vine, it's like a blood pressure cuff for the vine,” says Stephanie Zamorski Burk, head of field operations for Fruition. “It allows the vine to tell us if it’s experiencing environmental stress… and better determine what the vine needs.’’
On a hot day, the vineyard manager might assume that the vines are thirsty and need extra water. But the sap sensors let them know that the vines have enough moisture to sustain themselves.
A 2014 water usage study funded by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California found that using Fruition’s technology allowed a vineyard to reduce watering by 65 percent in blocks with sensors, compared to other blocks watered in a typical way. That worked out to 17 Olympic sized swimming pools or 8.5 million gallons of water. “We’ve had people who have been able to switch to dry farming practices,” says Brandon Burk, a data specialist with Fruition.

Old Vine Wine

Kristina in the Vineyard - Dry Farming

Shideler says using sensors in a Knights Valley vineyard block allowed them to dry farm there. “We went through the entire season with no water,” she said since it had more clay. “We found we got more concentration, more flavor and a lot better quality in the dry-farmed blocks.”
The fruit quality from that particular dry-farmed block in Knights Valley was so high that she’s now using the juice in one of Arrowood’s more exclusive Cabernet Sauvignon blends. 
Just by a quirk of fate, Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Arrowood’s block of the Monte Rosso vineyard is dry farmed.  The mature vines in the famed Monte Rosso Vineyard are planted at elevations ranging from 700 to 1,240 feet, so the vines have had to send roots deep into the poor rocky soil to find water and nutrients, creating the kind of stress that yields world-class wines. “When that particular block was planted, irrigation wasn’t standard practice and so the irrigation line was never put in,” says Shideler. 
And when Arrowood does irrigate, the water comes from Arrowood’s reservoirs that capture excess rainwater, rather than municipal sources. 
The trials they’re doing with dry farming, as well as organic and sustainable practices allow Shideler and her vineyard teams to identify more vineyard blocks that could thrive with less water in the near future. 
“I’m constantly thinking about both of those as the vines start to age and develop,” says Shideler. “It makes the vineyard able to produce for a longer period of time and be more resilient. Instead of replanting in 20 years that [vineyard] could be so well established that it could last for 100 years.”

Indulge your culinary senses with this delicious Prime Pairings recipe of Lamb Carpaccio Crostini topped with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction.

While the recipe name sounds like it belongs on high-end restaurants appetizer menu (and it does!), this was quite simple to make right in your home kitchen. The star of the show is the lamb carpaccio that is perfectly seasoned from the Arrowood Sonoma Spice Blend and pairs wonderfully with a bold wine like their Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve learned that by simplifying dishes really allows the ingredients to shine!

Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction

Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction

Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction

Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction


.5lb Lamb Loin
2oz Arrowood Sonoma Spice Blend
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil + extra
6oz Fresh Blackberries
1 cup Water
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp Chives, chopped
Crostini or Crackers


Heat a cast iron pan over medium high temperature. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and let heat.
Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction
Meanwhile, apply a small amount of olive oil to the lamb loin and spread using a basting brush. Sprinkle spice blend over all sides of lamb loin and pat to ensure seasoning sticks to the meat.
Using tongs, carefully transfer lamb loins to the hot cast iron pan. Sear for 1 minute on all sides. Do not overcook, you are simply wanting to sear the outsides to create a crust. Transfer to plate and let cool inside the refrigerator. This will help you slice it very thin.
While the lamb loin is cooling in the fridge, prepare the blackberry balsamic reduction. In a saucepan, add 1 cup of water and 6oz of fresh blackberries. Macerate the blackberries with a wooden spoon and let cook over a boil for 8-10 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine colander into a bowl and then transfer back to the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil for another 5 minutes and then simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Be sure to keep stirring until you achieve the desired thickness.
In the meantime, once lamb has cooled, slice VERY thinly and roll to small pieces that will be placed on top of crostini or crackers. Drizzle with blackberry balsamic reduction and garnish with fresh chives.
Pair with Arrowood Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction
Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction


What I love most about this dish is the combination of the seared lamb loin with the blackberry balsamic reduction. The acidity of the reduction pairs wonderfully with the spice notes from the Arrowood Sonoma Spice Blend. This is the type of crostini recipe that you and your guests will keep coming back for more! As a home chef with no culinary training, this recipe truly isn’t hard to create. You end up letting the flavors of the spice blend and the blackberry reduction do all the work and your hardest job is to serve it up for your guests to enjoy. Cheers to simple, yet incredibly flavorful prime pairing recipes!
Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction
Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction

I’ve always been intrigued by Bordeaux varieties and their ability to make profound and opulently textured wines, but my Malbec love affair really took hold during my time in Mendoza, Argentina.

Argentina and Beyond

Kristina Shideler Andes Mountains

In Mendoza, Malbec is celebrated as part of their cultural identity.  It has become synonymous with Argentine wine production, but its origin is actually attributed to France.  Malbec is one of the six allowed varieties in wines made from the Bordeaux region of France, with a long history of using the variety as a blender.  In France today, however, it is more commonly used in wines from the Cahors region of Southeast France.  While Argentina is responsible for 75% of Malbec plantings in the world, the variety can be found in several other winegrowing regions, including California.

The Malbec Wine Grape

Malbec Grape Variety

The grape is a dark inky purple color with thin skin and oval-shaped berries.  Its leaves are generally larger and floppier looking than the other Bordeaux varieties, and because of this, it’s generally easy to spot when walking through a vineyard.  The next time you visit the Arrowood Estate during late summer or fall, I encourage you to take a stroll through the estate vineyard and see for yourself!

Malbec Flavor Profile

Arrowood Estate Malbec

The wine also takes on a darker more purple hue, especially when young.  The aromatics are so distinct, it’s really fun to try and identify it in a blind tasting.  It typically has this inherent baking spice character of nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon.  It also takes on a lot of fruit character such as plum and blackberry, as well as violet and lavender when picked a bit earlier.  Because of this, I generally do not like to use a lot of new oak barrels; the aromatics are so beautiful, I want to express them in the purest form.  It tends to be less tannic than Cabernet, but offers a nice mid-palate weight and elegant structure that makes it very versatile and drinkable with a variety of foods.

Arrowood Sonoma County Malbec

Sonoma County Malbec

Although I love what Malbec offers to a blend, one of my favorite wines to make is our Sonoma County Malbec.  Arrowood is one of the only wineries in Sonoma County that offers a Malbec as a single variety wine, and we have a long history of doing so.  For the 2014, we sourced from two prime vineyard locations: Lasseter and Knights Cross vineyards.  Both of these sites have the perfect climate and soil match. Malbec enjoys long days of sunlight, but not too high of temperatures.  Soils must be well drained and homogenous, offering good concentration of flavors and even ripening.

How long can you age Arrowood Malbec? 

While it doesn’t have the lifespan of the Resérve Spéciale, I’ve have had the opportunity to try several bottles of Arrowood Malbec from the early 2000’s and they are still holding up with beautiful acidity and complexity.  My personal preference is between 5-10 years, and would not recommend aging beyond 15 years.  However, it is very interesting variety to track throughout aging, which is why we’ve kept a few bottles back each year in the Winemaker’s Library.  It changes from having a very distinct varietal expression to possessing very classic Bordeaux aromatics, that can often be mistaken for a Cabernet or Merlot.

Malbec + You = <3

For those of you who haven’t gotten to know Malbec, take some time to introduce yourselves.  I think you’ll like each other.  Enjoy a bottle on a nice fall evening with some grilled meats, or save for this winter to pair with the holiday fare. 


For a lot of people Sonoma equals wine country, but geographically speaking, 'Sonoma' can mean a world-famous wine growing region, a city, and an entire county. If you're looking for the definitive guide to where one Sonoma ends, and another begins read on!


Sonoma County


What is it?

A vast region filled with many acclaimed wine-growing districts, scenic Bodega Bay, and more than 400 wineries. 
While wine areas such as the Russian River Valley and Green Valley have made Sonoma County synonymous with Pinot Noir, it's not the region's only notable red. Zinfandel-lovers flock to Dry Creek Valley, while Kristina Shideler, head winemaker at Arrowood Vineyards, knows it's a place to watch for fine Cabernet Sauvignon.
"Knight's Valley, Alexander Valley, and Sonoma Valley are the three valleys people need to pay attention to for Cabernet Sauvignon," Shideler says. "As they tune in, they're going to find some great wine."
Each valley gives Cab its own distinctive flavor notes and textures. Alexander Valley tends to blue fruit flavors, bright acidity, tension and firm, savory tannins.  Knights Valley wines show black cherry, plum and blackberry notes with broader more brawny tannins. While Sonoma Valley Cabs overflow with bright red berry and cherry highlights wrapped in supple tannins.
"I love the diversity, the exploration, the freedom to discover different vineyard sites and work with fruit from all sorts of different topographies and combinations of soil and climate. There's lots to discover," says Shideler.
When it comes to discovering Sonoma County's agricultural potential, Luther Burbank was a pioneer. Even though he lacked any formal training, Burbank showed his genius when he developed what's now called the Idaho potato. Drawn by the ideal growing conditions in Santa Rosa, he developed more than 800 varieties fruits and plants including the Santa Rosa Plum and the Shasta Daisy. Today, the visitors around the world make a pilgrimage to the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens in Santa Rosa during the season from April to October.  

Where to go:

Museums of Sonoma County, 425 Seventh St. Santa Rosa, Calif. 707-579-1500. These twin museums (now in a new combined home) showcase art and history inspired by Sonoma County, as well as contemporary themes, such as the heroic response to the 2017 wildfires.  The museums are open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with special hours on holidays.


Sonoma Valley


What is it?

Sonoma Valley is a scenic region known for Jack London State Historic Park, as well as being the home of Arrowood Vineyards and some of California's oldest wineries. 
Writer and adventurer Jack London was taken with Sonoma Valley; he made it famous in his books including The Valley of the Moon. His former home, stone pig house and 1400-acre property that he dubbed "Beauty Ranch" are now part of a state park filled with 29 miles of pristine hiking trails.
"This is where he wrote most of his important works," says Kristina Ellis, tour and education manager of the Jack London Park Partners. The study is still filled with his effects, sketches, paintings, and photos, while his wife Charmian's home contains many mementos. 
"She lined the walls with artifacts and memories of their life together, so it's called the House of Happy Walls Museum," Ellis says. The museum reopens in June when renovations are complete. 
When Dick Arrowood founded his winery back in 1986, he chose the Sonoma Valley because he liked the way the coastally influenced climate and soils shaped Cabernet Sauvignon.
Beautiful mouthwatering acidity and bright red fruit flavors set Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignons apart from those in Napa, which tend to darker fruits, like plum, blackberries, and blackcurrant.
"Sonoma is red fruit because of the soil," says Willi Sherer, a Master Sommelier based in Yountville. "With an overall cooler area, you get soft-but-generous wines with a cooler profile. You get some good herbal tones, sage and sandalwood and mild evergreen in tandem with the red fruit."
As the winemaker at Arrowood Vineyards, Shideler considers Sonoma Valley the heart of the sprawling region. And it's one of the most exciting places in the world to be making wine.
"Ninety percent of what I do is Cabernet, which makes us unique," says Shideler. "A lot of people think Sonoma is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, so I think it's exciting to be a specialist in Cabernet here."
Arrowood sources fruit from grower partners at pristine sites in Moon Mountain and Sonoma Mountain. "They're high elevation, so the soils are very well drained," which gives the wines great concentration, Shideler explained.  "Exposure to the light is optimal; it's perfect for growing Cabernet Sauvignon. And it's in the middle of the valley so you get coastal influence."
All those factors make for elegant and highly collectible Cabernet Sauvignon.
"The strength of Arrowood wine is silkiness and suppleness with balance and ageability," said Sherer.

Where to go: 

Arrowood Vineyards, 14347 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen Calif. 800-938-5170
Nestled at the foot of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, Arrowood's expansive front porch makes a perfect place to enjoy the range of Sonoma Cabernets, paired with locally made cheeses if you prefer. The tasting room is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with special hours for holidays.

The City of Sonoma


What is it: A charming town with a historic square lined with boutique shopping, restaurants, chic hotels and tasting rooms.
When it comes to California wine, the city of Sonoma's claim to fame is being the site of the state's longest-running commercial winery. Buena Vista was founded in 1857 by Agoston Haraszthy, a Hungarian émigré.  He pioneered making wine with vitis vinifera grape varieties - just like the ones used in Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne.
Visitors flocked to the bustling town square to shop, eat and drink, just as they do today. Besides grapes, Sonoma's fertile lands are ideal for pretty much everything from apples to dairy cows, and that's still true today. The Tuesday night farmer's market that runs from May to September is the place to buy everything from fresh organic produce and flowers to artisanal bread and local cheeses. 
Right on the square, Vella Cheese is one of Sonoma's most popular year-round attractions. Since 1931, the factory has produced natural cheeses from soft curds to their award-winning  Dry Monterey Jack cheese with the cocoa-rubbed rind. Take a tasting tour to see what all the buzz is about. 
Nearby on the square, you'll find the Mission San Francisco Sonoma. While technically the first place wine grapes were planted in the region, nobody drank those wines for fun. "The Mission grapes were not [great] wine grapes," says Eric Stanley, associate director and curator of history for the Museums of Sonoma County. But the adobe with artifacts from daily life in the 1820s and a collection of watercolors by Chris Jorgensen offers history buffs the chance to see how the town of Sonoma got its start. 

Where to go:

G's General Store, 19 West Napa St. Sonoma, Calif. 707-933-6082
Just across from the historic Sonoma Square, you'll find Virginia "G" Hayes' carefully curated shop with imported Scandinavian textiles, housewares and shoes. Don't miss the Orla Kiely canisters and Sagaform decanters and wine glasses with an angled lip that helps aerate the wine.  Open daily.
The very words “Thanksgiving dinner” can cause the pulse of even the most experienced entertainers to quicken a bit. It’s the official start of most important entertaining events of the year, which involve many decisions from guest list, to wine pairings, to table décor. And then learning that one of your guests has a particular dietary restriction can send some hosts into a near panic.
But not to worry – with a little planning, cooking for people with different eating styles doesn’t have to be complicated. To make your holiday dinner planning easier, we reached out to three experts in Paleo, gluten-free and vegan cuisine for guidance and inspiration on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s menus paired with Arrowood wine.

Paleo Thanksgiving Dinner

What it is: The Paleo diet (short for Paleolithic) cuts out processed foods, along with grains and dairy, and added sugars, which can cause inflammation.
Expert: Tanya Holland, an Oakland chef, restaurateur and author of Brown Sugar Kitchen: New Style Down Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland (Chronicle Books, 2014),
Menu: Smoked turkey with cranberry apple relish, collard greens, green beans with sesame seed dressing, sweet potato wedges and smoked yams with coconut butter.
If you haven’t heard of chef Tanya Holland and her lighter-than-air waffles that inspire people to line up outside her restaurant, you will soon. The chef is one of the cheftestants competing in the next season of Top Chef  which debuts December 7.
“My cuisine is very elegant, and refined comfort food with great quality ingredients,” says Holland. “It’s very simple and accessible.” The centerpiece of her Thanksgiving menu is organic turkey, brined with salt and then smoked. But it doesn’t have to be a 12-pound bird; Holland loves cooking a turkey leg or breast if she’s cooking an intimate dinner. A no-sugar added cranberry apple relish makes a naturally sweet-tart accompaniment to the turkey.
Her go-to Thanksgiving wine pairing is a softer red, such as merlot or a red blend. “I would pick a merlot over cabernet sauvignon because it’s softer and more food friendly,” says Holland. “A merlot-dominant red blend would be nice too.”
For a Paleo feast, Holland would pair her turkey with a cornucopia of vegetable-based side dishes.
“Collard greens are really great,” she says.  “And I don’t put any fat in my collard greens except for olive oil.” And as she explains in her book Brown Sugar Kitchen, sautéing red onion, fresh garlic and chili flakes first help give the greens a flavorful foundation. Another go-to side is her roasted green beans with sesame-seed dressing.
Baked sweet potato wedges, tossed in olive oil with Kosher salt and Creole spices and then baked makes a family friendly side. Or for a richer dish, she likes smoked yams with coconut butter and a drizzle of maple syrup. The warm spices, and the hint of natural sweetness, make the yams a great match for lush wine like Viognier, which has its own spice notes.
Vegan Christmas Dinner
What it is: People on a vegan diet eat only plant-based foods, avoiding anything that comes from animals, including butter and honey.
Expert: Toni Okamoto, author of The Super Easy Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook (Callisto, $12.71) and hostess of Plant Based on a Budget
Menu: Turkey field roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing with mushroom and faux sausage, stuffed squash with wild rice and cranberries and chocolate pie.
Some people see eating a plant-based diet as restrictive, but Toni Okamoto says that becoming vegan opened her up to a whole new world of cuisine.  Growing up, she and her parents ate a typical American diet where the most exotic foods were Mexican, Chinese and Italian cuisine.
“Becoming vegan, I discovered a lot more variety,” says Okamoto, who’s based in Sacramento, California. “Learning to cook plant-based opened me up to Ethiopian, Vietnamese and Indian, which are very vegan-friendly cuisines.”
But even if you’re not that adventurous it’s OK, since there are so many commercial foods that cater to vegans these days. For a Christmas main course, Okamoto suggests Tofurkey – like it sounds, it’s tofu reminiscent of roasted turkey. Another popular choice is a Field Roast, a grain-based meat substitute in the shape of a roast. The earthy flavors in the wild mushroom or lentil sage roasts make them a fine pairing for the notes of red fruit, anise and roasted coffee in the Arrowood Sonoma Valley Cab.
Using nut milks, vegetable broth and plant-based butters, she says it’s easy to create a range of satisfying sides from mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes and squash stuffed with wild rice and cranberries. And high-quality vegan sausages —often made with pea protein—add flavor and texture to her mushroom stuffing.  The lighter flavors in most vegetable dishes, especially green ones, are well-paired with a refreshing wine like sauvignon blanc.
Gluten-Free New Year’s Eve Party
What it is: People on a gluten-free diet avoid all wheat products including flour, pasta, and traditional breads.
Expert: Chef Isabel Cruz, owner of The Coffee Cup in La Jolla, California and author of the upcoming book The Latin Table from SkyHorse Publishing
Menu: Taco bar with roasted pork and roasted chicken, mini corn tortillas, avocado tomatillo salsa, red tomato salsa, black beans, rice and crispy plantains with chipotle dip, flourless chocolate ginger cake.
Growing up in Los Angeles, chef Isabel Cruz explored all kind of exciting flavors, from her family’s Puerto Rican and Peruvian dishes, to the Chinese food her friends ate.  Cruz turned those early food experiences into the novel cuisine that riffs on Latin and Asian flavors at her restaurants.
Hard at work on her new cookbook The Latin Table due in Spring 2018, Cruz says she gets lots of requests for gluten-free dishes at her restaurants. But it’s easy for her to keep these diners happy.
“People are surprised when they discover that Latin cuisine makes it easy to be gluten-free,” says Cruz. “We don’t use a lot of flour; we eat more rice and beans and vegetables on the side.”
But what makes Cruz’s cuisine special is the way she takes those simple foods like rice, beans, vegetables and proteins, and makes them exciting with different chilies, sauces and salsas.
That’s the idea behind her taco bar for New Year’s Eve entertaining. It couldn’t be easier to host a party this way, since guests make their own DIY tacos.
Start by choosing taco fillings according to your own tastes. Roasted pork shoulder is rich and satisfying and a perfect match with Malbec, which has a lot of fruit flavors accented by spice and cocoa notes. Her other go-to meat is roasted chicken pulled off the bones, which is ideal with a rich white, like the Arrowood Carneros Chardonnay. She also sautés a big pan of veggies like eggplant, black kale, tomatoes and onions seasoned with olive oil and fresh garlic, as a vegetarian filling option, along with a pot of simmered black beans, that taste delicious with her coconut rice.
To liven up her cuisine, Cruz whips up salsas and sauces with different flavor profiles. Her go-to salsa is a basic one with tomato, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime.  For a New Year’s taco bar, she pairs it with her bright, creamy and tangy tomatillo-avocado salsa. Round out the buffet with chopped onions, cilantro, crumbly cotija cheese and bottles of hot sauce and gluten-free corn tortillas, and maybe her flourless chocolate cake, and it’s time to celebrate.
So, whether your guests are paleo, vegan, gluten-free, or none of the above - don't be afraid think creatively when it comes to food and wine pairings. Hungry for more? Check out Arrowood's full portfolio of food-friendly wines.