It can be quite warm in the Alexander Valley during the summer, so we don’t always feel like spending a lot of time in a hot kitchen. Our Co-Founder Elena Reynoso is excited to share some of her favorite family recipes that we frequently turn to throughout the warmer months to enjoy alongside our wines—while staying cool!

Ritchie Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and Walnut Toast with Asiago and Fig Jam

  • Good quality walnut bread (we use a local vendor, Gougette Bakery).
  • Shaved Valley Ford Estero Gold Cheese (another one of our local producers), or other high-quality Asiago from your local cheesemaker would work great.
  • Fresh figs (when in season), or fig jam.
Elena’s thoughts:

Walnut Toast with Asiago and Fig Jam

“We use good quality walnut bread toasted in 2-3 inch pieces, although I’ve found a good quality baguette can work just fine. Valley Ford Creamery produces some of my favorite cheeses. Here I use Estero Gold, which is an Asiago style, though you can use one that is available in your area. We grow figs here on the property so I use those when they are in season, or I make a fig and balsamic jam to use in the colder months.  

Place a couple of shavings of cheese on the toast and top with a slice of fresh fig or a dollop of fig jam. That’s it! It’s seemingly simple yet loaded with flavor, much like the Crescere Ritchie Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. It works so well here because the fig’s sweet notes and Asiago’s saltiness really complement the sweet fruit qualities and the saline freshness of the wine. The crunch of the bread with the bright acidity of the wine plays so well together, too. Plus, it’s super easy to throw together for last-minute guests.” 

Proprietary Chardonnay with Grilled Sea Bass and Nectarine Salsa

  • 3 ripe nectarines, finely chopped
  • ½ cup onion (I use the purple onions we grow here when they are in season in the early summer, although white onion would also be fine), finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp of finely chopped serrano chili, with or without seeds (depending on your preference of spice)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped basil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • A pinch or two of salt
  • 2 sea bass fillets
Elena’s thoughts:

“We have many nectarine trees here [at Crescere], so July is the time to enjoy the juicy sweetness of our crop as often as possible. This salsa is great on its own, but we use it with simple grilled white fish filets, typically sea bass. It also works well with chicken thighs and pork chops. Our Proprietary Chardonnay will shine here, picking up the sweetness of the stone fruit while underlining the sweet herb notes as well. The weight and acidity also stands up well with everything from white fish to heartier white meat like pork chops.

To make the salsa, simply combine all the ingredients (except the sea bass, of course) in a large bowl. Try and do this a few hours before if you can as the flavors taste best when they’ve had time to mingle and combine together. If you only have a few minutes before dinner though you won’t be disappointed as it tastes delicious right away.

While I said we avoid a hot kitchen this time of year, I can’t stay away from the grill in the summer. The weather just calls for a cookout. Choose your meat and make sure you get your grill good and hot. Oil up the grill grates to make sure nothing sticks. I usually put a bit of oil on a paper towel and hold that with my tongs to rub the area where I’ll lay down the fish. The fish should take about 7 minutes per side (you only need to flip it once).”

Red Blend and Filet Mignon and Savory Blueberry Sauce

Some days, you just need steak! With that, I always turn to our Crescere Estate Red Blend with this dish.

  • 4 1-inch thick filets
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • ½ cup dry red wine (though not the Crescere, you’ll want to enjoy drinking all of that)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 pt. fresh blueberries, smashed
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
Elena’s thoughts:
Filet Mignon and Savory Blueberry Sauce

“While we don’t grow blueberries here, I have such fond memories of picking fresh blueberries in the summer growing up in the Midwest. This dish brings me back to those days, and it makes for such a gorgeous accompaniment to our Estate Red Blend which has notes of dark berry compote and sweet tobacco smoke. This is delicious and really easy, but will make you look like a pro.  

Season the steaks with salt and pepper and heat a gas or charcoal grill to 400°F. Clean and oil the grate. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp each of both the butter and olive oil. Once they’re melted, add the chopped shallots and sugar. Cook, stirring often, until the shallots are softened–about 2 minutes. Add the Cognac and cook, stirring until evaporated. Add the wine, increasing the heat to high, and cook until the pan is almost dry. Add the stock and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape brown bits from the pan. Once the sauce is boiling, add the blueberries and cook until the sauce is thickened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in your fresh thyme and pour into a blender. Purée until smooth. Return to the pan, add the remaining 1 tbsp butter and swirl until melted. Season with salt to taste. Grill steaks until done to your liking and serve with the warm blueberry sauce.”

Proprietary Pinot Noir with a BLT

Elena’s thoughts:

BTL on a table“A BLT? Yes, a BLT! Does anything taste better on a hot day than a fresh BLT? Clearly, you don’t really need a recipe for this, but I do have some tips. Don’t use mass market bacon; many are wet cured quickly and injected with things to give it flavor rather than a true slow cure and smoking process. Just like with our wines, taking your time to make a high-quality product yields better results. I use locally produced bacon from Hobbs or Sonoma County’s own Black Pig Meats, but you can use whatever high-quality bacon is available in your area. 

Because it’s so hot here, I usually fry the bacon on the stove top as it’s quicker. If it’s cooler where you are, go ahead and cook it in a 400-degree oven on a rack over a sheet pan–you’ll get a more uniform crispy bacon. While any tomato from the grocery store will do, you can take your sandwich to the next level by taking advantage of the beautiful heirlooms available during the summer. We’re happy with plain old mayo, but if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own aioli. I’m not dogmatic on the type of lettuce, but I do like to shred mine to prevent the whole leaves from sliding off the side of my sandwich. Don’t forget a twist of fresh pepper and a touch of salt on the tomatoes and you’re set!

This deceptively simple yet incredibly flavorful sandwich calls for a wine to match. The rich, dark fruits of our Proprietary Pinot Noir work well with both the smokey bacon and fresh, sweet tomato. It’s one of those pairings you wouldn’t normally think about doing, but for a lazy Sunday afternoon, this really hits the spot. Especially if you’ve got your Pinot stored at cellar temperature so it has a touch of chill on it. Excuse me now, I’m off to make one and relax on the couch with my wine!”

No matter the complexity of your dish, Crescere wines are here to bring you to a special place whenever you enjoy them with friends and family. Be sure to share your favorite recipes with us on Facebook and Instagram!