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Grilled Carmody & Niman Ranch Bacon Sandwich with Quince paste

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Grilled Carmody & Niman Ranch Bacon Sandwich with Quince paste
The following recipe is a family (and client) favorite. For lunch with a salad, or cut into smaller pieces and served as an hors d’oeuvre. I use a local artisan cheese from Sonoma County’s Bellwether Farms, called Carmody. Carmody is a perfect choice for this grilled cheese sandwich. It is a Jersey Cow milk cheese aged about 6 weeks to a semi-soft consistency. Buttery and naturally yellow from the milk, Carmody melts into a rich, even blanket that unifies the sweetness of the quince paste (membrillo) and the meaty component provided by the bacon.
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Ingredients
  1. 8 slices Niman Ranch Bacon
  2. 1/2 pound Bellwether Farms Carmody, sliced thin
  3. 1 stick Butter, soft
  4. 8 slices Rye Bread
  5. 1/2 pound Quince Paste, removed from the container and sliced
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Separate the bacon slices and place on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven, place the bacon strips on paper towels to absorb the excess bacon fat. Chop the bacon into medium sized pieces.
  2. Preheat a flat bottomed pan for making the sandwiches. This can be an electric griddle, a cast iron skillet or any other type of large flat non-stick surface. Pre-heat to medium heat.
  3. Lightly butter both sides of all the bread slices. Place 8 slices on the griddle, and cook until light golden brown (3-5 minutes). Remove 4 slices from the griddle, and turn the other 4 over to start cooking the 2nd side.
  4. While the 2nd side is cooking, place slices of the Carmody on the toasted side of each of the 4 remaining pieces. Use all the cheese. Place the quince paste on top of the cheese on each sandwich. Sprinkle the 4 with bacon, and place the “top” on each sandwich (toasted side down).
  5. Turn each sandwich over and cook until the untoasted side is a light golden brown. Turn the sandwiches over and continue to cook for 3 – 5 minutes, flip again. Do this 3 or 4 times until the center of the sandwich is hot & melted and the outside is crisp and toasty. Remove, cut and serve hot!
Notes
  1. Pair with the Paradise Ridge Winery’s 2012 Estate The Posse, Rhone Style Blend
Paradise Ridge Winery http://prwinery.com/

Brandy Snaps with Caramelized Apples

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Brandy Snaps with Caramelized Apples
This is a lovely & simple dessert. I was first introduced to this dish many years ago at the Horseman’s Restaurant in Karen, Kenya. They are small cones filled with brandied whipped cream. To enhance the pairing with the Ode to Joy, I have added lightly caramelized apples as a light last-minute drizzle on top. I present them by filling a glass bowl with whole espresso beans, then standing these filled cones in the beans. As they sit for the first few minutes, the cone and cream on the bottom take on a flavor from the espresso that adds another dimension to this treat.
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Stir over low heat
  1. 1 / 2 cup butter
  2. 1 / 2 cup sugar
  3. 1 / 2 cup dark molasses
  4. 1 / 4 teaspoon ginger
  5. 1 / 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1 / 2 teaspoon grated orange rind
Remove from heat and add
  1. 1 cup all-purpose sifted flower
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Roll into 3 /4 inch balls.
  3. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet about 12 minutes until dark, golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. After a minute or so, remove cookies from pan with a spatula.
  4. Roll cookies over a wooden spoon handle or metal cone. Store in a tightly covered tin. They will hold for several days.
  5. Just before serving, fill each cone with the brandy and vanilla flavored whipped cream using a pasty bag with a star-shaped tip. Top with caramelized apples & a drizzle of the juices (below).
Brandied Whipped Cream
  1. 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  2. 2 tablespoons brandy
  3. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 1 / 4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  5. Combine all ingredients & whip until firm whipped cream. Do not overwhip, it must just stand up to peak when you pull the whisk or spoon from the whipped cream.
Caramelized Apples
  1. 2 tablespoons butter
  2. 2 tablespoons sugar
  3. 1/ 2 teaspoon very fine lemon zest
  4. 2 each Honeycrisp or other apple
  5. In a medium skillet, melt the butter. Add the apples, sugar & lemon zest. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just tender & golden, about 5 minutes.
Notes
  1. Pair with the Paradise Ridge Winery’s 2013 Ode to Joy, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
Paradise Ridge Winery http://prwinery.com/

Polenta with Lima Beans, Corna, and Delicato Squash

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Polenta with Lima Beans, Corna, and Delicato Squash
Here is a wonderful alternative to the traditional mashed potatoes. This polenta is wonderful with a good Zinfandel Sauce and wild mushrooms. It includes the three sisters: corn, lima beans and squash which are planted together by the native Americans. This makes it even more appropriate for Thanksgiving. You can leave the skin on the Delicato Squash, as it is tender when cooked.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups water
  2. 1⁄2 cup butter
  3. 1 cup whole milk
  4. 3/4 cup fresh corn kernels, roasted
  5. 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
  8. 3/4 cup lima beans, fresh or good quality canned (drained and rinsed) or frozen
  9. 3/4 cup delicato Squash, cut in half, seeds removed, diced near the same size as corn
  10. 1 cup high quality coarse grain polenta
  11. 1 cup Parmesan, shaved
Instructions
  1. Place the water, milk and salt in a medium sauce pan and place over high flame. Cover and bring to a boil. Add the polenta, reduce to medium or medium-low heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring ot make sure it does not stick to the bottom.
  2. Meanwhile, place butter, lima beans, corn kernels and squash in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook covered for 5-8 minutes, until the squash is just softened.
  3. After cooking the polenta for 10-15 minutes, add the butter/vegetable mixture and continue to stir and cook until the polenta is done. You will taste that the small grains of polenta have softened. Remove from the heat, add the parmesan cheese and stir. Add salt and white pepper until you like the flavor.
  4. You can serve immediately as a soft polenta (if you want it softer, or hold it for a little while, add an additional cup of milk at the start of the recipe. To serve it firm, pour into a buttered baking dish and allow to cool. You can then cut it into any shape and re-heat it by placing it under a broiler or by baking in a hot (450 degrees) oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Eat Well!
Paradise Ridge Winery http://prwinery.com/

Cooking a Heritage (Heirloom) Turkey

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Cooking a Heritage (Heirloom) Turkey
Heritage (or heirloom) turkeys are a little more delicate to cook than the standard commercial bird, but well worth the effort. Here are a few tips to ensure that your heritage turkey stays moist and full of the flavor and character that make these birds increasingly popular.
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Herb Butter Rub
  1. Chopped fresh herb (sage, thyme, rosemary or a combination)
  2. Softened butter
  3. The proportions are 1 cup of butter to 1/4 cup of herbs. Mix these together and put aside.
Brine
  1. 1 gal water
  2. 1 c kosher salt
  3. 2 c golden brown sugar
  4. 1/2 c whole black peppercorns
  5. 1 bunch thyme, fresh
Cooking time & temperature
  1. The birds tend to be smaller in size (usually no more than 15-18 pounds. I prefer a bird around 12-14 pounds. This size cooks in a reasonable amount of time and therefore tends to remain moist and tender after the cooking process.
  2. Cooking time is 10-15 minutes per pound. The internal temperature of the thigh needs to be 150 degrees.
  3. Resist the temptation to stuff the bird, as this requires an even longer cooking time.
  4. The shorter the cooking time the better. I use a slightly higher heat than I would use for a commercial turkey – cooking the bird at 375 degrees for the first 1.5 hours, then reducing to 325 degrees, and basting every 20 minutes from start of cooking.
  5. I truss my turkey, but not very tightly, as I find that it’s better to allow the heat to penetrate the cavity, actually allowing the turkey thighs (the part that takes longest to cook) to cook quicker
Preparation
  1. Brine the turkey overnight. The next day, remove the turkey and allow to sit out for 1-2 hours.
  2. Starting at the area where the thigh meets the breast, separate the skin from the meat and go as high up as you can.
  3. Rub the herb butter over the meat under then skin and use at least 1/2 cup of the butter/herb mixture. You can save the rest to baste the outside of the skin.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the inside cavity of the turkey with salt, pepper and any herbs you would like. Whole herbs on the branch are good.
  5. Rub the skin with some of the herb butter and place in the oven. Reduce heat to 375 degrees.
  6. For the first hour rub the turkey with any additional herb butter.
  7. Reduce oven to 325 degrees after the first 1.5 hours.
  8. Once there are enough butter/juices in the bottom of the pan, baste the turkey with these juices every 20 minutes. I use a good pastry brush (regular or silicone works just fine).
  9. Due to the smaller size, I don’t usually find it necessary to cover the turkey during cooking, but if you find the need to do so (if skin begins to darken too quickly, for example), use oiled paper rather than foil. The oiled paper allows moisture to escape, allowing you to roast rather than steam the bird.
  10. Continue basting and cooking until it is done (see above). A quick test to see if the turkey is cooked, is to check the color of the juices inside the cavity. If they are red or pink, then you need to cook longer. It is however, always best to test with a cooking thermometer.
  11. The turkey is then removed from the oven or BBQ and allowed to rest (loosely covered to keep the heat in and allow for carry-over cooking for at least 20 minutes.
  12. At this time, you can finish the sauce using the pan drippings.
Paradise Ridge Winery http://prwinery.com/

Citrus-Cured Salmon with Pistachio Cream Cheese

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Citrus-Cured Salmon, Pistachio Cream Cheese
Pair with the Paradise Ridge Winery’s 2012 Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Grandview Vineyard Making your own cured salmon is much easier than most people think and well worth the effort. However, feel free to substitute your favorite gravlax or cured salmon in this recipe. The richness of the salmon & cream cheese is balanced by the clean flavors of this wine. Once the ingredients are gathered, this is a very simple hors d’oeuvre to make.
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Pistachio Cream Cheese
  1. 1/2 cup cream cheese
  2. 1 Tablespoon, pistachios, toasted and chopped
  3. 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  4. Combine all ingredients & mix until smooth
Citrus-Cured Salmon
  1. 1/2 pound citrus-cured salmon, thinly sliced
  2. 1/2 cup pistachio cream cheese
  3. 20 slices thin, dark pumpernickel bread (cocktail bread)
  4. 1.5 pounds wild salmon fillet, skin off, pin-bones removed, single piece
  5. 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  6. 3 ounces (volume) kosher salt
  7. 2 Tablespoons brandy
  8. Zest of 1 lime, very fine
  9. Zest of 1/2 orange, very fine
  10. Zest of 1/2 lemon, very fine
To cure the salmon
  1. Mix all dry ingredients together with the brandy.
  2. Place a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter and put half the salt mixture in a layer about the same size as the salmon in the middle of the plastic wrap.
  3. Place the salmon skin side down on the salt mix. Top the salmon with the rest of the mix.
  4. Wrap tightly around the salmon, leaving one side slightly open for liquid to escape.
  5. Place the salmon in a baking dish and top it with a heavy pan or other flat-bottomed object that weighs at least a pound or two.
  6. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. Turn the plastic with the fish over the next morning and put the weight back on it.
  8. Do this again every 12 hours or so for a total of 24 to 48 hours depending upon how thick the fillet is.
  9. Once the salmon is cured and relatively firm, remove it from the plastic, rinse off the salt mix & pat dry.
  10. Re-wrap in clean plastic and hold until you are ready to use.
To serve
  1. Spread pistachio cream cheese mix evenly and generously over each slice of the cocktail bread, and all the way to the edge.
  2. Top each slice with slightly overlapping slices of the cured salmon. Make sure the salmon covers over the edge of the bread.
  3. Cut the crust off the cream cheese and salmon topped bread to square it off. Cut again in either halves or quarters depending upon the size of the bread.
Paradise Ridge Winery http://prwinery.com/

Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Chorizo and Balsamic Glaze

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Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Chorizo and Balsamic Glaze
Yields 36
This is one of my favorite little hors d’oeuvres. It is quick, easy to make and very popular. Be sure you prepare lots of them! The combination of sweet, spicy, salty and smoky makes this dish a great match for Paradise Ridge Sparkling Zinfandel.
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Zinfandel-Balsamic Glaze
  1. 1 Tablespoon butter
  2. 1/4 cup shallots, finely diced
  3. 1 Tablespoon golden brown sugar
  4. 1/2 cup Zinfandel
  5. 2 quarts balsamic vinegar
Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Chorizo and Balsamic Glaze
  1. 18 each Medjool Dates, pits removed
  2. 12 slices, best quality bacon you can find
  3. 36 each, whole almonds, lightly toasted, skin on, shell off
  4. 36 each fancy bamboo toothpicks
  5. 2 Tablespoons Zinfandel-Balsamic glaze from glaze recipe
Zinfandel-Balsamic Glaze
  1. Saute the shallots in butter.
  2. Add the brown sugar and wine and reduce to half.
  3. Strain to remove the shallots.
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar, bring to a boil and turn your exhaust fan on.
  5. As it starts to thicken, lower the heat and slowly reduce to 1 cup.
  6. The resulting liquid will be thick, shiny and smooth.
  7. Use chilled or at room temperature. (This sauce will last for weeks)
Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Chorizo and Balsamic Glaze
  1. Place a medium-sized sauce pot over high heat with 1 1/2 quarts of water.
  2. When the water boils, lower to a simmer and add the bacon slices one at a time so they do not stick together.
  3. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, remove and lay out on a paper towel.
  4. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and roast the chorizo for 10-15 minutes. This renders some of the fat.
  5. Remove, let cool, remove the skins and cut into rectangles just large enough to tightly replace the pit in the dates.
  6. Cut each date in half, remove the pit and then mold them around the almonds.
  7. Lay out the bacon slices side by side on a cutting board.
  8. Roll a bacon slice tightly around the first date so that it is two layers thick. This should use 1/3 - 1/2 of the slice.
  9. Cut the bacon at that point and place a toothpick through the bacon and date to hold it together.
  10. Using this technique, you should be able to roll 2 or 3 dates from each slice of bacon. Continue until all the dates are rolled. You can do this the day before.
  11. To serve, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  12. Place the bacon-rolled dates on a baking sheet and roast for approximately 15 minutes, until the bacon is crisp on the outside.
  13. Drizzle very lightly with balsamic glaze and watch them disappear!
Paradise Ridge Winery http://prwinery.com/

Sonoma County’s Favorite

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Paradise Ridge Winery is one of my all-time favorite locations in Sonoma County for photography! Whether it’s a wedding, a marriage proposal or family portraits, Paradise Ridge offers the perfect backdrop.

One of my favorite features of PRW is the indoor/outdoor option for weddings. No matter what the weather is doing, guests will always have the option of celebrating indoors, either in the large upstairs tasting room or in the cozy downstairs wine cellar. I remember one of my favorite weddings – it hadn’t rained in months, but sure enough, it started to pour on this sweet couple’s wedding day! In less than 20 minutes, the wonderful staff at Paradise Ridge managed to dry off hundreds of chairs, move them downstairs and create a warm and cozy ceremony area in front of the beautiful fireplace. They lit candles, decorated the mantle and created a cozy ambiance for the bride and groom and their guests.

Another one of my favorite features of Paradise Ridge is the spectacular view. I love when out-of-town guests walk out to the deck and see the view for the first time – especially guests who have never been to California before! The rows of vineyards and expansive views create an impressive backdrop that “wow’s” guests every time!

Ask anyone in Sonoma County about their favorite spot for a marriage proposal and they’ll tell you “The LOVE sculpture at Paradise Ridge of course!” There’s truly nothing like it. The massive steel letters that spell the word L-O-V-E offer a unique and amazing setting for a surprise marriage proposal and then beautiful portraits of the newly engaged couple. It’s also very fun to bring families there as well, especially because all of the kids love climbing and playing on the huge letters.

Whenever I get the opportunity to photograph events at Paradise Ridge, my heart skips a beat because I know it will always be a great photo shoot in “paradise!”

-Suzanne Karp

Suzanne Karp Photography
http://www.suzannekarp.com

Wedding Traditions

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By Robbin Montero, Northern California Bridal & Event Planner

Gold wedding rings, tiered cakes with icing, the long, white gown-all are traditions we associate with modern weddings. However, these traditions have roots in practical, romantic and odd ancient customs.

For example, the sweet, iced wedding cakes served today spring from more humble, flat “grooms-cakes” made by a family member. As young unmarried girls left the reception, they took a piece of grooms-cake displayed on the table and wrapped in a piece of bridal veil. The single lady then placed the cake under her pillow at night and dreamed of her future groom!

Other wedding cake traditions centered on fertility. In one, the actual wedding pound cake was broken up and sprinkled over the couple to assure their fertility. Today we throw rice or birdseed. The stacking of wedding cakes began as a ritual in which the bride and groom would see how many cakes they could reach over for a kiss. The number of stacked cakes predicted the number of children they would have. A 13th century Frenchman began icing stacked cakes, starting the style of wedding cakes we know today and look upon merely as delicious good luck symbols.

Have you ever wondered about the origin of the phrase “tying the knot”? In ancient tribal days, a girl was wrapped in a sheet with a knot tied in the front, signifying to the groom and his family that she was a virgin. The groom had the privilege of untying the knot on their wedding night.

Weddings are pivotal in all cultures. In some primitive tribes the bride and bridesmaids dress identically. Because superstition played a role in shaping the ceremony and celebrations, dressing the women in the wedding party alike was thought to confuse evil spirits. (In more recent, but still superstitious times, the ringing of church bells and the release of doves also helped ward off evil and blue was the color that signified purity.)

A tribal best man’s duties were somewhat unusual. When women were scarce, it was the job of a tribe’s best warrior to steal potential brides from neighboring tribes. The groom-to-be and the warrior would sneak off under cover of darkness. The warrior would then club the chosen bride over the head and literally abduct her! The event turned into a swashbuckling drama as the “best man” would then adeptly fight off angry relatives, should the girl awaken prematurely and cry out.

Later in Europe, unhappy relatives had a practical role in shaping customs. The best man, in a warrior-like role, stood to the right of the groom, sword in hand, to stop intruding clan members.

Flower girls and ring bearers are newer additions to wedding parties. A flower girl first appeared in the middle ages, bearing wheat to symbolize fertility. The ring bearer was added mainly for symmetry.

Especially in this country, girls dream of wearing a flowing white wedding gown from an early age, thanks to Anne of Brittany. She donned a white gown to marry King Louis VII of France in 1499. Prior to this, women just wore the best dress they owned. American brides also carry on the quaint custom of wearing “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” to bring them luck.

The most enduring symbol of marriage, the circular wedding ring symbolizes eternal love and devotion. Ancient rings were forged of iron, to last forever like marriage. Today’s gold and platinum rings are still placed on the third finger of the left hand. This is a holdover from an old belief that a vein ran directly from the heart to the ring finger. To this day some brides still believe it is bad luck to remove their wedding ring for any reason.

“Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding. www.a-dreamwedding.com

Annette’s Sonoma Salad with Caramelized French Walnuts

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Annette's Sonoma Salad with Carmelized French Walnuts
Serves 6
A delicious salad to pair with the lovely Paradise Ridge Brides Blush Rose.
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Dressing
  1. ½ bunch cilantro
  2. 1 ½ cup rice vinegar
  3. ½ cup salad oil
  4. ½ to ¾ cup white sugar
  5. Blend in a blender until smooth
Caramelized French Walnuts
  1. 4 cups walnut halves
  2. 1 cup white sugar
  3. 4 tablespoon salt
  4. Place into Microwaveable container. Fill container with enough water to cover nuts. Cover container with microwave safe dish. Microwave for 10 minutes. Drain off water.
  5. On a large baking sheet sprayed with Pam, place nuts in a single layer on sheet. Sprinkle 1 ½ cup of sugar over nuts & 2 to 3 tablespoons salt. Bake at 350 for 5 min (outside nuts will cook fast). Turn nuts on sheet and cook another 5 minutes or until nice and golden. Allow to cool break up clusters.
Salad
  1. Spring mix or favorite lettuce mix
  2. 1 sliced green apple
  3. 3 chopped green onion
  4. 3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
  5. ¼ cup Caramelized French Walnuts, add to salad and enjoy
Instructions
  1. Mix the above ingredients together, toss with dressing and serve with the amazing Paradise Ridge Brides Blush Rose.
Paradise Ridge Winery http://prwinery.com/

Apple Ginger Crisp

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Apple Ginger Crisp
Serves 4
A yum, yum, yummy dessert recipe to pair with our decadent Ode to Joy, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc.
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Topping
  1. 4 Tbsp Cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  2. 1/2 cup Packed light-brown sugar
  3. 1/2 cup All-purpose flour
  4. 1/2 cup Rolled oats
  5. 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  6. 1 tsp Ground Ginger
Filling
  1. 4 Apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
  2. 1 Lemon, juiced & zested
  3. 2 Tbsp Paradise Ridge Ode to Joy*
  4. 2 tsp Corn starch
  5. ½ cup Candied Ginger, finely chopped
  6. Vanilla ice cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.
  3. For topping, combine the butter, sugar, flour, oats, ginger and cinnamon in a bowl. Work together with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside.
  4. Toss the apples with lemon juice, zest, candied ginger, Paradise Ridge Ode to Joy & corn starch. (Depending on the kind of apples you use you may need more or less cornstarch).
  5. Spoon apple mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over the apples.
  6. Bake in center of the oven for 1 hour or until bubbly and the apples are tender. Let cool slightly.
Notes
  1. Serve warm, topped with ice cream and more candied ginger.Pour your glasses of Ode to Joy, sit back in front of a crackling fire & let your mouth be tantalized.
  2. *I personally would use another late harvest white to put in the crisp, as I don’t share my Ode to Joy with anyone including my recipes.
Paradise Ridge Winery http://prwinery.com/