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March 30, 2013

Chicken Kebabs with Bacon Paste

Hi All,
This month’s recipe is a new favorite of mine. Now, you may be thinking: 'What the heck is BACON PASTE?" It is quite simply bacon turned in to a paste. It is then spread over what you are cooking, in this case chicken kebabs. What the paste does is keep the chicken nice and moist when it might otherwise dry out. Do not miss this one. Click here to go directly to this savory chicken recipe.
Cheers, Nick Skinner Wine club Chef


December 16, 2011

Not only does the above header rhyme (great: 2008), but it is true. 2008 was the last of the classic warm vintages that typify a Napa Valley harvest. The reds have great concentration, yet are all beautifully balanced at the same time. This is not an easy trick.

Since we sell the majority of our wines directly from the winery to individual consumers these days, you probably won’t see a lot of these wine reviews posted on the shelves of your favorite stores. I thought I would take a moment to gloat and list the spectacular press that we have received recently.

Wine & Spirits Magazine

First let me start with the fact that we were chosen as a ‘Winery of the Year’ by Wine and Spirits Magazine for the ninth time!!! According to their statistics, there are only 25 wineries – in the entire world - that have received this honor more times than us. And many of these are much older than we are. They also chose our wines as # 19 and #35 of the top Cabernet Sauvignon's of the year, and #1 top Red Blend of the year (The 2008 Reserve)

2008 Reserve:

98 POINTS!     #7 of the top 100 wines of the year:                                                         – Wine Enthusiast

95 Points        Top Red Blend of the Year                                                                         Wine and Spirits

2008 Agira Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:

94 Points and ‘Cellar Selection’                      Wine Enthusiast

93 Points                     Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wine

2008 Post Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:

94 points                                                      – Wine Enthusiast

93 Points                                       – Wine and Spirits Magazine

2008 Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:

94 Points and ‘Cellar Selection                     Wine Enthusiast

2008 Sori Bricco Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:

94 Points and ‘Cellar Selection’                    Wine Enthusiast

2008 Spaulding Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:

91 Points                            - Connoisseur’s Guide to Cal. Wine

2008 DMD Cabernet Sauvignon:

92 Points                                                    - Wine Enthusiast

‘Best Buy’ AND 89 Points             - Wine and Spirits Magazine 



August 19, 2011

Check out this recommended recipe to pair Asparagus with Grüner Veltliner (as featured in the April 30, 2011 Wine Spectator):

Chilled Asparagus with Grüner Veltliner
- prepared by Chef Greg Short of Masa's, San Francisco
2 bunches green asparagus
3 pink grapefruit
1 bunch tarragon
1/2 cup créme fraiche, whipped
1 ounce extra-virgin olive oil
White pepper

1.  Peel the asparagus from just below the base.  Then snap off the woody base where it naturally breaks.  Blanch the asparagus in rapidly boiling salted water until tender, about 4 minutes.  Shock in ice water and drain well, then chill.
2.  Cut off the stem and flower ends of one grapefruit, then stand it flat.  Carefully cut away the skin from the fruit, removing as little of the fruit as possible.  Hold the trimmed fruit over a bowl and very carefully cut as close to the membranes as possible on each side to remove segments without the membranes.  Juice the remaining fruit, and reserve.  Reduce the juice over low heat until thick and syrupy.  Chill.
3.  Chop the tarragon, reserving a few of the smaller whole leaves.  Fold the chopped tarragon into the créme fraiche.
4.  Toss the asparagus in the olive oil, and season with salt and white pepper.
5.  Arrange 4 to 5 stalks of the asparagus on each of 4 plates.  Top with grapefruit segments.  Top the grapefruit with a dollop of cream.  Drizzle with the grapefruit syrup, and garnish with tarragon leaves.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4. 

Pair with von Strasser's 2010 Grüner Veltliner, and enjoy!

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August 19, 2011
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January 11, 2011

It’s playoff season, and usually when you hear ‘sports’, you think beer.  But with all of the upcoming Superbowl parties, and the extensive menus planned by would-be-party-hosters, this is a great opportunity to step outside the norm – wine pairing! Our 2008 Zinfandel, released in November, is an amazingly food-friendly wine.  Unlike the typical California zin, which tends to be jammy and high-alcohol, our Zinfandel is just 14.4% ABV, and boasts flavors of chocolate covered cherry, with just a hint of white pepper.  Rudy only made 146 cases of this beauty, and it’s one of the only Zinfandels to be found in the Diamond Mountain District!

Another great option: if you’re looking for something even lighter in alcohol, a crisp, refreshing wine that you can serve chilled, we have about 10 cases of our 2009 Eye of the Diamond Rosé left!  Rosés in general are great for food pairing – ours has a backbone of Cabernet Sauvignon, and is rounded out with 20% Sauvignon Blanc, creating a fantastically crisp finish.

So whether your team is still in the running, or whether you’ve adopted a different one to root for in the post-season, may the best team win, and enjoy the Zin!!  Cheers!


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November 8, 2010

All of this week, Good Morning America (GMA) is featuring a series called ‘Work With Me’ – each day one of the anchors works with a different person in a different industry from around the country. This coming Friday, GMA host Dan Harris will be working with Mark Skinner, GM and VP of von Strasser Winery.

Mark wrote in to a posting on the GMA website about his transition from corporate America to his position with this small, family owned winery, and was chosen from thousands of applicants as one of the jobs the anchors wanted to do. “With harvest coming up it would be a great opportunity to get ya’ll up here and work with me. Picking grapes in 100 degree heat makes standing on a jetty waiting for a hurricane seem like a picnic (Sam). I can just picture the 4 of you standing on a 20ft ladder pumping over 1000 gallons of fermenting Cabernet, which smells amazing until you get a nose full of CO2. Not summarizing an episode of dirty jobs, because there is a tremendous amount of love and pride we try to put into every bottle.”

During the filming, we hosted Dan and the crew and helped them get their hands dirty – they joined Mark in picking the winery’s final lot of grapes from the Sori Bricco vineyard, as well as with various cellar activities such as pump-overs, punch-downs, and pressing. Rudy got into the action and joined Dan and Mark for a private blending session in the caves during which the group created a unique GMA blend.

The filming took place at the winery on November 3rd, 4th and 5th, and will be aired this coming Friday November 12th. Mark has also been invited to work with Dan on set, and he’ll be appearing live in the NYC Studios of GMA to help Dan with his job as an anchor.

So grab your morning coffee, set your Tivos and DVRs and join Mark and von Strasser Winery on GMA on Friday morning!

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October 30, 2010

Stardate October 27, 2010.


The weather on this planet is strange.  Although usually it is sunny and warm, sometimes approaching rains shatter the illusion of paradise.  The natives in this valley they call 'Napa' grow an exotic, round fruit.  Although it tastes great when eaten directly, they seem to prefer to squeeze the fruit into juice and put it into tanks and barrels.  After a time, this juice takes on new flavors and imparts a rather intoxicating feeling to the imbiber.  Because of impending rain, the natives have decided to pick the remainder of this fruit.  While they appear genuinely sad that their Harvest is now over, there is a certain amount of celebration, which as you would expect, involves the drinking of the juice from previous harvests.  As this nectar is quite addicting, the entire crew of this spaceship has decided to stay here in Napa Valley for an indefinite time to research this liquid treasure further. 


Will report more as additional juice is consumed.

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October 3, 2010
Today is the end of the first full week of the 2010 harvest. So far we have pick all of the Grüner Veltliner, and part of the Estate Malbec, Sori Bricco Merlot and Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. All indications are the 2010 will again make very nice wines.

The season started with what may statistically be the coolest July and August on record. Grapes were well behind schedule and many wineries fear that the vintage could be a disaster. Fearing a late vintage, we went through the vineyards this summer and reduced the crop on the vines down to 1 cluster per shoot (about half of normal). The thinking was that a smaller crop would be easier for the vines to ripen.

Luckily, the last week of September brought a mini-heat wave, with temperatures reaching the high 90’s for 5 consecutive days, and this spike, combined with the reduced crop, pushed the sugar level back to normal. The flavors in these early pickings have been exceptional, and I am very excited about the vintage. The weather forecast is for continued dry and moderate weather, which will allow for a prolonged flavor and tannin development without any quick sugar spikes.

I hope you can come out and visit us sometime this fall to see the winery in action.


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