Shenandoah Valley of CaliforniaCharles Spinetta Winery and Wildlife Art Gallery
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Food and wine are inseparable, so here are some interesting, if not imaginative, uses for the two. It's a challenge to put pen to paper and hand to spatula to match our wines with recipes. This page, and the oil and vinegar recipe pages build from conversations with customers at the tasting bar and the Spinetta Family. PAGE UPDATED OCTOBER 2011!
Olive Oil Red Wine Vinegar
Most Important, Mom's Family PESTO Recipe
Laura Spinetta's
Melo Family Pesto

4 cups Fresh Basil – tender leaves
2 cups Tender stems and leaves
Italian parsley
Wash & spin – dry leaves. Place in food processor. Add a pinch of Ascorbic Acid powder (Vitamin C). Pulse in processor wih 1 - 1 1/2 cups Bava Family Olive Oil. Divide into plastic ice cube trays – freeze. Turn out into Ziploc plastic bags. Add garlic, parmesan, toasted pine nuts... whatever just before serving. Stuff into mushrooms!
Next, Uncle Jere's Sunday Morning Waffles
Higher res photos will be here once the iPhone 4S is here, too.
Click here for a larger image of the recipe. Though Caterina Melo's Family Cookbook is published only for the family, excerpts of this masterpiece of Italian American literature will show up now and again on our site. Click here to read the dedication page and learn how to sing Old MacDonald's Farm in Italian.
What Wine with What? Descriptions to Turn into Recipes
Chenin Blanc Asian cuisine by candlelight
Marinate your chicken breasts in chenin blanc and apple juice with a splash of vinegar. BBQ with indirect heat – use foil on the top rack – and put honey and sea salt on toward the end. This is fun and yummy!
Rosé Apples, fresh salad, seafood
Fried Apples:
Though I originally used Zinetta for this, I think the semi-sweet Rosé wine might give it a bit more kick Halve and core half a dozen Arkansas Black apples at a time, Slice into less than 1/4 inch thick pieces, make some thinner than others. Use lots of butter, fry them up in a big pan. Add quite a bit of chile and lemon powder or pico de gallo or adobe to spice it up. Squirt in a half a teaspoon or more vanilla (real vanilla!) Add raisins and Rosé wine at the end so it reduces right into the apples, fry til brown. Tastes best hot, makes your house smell great. Possibly add in cucumber, pears, and maybe even celery -- I'm still playing with this recipe. I'm adding in more spice each time I make it. Kids like it plain with just the butter and sugar.

UPDATE: I'm going to use olive oil instead and throw in a little butter for flavor at the end. I varied the recipe using onion flakes, too. This is fun and yummy, too! I am baking my apples now -- peeling them and coring them, putting cinnamon red hot herats in the centers and letting the bake in the microwave for five minutes or less -- depends what level you cook them on.
Zinetta Mexican dishes, lamb, and pork
Instead of using plastic wrap or a paper towel or a paper plate to cover your soup, rice, etc. in the microwave, use a tortilla. For best taste, cook the tortilla on a gas burner first. You don't have to deal with melty plastic and you can substitute the tortilla for your bread. This is ALSO fun and yummy!
***Pork Loin Soak - use pickle juice or pepperocini juice with Zinetta*** Also, good Portugese pickled beans and garlic and peppers' marinade liquid by the Gonsalves family in Jackson...
Black Muscat Thai, berries, tons of chocolate
All you need is 2 pounds of blackberries.
Frozen blackberries: let thaw, and pour out the water first.
Fresh blackberries: Plant some thornless blackberries in your yard, allow two to three years to grow, and alternate which canes you cut each year to optimize your crop. After three years, you will be very hungry. Pick a couple pounds, and put them in an appropriately sized Pyrex (9" x 9" or 13" x 9") dish so the Black Muscat wine will be deep. No Black Muscat will be wasted, so pour as much as you like without spilling, and put it in your fridge, agitating it every few hours to roll the berries. Go buy a couple of cheesecakes and your Bunco prizes at Costco. At Bunco, pour the berry soaked wine a top the slices of cake and put a few berries on everyone's plate. Pour the extra berry / wine into cordials and also pour the remaining wine from your bottle into cordials if you have not consumed it already before Bunco (after your trip to the store.) No men allowed!
***Pour a little Black Muscat in Hibiscus Tea and let it steep!***
Orange Muscat Fruit, biscotti, anything rich
Broccoli Salad is good for you, Amber!
Chop 3 bunches broccoli flowerets in a food processor.
Put broccoli in a bowl with:
3/4 cup white California Raisins
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup roasted sunflower seeds or chopped almonds
1 cup cooked crumbled bacon
1/2 bag clean baby spinach
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate

Tips: Try 2/3 part broccoli and 1/3 part small apple slices with cinnamon. Add a few squirts of lemon juice.
Yes, there's no orange muscat in that recipe. Try it anyway!
Frost Wine Creamy or fruity cheeses, butter cookies, pears, pie
Frozen Fruit in Frost Wine
We tell people at the bar to pour a cup of this wine into a small bowl and add the same volume of fruit -- sliced strawberries, diced plums, blackberries, grapes, melon balls, etc. Take the bowl and place it in the freezer for a half hour. Enjoy a cold treat next to the fireplace with your love. Best during fall & winter.

The orange muscat or frost wine are good for splashing on a fresh caught salmon. A little butter garlic and vinegar with some wine and herbs, wrapped in aluminum foil on the top rack in the BBQ! Yummy YUMMY!
Tinta Madeira Game, Marinated Beef, Lamb
Drink 1/3 of the bottle, and replace contents with our Red Wine Vinegar, recork it and let it set for a week. Then make a nice suace for steak or pasta with the vinegar/tinta combination. Very rich, with the bit of spice it needs.
Barbera Spicy meats and flavorful breads
Uncle Joe's Sourdough Beer Bread is the BEST.
5 pounds bread flour
4 tablespoons salt
3 envelopes active dry yeast
2 1/2 quarts warm water
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 can beer with an eagle on it
Dissolve yeast in warm water as directed on the package. Measure flour, salt, and shortening into a large bowl – or make a nest of dry ingredients on your bread board. Add beer to yeast mixture – add with shortening to dry ingredients. Uncle Joe mixes it together with his hands. You may need to add more water. The dough should be soft. Let it raise overnight. DO NOT punch down.
In the morning, gently form round loaves. Just shape with a little flour into rounds. Cover with a towel to raise. The bread may raise 2-4 hours depending on room temperature. Slash top of loaves with a razor blade just before putting in a 400° oven for one hour. *** Allow to cool at LEAST one hour before cutting.

Tips: Gently place loaves in greased pie plates that have been dusted with polenta (not cornmeal - there is a difference!) Take the loaves out and set on racks to cool.
Heritage Red Prime rib, spaghetti & meatballs
Read about Ranch Produce!
During the holidays, a bag of chestnuts is included with every case of varietal red wine (Barbera, Zinfandel, Primitivo) purchased in our tasting room. Chestnuts are easy to roast at home, and they taste great with all of our red wines. You'll love the way your house smells after you roast a big handful of chestnuts.

Get a paring knife or a blade with a hooked nose. Cut an "X" on the flat side - don't cut through to the nut, just the shell. Preheat your oven to 350°F, put the nuts on a cookie sheet for about 25 minutes. If you have a fireplace, put them in a roaster or skillet and shake gently for about 15 minutes. Pour a little wine in the skillet for flavor. Keep the shells to easily start your next fire.

The shell will peel back during this process. The inner twiny stuff (pellicle) will be a golden yellow color when ready. Let the nuts cool down! Separate the pellicle from the meat of the nut. Eat, drink wine, and be merry!

There's a microwave version we've heard of that might work, too. Cuneo's Cattle Run Chestnut Recipe for Cowboys with Microwaves. Mr. Cuneo (Charles' cousin) says to put the cut chestnuts in for about 40 secs on high. These get pretty hot, too, so watch your mitts!
Petite Sirah Game in onion sauce, brown rice
Our petite sirah goes well with a bit heftier of flavored meal. Always look at it from the food point of view, not the wine p.o.v. as the industry usually presents it.

Since we don't make "BIG ZINS" (& etc. varietals) - 'just' medium bodied, flavorful, wines, they do compliment dishes, while "big wines" are stand alone - biggies are not table wine - and generally overpower food flavors. You won't hear this often, but we'd rather you enjoy the wine and food than be told how to since your taste preferences are all different.
Primitivo Stuffed mushrooms and spicy meat
Late Night Bacon Wrapped Chicken

BEWARE! Pare out the excess in this recipe. Americans with Italian heritage tend to cook experimentally when they can't sleep.

I took five chicken halves - in two 12" Pyrex and one Pyrex loaf pan. And at least two pounds of bacon – about twelve giant pieces of honey-cured bacon. I drank half the bottle of 2008 Primitivo earlier that night, and saved the rest to cook with. Popped open a fresh bottle of Spinetta Vinegar and got to it at one in the morning...
Sauce: I don't measure anything, so let's say that the sauce was doled it out in such a way to be fair. In order, I took one 12-ounce Apple-Cranberry Concentrate container, and added the same amount of water. Then one-quarter a bottle of Primitivo, and about 2/3 cup Red Wine Vinegar. A splorch of salsa - about 1/2 - 3/4 cup. I put in one 6 ounce container's worth of pepperocini 'juice' and six pepperocinis, and did not pop them.

Separately I put the rest of the wine and something else in another container for the loaf pan's sauce. I also drank half a Budweiser and set it aside for the 'second' 12" pan..

The dry ingredients were mixed in a separate container: *about* 1 1/2 cups good polenta, 3/4 cup Krusteaz pancake flour, 1/2 cup powder malted milk, 1/2 cup yellow citron jujjies, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and about 1/4 cup of randomly mixed Italian spices.

Chicken prep: Butter the pans -- I used about a stick total. Then filedl the pans with the liquid - putting the majority in the two 12" pans and the remainder 20% in the loaf pan, and added the extra wine to the loaf pan, and added the beer to the 'second' 12" pan. I didn't put any pepperocinis in the loaf pan, and just one in the pan with beer.
Bacon & Dry mix prep: I wrapped at least a couple pieces of bacon around halves - above the "water line" in each pan. I poured an equal amount of dry mix into a corner of each pan, and scooped out the saturated mix over each chicken, and put dollops of the butter atop each.

Cooking, Finally: Cover the pans with foil loosely. Started for a half hour at a low temp - about 220° F, then brought it up to 450°F until it was ready, keeping the tops wert every once in a while, but letting it crust up nice. Nothing spilled this time, so don't spill either!

I has second dinner with the loaf pan chicken and bacon. A few of the pieces of bacon that I did not submerge at the temperature change checkup carmelized something good! Eat well!

I may not edit this recipe, but who knows. It worked somewhat.
by Mike Dunne, Sacramento Bee columnist
Monday, October 25, 2010
First Review Of Vintage 2010: Great Jelly

Harvest crew at Charles Spinetta Winery before storm
In just being herself - artisan, farmer, cook - Laura Spinetta has come up with a sweetly American way to fill a curious void in the nation's wine appreciation. Other wine cultures have homegrown and original rituals to celebrate the yearly harvest of grapes, but not the United States. In Germany and France, for example, winemakers have entire festivals built around the fermenting juice. On a recent tour in Bordeaux, I didn't attend any such festival, but at virtually every chateau we visited the winemaker pulled some cloudy and fizzy sauvignon blanc or semillon from a fermentation tank and filled our glasses while calling for a toast to the success of the harvest. Almost without exception, the partially fermented wine tasted like pineapple, banana or apple juice, prompting someone inevitably to quip that the vintner should be bottling it as a breakfast wine. The French also, of course, are responsible for Beaujolais Nouveau, the first wine of the most recent harvest, the promotion of which over the years has been a commercial and promotional boon for the region's winemakers.

In the United States, some vintners have tried to emulate Beaujolais Nouveau by releasing their own versions of fresh, young and simple wines within a couple of months of the harvest, but results have been mixed both critically and commercially.

Up at the Charles Spinetta Winery in Amador County's Shenandoah Valley, however, Laura Spinetta naturally and routinely goes through a fall exercise that could be the foundation of a distinctly American way to acknowledge the yearly harvest of wine grapes. From the vineyards surrounding the family home, she gathers baskets of grapes just when she thinks they are ideally ripe, which is just before her husband, Charles, and their three sons think the fruit is ideally ripe for their purpose, which is to make wine. She, on the other hand, uses the grapes to make jelly. If the grapes are zinfandel, she makes zinfandel jelly. If they're barbera, she makes barbera jelly. She even does some blending. Her 2010 blend of primitivo and zinfandel is all deep bright color and sweet berry fruit. If the wines from the same vineyards are as forthright, refreshing and balanced as the jelly, the 2010 harvest will go down as successful.

Right now, Charles Spinetta calls this year's picking "the harvest from hell," even though he brought in the last of his grapes just before this weekend's storm, which dumped 3.5 inches of rain on his vineyards. A few days earlier, he'd been fretting, noting that his harvest this year got under way six weeks later than usual, the consequence of a prolonged spring and an unusually cool summer. Even before this weekend's storm his vines had been dampened with showers, though not damaged extensively. "Each of the past five years we finished in September," he remarked while giving a tour of his winery and vineyeards.

In the cellar, he pulled a sample of his nearly finished rose from the 2010 vintage. A fruity and firm blend of zinfandel and orange muscat, it is expected to be released in time for the year-end holidays. Whether in wine or jelly, the Spinetta family knows the appeal of sweetness. The rose is just a little sweet, but two-thirds of the winery's sales are for their definitely sweet "fun and yummy" wines, such as a proprietary zinfandel called Zinetta. They also make dry wines, including petite sirah, primitivo and barbera. For now, they're continuing to hang their commercial success on the wines and on the art gallery that Laura Spinetta oversees in the tasting room. Charles Spinetta, however, acknowledges that the family is "toying with the idea" of making the jellies commercially. But for the time being, Laura Spinetta makes them solely for family and friends. If she can be persauded to put them up for sale, and other wineries also get into the practice of releasing new jellies just as the harvest commences, a decidedly American wine tradition could be established. Eventually, maybe wine competitions will have a division for varietal jellies.
Zinfandel Cheese, salami, good bread

Scott Leysath, The Sporting Chef's, Raspberry Duck Recipe

Recipe from: – now: is Mr. Leysath's site. This recipe calls for large duck breasts, add a few extra if using smaller ducks such as widgeon or wood ducks. Serve with Confetti Rice (recipe follows).
4 Servings

4 large duck breast half fillets, skin removed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup dry red wine ( I use Charles Spinetta Zinfandel!)
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into 3 pieces
Step 1 – Season duck breasts liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place duck breasts in oil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until brown on one side.

Step 2 – Flip breasts over. Add garlic to pan. Add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to pan. Stir liquid and sugar with a wooden spoon to combine. Cook for 2 minutes more.

Step 3 – 1 cup of the raspberries and the wine to the pan and stir in with a wooden spoon to loosen bits of duck and garlic which may have stuck to pan. Check duck for doneness by applying finger pressure to the meat. As it cooks, it will become firmer. Experience will teach you when you remove the game from the flame. It is always better to remove it early and then return to the pan to cook a little more rather than to overcook it and ruin it forever. When the meat is medium-rare. Remove it from the pan and let stand for a minute or two before slicing.

Step 4 – Remove pan from heat and whisk in chilled butter until melted and incorporated into the liquid from the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 5 – Slice duck breasts across the grain into one-quarter inch thick slices. Arrange around rice. Spoon sauce over duck slices. Garnish with remaining raspberries.
Confetti Rice

2 cups water
1 cup long grain rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped ripe olives
1 medium carrot, finely diced; cooked, but firm
2 green onions, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in rice, salt and butter. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 18 minutes. Do not remove cover during cooking. While cover is still on, remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients over cooked rice, but do not stir into cooked rice. Replace lid to warm contents for 5 minutes more. Remove lid, fluff with a fork and serve.
Amador County
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Charles Spinetta Winery, Spinetta Family Vineyards, Zinetta, and the CSW Logo are registered trademarks of Charles J. Spinetta. Unless otherwise specified, all images and copy contained within the domain are Copyright 1984-2019 Charles J. Spinetta. All rights reserved. Charles Spinetta Winery and Wildlife Art Gallery 12557 Steiner Road, Plymouth, California 95669, USA, telephone: (209) 245-3384, facsimile: (209) 245-3386