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January 31, 2013
SuperBowl XLVII is right around the corner. And this year, most of the staff here at Medlock Ames is more excited than usual. Not only is the big game being held in New Orleans, home of Tulane Univeristy where our founders Ames Morison and Chris Medlock James became friends and roommates, but the San Francisco 49ers are making their first SuperBowl appearance since 1994. This calls for something special. This calls for pancetta, chicken and seasonings. This calls for our delicious 2008 Merlot. This calls for Sriracha--yes, "the rooster sauce".

Because, if there is something that unites everyone on SuperBowl Sunday regardless of team affiliation it's food. And contrary to what big beer might lead you to believe, it's not all about Light this and Light that. Food is so often just plain better with wine. Find that perfect pairing and oh boy--the food tastes better, the wine tastes better---you know how it goes. So if you're looking for something perfectly crowd pleasing, exciting and delicious, you'll want to give this recipe a try.

We started with a base recipe containing Chicken Breast, Pancetta, Brown Sugar, Cayenne and Chile Powder.

This recipe was beyond amazing in its original form. But one thing we love in everyday cooking? Sriracha. We suspected that as usual, Sriracha would just make this even better. So we added it to the ingredients.

We had to test it out to be sure. But hands down, the Sriracha version was the winner. Pair with our 2008 Medlock Ames Merlot.

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound smoked pancetta
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon hot New Mexico chile powder
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
Sriracha to taste

1.) Coat cubed chicken generously in Sriracha
2.) Wrap Sriracha-coated chicen in smoked pancetta and spear with a toothpick to hold together
3.) Mix brown sugar, chile powder and cayenne
4.) Dredge wrapped chicken in the brown sugar mix
5.) Place on foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes
6.) Serve with a fruit-forward red wine such as our 2008 Medlock Ames Merlot

Enjoy! And go Niners!


October 4, 2012
Composting at the Bell Mountain Ranch
Augustin, our Vineyard Manager, heads up our Medlock Ames winery composting program
Though not always the most exciting, composting is one of the most important elements of sustainability here at the ranch. Not only does composting help minimize the amount of waste that leaves our property, it also helps keep our soils fertile for long-term farming. At Medlock Ames, our compost production is led by two important team members: Agustin, our Vineyard Foreman and Anton, our Director of Gardens.

At Bell Mountain Ranch, our 320 acres is filled with organic matter to maintain. We limit our vineyards to just 56 acres, but have planted extensive gardens and groves of olive trees. As a result, we always have a wide array of fresh clippings to contribute to our compost. In addition, each year after we harvest and crush our grapes we end up with a large quantity of pomace (the leftovers from pressing), comprised of mostly grape skins and seeds.

Unlike home composting, because we have such extensive sources of compostable materials we end-up with up-to a dozen different compost piles at any given time. You may wonder: why don’t we just maintain one pile? We are careful to avoid mixing elements that will break down at different rates. For example, grapevine clippings will potentially take twice as long as pomace to convert to soil, so we compost them separately to maintain the highest levels of efficiency.

One critical ingredient that helps aid the breakdown process of other compost elements is manure. Manure helps heat up the compost to temperatures up-to130?F, catalyzing breakdown and killing the many seeds in pomace and other compost materials so they won’t sprout in our vineyard. Though we are not able to maintain a herd of animals on site, we are able to acquire manure from a neighbor’s horse ranch.

The other essential elements for effective compost breakdown are air, water, and sun, (just like a plant.!) So, during the hot season we occasionally water our compost piles as they dry out, and once a month we turn each compost pile for air circulation to encourage even composting.

One of the biggest challenges we face is to create balanced compost that is not too acidic or heavy in one nutrient. We maintain a careful balance by utilizing cuttings from our gardens and mulch from vine and tree prunings in addition to pomace and manure mentioned above. Even the algae and azola that we skim from the ranch’s ponds go a long way towards helping to create balanced compost just right for adding back to the vineyards and gardens.

We spread compost in our vineyard blocks just a couple times each year---once in the early spring to charge the soil just before the vines come out of dormancy, next, right after harvest to replenish the soils. We make a diluted, “compost tea” that is less potent than straight compost and can be added often to garden soil throughout the growing season.

Overall, composting is quite a process, but we feel it’s worth the time and effort to create quality nutrients for our soil and to maintain our goal to be a truly sustainable business. Hopefully anyone who’s tried our wines or fresh veggies will agree the result it worth the effort!

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September 21, 2012
There are two exciting points to this entry.

  1. I have the pleasure of officially introducing you to our newest release, our 2011 Sauvignon Blanc---it really is my favorite Sauvignon Blanc to-date.
  2. I get to make the introduction on video.

That's right. This marks our first official foray into Medlock Ames video production. While I tend to prefer making wine to making movies, I am excited that the videos we plan to produce will enable you to better visualize the beauty of Bell Mountain Ranch, where our certified organic vineyards and solar powered production facility help bring to life our vision of a truly sustainable winery. Not everyone gets a chance to visit the ranch in person*, so we thought we'd to bring it to you. Let us know if there is something specific you'd like to see in video, just send us an email or leave it in the comments area of this post.

I will let the video make the official introduction to our 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, but one important point I want to call out is that this wine was very limited in production. Due to an extremely difficult 2011 harvest we were only able to produce about half of our average production, less than 600 cases produced. The fruit we were able to harvest was of amazing quality and has translated to a wine with wonderful citrus aromas and flavors and a bright, crisp acidity. This Sauvignon Blanc makes a great companion for salads that highlight spices and fresh greens, fresh oysters, rock shrimp, fish dishes and goat cheese. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I'd like to thank John Brandau, who you may know from our Alexander Valley Tasting room, for his expertise in the production of this piece. It was great to discover that not only is he an amazing wine educator, pizza chef and musician---he can cut a awesome video.

*If you're in the area, why not visit Bell Mountain Ranch in person? We offer one guided tour and tasting each day for a small fee that is waived for Wine Club members. we just ask that you schedule in advance.


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