Dinner and a Chat with Kristie Tacey of Tessier Winery


Just a few weeks before we all got shut down for Covid-19 here in the Bay Area, I was helping to launch a Women in Wine dinner series in support of Della Donna. Our goal was to showcase some of our favorite women winemakers through paired dinners in the lead-up on the next event. We spotlighted our friend Kristie Tacey of Tessier Winery during our first dinner. 

My friend Maura, with whom I collaborate on this project, is the chef at High Treason in SF, so we all worked together to host the intimate, family-style dinner there. About a month before the event, we all sat down to taste through the wines and brainstorm the pairings for the dinner.





Here was the full menu: 

Afterward, I had a SIP virtual convo with Kristie about her wines, the dinner, music, and much more. I’m happy to share our conversation with you now.


You were a research scientist before you got into wine. What captivated you about wine? Tell us about the transition.


Basically, I was searching for a more creative science job. Working in the lab was draining – as you have to focus and be repetitive in experiments – that is the important part of science. I loved the freedom in making wine – in that you understand what is happening but you have no control over weather and are capturing one year of the growth cycle of the grapes. 

I love using my senses, honing in and observing but also being outside in the vineyards, not trapped in the lab or in front of the computer.  Yay!

The transition was like this...me obsessing about wine, emailing small producers for jobs and advice, reading wine periodicals and going to wine country to try many wines. Then, as luck may have it, a local Oakland winery was looking for an all-around person to help run the winery and I got the job!!!
 


It sounds like it was luck mixed with a good dose of persistence. And here we are 10+ years later!  So, how would you describe the style of your wines? What are you trying to express through them?

I’m a minimalist and want to capture all the subtleties from the vineyard and have them come through in the wines.  They are light-handed, subtle and complex…. they want YOU to spend time with them and get to know them.  



I’m very happy to do so!
You source your grapes from various vineyards. Describe how the collaboration between you and the vineyard owners. What do you look for in a vineyard you’re going to work with?


Starting with inspiration through a wine I’ve tried either by traveling or casual drinking then I OBSESS and drink lots of that varietal all over CA.  Next, I use my networking skills through industry friends and meet growers.  That is exactly what I did with Grenache and I met Ron Mansfield.  We are both very fond of each other and have been working together since 2011.  I love all my growers and it is really a relationship of trust and respect. 


I love the sense of community there. But in the winery, you’re a one-woman show, which must be pretty challenging. What aspect of winemaking do you find the most challenging, and what do you love the most?


The hate is real for bottling–it is so stressful leading up to it.  You worry the wines aren’t ready and you’ve gotta coordinate labels (get them approved by TTB), glass and corks...then the days themselves--lots of physical labor, on your feet all day and all the little problems that come up. 

Ugh!!  It is amazing being done though. 
So many favs...visiting the vineyards and growers, harvest, fermentations, foot stomps, wine dinners and have people enjoy the wines with food. 


That does all sound like fun. I think you also share this sense of fun through the music pairings you post on your website to go with your wines. What inspires them? Do you have any all-time favorites?


With the music pairings, I am incorporating music into the wine drinking experience.  I listen to music all the time and I select songs that I feel attribute to the personality of the wine.
Right now I am digging one of the more recent ones:

2018 Zabala Vineyard, Arroyo Seco, Riesling with
The Sea & Cake, "Sound & Vision" One Bedroom (2003)


Do you have any favorite pairings with your wines at home?


End of the year, my go-to was chilling the Syrah with a homemade pizza.  Now, with the weather is getting nicer, I have been downing the Femme Fatale rosé which is great with anything but one of my favs is pairing it with Red Thai Curry.  Delicious!

That sounds delicious! Actually I have a great memory of us sharing a bottle of your Rosé with a pizza too, although it was a lighter style pizza. I’m definitely going to have to try it with curry soon. 



We’re friends IRL, so it was really fun to collaborate with you on this dinner. In developing the menu for the dinner, we all sat down and tasted the wines, then brainstormed about what to pair with them. Were you surprised by any of the pairings?


The duo of toasts were not what I expected but a pleasant surprise.  It was fun having the 2 flavors and seeing how they tasted with the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. 



I totally agree. I think the crostini duo was a fun experiment for everyone because it brought out different aspects of the wine. The mushroom pâte brought out the savory and herbal side of the Pinot Noir, while the cauliflower mousse with pomegranate molasses brought out the fruity side. I think it helped show what wine pairings can do.

Did you have any favorites pairings from the dinner? Describe what you liked about the combinations.


Definitely, it was the roasted pork with the salsa verde.  I thought the pork and green notes of the salsa really complimented the 2017 Cabernet Franc. 



I think this might've been the general favorite! The recipe follows below.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about your wines?


All of my wines are sourced from either certified organic or sustainably farmed sources.  My winemaking approach is natural and minimal, so I do not add any commercial yeasts and the wines are unfiltered. 


Tell everyone how they can find your wines.

My website, where I just released a bunch of new Spring wines!
And check here of where to locate Tessier when you are out and about.
There is also the Tessier Reasearch Wine Club, which consists of 3 shipments/year, 4 bottles each and you get a T-shirt and pin for signing up!




*****



We created this roast pork dish to match the Alegria Russian River Valley Cabernet Franc which showed a mix of tart red fruits, black cherry, violets and green herbs.
 

It's easily adapted to a group of any size and is pretty simple to prepare, but together they become more than the sum of their parts. Because they’re very simple and easily adapted to whatever quantities you have, I’m going to share the pork and the salsa verde as non-recipies. Don’t hesitate to make a larger portion even if you’re sheltering in place because the leftovers are delicious in all kinds of different ways. Pork sandwiches anyone?!

The salsa verde is a perfect accompaniment to both the pork and the wine. It’s very easy it make in the blender. A very simple tortilla Española served as the base of the dish and caught all the juices from the pork. It was delicious, but if that seems like too much work or you don’t have all the ingredients, roasted potatoes or rice would also be quite tasty.



Author:

Roasted Pork

This non-recipe can be easily adapted to however much pork you're making.

Ingredients:

  • Pork shoulder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cooking oil

Instructions:

  1. The day before you plan to cook your pork, liberally sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Cover and store in the fridge overnight.
  2. Remove the pork from the fridge about 30 minutes to  an hour before you plan to start cooking it to allow it to come up to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  3. Place the pork shoulder in a greased roasting pan, then transfer the pan to the oven. Cook for 30 minutes per pound or until an internal read thermometer reads 135°F, occasionally basting with the pork juices. (So for example, a 4-pound pork shoulder would need about 2 hours.)
  4. Remove the pork from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes, then carve and serve on the tortilla Española, and topped with the salsa verde.


Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thesommstable on instagram and hashtag it #sommstable
Created using The Recipes Generator




I make lots of versions of salsa verde at home and have previously written up a version here. It’s really quite simple – add parsley and other herbs to a blender or food processor, add seasonings, then puree until smooth. You’ll end up with extras, but that’s not a bad thing! Serve it on meat, chicken, fish, eggs, on sandwiches, and even stir it into soups.



Author:

Salsa Verde with Fennel

Prep Time: 10 MCooking Time: Total Time: 10 M

Ingredients:

  • Parsley (at least 1 bunch)
  • Fennel fronds
  • Garlic (3 to 4 cloves, or as needed)
  • Lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons)
  • 1 cup olive oil, or as needed
  • Sugar (about a tablespoon)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Everything is to taste here.

Instructions:

  1. Mix everything together in the blender or food processor and adjust flavorings to your taste.


Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thesommstable on instagram and hashtag it #sommstable
Created using The Recipes Generator




Servings: 6 to 8
Author:

Tortilla Española

Prep Time: 15 MCooking Time: 50 MTotal Time: 65 M

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb to 1¼ lb potatoes (I’ve used both waxy potatoes, like red bliss, and starchy potatoes, like Idaho or Russets, for this dish. Both work well, but might change the texture accordingly.)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8 eggs, whisked (feel free to use more for a more eggy texture)
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
  • Generous pinch of Smoked Paprika (optional)

Instructions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Cut potatoes into 1/4-in. slices. Place them on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until cooked through, flipping over halfway through. Remove from oven.                                                                                                    (Tip: Feel free to do this in advance. Make extra potatoes to have with dinner the night before, then prepare the tortilla with leftovers the next day. If you prefer, you can also cook the potatoes in a skillet on the stove. Do whichever is easiest for you.)
  3. Sauté onions in the pan until soft and cooked through. Cool slightly.
  4. In a large bowl combine the potatoes, onions, and eggs and toss to coat potatoes well. Season liberally with salt–potatoes suck up a lot of salt– and a generous pinch of the smoked paprika, if using.
  5. Grease an oven-safe skillet. Layer the egg-potato-onion mixture into the skillet Press the mixture with a spoon or spatula to pack in slightly.                                                    Alternatively, if cooking for a bigger crowd where you want to be able to cut the tortilla into smaller squares, you can also make a thinner tortilla by using a rimmed 18 in × 13 in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Transfer the tortilla to the oven and continue to cook until fully set and cooked through–about 15-20 minutes, or until fully set. (Optional: For more browning, finish the tortilla under the broiler.)
  7. Remove from the oven and allow the tortilla to cool. Unmold or serve right from the pan, or cut into squares if using the baking sheet. Serve.


Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thesommstable on instagram and hashtag it #sommstable
Created using The Recipes Generator


After the dinner: Me, Kristie, our friend Lo who also works at High Treason, Maura, and Kristie's friend DJ Christy Bubbles who was spinning tunes downstairs that evening.

This dinner was intended to be the first of a whole series. We were in the middle of planning round two with Carboniste when the shelter in place orders came through. We’re hoping to resume once things get going again, whenever that might be, so do stay tuned.




Post Script

Here are a couple of recent Instagram post with pairings for some of Kristie's other wines. 









This post contains affiliate links, including these Amazon Associate links, from which I might receive a commission at no cost to you.


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Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!