By Owners Lena Varner and David Traul
Never a dull moment. Seriously. The typical “busy-ness” of a family with small children, careers and the unyielding entrepreneurial spirit. Still, some experiences at Varner-Traul vineyards have been a bit unique even for country living. The recent visit of Uncle Donald (David’s brother), allowed us to gain this insight at the end of May as we reflected back to recent events.
A brief recap, perhaps? Starting with the addition of our youngest and first little girl, Hudson Jo, during harvest of 2014. Yes, October 17th. Near the end of harvest, and for us, almost a tradition following in the footsteps of her oldest brother Ledger, who was born during our first harvest in October 2009. Her first ride on a tractor, bundled up next to mommy at just a week old. Her first visit to the winery only a few days later.
Next, Petit Verdot, a stubborn grape came in last during the harvest of 2014. With our first vintage (2013) varietal being released this month, we have grown to love David’s few rows of this wine grape in our vineyard. A truly opulent wine.
Harvest ended abruptly after the red varietals were in as a black bear and her cub cleaned up several tons of late harvest white fruit (mainly Chenin Blanc). Luckily we had picked some Malvasia Bianca for our newest dessert wine production. Still those grand paw prints, and holes under the fence (large one for mother, small for baby) were amazing to see. Even more impressive the bears’ ability to devour rows of fruit overnight, without disturbing the vines, as polite as they were.
This spring, we noticed a momma bobcat and her kittens. The mother seen several times in our “wilderness” landscaped area, David noticed the pointed ears of a baby bobcat about 50 feet from our front door, sitting under a tree at sunset just a few weeks ago—what a sight!
Then the impromptu visit from Uncle Donald at the end of May. He was last here when Ledger was only a few months old. Of course, we spontaneously “cleared” the schedule. Taking Uncle Donald on our evening vineyard walks, feeding the neighbor’s rescue horses, introducing him to grilled Rogue Creamery cheese sandwiches and Viognier under the tree at the tasting room. Then ending the day with toddler wrestling, mini pool waterfights, and summer grilling.
Uncle Donald’s visit a treat? Yes. One of those impactful moments? Definitely. For the newest addition, Hudson Jo, the Traul boys, Ledger and Slater, and the proud mom (vineyard manager and tasting room owner)? Invigorating. The quiet moments shared between David and Donald, most likely spent remembering the vineyard and wine dreams with their father? A gift.
Thank you Uncle Donald & to our Ledger David Family.
By Robert Trottmann
9 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms (your choice- I used cremini)
7 cups (about) low-salt chicken broth
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup finely chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice (8 to 9 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
Ledger David Sangiovese
Slice the mushrooms into thirds. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 of mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Sauté mushrooms until tender and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to medium bowl. Working in 3 more batches, repeat with remaining 8 (divided equally) tablespoons butter, remaining mushrooms, and salt and pepper.
Bring the chicken broth to simmer in a saucepan and keep warm. Melt remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leeks, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice and increase heat to medium. Stir until edges of rice begin to look translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine and stir until liquid is absorbed.
Add 3/4 cup warm chicken broth; stir until almost all broth is absorbed, about 1 minute. Continue adding broth by 3/4 cupfuls, stirring continuously until almost all broth is absorbed before adding more, until rice is halfway cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir in sautéed mushrooms. Continue adding broth by 3/4 cupfuls, stirring until almost all broth is absorbed before adding more, until rice is tender but still firm to bite and risotto is creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, if using.
Serve with additional Parmesan and chopped Italian parsley.
This is wonderful main dish or can be served as a side with grilled meats.
Join Ledger David and the Peerless Restaurant for an Exclusive Winemaker Dinner
Saturday, June 27 at 7pm
Thai Red Curry King Crab Salad
Scallop Crudo, Sea Asparagus, Belgian Endive,
Avocado & Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
Paired with 2013 Primoris Chenin Blanc
Foie-Honey Glazed Squab Breast & Confit Leg
Roasted Gold Beet, Pickled Mustard Seed, Cherry Gastrique & Chocolate Mint
Paired with 2012 Cabernet Franc
Seared Kobe Strip Loin
Brown Butter Gnocchi, Foraged Mushrooms,
Vanilla-Poached Baby Carrot, Fava Beans & Syrah Bordelaise
Paired with 2011 Syrah
Peach Sorbet & Cinnamon Angel Food Cake
Toasted Rose Water Meringue, Marcona Almond, Yuzu Curd & White
Paired with 2014 Malvasia Bianca
$85 per person. Reservations required. Limited seating.
For more information or to make a reservation, call the Peerless Restaurant at (541) 488-6067.
Peerless Restaurant | 265 4th St. | Ashland, OR 97520
Le Petit Tasting Room