July 4, 2020
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Pinot Noir and Grilled Pork and Potato Planks

By: Jeff James
August 23, 2019

As we start to get ready for this year’s upcoming harvest, I am continually reminded of the importance of “balance.” We strive for balance in the vineyard in many ways in an effort to produce grapes that are of the very highest quality so that they can be transformed into the world-class wine that we know our property can yield. We start by keeping the soil in balance and pruning the vines so that they have the opportunity to provide just the right amount of fruit without overworking the vines. We then remove suckers and shoots that would pilfer energy from the grapes as we nurture them through the growing season. Next we pull leaves to allow just the right balance of sunlight onto the clusters, and then we drop fruit that is not ripening evenly with its peers. All of this, and much more, in order to grow the best grapes that can deliver a delicious and balanced wine.

Imagine our satisfaction when we are able to supply these balanced grapes to the winery, and then the winemaking process is able to find just the right equilibrium of temperature, fermentation, time, barrels, environment, natural acidity, flavors and aromas and a beautifully balanced wine is produced. It is very gratifying, indeed. Often, the best thing to do with a wine like that is to find food that will play off of the wine’s characteristics and bring additional layers, and balance, to the combination. This month’s grilled pork and potato planks recipe will do just that with a beautiful bottle of Pinot Noir.

The delicate body of Pinot Noir can balance very well with the texture and mild flavors of the grilled pork and potatoes while the subtle flavors of plum, cherry, blackberry and strawberry in the wine can really brighten the protein and starch. The wine’s natural acidity provides a delicious reply to the fat in the cheese and sour cream which, in turn, balance out the dryness which can sometimes be found with lean pork and potatoes.

Fine Pinot Noir originated in the Burgundy region in France and the grape is now being grown in many regions around the world. Excellent versions are being vinified in New Zealand, South America, Oregon and California’s Central Coast. Our local Pinot Noirs from Sonoma County - and in particular the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Carneros and the Petaluma Gap appellations - are widely recognized as being some of the very best Pinot Noirs in the world.

Let’s raise a glass of world-class local Pinot Noir and make a toast to “balance”… and finding the perfect balance in our food, and our wine, and our lives. Cheers!

Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at or 707-548-2294. Visit their website at