We asked the K-J team to answer a few holiday questions. Enjoy!
Finish this phrase: Friends are like family because…
Winemaster Randy Ullom: they bring warmth to the home.
Winemaker Matt Smith: they are the family you build through shared life experiences. They can be as close or closer than family members, especially these days with people able to move freely around the world.
Winemaker Mark Theis: you can’t ignore them for long.
Winemaker Fritz Meier: sorry, friends are friends, family is family.
Chef Justin Wangler: My family is spread out around the southern united states and we don’t always have the opportunity to spend time with them during the holidays. We often find ourselves celebrating with good friends and their families which is lots of fun because we often learn about new traditions, new foods and and new games that we bring back to our family’s holiday celebrations.
Chef Sarena Stern: you can always count on them for their honest opinion, and no matter what still love them!
What’s your favorite holiday tradition?
Randy: Dining around town, then of course always dungeoness crab, French bread and wine o n on the 24th
Matt: New Year’s Eve cheese fondue party!
Mark: Playing Santa, by stuffing the stockings the night before and putting something special in each. No one is setting out cookies anymore, but don’t mind finding my own treat
Fritz: Decorating tree, opening presents and telling stories from the “old world”
Justin: Since my wife and I moved to California we fell in love with Dungeness crab. For New Year’s Eve, we like to stay in and watch movies, cook crab and kick back and drink Chardonnay. I also usually put a pot of blacked eyed peas on the back burner for New Year’s day.
Sarena: Warm cocktails by the fire, and making gingerbread houses of course!
What dish are you usually responsible for for the holiday meal & what wine do you pair with it?
Randy: Onion Chip dip, and Queso fresco with Chardonnay
Matt: Rib roast or lamb on Christmas. Cheese fondue on NYE. Pairings: Stature or Highland Estates Trace Ridge, Highland Estates Taylor Peak or Grand Reserve Merlot with the meat. Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc or a fine Muscadet with the fondue.
Mark: I usually bring most the wine, fill in with anything else in the kitchen. Always on the clean up detail. All of the wines pair with that.
Fritz: Meat and potatoes, veal medallion on top of pork tenderloin on top of filet mignon – my version of turducken, mashed potatoes using equivalent amount of potato and butter and a good salt. I pair this with K-J Grand Reserve Cab or Hawkeye Cab, don’t mind using a Stonestreet Red either.
Justin: Depends on the party but usually most of them.
Sarena: My family is very non traditional, we always mix up what we eat on holidays, so I would have to say I do not have a specific dish I am responsible for but really we do everything together.
What’s your favorite holiday wine?
Randy: Camelot Chardonnay
Matt: Stature, of course!
Mark: Usually a wine that is brought to share
Fritz: Bold and juicy red
Justin: Chardonnay for me and Pinot Noir for my wife. If I am cooking beef, we bust out Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sarena: I love a big petite sirah on a cold winter night.
What wine do you give as a host gift?
Randy: K-J Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay or K-J Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Matt: K-J Grand Reserve anything. Though I have been known to bring Stature to the right occasion.
Mark: Anyone of our Jackson Estate wines that best fit the host’s taste
Fritz: K-J Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir
Justin: I like to bring Pinot Noir as a host gift as it pairs with lots of different foods and is pleasing to a wine audience. It’s also easy drinking with or without food.
Sarena: I think a bottle of bubbles is perfect, who doesn’t like a little something fizzy to start off the night?
Do you throw holiday parties?
Matt: Christmas Day morning, friends come over for bagels and lox and mimosas!
Fritz: Only for family
Justin: We have a tiny 1920’s bungalow, so we usually have small groups in the winter time and larger parties in the summer.
Sarena: We did just throw a holiday party, holidays are a great excuse to see friends and family that you don’t see often enough, and a great excuse to drink wine on a week night!
How are you sustainable during the holidays?
Randy: Separate out the paper from the general waste stream, recycle bows and wrapping paper.
Matt: Always recycle, always compost, LED lights.
Mark: Use LED lights sparingly, minimize the use of materials going to land fill. Eat all the leftovers.
Fritz: Always try to be sustainable, but still buy wrapping paper.
Sarena: I love to make gifts, I had a party a few years ago where it was a white elephant but everything had to be handmade. It is amazing how creative your friends are and you might not even know it!
Chef Sarena, does your family expect you to cook or do you trade off with others?
My family is really great about sharing cooking duties, we all pitch into the menu and the cooking, nothing is really ever the same year after year which is a nice way to mix things up!
Tell us your favorite holiday story!
Matt: I spent my junior year in college abroad in France. It was also the first time I would spend the Christmas holiday away from my parents and siblings. I was lucky enough to be welcomed into a French family’s home, so I got to experience the traditions that they celebrated. On Christmas Eve, my adoptive family hosted an incredible dinner. I telephoned my parents at 6pm when the appetizers and champagne started. Then, when we got up from the table 6 hours later, I phoned again to see how their dinner had gone. No one could believe we had spent 6 hours around the table, but the endless flow of courses and wines and good conversation is one of my most cherished memories.
Sarena: I have a good friend who has 3 children, I have spent many holidays with them, they are pretty much family, I love to stay up late with there mom wrap presents and read the notes that they write to Santa.
Happy Holidays from the entire K-J team!