For centuries, winemakers have wondered what to do with their pomace — the pulpy mess left over after the grapes have been crushed and fermented. So much of this waste product is generated during the winemaking process — about 20% of the total weight of wine production — that vintners have tried to think of ingenious ways to re-use it, other than making compost or just tossing it into landfill.
One thing they haven’t tried is making pomace edible! Here at Jackson Family Wines, that’s exactly what we’re doing — deliciously.
At a recent dinner at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens, they served a most unusual bread that had a distinctly earthy flavor. It was so good, I asked about it, and was told it had been baked with flour made from the skins and seeds — the pomace — of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes! It turns out that the bread was produced in the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens’ kitchen by Chef Eric Frischkorn, from flour made by WholeVine Products, a company co-owned by company chairman Barbara Banke and her friend, Peggy Furth. The company’s goal, according to their website: “to use the whole vine to serve higher purposes than ever before, resulting in nature-packed nutrition, taste, and purity.”
Chef Eric says he used to bake the bread himself, “but we’ve gotten so busy in the kitchen, we now have the pastry assistant do it.” The Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens’ chefs like the flour (made from almost every wine variety Kendall-Jackson has, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel) so much, they now use it in every flour-based product they bake: croissants, crackers and baguettes, as well as loaves of bread. How do they decide which flour to use for any particular loaf? “If we’re serving red wine, we’ll make a table bread with flour from that variety. Or if we’re doing pizza with Syrah, for example, we’ll make bread with the Syrah flour. That way, the bread, wine and food all complement each other.”
WholeVine Products is now retailing the flour to food outlets; they recently struck a deal with Whole Foods to sell it in all 35 of the chain’s Northern California stores, meaning that bakers — amateur and professional — can try it out. Unfortunately, the loaves themselves are not available at retail — yet. “Perhaps soon,” says Chef Eric. “Right now, we’re just too busy to go commercial.” He adds, “But you can enjoy the bread at Partake by K-J, or here at the Wine Center, and a few other places where Executive Chef Justin Wangler and his crew share their goodies.”
Steve Heimoff is one of America’s most respected and well-known wine writers. The former West Coast Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine and a contributor to Wine Spectator, he has also authored two books on the subject of California wine, including “New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff,” published in the fall of 2007.
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