Spirits of the Season 2013: Gary Farrell Vineyards has red and white covered for Thanksgiving

Spirits of the Season 2013 will bring you the hottest new varietals and recipes from the coolest distilleries, wineries, restaurants and bars all across the globe!

Thanksgiving Selections for 2013 must include the moderately prices and highly rated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from California winemaker Gary Farrell. Website

Gary Farrell vineyards is also a destination place for superb tours.

Gary Farrell vineyards is an intimate Sonoma County winery with a tasting room that boasts a commanding view of the Russian River Valley from its perch on a ridgetop. They have a warm and welcoming staff, and guests can enjoy wine next the fireplace in the tasting room or on the outdoor patio overlooking the valley, depending on the time of year.

It's never too early to start planning your Thanksgiving feast and the 2011 Russian River Selection wines in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are balanced and perfect, affordable and make great pours on a table filled with delectable seasonal favorites.

Farrell's Chardonnay is all flavor, acid and buttery notes that do not overstep with a hint of pear, citrus notes and honeysuckle, the wine is a great selection to serve with the turkey and mashed potatoes.

For the close of the meal, Farrell's 2011 Pinot Noir is a dense. blackberry and brandy tinged spiced experience, round and fragrant for those who want a richer wine for the cranberry sauce, sweet or savory yams, and Grandma's stuffing.

Since the mid-1970s, winemaker Gary Farrell was the original winemaker for Rochioli and Davis Bynum and his Pinot Noirs as well as other varieties have been lauded by the best wine critics.  Farrell and business partner William Hambrecht have a new winery in the Russian River Valley concentrating on small-lot Pinot Noirs from vineyards they own together and other sources where Farrell has obtained grapes from in the past (Alysian Wines).

The Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery has continued to obtain high-quality fruit from Allen and Rochioli vineyards nearby. Farrell chose Susan Reed, who had worked with him for three years before his departure, to succeed him as winemaker and successfully maintained the high standard set by Farrell. Reed was replaced by Theresa Heredia, formerly of Freestone Vineyards, in early 2012.

Two to savor for the holidays:

Gary Farrell 2011 Russian River Selection Chardonnay - Russian River Valley

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

When cool and warm weather, meticulous farming practices and low yields come together we get a great medium golden yellow Chardonnay that has elements of stone fruit and green apple aroma with a medium-full body.

All you need to know is that its $35 retail and for the money, a stone cold steal. You will impress and enjoy pouring this wine at your table.

Shrimp & Lemon Zest Risotto

“After tasting the 2011 Russian River Selection Chardonnay, all I could think about was how nice this dish would pair with this wonderful wine. The lemon zest compliments the citrus notes in the wine and who doesn’t love shrimp and creamy risotto?! Risotto takes a little time to prepare so open some wine, turn on your favorite tunes and dance in the kitchen. Enjoy!” – Andy Barker, Tasting Room Manager

Serves 4

• 1 lb. Jumbo Shrimp (21-25 count)

• 1 small onion, fine chopped

• 1 carrot, chopped

• 2 stalks of celery, chopped

• 2 cloves • 2 lemons (Meyer lemons are best if available)

• 6 tbsp. butter

• 1/4 c. dry white wine

• 2 c. risotto

• 2 c. grated Parmigano Reggiano cheese

• Salt (to taste)

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil, add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon, peel and de-vein when cool enough to handle reserving the shells. Return the shells to the shrimp water.

Add, carrot, celery, onion, clove and ¼ sliced lemon into discs (approx. 2 discs) to the water and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain shrimp stock into small sauce pan to remove all solids.

Hold stock on stove to keep warm. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauce pan.

Stir in the rice and cook, stirring until the grains are coated with butter. Add white wine and 1 6-oz ladle of shrimp stock and cook, stirring until it has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, and stirring until each addition has been absorbed.

This will take 18-20 minutes.

Check rice by tasting; the kernels should be firm in the center but not crunchy. When rice is done add 1 cup of cheese and zest of 1 lemon to pan and stir. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a skillet. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes.

Squeeze the juice from the cut lemon into the pan to finish shrimp. Plating: Serve risotto in a bowl, arrange shrimp around it, garnish first with cheese and finish with lemon zest.

Gary Farrell 2011 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir - Russian River Valley

This blend is the net result of the fruit of eight vineyards from around the Russian River Valley combined, taking advantage of varied climates and unique site characteristics to create a rich and complex wine.

This wine is deep, rich with red cherry notes, candied ginger, cedar, citrus hints and a cacophony of florals and red fruits that are beyond my normal scope. All I can tell you is red wine for me is hard to drink, but not this one. It is super smooth and complex.  Incredibly nuanced, I loved this wine's finish and overall versatility. 

2013 SF International Wine Competition GOLD MEDAL

Bonus recipe from Gary Farrell Vineyards:

Savory Mushroom Puff Pastry

“The cool nights of the fall are a great time for savory appetizers and our 2010 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir is the perfect pairing. This puff pastry is an easy to snack by the fire, but you can also make the ragout as a side for roast chicken, grilled pork or add it to your favorite pasta.” – Andy Barker, Tasting Room Manager Recipe makes 18 triangle pastries


• 1 Tbsp. olive oil

• 1 shallot, finely chopped

• ½ lb. shitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced

• ½ lb. oyster mushrooms, pulled from the bunch

• ½ lb. baby bella* mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced

• 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

• 5 large sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped and lightly chopped

• ¼ C. of Marsala wine

• ½ C. heavy cream

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 1 package of frozen puff pastry

• 1 egg


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add mushrooms, butter and thyme and sauté for 10-12 minutes or until mushrooms are soft.

Add Marsala, stirring pan to coat mushrooms with wine. Continue cooking over medium heat until the wine is reduced by half, then add heavy cream and simmer on low heat for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, salt and pepper to taste, and allow mix to cool.

On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry out to a 12”x15” rectangle. Cut pastry into 3”x3” squares.

Place a heaped tablespoon of the mushroom ragout in the center of the pastry squares, fold to make a triangle and press the edges together with a fork. Whisk the egg with 1 oz. of water to make an egg wash; brush the folded pastries with egg wash.

Bake on an ungreased baking pan for 12-16 minutes or until golden brown. *You can use portabellas if you cannot find baby bellas. You will need to scrape the black insides of the mushroom as it will stain the other mushrooms.

Further Reading on M&C