Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Winter Harvest at Seghesio Family Vineyards
Pete Seghesio (center) continues his family traditions with fellow wine growers.
For Pete Seghesio, nothing tastes better than freshly made sausage served atop a slice of crusty bread, with a glass of Zinfandel, at 10 o’clock in the morning. It’s a flavorful way to celebrate two family traditions – making wine and handcrafting Italian sausage.
Seghesio Family Vineyards, located in Sonoma County, has long been known for quality wines, including their 2007 Zinfandel, which appeared on Wine Spectator’s list of the top 100 wines. But when harvest season has ended each year, the family shares another tradition - making sausage amidst the wine barrels.
The Seghesio family creates 2,000 pounds of sausage every December. They use Boston butt with 10 percent fat blended back in, because pork is much leaner now than when Pete’s grandmother created this recipe. Once the meat has been spread across a long table, family members pour a mixture of Zinfandel and fresh garlic across every 100 pounds of meat. Healthy doses of salt, pepper, nutmeg, clove, and allspice follow. Then dozens of gloved hands knead the meat to incorporate the seasonings.
The sausage machine (circa 1859) that has been used by the family since the late 1800s
In the early days, the Seghesios used an 1859 sausage machine. Although their grinding machines are newer now, filling the casings still requires plenty of hands-on attention. Pete blows into a sheath of cow intestine before placing it on a spout and then holds it tightly as meat fills the long casing. Expert hands tie-off the casing in six-inch lengths and then hang dozens of sausages on clotheslines near the wine barrels.
Pete Seghesio fills cow intestine with sausage
The Seghesio family also has turned this event into an annual party, attended by many members of their Centennial (wine) Club; some even help to make the sausage. As everyone works the wine flows, finished sausages sizzle in frying pans and neighbor, Frank Passalacqua, cooks risotto to accompany the freshly made meat. Pete shares samples of his own Sicilian-inspired sausage recipe with friends, full of fennel, fennel pollen, red pepper flakes, pepper, fresh garlic and secret ingredients.
Ed Seghesio, Chef Jon Helquist, Will and Pete Seghesio taste testing in the winery kitchen.
If you’d like to learn more about this lovely winter tradition, see their YouTube video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoJVmhR-XcQ.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SEGHESIO FAMILY VINEYARDS
Lisa visited Seghesio Family Vineyards during a press trip, in February 2008