Monday, October 19, 2009

Butternut Squash Pasta

Butternut Squash is now in season. As I write this, I have some baking in my oven that I picked fresh from the garden. I love the way it makes my whole house smell like the warm sweetness of the fall season.

Butternut squash is a winter squash that is native to the western hemisphere, and has been eaten by the natives of Mexico since 5500 B.C. One cup of butternut squash has only 80 calories, vitamins like A and C and lots of Iron. So dig in!

This recipe combines the warm sweetness of butternut squash with the earthy flavors of sage and pine nuts. The dish pairs well with a Pinot Grigio, Riesling or Chenin Blanc.


5 tbsp. butter

About 8-10 medium sized sage leaves

¼ cup lemon juice

½ butternut squash, peeled and cubed

Choice of pasta

Salt and pepper

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

¼ cup pine nuts- lightly toasted in oven for about 2 minutes

Parmesan or goat cheese to garnish

Cut squash into ½-1 inch cubes and place onto baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper and cook uncovered at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Cook pasta according to directions. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a sauce pan and cook on low until it turns a golden brown. Add the sage leaves and remove from heat. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Drain pasta and pour butter sauce, cubed butternut squash and toasted pine nuts on top. Finish with cheese to garnish.

Recipe by Karen Grimes and Chef Emily Buller

Haber Family Vineyards

This week, we caught up with Ron Haber of Haber Family Vineyards. Ron and his wife Sue-Marie recently released their first vintage of Haber Family Vineyards wines – a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Diamond Mountain. In the future, they will release wine from their Howell Mountain estate. We tried the first release of the 2006 Diamond Mountain Cabernet and were very impressed.

Why did you and Sue-Marie decide to get into the wine business?

Sue-Marie and I wanted to keep active in our future retirement life. One of our passions was the enjoyment of food and wine. After many vacation trips to the Napa Valley, talking with vintners and friends we knew there, we felt that starting a vineyard project could fulfill our passion and also allow us to live in the Napa Valley.

Did you know that Howell Mountain was where you wanted to plant your vineyard from the beginning or did the property find you?

We both loved Napa Valley Mountain wines. We also wanted land that had not been previously planted. We had tasted through the various Cabernet AVA’s and found Howell Mountain wines to be our favorite. The property actually came to us while we were on an airplane. The property was just going to go on the market that day! We made an offer, site unseen, contingent on thoroughly checking the ability of the land to meet our needs. Therefore, we feel that the site found us 100%!

Why did you start with a cabernet from Diamond Mountain?

We planted our site in 2004. We decided that we wanted the Haber Family Vineyards brand on the market sooner that the minimum of six years it takes from planting to having a wine to sell. We found wonderful fruit to buy on Diamond Mountain. The Diamond Mountain fruit allowed us to keep to our love of mountain fruit, add some diversity, and give us the superior quality we were looking for. Diamond Mountain has a pedigree of producing renowned Napa Cabernets. We were thrilled to include this wine as part of our Haber Family Vineyards.

When will your first release of Howell Mountain Cabernet be?

Our first release is our 2006 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. We have only 50 cases of 2007 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon in the bottle for release in 2010.

What characteristics do you think are unique about your Howell Mountain Vineyard?

The site is unique due to the combination of red volcanic soil and steep, sloped west facing (for great sunlight) land with excellent drainage and is at a high altitude. The combination is perfect together for growing great Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

Do you plan on releasing other varietals in the future or are you strictly focusing on Cabernet?

Our first goal is to successfully bring to market our two Haber Family Vineyards Cabernets. If we are successful, we have definitely talked about adding a white wine that would have to live up to the same standards that we are setting for our reds.

Where are your wines available?

Since our production of both Diamond and Howell Mountain Cabernets will be under 400 cases each, we worked very hard to establish a very personal website to market our wines directly to the consumer through our mailing list and the web. We are also working on distribution in NY and NJ and are looking at only one or two more select states to work with distribution. We have successfully placed the wine in a number of very highly rated restaurants in NY and NJ and are working to have our wines with a limited number of key retailers on both coasts.

You can learn more about Haber Family Vineyards online at

Fall is in the Air

Fall is definitely in the air. The mornings are brisk, the days are getting shorter and the Napa and Sonoma Valleys are filled with the aromas of harvest. Fall is one of our favorite times of the year. There is always so much to look forward to – delicious veggies, ripe, juicy grapes, pumpkins, harvest festivals, Halloween, Thanksgiving. This list could go on and on. Here are a few of the ways we enjoy the fall season the most.

Farmer’s Market – it’s hard to beat the ripe, juicy fruit that makes its way to Farmer’s market in the summer. But fall can definitely hold its’ own. There are so many varieties of grapes available right now that it makes your head spin. And the winter squash is not only beautiful to look at but makes some great soups and warm, hearty dishes for a brisk fall evening.

Harvest Festivals – everywhere you look, someone is celebrating the season with a harvest party. Many of these great events are put on by wineries and a good share of them are open to the public. We also love the St. Helena Hometown Harvest Festival & Pet Parade. Spectators come from all over Northern California to participate and watch the Pet Parade. You can’t help but enjoy watching pets of all makes and sizes, dressed up in their best costumes, parading through St. Helena. This year’s festival just happened last weekend. Don't miss out next year!

One-Pot Meals – we love the return of one-pot meals in the fall months. Casseroles, hearty soups, lasagna’s, gratin, you name it. If you only need one pot/dish to cook it, then it fits the bill for the perfect fall one-pot meal. In fact, we just kicked off the season with one of our favorites – Mike's Three Cheese Lasagna.

Grapes – of course we have a fondness for this divine fruit living in Northern California. But beyond the grapes that make our favorite wines, there are so many good grapes to eat and they are filling up the stands at the local Farmer’s Markets and grocery stores. Get your fill while they are abundantly available!
We hope you enjoy the season! We have lots of great fall recipes and our favorite fall wines to share with you.