We’ve been celebrating Earth Month with some wonderful wines that are kind to the planet. Sustainability is a buzz word in the wine industry these days and for good reason. We all want to take care of the planet, and we want to be able to enjoy tasty wine!
We received a few samples from Scheid Family Wines recently, two of which we will tell you about today. The third? Well, it will be following shortly.
(Keep in mind, that while we received these wines as media samples, all opinions are our own)
First a little about Scheid Family Wines
Based in Monterey, they are not small. They have 12 estate vineyards with 39 different varieties. These vineyards span 4 different climate zones and half a dozen different brands including “Sunny with a chance of flowers” (a low-calorie wine), VDR (Very Dark Red), District 7, Metz Road, Stokes’ Ghost, and Scheid Vineyard. While not listed on their site as within their portfolio, I also received a Ryder Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir, which is also part of their portfolio.
I’ll amend the above information slightly, the group recently sold three of their vineyards parcels which totaled 1,193 acres. This is to position the company behind its premium bottled wines. I’m not sure what percentage of their overall vineyard acreage this was, but it gives you an idea of their size.
The family has been farming wine grapes in Monterey County since 1972. They began as growers, selling their grapes to other people, back then the company was called the Monterey Farming Corporation. Al Scheid graduated from Harvard Business school and was an investment banker and an entrepreneur. He started the business as a tax shelter, lots of investment on the front end, and no income for 5 years (the grapes have to grow after all). It was set up as a limited partnership. It’s not a romantic story to start with. On their site, they quote Mark Twain
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything”.
In 1988 they brought in Kurt Gollnick, who had previously been with Bien Nacido, and they converting to drip irrigation. They hit the 90s with phylloxera taking out a large part of their vineyard that was own-rooted. The partners were mostly ready to retire and Al stepped in with the “Gang of Four”, himself, his eldest son, Scott, Kurt Gollnick, and his daughter Heidi, and they bought out the other partners.
They redeveloped the vineyards and grew the label. They built a state-of-the-art winery on Highway 101 in Greenfield, California.
Heidi Scheid was named Person of the Year by Wine Enthusiast in 2020. She became the Executive Vice President of the company in 2017 and is the current chairperson for the Wine Marketing Council. The council provides wine marketing knowledge to industry members which help midsized wineries that can afford an R&D department of their own.
She watched the company grow as they expanded from growing grapes to making wine, going from 4,000 cases to 600,000 cases in under 10 years.
Sustainability at Scheid Family Wines
With all of this big business, they might have neglected the land, but they didn’t.
They have set a goal
“By 2025, Scheid Family Wines will become one of the most recognized wine producers in quality, innovation and sustainability in the world.”
They are 100% drip irrigation and have moisture sensors to monitor plant stress so that they only water when necessary, which is important for water conservation in California. They plant cover crops for soil health and to prevent erosion. They have an integrated pest management strategy and use herbal based preparation to increase microbiological activity in the vineyard. They have owl boxes for rodent control.
In 2017 they installed wind turbines at their winery which generates 100% of the power they need and supplies power to an additional 125 homes. In the windy Salinas Valley this is more effective than solar.
And the wines?
We tasted the Ryder estate 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé (SRP $15) and the Scheid Vineyards 2020 Estate Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $22)
2020 Scheid Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc (New Release)
This Sav Blanc is fermented in Stainless Steel. It is bright without being too sharp, as is typical of a California Sav Blanc. You get those tell-tale notes of gooseberry, that immediately tell you it is Sauvignon Blanc. There is green apple and pear, hints of tarragon (all were incorporated into our dishes).
The wine is from Monterey coming from 4 vineyards: Mesa del Rio, San Lucas, Scheid and Baja Viento. 13.5% abv
Ryder Estate 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé
The grapes saw gentle crushing and 8 hours of skin contact to give the wine that lovely pale salmon color and the beautiful nose of red berries, (think cherries, raspberries, strawberries). The wine has great acid and is crisp and delicious.
This is a central coast wine. 13% abv
It took on the tones of sunset as we finished out meal.
What did we pair with these wines?
We paired these wines with some tasty bites as we celebrated vaccinations with a couple of friends. The ability to gather with a couple of people dear to us, all of us completely vaccinated and complete with our post-vaccination waiting period made for a joyful evening.
Our menu was small bites and my guests, being very dear friends were put to work helping to assemble the spread, which included:
Pears with goat cheese and arugula wrapped in prosciutto
Tiny latkes with crème fraiche and fresh green apple (recipe below)
Mini parmesan biscuits with balsamic and black pepper strawberries and honeyed ricotta with tarragon (recipe below)
And a cheese plate
The wines were cheerful and bright, perfect for the mood!
You can taste the Scheid Family Wines at their tasting room Greenfield or the one in Carmel by the Sea if you are lucky enough to be out that way. I might find an excuse to do that soon. The pandemic has kept me landlocked, the sounds of the ocean only coming through headphones.
Because these wines are made in large quantities, you are likely to be able to find them more easily than many of the wines we post about. These are perfect wines for enjoying with friends, and they looking out for the planet.
Other earth-friendly wines we’ve covered recently
Sources, resources and further reading
These tiny latkes are great for a small plates dinner. The creme fraiche with fresh green apple to top them brings brightness to the dish. These pair beautifully with a California Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 lb of potatoes
- ½ onion
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup flower
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup crème fraiche
- ½ green apple (peeled and diced finely)
- Peel the potatoes
- Roughly chop the potatoes and onion
- Put in the food processor with a shredding blade
- Press the liquid out in a colander
- Wrap the mixture in a towel and squeeze out the remaining liquid.
- Mix potatoes and onion with salt flour and egg
- Preheat the oven to 250 and line a sheet pan with a rack
- Coat a rod iron skillet with neutral oil over high until it is hot.
- Scoop in small amounts of the potato mixture
- Cook pressing down to flatten, until they are browned then flip carefully
- Sprinkle with more kosher salt and cook until golden brown
- Place on the rack in the oven to keep warm while you fry the rest.
- Mix the crème fraiche and fresh apple and serve alongside
Russets are hands-down the best potatoes to use for the latke. I happened to have a small one-pound bag of tri-color baby potatoes and used those and these were fine. I peeled the red and purple potatoes so as not to stain the mixture and left the golden potatoes in their skin as it was so thin. This recipe made approximately 24 tiny latkes.
Amount Per Serving Calories 182Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 86mgSodium 238mgCarbohydrates 19gFiber 2gSugar 3gProtein 5g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
These simple semi-homemade biscuits are a savory take on strawberry shortbread and go brilliantly with a Rosé of Pinot Noir.
- 1 can of refrigerator biscuits
- 2 cups of strawberries
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 tbs balsamic reduction
- 1 cup of ricotta
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon
- ¼ cup fresh shredded parmesan
- Cut the biscuits with a 2 inch round cutter. You may need to reshape the 2nd from each.
- Top each with a bit of shredded parmesan, bake according to instruction on the can.
- Slice the strawberries thinly, place in a flat bottomed dish
- Pour in the balsamic to cover them
- Drizzle with the balsamic reduction
- Sprinkle with black pepper
- Give this a quick gentle stir and let macerate in the refrigerator while you complete the dish.
- Blend the ricotta honey and tarragon in a small bowl
- When the biscuits are done baking set them on a wire rack to cool.
- To assemble, spit the biscuits in half, add some strawberries, a dab of the ricotta mixture, and top with the other half of the biscuit.
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.