Hi everyone! Cecily Parrish Ray here. I wanted to share with you all my passion for our Cabernet Sourdough bread and the journey I’ve been on to make it for our tasting room. In 2017, my dad and I discussed what our hopes were for the new tasting room at our Adelaida Vineyard and one of those was baking our own bread.
Unsure how to go about this, one morning I stumbled upon an old Julia Child video featuring Nancy Silverton, who started La Brea Bakery. Silverton was crafting a sourdough starter from store bought table grapes. It dawned on me in that moment that we had a whole vineyard and I could use grapes at harvest to make a starter. But, there was one fact that still remained…I didn’t know anything about baking breads.
That changed with a serendipitous visit from Chef William Carter and his wife Katherine of Canyon Villa Bed & Breakfast to our downtown tasting room. He was the Executive Chef of the Playboy Mansion for 30 years and during that time he had begun baking artisan breads. I told him about the Cabernet Sauvignon starter I wanted to do and I asked if he could help me.
For six days in January 2018, Chef Wills worked with me in his kitchen where it smelled of delicious baked bread and my hands were covered in flour. He showed me the ropes of managing a sourdough starter from feeding to baking. He had taken some of our 2017 Cabernet grapes at harvest and began a starter from it. He gifted me with the starter for me to use at our new tasting room. He also taught me other artisan breads. including the focaccia we now make in the tasting room. It was a wonderful experience that I cherish.
I have continued to keep alive the original Cab starter, but in the Fall of 2019, I decided to try my hand at making my own Cab starter. Early on September 22nd, I rushed into the winery with a bucket and grabbed freshly picked grapes from the bins. It was busy season to start working on a side project, but I really wanted to see if I could do my own starter. I then began mixing flour and water with a cheese cloth full of Cabernet Grapes. It bubbled and popped. It smelled like sweet yeast. It took about 12 days for the starter to get to a point where I could begin to use it. I fed it for a while and then did my first bake with it to share with family on Thanksgiving. The bread turned out perfectly.
I now have two starters that I am keeping alive and we’ll see if I have time do any others. Regardless if I increase my starter family, I am happy that I can continue to bake Cabernet Sourdough for my family as well as the families that come in to our tasting room. It has been a lot of work, but it fits with the food program my dad and I envisioned for our tasting room and we hope you enjoy it!