Growing up in the Livermore Valley, we were surrounded by vineyards and wineries. Many a Livermore native worked at one winery or another in the bottling room, cellar, or tasting room, including myself and many of my family members. On the drive to our grandparents house every weekend, we would pass by the old Concannon winery, Wente’s vineyards and Raboli’s gnarled old head pruned vines with no irrigation. As the years passed, more and more wineries popped up along the drive, Retzlaff, Stony Ridge, and then Murrieta’s Well. Throughout the valley, it seemed that every other month another vineyard was planted, or tasting room opened. Recently, the urban wine scene has come to town with Occasio and Longevity wineries, and we even have a hip new wine bar on the Concannon property, the Underdog Wine Bar. The Livermore Valley appellation is now home to 40+ wineries, plenty to choose from on a weekend wine tour.
One of our favorite local wineries is fun and funky Fenestra Winery. Fran and Lanny Replogle started Fenestra 34 years ago, the first boutique winery in town. We have worked with Lanny at the wine competitions at the Alameda County Fair for many years (handing him A LOT of awards!), and I worked closely with Fran as we helped to publish the Livermore Winegrowers cookbook, “Cooking a Honker.” Fenestra hosts a number of “Fanatic” events for their wine club members, where food is always included. Every winter they hold their own “Souper Bowl” serving a variety of soups paired with their wines. The pairing below is one of my absolute favorites – a vegetable minestrone from Gimanelli’s Deli (with directions that are only one sentence long!) paired with True Red, a Fenestra specialty blend. A perfect combo to warm your belly in this blustery weather.
Gimanelli’s Vegetable Minestrone
- 3 large onions diced
- 3 celery stalks diced
- 4 large carrots diced
- 16 oz cans of each: Cannellini, Garbanzo & Pinto beans
- 2 lbs fresh tomato diced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 cup Fenestra True Red wine
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon of dry oregano
- salt and black pepper to taste
Put all ingredients in large pot; bring to boil until carrots are tender.
Serve with Fenestra’s True Red!