Pink Lemons from the Eureka Lemon Tree

If you’ve cooked with us, you know we love our lemon zest. There’s nothing wrong with the Lisbon lemons you probably buy at your local super market, but sometimes it’s fun to branch out. That’s when we turn to pink lemons.

Pink Lemons on Eureka Lemon Tree at Limoneira Orchard in California

Variegated pink lemons, like the ones cultivated at Limoneira orchard, are a delightfully eccentric fruit. This citrus is known for its floral tangy flavor and its striking striped skin.

Types of Lemons

The pink lemon was discovered around 1930 among the branches of an ordinary Eureka lemon tree in Burbank, California. The pink lemon is also known as the variegated pink lemon because of its unpredictable appearance.

Pink Lemons vs. Meyer Lemons

Pink lemons are wild variety that evolved naturally. Meyer lemons, on the other hand, were created by crossbreeding lemons and mandarin oranges.

Pink Lemons

Do pink lemons make pink lemonade?

The distinctive pigment of the pink lemon’s flesh comes from a higher concentration of lycopene, the same compound that gives pink grapefruit and tomatoes their color.

Pink lemonade isn’t made from pink lemons. According to folklore, the original pink lemonade created in the mid-1800s got its color from a dubious source: a vat of water used to wash pink stockings. Today, the color in pink lemonade usually comes from red berries, or more commonly, from food dye added to regular lemonade.

That’s not to say it couldn’t be done! The flavor of a variegated lemon is perfect for lemonade, as they’re naturally sweeter than Eureka or Lisbon lemons. Just don’t expect a bright hot pink, natural pink lemonade will have a more subtle hue.

Pink lemons facts

We believe variety is the spice of life. We love introducing you to new ingredients and the best ways to use them. Trying new food isn’t just fun, it also encourages biodiversity—the variety of life on our planet—on farms. Over the course of the last century, crop diversity has declined as national food retail chains have consolidated and demanded less variety from agricultural production. Agricultural biodiversity, which encompasses the genetic variety in crops, helps farmers successfully grow food and maintain sustainable farm landscapes.

Limoneira Orchard & Blue Apron

Today most consumers are so used to a narrow range of choices, they’re less likely to pick out an unusual piece of fruit at the grocery store, even if it was available. We plan to change that. By filling your box with fruits and veggies that aren’t yet grown on a commercial scale, like fairytale eggplants, patty pan squash, salt and pepper cucumbers and pink lemons, we’re helping create demand for an array of delicious yet under-the-radar produce that might otherwise be overlooked. Plus, who are we kidding? Life is way more fun when we’re a little adventurous.

pink lemons quote biodiversity

At‌ ‌Patriot‌ ‌Pickle,‌ ‌Burgers‌ ‌& ‌Pickles‌ ‌Are‌ ‌Meant‌ ‌to‌ ‌Be‌ ‌Together‌ ‌

Patriot Pickle began its journey when the founders needed the ‌‌perfect‌ pickle for their chain of sandwich shops. Their ‌New‌ ‌Jersey‌ restaurants had been serving up ‌hot‌ ‌dogs‌ ‌and‌ ‌hamburgers for years, and they considered‌ ‌the‌ ‌pickle‌ ‌an‌ ‌essential‌ ‌ingredient. When‌ ‌their‌ ‌preferred‌ ‌pickle‌ ‌vendor‌ ‌went‌ ‌out‌ ‌of‌ ‌business,‌ ‌they‌ ‌couldn’t‌ ‌find‌ ‌a‌ ‌new‌ ‌product‌ ‌that‌ ‌lived‌ ‌up‌ ‌to‌ ‌their‌ ‌standards.‌ ‌Rather‌ ‌than‌ ‌settle‌ ‌for‌ ‌serving‌ ‌their‌ ‌meals‌ ‌with‌ ‌subpar‌ ‌pickles,‌ ‌they‌ ‌took‌ ‌matters‌ ‌into‌ ‌their‌ ‌own‌ ‌hands.‌ ‌ ‌

Their‌ ‌search‌ ‌eventually‌ ‌led‌ ‌them‌ ‌to‌ ‌create‌ ‌their‌ ‌own‌ ‌ideal‌ ‌burger‌ ‌companion.‌ ‌In‌ ‌2004,‌ ‌Patriot‌ ‌Pickle‌ ‌was‌ ‌officially‌ ‌launched.‌ ‌Their‌ ‌goal‌ ‌was‌ ‌to‌ ‌create‌ ‌an‌ ‌exceptionally‌ ‌crisp‌ ‌cucumber‌ ‌pickle‌ ‌that‌ ‌could‌ ‌complement‌ ‌meaty‌ ‌dishes,‌ ‌and‌ ‌also‌ ‌serve‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌snack‌ ‌on‌ ‌its‌ ‌own.‌ ‌Today,‌ Patriot‌ ‌Pickle‌ is the largest refrigerated pickle manufacturer in the Northeast. 

If‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌imagining‌ ‌a‌ ‌huge‌ ‌factory‌ ‌with‌ ‌warehouses‌ ‌full‌ ‌of‌ ‌pickles—stop‌ ‌right‌ ‌now.‌ ‌Patriot‌ ‌Pickle‌ ‌takes‌ ‌their‌ ‌‘always‌ ‌fresh,‌ ‌always‌ ‌crisp’‌ ‌promise‌ ‌seriously.‌ ‌The‌ ‌pickles‌ ‌are‌ ‌manufactured‌ ‌based‌ ‌on‌ ‌order‌ ‌quantity.‌ ‌They’re‌ ‌being‌ ‌made‌ ‌and‌ ‌sent‌ ‌to‌ ‌customers‌ ‌constantly.‌ ‌On‌ ‌average,‌ ‌it‌ ‌only‌ ‌takes‌ ‌30-45‌ ‌days‌ ‌for their‌ ‌pickles‌ ‌to‌ ‌get‌ ‌to‌ ‌consumers.‌ ‌This‌ ‌short‌ ‌storage‌ ‌time‌ ‌makes‌ ‌a‌ ‌huge‌ ‌difference‌ ‌in‌ ‌texture‌ ‌and‌ ‌taste.‌ ‌ ‌

patriot pickle packaging

Patriot‌ ‌Pickle‌ ‌now‌ ‌offers‌ eight‌ ‌different‌ ‌single serve pickles under the Crisp brand,‌ with flavors ranging from ‌classic‌ ‌kosher‌ ‌to‌ ‌savory sweet‌ ‌horseradish. All‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌pickles‌ ‌are‌ ‌produced‌ ‌at‌ ‌a‌ ‌solar‌-powered‌ ‌plant‌ ‌in‌ ‌Wayne,‌ ‌New‌ ‌Jersey. ‌Patriot‌ ‌Pickle‌ ‌ships‌ ‌to‌ ‌restaurants‌ ‌across‌ ‌the‌ ‌country,‌ ‌but‌ ‌they‌ ‌make‌ ‌sure‌ ‌to‌ ‌spread‌ ‌the‌ ‌love‌ ‌around‌ ‌their‌ ‌Jersey‌ ‌home.‌ ‌‌They‌ ‌donate‌ ‌their Pickleade brand of pickle juice to local high school football teams. This electrolyte-rich brine serves as a pickle-flavored sports drink replacement.   ‌ 

Patriot‌ Pickles‌ ‌are‌ ‌crisp,‌ ‌tangy,‌ ‌and‌ ‌refreshing.‌ ‌They were made to thrive alongside burger, and that’s why they’re ‌the‌ ‌little‌ ‌slice‌ ‌of‌ ‌green‌ ‌that‌ ‌brings‌ ‌a‌ ‌zip‌ ‌to‌ ‌Blue‌ ‌Apron’s‌ ‌Craft‌ ‌Burgers.‌ ‌Try‌ ‌for‌ ‌yourself‌ ‌to‌ ‌see‌ ‌how‌ Patriot Pickle created‌ ‌the‌ ‌perfect‌ ‌burger‌ ‌companion.‌ ‌ ‌

Good Bread Takes Time at Tribeca Oven

There are no shortcuts when it comes to baking a truly sustainable, great-tasting loaf of bread. Tribeca Oven’s commitment to the perfect loaf starts well before it’s time to preheat the oven. Their journey to make the best possible baguettes, boules, sourdough, and more starts in the Midwest.

Kansas is the largest producer of wheat and flour in the U.S., and high-quality bread starts with high-quality flour. That’s why Tribeca Oven partnered with the Central Plains Wheat program. The Central Plains Wheat program, which is part of the field to market initiative, is dedicated to supporting farmers who use regenerative agricultural practices. These farming techniques, like no-till fields and crop rotation, are designed to keep the soil healthy. Using chemicals or planting fields with the same crop every season can exhaust the soil. Tribeca Oven and the Central Plains Wheat program are committed to keeping the earth and its resources in good health for the next generation, and they partner with farmers who share that goal. 

shaping tribeca oven bread
Shaping bread at the Tribeca Oven bakery

After the flour has been milled, the work is just beginning. Tribeca Oven has used old-world bread making techniques to create flavorful loaves for over 30 years. The process for creating each loaf is unique, but Tribeca Oven’s products never include preservatives, dough conditioners, non-bioengineered ingredients, or artificial colors and flavors. 

baking bread
Maybe one of these loaves showed up in your home

Blue Apron and Tribeca Oven share the goal of bringing high-quality delicious food to our customers. Blue Apron is proud to send Tribeca Oven’s baguettes, rustic club heros and focaccia in our boxes. Check out our upcoming menu to try this unique artisan bread for yourself.

Life is Sweet with Just Date Syrup

You’ve got a sweet tooth? Us too. It’s natural for humans to love sugary foods, even though they aren’t always healthy. That’s what motivated Just Date Syrup co-founders Dr. Sylvie Charles and Liselle Pires to create a sweetener that satisfies that craving naturally. 

Just Date Syrup is a thick dark syrup made from 100% dates. Dates are full of natural sugar, so that’s the only ingredient this syrup needs to add sweetness to any dish. Beyond just sugar, dates have a delicious complex flavor, and plentiful health benefits. 

The health factor was important for Dr. Sylvie Charles. Dr. Charles is a licensed medical physician. After several years working in medicine, she grew frustrated by the number of preventable diseases she observed. She drew a connection to lifestyle choices, specifically diets high in added sugar, and some of the health struggles that she witnessed every day. Rather than suggest that her patients sacrifice eating what they love, Dr. Charles sought a solution. Eventually, she was inspired by traditional Indian cooking. Her family had been using dates to sweeten chutneys for generations. 

The idea and the ingredients were in place, but things didn’t completely come together until Dr. Charles met Liselle Pires. Like Dr. Charles, Pires was aware of the health-risks associated with a high sugar diet. Even though she loved food and cooking, Pires had cut processed sugars out of her life years ago in order to live healthfully. After connecting with Dr. Charles and bonding over their shared values, Pires felt inspired to leave her career at Microsoft and join the Just Date team. 

Today, Just Date Syrup provides an alternative to highly-processed sugar. Their syrup can be used to brighten up everything from drinks to dinner. Those eager to try a taste can find Just Date Syrup in Blue Apron boxes, providing a hint of sweetness to dishes like turkey kofta and za’atar spiced chicken with couscous.

Growing Cute Miniature Squash with Bay Baby Produce

Bay Baby produce got their start with an unconventional product: wacky, colorful, ornamental pumpkins. Over time, these hand-painted gourds grew into a full-fledged business. Today, Bay Baby sells edible, decorative, and miniature squash in grocery stores all over the country, as well as in Blue Apron meal kits. 

Farm founders Michele Youngquist and Liz Mitchell have been working together for over 20 years. When they founded Bay Baby produce, they were initially looking for a way to “give pumpkins some personality.” Their first product to come out of this idea became known as Pumpkin Patch Pals®. These miniature pumpkins are decorated by hand, and are meant to embody a goofy, bright personality. Partly inspired by Mitchell’s background as an elementary school teacher, Pumpkin Patch Pals® soon became a way to connect to the community. These silly squash serve as ambassadors of healthy eating to children everywhere. 

Even though it started out as a small creative outlet, Bay Baby is now a thriving organic farm. Mitchell and Youngquist own and operate over 500 acres of land in the Skagit Valley near Mt. Vernon, Washington. The farm has earned a WSDA organic certification, and as members of the Sustainable Farm Trade Association, the team takes environmental stewardship seriously. 

miniature butternut squash
Butterbaby squash, all roasted up

As their business expanded, so did their offerings. Today, Youngquist and Mitchell grow more than just decorative gourds. The team at Bay Bay produces several varieties of hard winter squash, in addition to pie pumpkins. They’re the trusted supplier of butterbaby, a miniature butternut squash that’s just as cute as it sounds, for all Blue Apron boxes. They also worked alongside the chefs at Blue Apron to engineer a miniature spaghetti squash. These tiny squash aren’t just adorable, they’re perfectly portioned to serve two people, making them an ideal addition to any Blue Apron dinner.

Hungry for more? Try Bay Baby produce products in Blue Apron dinner boxes all fall long.

Growing Lentils to Heal the Land with Timeless

In 1987, growing lentils in Montana was a radical suggestion. 

Smokey Timeless lentils

It’s hard to imagine now, but at the time David Oien was launching the first iteration of Timeless, organic farming wasn’t chic at all. 

Oien comes from a long line of Montana wheat farmers. He was in agricultural school when he realized that the changing model of farming wouldn’t work for him. The shift towards industrial farming demanded huge plots of land, and the relatively small family farm didn’t have a clear path forward. 

As a student, Oien became interested in organic farming and regenerative crops. He found like-minded partners in Bud Barta, Jim Barngrover, and Tom Hastings, and together they formed a mission to encourage sustainable organic farming in Montana. 

At first, their efforts focused on promoting growing a specific strain of lentil known as George Black Medic in the northern plains. The suggestion seemed simple, instead of leaving land to “fallow” or remain unplanted for alternate seasons, farmers would rotate in the crop of George Black Medic. This crop was chosen specifically because lentils make their own fertilizer. When planted, they reintroduce nitrogen into the soil, and make the land more fertile for other crops. Oien, Barta, Barngrover, and Hastings hoped that introducing this method of rotational farming would replenish soils, reduce erosion, and increase organic matter. Unfortunately, they were met with a lot of nos. At the time, the farmers they were speaking with were dependent on federal farm subsidies, which fine farmers for growing crops on fallow grounds. 

timeless lentil store house
A Timeless store house

Despite the initial setback, the Timeless team knew that their idea would be good for the land and for consumers. They were just a few years ahead of the game. In the 1990s, a renewed interest in health food among consumers provided the boost they needed. Working from David Oien’s farm, and with the help of friends and family, they launched their trademark Black Beluga Lentils in 1994. 

Today, Timeless has expanded. They remain committed to sustainable crops, but now work with a network of farmers and distributors who share their values. Their seeds and legumes can be found in restaurants across the country, as well as in Blue Apron Meal Kits.

Try a recipe for smokey beluga lentils.

How Your Ramen Gets Made: Sun Noodle & Blue Apron

How Ramen Noodles Are Made

Sun noodle is the secret ingredient that powers all of New York City’s top ramen restaurants. They manufacture noodles for Momofuku, Ivan Ramen, Chuko, and many many more. 

This family-owned business got its start in Hawaii in 1981, back when ramen in the U.S. was mostly instant. Today, ramen is beloved and revered from coast to coast, and Sun Noodle deserves some of the credit. Over the past 30 years, Sun Noodle has partnered with hundreds of restaurants. They produce over 90,000 servings of noodles per day, and make 300 variations on their original ramen recipe. That way, every chef can work with the noodle that best suits their cooking. Chances are, if you’ve slurped a bowl of noodles in a big city, they came from Sun Noodle

Luckily, high-end ramen restaurants aren’t the only place to try Sun Noodle manufactured noodles. Blue Apron uses Sun Noodle ramen in dishes like Beef Ramen Soup with Choy Sum and Enoki Mushrooms, and Chicken Tsukune Ramen, Spring Vegetable Ramen with Garlic Scapes and Soft-Boiled Eggs. This Crispy Pan-Fried Ramen is one of Blue Apron’s top-rated recipes

Want to learn more about the incredible thought and craftsmanship that goes into every packet of Sun Noodles? Watch the video below to see how Sun Noodle’s East coast facility churns out ramen.

Rethinking Ketchup with True Made Foods

It’s no secret that the modern diet is full of way too much sugar. Take a peek at a few ingredient lists and you’ll find sugar lurking in the most unexpected places: it’s in your broth, it’s in your beans, it’s in your spaghetti sauce. This was partially what drove Abe Kamarck to create True Made Foods. 

Abe Kamarck of True Made Foods
Abe Kamarck at work

As a parent, Abe Kamarck felt he was losing the battle against ketchup. As much as he insisted “it’s like putting candy on a burger,” his kids were clear about what they wanted. Kamarck knew that squash and other vegetables could lend naturally occurring sweetness to dinner, so why couldn’t they work for condiments? 

To answer that question, he first needed to find the perfect culinary mind to team up with. He found that partner in Ed Mitchell. Mitchell is a tried and true Southern barbecue pitmaster, you might have seen him in the Netflix documentary Cooked, or read about his work in Michael Pollan’s Cooked: A Story of Transformation. At first, this partnership could sound like an odd pairing. Mitchell has dedicated his professional life not only to barbecue, but also to keeping Southern traditions alive. Kamarck was hoping to shake things up, question traditions, and turn the condiment industry on its head. 

pitmaster Ed Mitchell
Ed Mitchell and his son Ryan Mitchell

Luckily, the things that had in common were far greater than their differences. Both men are veterans, and both are fathers. They have a shared strong sense of loyalty, and are dedicated to serving their communities and families. By working together, Mitchell and Kamarck were able to create a product that would meet Kamarck’s high-standards for health and family, all while honoring Mitchell’s commitment to barbecue and quality flavors. 

True Made Foods BBQ sauce
Pitmaster-approved barbecue sauce

Today, True Made Foods makes nine different condiments. Reading the ingredient list on the back of a bottle of a True Made Foods product is like taking a breath of fresh air. The bottle lists tomato paste, butternut squash, and carrots; there isn’t a single item you couldn’t find at the grocery store. Conventional ketchup has 6.4 grams of sugar per ounce, while True Made Foods’s low-sugar ketchup has just 1.6 grams per ounce. Most importantly, Abe Kamarck’s kids love it.

A Chevre Grows in Indiana

Capriole, an artisanal producer featured in Blue Apron’s Fall Cheese Collection, is behind some of the best — and most giftable — goat cheese in the country

A baby goat on the farm at Capriole Cheese

What do you do with 500 goats? It’s not a question Judy Schad, founder of Capriole Cheese in Greenville, Indiana ever thought she’d have to answer. What started 31 years ago as a small enterprise on her family farm — “I was milking 70 goats, making some cheese, and thinking I was hot stuff,” she says — quickly grew into a full-fledged business when American artisanal cheese as an industry took off. To keep up with the expanding market, the Capriole herd soon ballooned to over 500 animals, which was increasingly difficult to manage; in 2012, Schad decided to sell it. “For the first time,” she says, “we could concentrate completely on the cheese.” Now the animals are raised by nearby Indiana farmers, who ship the milk back to their original home, where the Capriole team turns it into one of their nine distinct, award-winning varieties.

“For the first time,” Judy Schad says, “we could concentrate completely on the cheese.”

While Capriole does make fresh chevre — the creamy, slightly tangy goat cheese of your imagination — it’s their more out-of-the-box styles that feel most apt for entertaining. The O’Bannon, for example, is a soft cheese wrapped in bourbon-soaked chestnut leaves, imparting a hint of smoky flavor. A “nutty idea” that came to Schad after pillaging the chestnut tree in her yard, the O’Bannon is a labor of love, requiring an annual shipment of nearly 900 pounds of leaves from a partner farm in Ohio. The result is a cheese almost too pretty to eat, wrapped up like a present and “nearly indestructible,” making it a great gift. 

The O’Bannon

On the other end of the spectrum is the Mont St. Francis, a firmer, aged variety made in the style of European cheesemonger monks (a real thing!). The slightly funky wheel is washed with a rinse of sorghum, a syrupy sweetener similar to molasses, and heavy imperial stout, currently Monnik Beer Company’s His Dark Materials. It’s a heartier variety, which pairs well with honey, charcuterie, and dark, strong beer, which means autumn is really when it shines. “When do you want a big, meaty cheese like that?” Schad asks. “When the weather cools off.”

The Mont St. Francis

Both the O’Bannon and Mont St. Francis are available in Blue Apron’s Fall Cheese Collection, a cheese box created in partnership with Murray’s Cheese. In addition to the two Capriole cheeses, the collection includes a creamy Maple Leaf red wax gouda and crumbly Murray’s High Plains white cheddar, along with Rustic Bakery flatbread crackers and Date Lady date syrup, for serving and drizzling. Buy one this season for a last minute get-together, crowd-pleasing starter, or delicious gift.

The Pasture-Raised Chicken or the Egg

Matt O’Hayer, co-founder of Vital Farms, is describing all the ways he loves to cook eggs. 

“Soft-boiled and marinated in a ponzu sauce…poached in a sous vide…a variation on eggs Benedict with lobster or crab meat on a muffin or wilted kale with hollandaise sauce—egg on egg, hard to beat!”

Matt grew up in Rhode Island, where he sold eggs in the ‘60s, pushing a cart door-to-door. As a kid, he visited the farms where beautiful, brown Rhode Island Red hens laid, and saw how they lived: on the grass, outdoors.


Fast forward several decades: Matt found himself thinking again about eggs. Now living in Texas, he purchased a farm and began to raise chickens. He ended up selling the farm, starting another business, selling it (“I get bored easily”), and moving full-time onto a catamaran with his wife.

But his thoughts kept returning to eggs. He remembered how incredible the eggs he had sold when he was younger were, with their bright yellow yolks and thick shells, thanks to the chickens’ primary diet of nutritious grass. In the years since, he had all but stopped eating eggs: he didn’t believe the ones he could get from the grocery store were ethically raised (“The chickens are being tortured”), and not coincidentally, he thought, they didn’t have the same delicious flavor.


Matt decided to start his third and final egg business: Vital Farms, a company that uses the highest available standard for raising laying hens: “pasture-raised.” Based on the European standard for “free-range” (1,000 birds per hectare), 108 square feet doesn’t necessarily mean flat, open space. On the contrary, it ideally means a varied topography, with hills and shade and fallen logs that chickens love to flutter up on.

Happy chickens are a riot. They follow you everywhere in big, cooing packs. They nip curiously at your boots. They flop on their backs and take glorious dust baths. They’re a fascinatingly complex social animal that is happiest foraging in its natural environment.



Blue Apron Adds Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Eggs to Recipes

We are excited to announce our latest supplier partnership with Vital Farms, a leading producer of pasture-raised eggs. Now, in all Blue Apron recipes that include eggs––such as our Korean Beef Bibimbap and our Marinated Vegetable & Soba Noodle Salad––our customers will enjoy cooking and tasting Certified Humane pasture-raised eggs from Vital Farms, a company with a mission to raise the standard for high-quality ingredients.

VF Red Circle Logo

“We believe everything about a pasture raised egg is different—the taste, flavor, color,” said John Adler, head of culinary, Blue Apron. “We are proud to partner with Vital Farms and transition our entire egg supply to their high-quality and ethically sourced eggs. It’s just a much better experience.”

Pasture-raised eggs are laid by hens that spend their days outside on fresh pastures, not cooped up in small cages or huddled by the thousands in huge barns. In stark contrast to conventional eggs, pasture-raised hens live happy, healthy lives as close to nature as possible for domesticated animals. These pasture-raised eggs taste and look great. The hens benefit from good quality care, and customers benefit from a great tasting product.

The Vital Farms difference:

  • Clean Eating: Vital Farms girls enjoy fresh pastures free of herbicides and pesticides, with all the critters in the grass they can find. A supplemental feed provides the basics, but nature provides the goodness!
  • Fresh air + sunshine: Every one of Vital Farms’ small family farms is located in the ‘pasture belt’ so their lucky ladies can enjoy fresh air and sunshine all year round.
  • Free to Roam: With at least 108 square feet per hen, Vital Farms chickens have plenty of space to satisfy their wanderlust and get to explore the pastures with their best hens.
  • Eat Kind: Vital Farm eggs are all Certified Humane® Pasture-raised, the gold standard for laying hens. Their farms are regularly audited to ensure they maintain these high standards.

Q+A with Winemaker Steve Matthiasson

Steve Matthiasson was perhaps the most in-demand viticulturist in Napa when he and his wife, Jill, decided to start their own wine label. The critics couldn’t withhold their excitement—and we can’t contain ours, with the Matthiasson White blend in our October wine selection. (And today, Steve’s unquestionably the most in-demand viticulturist in Napa.) We caught up with Steve in the middle of this year’s grape harvest to talk about one of his favorite subjects: gathering friends to eat, drink and be merry.


How’s the 2017 harvest looking?

We’re picking multiple vineyards every single day right now. We’re doing our first red this Friday. After the last five years of drought we’re finally kind of back on track with normal ripening. It’s still three weeks early as compared to a decade ago, but we’re more in line with where we need to be.

After harvest ends and you and Jill start entertaining again, how do you select wines for your parties?

I think about who’s going to be there, and what they’d all be excited to try. For non-wine-industry parties, I keep it simple. At our end-of-year soccer party, for example, it’s just Cabernet.

For wine-industry people, I try and think about what everyone’s going to get a kick out of that they don’t taste every day. We once hosted for several winemakers and Jay McInerney from The Wall Street Journal, and the theme was all northeastern Italian wines.


So you do have different plans for hosting wine geeks versus family, then?

Definitely. At Thanksgiving, for example, I work with my cousin-in-law, Coby, who collects as a consumer, and we strategize together since there are 20 relatives who attend. From there, you have to have a mix of whites and reds for the people who only drink one or the other. Then he and I raid our cellars for six bottles each. He brings the richer, buttery whites and fuller-bodied reds to keep people who love those wines happy, and I select the crisp, minerally whites and lighter reds for the other contingent. It’s always my personal mission to get people to open their minds a little, but you still need to have a good mix.

When people bring a bottle to your parties, do you save it or serve it then and there?

One of the great things about being in wine country is that at any party, there’s always a wine table—everybody brings a bottle. You just ask, “Where’s the wine table?” as you show up, and you can always count on a lot of interesting wines to try. It’s like a wine potluck.

Sometimes it’s really nice to bring two bottles: One for them to stash and one to serve now.


When winemakers get together, do you all try to impress each other with your fanciest wines?

It’s definitely not about impressing. It’s about representing—bringing a bottle that’s special in some way, to you.

I learned this one year that Daniel Johnnes, the organizer of La Paulée, (the famous annual Burgundy tasting event), gave us tickets to the gala dinner. Everyone brings a bottle, and I traded a bunch of my wine for a $1,000 bottle of 1989 Burgundy to bring. A wine writer sitting across from us had brought a $50 bottle of Chablis—but it was well picked out. It wasn’t about price, it was about being thoughtful. The wine was real, handmade with intention. It was every bit as legit as the $1,000 bottle we brought.

What’s the easiest pairing to provide an “aha!” moment?

Pinot Noir and salmon. Also Merlot and lamb. Some of those classics are classics for a reason.

More generally, though, wines with more acidity pair with more foods, so a lot of times the “aha” moment is when people taste a wine and think it’s a little tart at first—and then the food comes out. When they try the two together, all of a sudden it all comes to life.


What is the safest, most crowd-pleasing wine to serve at or bring to a party?

Just bring your favorite, because someone else is going to like it, too. If not, then you can’t go wrong with a bottle of something sparkling, especially Champagne. But if you found something that you think is really cool and want other people to try, definitely bring that.

Spritzers in summer, mulled wine in winter: Yes, or ultimate party-foul?

All ok in my book. I love mulled wine, and I love spritzers. Here in Napa we have our annual Grape Grower banquet in the summer, and it’s 80 degrees and everyone’s pouring Cabernet. I put ice in mine to make it more refreshing.