Seghesio chef shares Father’s Day BBQ menu and new line of condiments

By the time Father’s Day rolls around, the warm weather and longer days demand an old-school cookout in the backyard with lots of cold beer and other adult beverages.

But here’s the rub: If you want to make it truly memorable, forget the wimpy hot dogs and go for the porky gusto: fat, juicy sausages and big slabs of fall-off-the-bone ribs, coated with a dry rub and brushed at the end of cooking with a tangy barbecue sauce.

“Ribs always work for me, that’s a no-brainer,” said Seghesio Family Vineyards’ Executive Chef Peter Janiak, the father of 2-year-old Gemma. “On Father’s Day, I just want to hang out at the house with my wife and daughter and grill in the backyard with a glass of wine or a beer.”

The native New Englander has become renowned in Wine Country for his killer ribs, served annually with a zinfandel barbecue sauce at the Seghesio Zin & BBQ festival in July. In the past, the ribs have also made a zingy encore at the annual Taste of Sonoma. At either event, folks lined up for miles to sample the sweet’n’spicy ribs, then licked their fingers clean so they can take another sip of zinfandel.

This Father’s Day, we asked Janiak to create a finger-licking good barbecue menu that would be easy enough for mom and the kids to pull off on their own, without a professional chef at their side.

That turned out to be pretty easy, since Janiak recently launched a line of three Seghesio Kitchen condiments, providing shortcuts that can dazzle dad with dishes such as St. Louis-style cut ribs finished with Zinfandel BBQ Sauce and sausages topped with Zinfandel Mustard Pan Sauce.

As a side salad, he shared a favorite recipe for a Corn and Mushroom Salad with Frisée, a curly endive. And for a savory appetizer, he suggested a savory bruschetta topped with Seghesio Kitchen Artichoke and Piquillo Pepper Tapenade and a slice of Bellwether Farms Carmody.

“We cut a slab of toast, put the tapenade down and put the cheese on top,” he said. “It’s like a French bread pizza.”

Starting with tapenade

This sweet and briny tapenade was the inspiration behind the trio of Seghesio products. At the tasting room bar, Janiak said guests often order an antipasti board to enjoy either in the tasting room or outdoors with their wine.

“There are three house-cured meats, two local cheeses, crostini, marinated olives, and housemade quince or fig or another seasonal jam,” he said. “And we always have that tapenade.”

The tasty blend of roasted piquillo peppers, roasted artichokes, cooked shallots, capers, olive oil, oregano and other spices was so delectable that customers started asking if they could buy it.

At the winery, Janiak and his team made the tapenade by hand, in small batches. For the product line, the winery partnered with Preserve Farm Kitchens out of Petaluma to help with the prep and the bottling.

For the jarred tapenade, Janiak orders the roasted peppers from Spain and the roasted artichokes from a California producer. The result still has the same, bright flavors of the original.

“I make it at their facility … and then everything gets mixed and the jars are filled,” he said. “We get the best quality (ingredients,) and the consistency of the product is great.”

With its acidic bite, the tapenade can balance out the rich, creaminess of the house-cured meats, he said, but it’s not too acidic to interfere with the wine. Perfection.

Zinfandel BBQ sauce

It was natural next step for Janiak to bottle up the Seghesio Zinfandel BBQ Sauce, which grew out of the barbecue party the winery throws every summer.

“We wanted to find a barbecue sauce that wasn’t too sweet but a little sweet … so it would match well with our zinfandels,” he said. “This one really has a lot of red wine - we use our Sonoma Zinfandel, sourced from all over Sonoma County.”

To make the sauce, Janiak starts by sauteing the onions and garlic, adds tomato paste and deglazes the pan with the zinfandel, then adds in ketchup, molasses, brown sugar. For heat, he throws in sweet and smoky chipotle chiles and sprinkle of California chile powder made from Anaheim peppers.

“It has just the right amount of hot, but it’s not spicy,” he said. “It matches up with the spice profile in a zinfandel, and that’s what we were going for.”

Before grilling, Janiak coats the ribs with a dry rub made with spices such as cumin and paprika. (If you coat the ribs the night before, they can really penetrate the meat). After the ribs have been smoked, he takes the rack off the grill and portions the rack into smaller pieces.

“Then we’ll brush them with the sauce and throw them back on the grill to char them up,” he said. “I don’t put a lot of sauce on them. I just brush them, and then we have the sauce set up in squeeze bottles too, for more sauce on the side.”

Zinfandel Mustard

With its deep Italian roots, Seghesio Family Vineyards is renowned for its family recipes for homemade sausages, which are celebrated each Christmas with a private, sausage-making party in the barrel room for growers, distributors and the press.

“We serve a lot of sausage here, and it fits into our profile of what we do, with the rustic, Italian/Mediterranean style,” Janiak said. “So we were looking for a condiment to go with our sausages.”

Janiak set out to create a wine-friendly recipe for mustard. He started by reducing some zinfandel, whisking in some honey and folding that wine mixture into some whole-ground mustard.

“Between the zin and the honey, it doesn’t make it quite as spicy - it mellows it a little bit,” he said. “But it gives it a nice depth and complexity.”

If you want to gild the lily, the mustard can also serve as the basis of a quick and simple pan sauce, which is perfect when served over a pile of juicy sausages.

“We take the meat out of the pan, add stock and some mustard, fold in a little pat of butter, and serve it over roast pork or roast sausage,” Janiak said. “At home, you usually have to measure out ingredients, whereas now, if you have a carton of chicken stock and the mustard … you’re ready to go.”

To order Seghesio Kitchen products: or 707-433-3579


This crostini makes a great appetizer or a light meal with a side salad.

Crostini with Piquillo Pepper & Artichoke Tapenade with Bellwether Farm Carmody

Serves 8 as an appetizer

1 baguette

1 jar Seghesio Kitchen Tapenade

- Bellwether Farms Carmody, cut into slices the same size as baguette

1 tablespoon olive oil

- Pinch salt

1 teaspoon chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 8 crostini from baguette on sharp bias, about ¼-inch thick (you will have extra bread.)

Place on sheet pan and brush with oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Bake on sheet pan for 8 minutes until golden brown on edge and crispy.

Spoon tapenade on crostini, top with cheese and return to oven. Bake for an additional 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Remove from oven and garnish with chopped parsley.


Cumin and Paprika Rubbed St. Louis Cut Ribs with Zinfandel BBQ Sauce

Makes 8 to 10 servings

For dry rub:

4 tablespoons Diamond Crystal Kosher salt

2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons cumin

1 tablespoon coriander

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon garlic powder

For ribs;

3 racks of St. Louis cut ribs

1 cup of apple juice (heated)

1 jar Seghesio Zinfandel BBQ Sauce

For dry rub: Mix together spices to incorporate. Rub on ribs and heat smoker or oven to 225 degrees. Smoke or roast for 3½ to 4 hours.

Once cooked (should pull clean from bone with a little resistance), place each rack on a piece of aluminum foil big enough to wrap the rack and add ? cup apple juice to each packet.

Let rest for 45 minutes. Cut ribs into two-bone sections and place on hot grill to char while basting lightly with Zinfandel BBQ Sauce.


Grilled Bratwurst with Seghesio Kitchen Zinfandel Mustard Pan Sauce

Makes 6 servings

6 bratwurst

8 ounces chicken stock

4 ounces Seghesio Kitchen Zinfandel Mustard

2 ounces cold butter

1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Grill sausages until cooked.

While sausages are cooking, place 8 ounces chicken stock in a pan and heat until reduced by half. Add mustard and thyme and return to boil. Turn to simmer and simmer for two minutes.

Turn off heat, wait one minute, and whisk in cold butter until melted.

Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Remove sausages and place on platter. Spoon sauce over sausages.


Corn and Mushroom Salad with Frisée and a Brown Butter & Sherry Vinaigrette

Makes 6 to 8 servings

4 ears corn in husk

4 cups Maitake mushrooms (or mushroom of choice)

2 shallots, cut into rings

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/4 cup brown butter (see note below)

1 head frisee, cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil

- Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill to medium high. Grill corn on each side for about 5 minutes or until very fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool until cool enough to handle.

Once cool, remove husk and silk and cut kernels off the cob. Reserve warm.

Heat olive oil up over medium high heat in a saute pan big enough to hold both mushrooms and corn. Once hot, add mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes or until soft. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Add corn, cook for 1 minute and remove from heat.

Add sherry vinegar, brown butter, frisée and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: To brown butter, melt butter over medium heat in a pan with a light-colored bottom, swirling the pan to make sure the butter is cooking evenly. Watch as the color moves from yellow to tan to toasty brown.

Once you smell a nutty aroma, remove pan from heat and put browned butter in heat-proof bowl to cool.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or On Twitter @dianepete56.

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