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Bricoleur Vineyards chef launches ambitious food program during pandemic

Bricoleur Vineyards

Where: 7394 Starr Road, Windsor

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5. m. Thursday through Monday. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

For more information: bricoleurvineyards.com or 707-857-5700

Chef Shane McAnelly started his job as executive chef and director of culinary operations at Bricoleur Vineyards in March 2020, just three days before the shelter-in-place orders took effect.

When the winery quietly opened to the public in early May in the middle of the pandemic, the chef had to pivot but was able to gradually roll out a substantial food-and-wine program aligned with the winery’s goals as well as health department protocols.

“A big piece of the philosophy here is that food and wine make each other better,” McAnelly said. “When we opened, we had to have the food. That’s our vision.”

In May, the chef eased into that vision with wood-fired pizzas, meat- and plant-based charcuterie boards and fried chicken sandwiches. A picnic menu was added, and in July, two programs pairing wine with small bites were introduced. By October, the fried chicken sandwich was joined by a grilled cheese sandwich, salad and soup of the day.

Meanwhile, the culinary team at the winery launched a free virtual cooking class in March 2020 that has evolved with the seasons, from a weekly class in the spring to a once-a-month class last summer. In January, In the Kitchen with Bricoleur Vineyards returned to its original time slot every Saturday, led by McAnelly along with a few guest chefs.

“It’s been a hell of a year,” said McAnelly, who moved to Sonoma County in 2013 to launch Chalkboard restaurant in Healdsburg. “But the fun part for me is that I am talking to everyone who comes here. ... I’ve really gotten to know our club members.”

When possible, the winery also has hosted special themed dinners such as a Julia Child dinner, a truffle dinner and holiday dinners such as the Sláinte dinner, a St. Patrick’s Day celebration in March.

Apart from Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens in Santa Rosa with its culinary staff offering multifaceted programs, its hard to imagine a Sonoma County winery with a more ambitious goal of integrating food with wine.

Bricoleur Vineyard’s ultimate vision encompasses intimate seven-course dinner parties around McAnelly’s kitchen island — he was able to host just one so far — as well as large outdoor gatherings featuring festive farm-to-table dinners.

“Our goal is to have big, elaborate dinners,” said Chris Richard, sales and hospitality director. “We want to open both ends of the barn and extend a table through it and outside.”

Unusual pasta

In the meantime, visitors to the new winery can choose from four tastings that are served on the tented patio outside the 10,000-square-foot Winery Barn, where McAnelly’s kitchen is located.

With help from sous chef Evan Castro, McAnelly offers four bites to pair with four wines for the “Our Roots” tasting and six bites with six wines for the “Sip & Savor” tasting. Guests also can opt to taste four wines or six wines without food.

The chef, who has cooked at top Bay Area restaurants such as Garibaldi’s in Oakland and Va de Vi Bistro and Wine Bar in Walnut Creek, has a passion for pastas and the pizza pies of Italy. He loves introducing diners to lesser-known types of pasta.

“I have been making and cooking pasta for over 15 years, and I am still discovering new shapes I have never seen,” he said. “I love the endless world of pasta. ... I also love the versatility of how easy it is to incorporate our fresh garden ingredients into pasta dishes.”

The primal magic of cooking in the wood-fired pizza oven also appeals to the chef. The Bricoleur Vineyards’ oven gets a workout in the summer and fall, when the winery offers regular Wine and Pizza nights aimed at families.

“It is an entirely different way of cooking,” McAnelly said of the pizza oven. “You have to keep the heat just right, the dough needs to be just right, and again, the topping options are endless and allow us to utilize just-picked produce that we grow on site.”

The chef recently launched an innovative “Wine and Food To-Go” program, with various meal kits featuring pasta dishes and frozen pizzas that can be finished at home. They come with a bottle of Bricoleur wine and a fresh salad made from greens grown in the winery’s greenhouse.

“I’ve been trying to support local restaurants, but takeout is such a mixed bag,” he said. “So we tried to find easy ideas for people to make at home ... but it tastes like it was made here.”

Although the chef experimented with food to-go last spring, this time around he has refined the program, with handmade pastas like gnocchi or gnudi that can be boiled quickly while the sauce is heated.

In his virtual cooking classes, the chef often focuses on one seasonally appropriate dish. Sometimes the classes are led by guests such as Isabella Cirelli, the winery’s marketing and hospitality assistant, who will lead a baking class this Saturday.

Bricoleur Vineyards

Where: 7394 Starr Road, Windsor

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5. m. Thursday through Monday. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

For more information: bricoleurvineyards.com or 707-857-5700

Class participants receive a list of ingredients and the recipes so they can follow along at home. McAnelly already has planned out classes for all of 2021, and participants can order the paired wines ahead of time for specific months.

“In the beginning, I was surprised that 50% of the people who took the class on Zoom were actually cooking,” he said. “This Zoom thing allows us to connect with our wine club members all over the country.”

A world away

Despite the pandemic and fewer visitors to the winery, wine club membership has grown from a couple hundred to 1,000, according to Richard.

The winery offers its regular Bricoleur label, which currently includes the rosé of pinot noir, Kick Ranch sauvignon blanc, Kick Ranch viognier, unoaked chardonnay, estate chardonnay, pinot noir and zinfandel. A second label, called Flying by the Seat of Our Pants, currently includes a rosé of grenache and the North Coast brut sparkling.

Although located just a few miles southwest of downtown Windsor, the 42-acre winery on Starr Road feels a world away from modern life, with 360-degree views of rolling hills dotted by cattle, horse farms and vines. The winery has 20 acres planted to grapes, about half an acre of produce gardens and 250 olive trees that supply Spanish varietals for an estate olive oil.

Other landmarks include an old stone milk barn renovated into an apartment where wine club members can stay, a sprawling villa, a couple of ponds, an outdoor pavilion for tastings and dinners, a rose garden and a bocce ball court. There is also a coop for the chickens, which supply fresh eggs to the kitchen.

“I enjoy the picnics because guests can experience the entire property,” McAnelly said. “They can eat in the pavilion or the bocce ball court or the rose garden.”

The French word bricoleur (bree-ko-LER) refers to “one who starts building something with no clear plan, adding bits here and there, cobbling together a whole while flying by the seat of their pants,” hence the name of their second label.

Bricoleur Vineyards was founded by Mark and Elizabeth Hanson and daughter Sarah Hanson Citron, who all have roots in the North Bay. An entrepreneurial software and private equity executive, Mark was born in Santa Rosa and grew up in Marin. He serves as the CEO.

Elizabeth, who spent childhood summers on a ranch near Cloverdale, has worked in accounting, tax and real estate in San Francisco. She serves as the CFO.

Their daughter, Sarah, has worked for fashion houses such as Tory Burch, Helmut Lang and Theory and serves as the vice president of marketing.

“It feels like a startup, and everybody does everything,” McAnelly said. “Mark is the owner, and he’s often bussing tables and washing dishes.”

Because the winery is relatively new, the chef’s red wine choices for pairing have been limited so far to two pinots and a zinfandel. But that’s about to change in the near future.

“I’m excited because in the coming year, we’re going to have a cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, red blend and syrah,” he said.

So far, his favorite wine for food pairing is the Kick Ranch viognier.

“Ours is nice and dry and truly delicious,” he said. “My favorite thing to do is to pair it with larb, a Thai dish made with vegetables from the garden.”

Last summer, McAnelly created an unexpected pairing, matching grilled, spiced zucchini grown in the garden with the winery’s zinfandel.

“We rubbed it with an Indian spice rub that had guajillo peppers, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, garlic and ginger ... warm flavors that are spiced but not spicy, ” he said. "We charred it on our plancha so that it had a really nice crust. I really like charred foods with the zinfandel.”

The following two recipes are from Shane McAnelly, executive chef and culinary director of Bricoleur Vineyards. The salad recipe is a simplified version of the Citrus Spiced Vegetables McAnelly serves on the Sip & Savor menu, where he pairs it with the Bricoleur Vineyards 2018 Kick Ranch Viognier.

“I make this style (of the dish) at home a couple times a month. It is really simple to throw together and pretty healthy,” he said. “You can add cooked ground pork, ground chicken, shrimp or tofu to add some protein to it and to make it more of an entrée.”

Fish sauce, a liquid condiment made from salted and fermented fish, is popular in East Asian cuisine. Most grocery stores will have it in the ethnic foods aisle.

Larb Salad

Serves 2 to 4

1 small head green cabbage

1 English cucumber

1 red bell pepper

6 radishes

1 red onion

1 sprig mint

1 sprig basil (Thai basil, if you can find it)

2 tablespoon salted, roasted peanuts, chopped

2 jalapeños

1 clove garlic

4 limes

3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoon brown sugar

½ cup raw white rice (any type will work) for toasted rice powder garnish

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Kosher salt to taste

For the salad: Cut the cabbage in half, then in half again, cutting through the core each time. Cut crosswise into very thin strips and add it to a large mixing bowl. Slice the cucumber and radish in very thin rounds and add them to the bowl. Remove seeds from the bell pepper, cut into thin strips and add to the bowl. Cut the onion in half. You will only use half the onion for this recipe. Cut the half onion into very thin strips and add it to bowl. Pick the leaves off the sprigs of basil and mint and add them to bowl. Add peanuts to the bowl.

For the dressing: Cut the jalapeños in half down the middle. Remove seeds. Dice the jalapeño very fine and add it to a medium mixing bowl. Peel the clove of garlic and mince it fine. Add to the bowl. Cut the limes in half and squeeze their juice into the bowl with the garlic and jalapeño. Add the fish sauce and brown sugar to the bowl and whisk well, until the sugar is dissolved.

For the toasted rice powder: In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, place ½ cup raw white rice. Stir frequently and cook until the rice starts to turn a light brown. If the pan seems to get too hot, turn down the heat. You don’t want the rice to burn. When it’s ready, it will become aromatic and smell a bit like popcorn. Remove the rice from the sauté pan to a plate and let cool. When it’s cool, place the rice in a coffee/spice grinder with 1 teaspoon salt. Grind until it becomes a fine powder.

To finish: Add the dressing to the bowl with the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and toss thoroughly. On a plate or bowl, serve a portion of salad. Garnish with the toasted rice powder.

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Gnudi are gnocchi-like dumplings made with ricotta cheese instead of potato. “They’re really tender,” said McAnelly, who pairs this dish with the Bricoleur Vineyards 2018 Unoaked Chardonnay. It is available on the winery’s “Wine and Food To-Go” program.

Ricotta Gnudi

Makes 2 to 4 servings

1 16-ounce container of ricotta (Calabro brand, if possible)

2 eggs (1 whole and 1 separated)

1 lemon, zested and juiced

½ cup Parmesan (plus a little more for garnish)

1 pinch nutmeg (freshly grated if you have whole)

1 bunch chives, chopped fine

½ cup flour (may take a little more depending on the moisture level of the ricotta)

1 cup semolina flour, for dusting

For sauce:

2 ounces butter

½ cup butternut squash, diced and roasted

1 sprig sage

1 cup arugula

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Kosher salt, to taste

For gnudi: Put a large pot of water over high heat. Season it with salt until it tastes like the sea. In a medium mixing bowl, place ricotta, Parmesan, 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, zest of 1 lemon chopped fine, pinch of nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt and the chives. Mix well. Add the flour, little by little. You might not need the entire ½ cup. Do not overmix once the flour is in. Place about a cup of semolina in a second mixing bowl. Using a cookie scooper, scoop the gnudi dough into the semolina. Roll each scoop with your hands to form balls. Once all the gnudi is formed, drop them into the boiling water. They should take about 4 minutes to cook.

For sauce: In a large sauté pan, place 2 ounces butter, squash and sage over medium-high heat. Cook until butter turns a brownish color and smells nutty. Remove sage from pan.

To finish: When the pasta is cooked, add it to the pan with ¼ cup of the pasta water. Season with salt (if needed) and juice of 1 lemon. Toss the arugula through at the very end. Plate it and garnish with Parmesan.

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This recipe for a flourless chocolate cake is from consulting pastry chef William Woodward. McAnelly pairs it with the Bricoleur Vineyards 2018 Alexander Valley Zinfandel. “We use 70% dark chocolate from TCHO that has notes of berry,” he said. “It’s served with a little sea salt whipped cream and cocoa nibs and works really well with our zinfandel.”

Boca Nero

Makes 8 to 10 servings

12 ounces 70% dark chocolate (preferably TCHO)

½ teaspoon cornstarch

½ teaspoon Maldon salt

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup water

½ pound butter, soft

5 eggs

Nonstick cooking spray, as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pulse chocolate, cornstarch and Maldon in a food processor. Boil the sugar and water and pour into the food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the butter and blend. Add eggs, one at a time, while the food processor is running.

Spray a 4-ounce ovenproof baking dish (or sturdy foil cups) with nonstick cooking spray. Fill with batter. Place in a larger pan with water halfway up the sides of the baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool, then turn out onto a plate when ready to serve.

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

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.

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