Saturday, February 28, 2009

To all you Zin Snobs!

It's almost upon us folks...The 17th annual Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival is coming up fast! The weekend of March 20-22 is going to be a wild and crazy 3-day celebration of the grape varietal so popular in California.

Nearly 100 local wineries will be hosting events throughout the weekend. Think BBQ's, live music, barrel tastings, great discounts, and NEW RELEASES! Visit the event page at for a listing of all activities.

At Midnight Cellars: We invite all wine lovers to join us in our tasting room Friday thru Sunday from 10am-5:30 pm to celebrate our award-winning Zins, tasty homemade appetizers, and good music. And who knows, maybe we'll be releasing a new '07 Zin........With winemaker Rich running around, you can bet it will be quite the party!

That's not all though. Some awesome events will be held at the Paso Robles Event Center:

RESERVE - $120 Friday 4-6 p.m. (Includes RESERVE Event, Wine Country Auction & Grand Tasting).
Wine Country Auction - $85 Saturday 4:30-7 p.m. (Includes Wine Country Auction & Grand Tasting).
Zinfandel Grand Tasting - $60 Saturday 7-9:30 p.m. We will be pouring at the Grand Tasting, so make sure you stop by!

Levi Takes It!

Congrats Levi!!! Okay, I know the reaction is a bit delayed considering the race finished last week....but just in case you're not a follower of what's happening in the cycling world, Levi Leipheimer of team Astana took the overall win for the 3rd straight year! You can check out the final standings on the official Amgen Tour webpage at : .

The end of Stage 5, which happened to be right here in Paso Robles, was packed with cheering winos and cycling fanatics. It was quite the scene as Mark Cavendish of team Columia-Highland crossed the finish line to take first place in the stage.
Levi, however, with a 34 second overall lead, hung on to that yellow leader's jersey!

Leaders sprinting to the finish in Stage 5.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Amgen Tour of California is coming to town

The Amgen Tour of California will be rolling into Paso Robles this Thursday, February 19th. Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, and Floyd Landis are among the top cyclists racing this year.
The Amgen Tour cycling event is currently the largest in America, similar in style to the Tour de France. Top professional cyclists began the 750-mile race on February 14th in Sacramento, and will be finishing on February 22nd in Escondido.

The race is divided up into 8 different stages, with Stage 5 being a 130-mile, mostly flat but very windy ride from Visalia to Paso Robles. Riders will pass by ranches, vineyards, and farms as they race across the valley floor. This is the longest stage of the race, including two sprints along the way in Chalome and Shandon. The final 30 miles along Creston Road and into downtown Paso is sure to be a wild and crazy dash to the finish! The finish line is at Spring & 11th St., and estimated time of arrival is between 3:00 and 4:22 pm.

Stillwaters Vineyard, located on Creston Road, is hosting a Tailgate Watch Party in their vineyard. Lunch and wine tasting begin at 1 pm, and then head down to the road to watch the riders pass by! Cost is $20 per person.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Get Cookin'

Some delicious and pretty simple recipes for those of us who like to stay home and cook:

Rosemary-Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb
Pairs well with Midnight Cellars Estate Zinfandel

1 Rack of Lamb
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1/4 Cup Mustard (dijon or whole grain)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Heat half the olive oil in large pan (large enough to hold the lamb rack).
3. Rub lamb with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Sear lamb on high heat on all sides until brown, about 3-5 minutes total. Remove lamb from the pan and allow to rest on paper towel lined plate for about 10 minutes.
5. Combine mustard, garlic, and rosemary in small bowl.
6. Rub the mustard blend on the lamb, cover lamb bones with foil and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, so mustard has time to set.
7. Place lamb on a baking sheet and put in oven. Bake 20 minutes for medium-rare chops.
8. Remove lamb from oven and let rest for 8-10 minutes.
9. Cut the lamb into chops and serve with your favorite veggies and a glass of Midnight Cellars Estate Zinfandel!

And for Dessert...

Poached Pears with Chocolate
Pairs well with Midnight Cellars Petit Verdot or Malbec

2 Cups Zinfandel
2 Bosc Pears, cored and cut in half lengthwise
3 Vanilla beans
1/2 Cup brown sugar
3 whole Cloves
Dark Chocolate of your choice (however much you want!)
Vanilla Bean ice cream (optional)

1. Place all ingredients, except ice cream, in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low-medium heat.
2. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until pears are tender when pierced with a fork.
3. Remove pairs with a large spoon and place on plate. Drizzle with zin/chocolate sauce. Add a scoop or two of vanilla bean ice cream if you've got a mean sweet tooth. Enjoy!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Vino and Chocolate for Valentine's Day

Red wine and dark chocolate. A tasty little combination, but only when paired well. As a general rule, chocolates higher in cocoa percentages are going to pair better with strong, more robust red wines. If you've been into the tasting room lately you have probably tried some of our Wine Lover's Chocolate-72% cocoa paired with our two spicy Zinfandels. For our heavier Estate Merlot and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon keep the cocoa level around 55-58%. In my humble opinion, our lighter Pinot Noir might be better off with some velvety milk chocolate. Hey, why not treat yourself and your loved one to a little of both this Valentines Day weekend?

Most of us have heard about the heart-healthy properties of red wine and dark chocolate, but do we really understand the science behind it? Red wine contains important polyphenols such as flavonoids and resveratrol. Flavonoids also occur naturally in cocoa and contribute to the bitter taste of very dark chocolate. Various researches have found that these polyphenols contain antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Keep it in moderation along with a healthy, active lifestyle and you'll be ready to go!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Welcome to Midnight Cellars Blog!

We have finally decided to jump on the blogging bandwagon. What better way to keep in touch with all you loyal Midnight drinkers out there?! We'll keep you updated and entertained with frequent posts about what's happening in our vineyard and at the winery. Also check out some great recipes, pictures, and wine-related news.

Hard at work.

Winemaker Rich Hartenberger.