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Tank Garage Winery
 
January 29, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

The Wine Pairing You Need For Mardis Gras πŸ’šπŸ’œπŸ’›

Gumbo

With Mardis Gras on the horizon, we thought it was high time for a little Cajun flare. Angels With Dirty Faces was a knockout pairing for this classic Cajun stew. The liveliness from the Sauvignon Blanc and the texture from the skin-fermented Viognier match perfectly with the bold flavors and spice from the Gumbo. We think you'll agree this is a recipe worth repeating. πŸ˜‰

Score $10 off your next 3+ bottle order with code: INTHEKITCHEN at checkout through February 7th. Happy cooking and talk to you soon!

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Makes approximately 1 gallon

Gumbo Ingredients:
Oil, as needed
1.5 lbs Andouille Sausage, sliced into 1/4" rounds
2 medium Yellow Onions, small dice
6 ribs Celery, small dice
2 ea Green Pepper, small dice
1 head Garlic, minced
1 cup dark brown ​Roux
​1 ea Whole Chicken, shredded
4 qts Chicken Stock
Bay Leaf
Thyme Sprig
Cajun Spice Blend, to taste
Salt, to taste
Filé Gumbo Powder (optional)

For the Chicken Stock:
1 Whole Chicken
1 Onion, halved
2 ribs Celery, roughly chopped
1 ea bay leaf
1 tsp Peppercorns, whole

For the Roux:
1 cup Bacon Grease (can substitute butter or oil)
1 cup Flour

For the Cajun Spice Blend
equal parts:
Salt
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Black Pepper
White Pepper
Thyme
Oregano
Smoked paprika
Note: This spice blend is great on everything and can be stored in an air-tight container for up to one year. 

Method

For the Chicken Stock (can be made 1-2 days ahead of time):
Step One - Place whole chicken, onion, celery, bay leaf and spices in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to simmer for 1-2 hours. 

Step Two - Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Strain stock and reserve for future use. 

Step Three - Once the chicken has cooled, remove the meat from the bones and shred. Set aside for future use. 

For the Roux (can be made ahead of time):
Step One - Melt bacon grease in a cast iron or heavy-bottomed pan and whisk in flour to combine fully. The mixture should resemble wet sand. (Note: while you can absolutely substitute butter or oil, there is nothing that compares to the flavor the bacon drippings add to this stew. Save your bacon drippings for future use when you're whipping up breakfast on the weekends. You'll thank me later.)

Step Two - Over medium heat, use a high-temp spatula to stir your roux constantly until it resembles a deep chestnut or chocolate brown color. This will take approximately one hour. Pay close attention at all times, as a roux can burn very quickly. Alternatively, the roux can be cooked in a 350º oven by combining fat + flour in an oven-proof vessel for 4 hours, stirring occasionally, until the desired color is reached.

Step Three – Once the desired color is achieved, remove the roux from the pan immediately, as it will darken further as it cools. 

For the Gumbo
Step One - Add 1-2 tbs of oil to a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to ripple, add Andouille sausage and cook until browned, approximately 5-6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage from the pan and set it aside for future use.

Step Two - Add onion, celery, green pepper and 2-3 Tbs of the Cajun spice blend to the pot and sweat over medium heat until onions are fully translucent and the remaining vegetables are tender. Be sure to use a spatula to scrape off any stuck-on bits from the sausage! Add garlic and stir until fragrant, approximately 2 more minutes. 

Step Three - Add roux and chicken stock to the pot and stir to combine, making sure there are no lumps of roux remaining. Season to taste and add the thyme and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil and lower heat to simmer for one hour, skimming any fat as it accumulates. 

Step Four - Add shredded chicken and sausage to the pot and stir to combine. Simmer for an additional hour. Season to taste. 

Step Five - Remove the Gumbo from heat and discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.  Season to taste and serve over warm rice with a side of your favorite cornbread. Top with an optional sprinkle of filé gumbo powder and chopped green onions!

Note: Gumbo is one of the most customizable dishes you can make! Swap out proteins depending on what you have on hand. This stew can be made as thick or thin as you like it and spiced according to the amount of heat your palate can handle. This is a great dish to make ahead of time and the flavor will continue to develop. Store for one week in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Recipe by Grace Coyne

Time Posted: Jan 29, 2021 at 12:00 AM Permalink to The Wine Pairing You Need For Mardis Gras πŸ’šπŸ’œπŸ’› Permalink
Tank Garage Winery
 
January 27, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

The Sierra Foothills...

History

Nothing pairs better with a glass of wine than the stunning landscape of the Sierra Foothills. The Sierra Foothills AVA is an American Viticulture Area located in (you guessed it) the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range and was established in 1987. Wine grapes were first planted in the foothills during the California Gold Rush in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The Foothills have been known as “Gold Country'' since the mid-1800s when folks from all over came to seek the motherlode.  Once the gold ran out and Prohibition hit, wine disappeared until the 1970s when it was rediscovered by winemakers from Napa and Sonoma. The AVA is approximately 2.6 million acres and encompasses 12 counties and well over 100 wineries. The foothills are one of the oldest wine regions in California and houses six AVA’s and includes Amador County, Calaveras County, El Dorado County, Mariposa County, Nevada County, Placer County, Tuolumne County, and part of Yuba County. If you’re looking for beautiful vineyard lodging, wine produced from organic grapes, and food to complement it, you’ll find it in the Sierra Foothills. 

Climate

Foreign settlers searching for gold recognized the familiar Mediterranean climate of the Sierra Foothills and planted vineyards and olive trees. Today, vineyards are situated between 1,500 and 3,000 feet. This level of elevation sees all four seasons but generally hosts warm days and cool nights. The climate here is ideal for growing varietals like Zinfandel, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc that can prevail through many temperatures. Around 2,000 feet, the soil is mostly decomposed granite that’s been eroded from the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Around 3,000 feet, the soil is primarily finely crushed volcanic rock, dredged up over ten million years ago in Lake Tahoe. Both the granite and volcanic rock have good drainage but little nutrients, forcing the roots to search deep in the soil for food and water. 

Sub-AVAS

There are six sub-AVAs in the Sierra Foothills: California Shenandoah Valley AVA, El Dorado AVA, Fair Play AVA, Fiddletown AVA, and North Yuba AVA. The Shenandoah Valley AVA includes portions of Amador and El Dorado County and became an AVA in 1983. Also established in 1983, the El Dorado AVA is known for growing Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Thirty-two wineries live in the Fair Play AVA and it is the California AVA with the second-highest average elevation. About 20% of the wine produced in Amador County comes from the Fiddletown AVA. Renaissance Vineyard and Winery is the largest producer in the North Yuba AVA with 44 acres of vineyards planted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, and Roussanne.

Featured Wines

Current

At Tank, we source fruit from the foothills often. Returning to the Sierra de Montserrat Vineyard, we used Graciano for Marlenas from Reseda. We love the punchy cherry elements of this variety, so we ollie-stomped the fruit before allowing whole-cluster fermentation to do its thing. We gave the same treatment to the Syrah, which we scored from the fabled Snows Crossing Vineyard. Lastly, because we’re addicted to it, we cut in some Viognier, a white grape variety, that adds acidity to help the red juices become the best version of themselves.

Influenced by Beaujolais nouveau-style wines, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is a 2019 vintage red wine from the Sierra Foothills, spending just three months in barrel and bottled with minimal filtration to preserve the bright, fresh characteristics. Because of this, there will be sediment inside each bottle from the winemaking process that tells you it is legit. At the core of this lighter-bodied red wine is 60% Pinot Noir, supported by 26% Cinsault, 13% Valdigué, and 1% Mourvèdre. This is our first time working with Valdiguié, which was once fairly popular in California and referred to as "Napa Gamay" until 1980 when genetic testing proved it wasn't.

Introduction to Tank

Hey there! Welcome to Tank Garage Winery, the coolest winery in Napa Valley. No... really. Visiting the tasting room is like taking a trip back in time to a 1920s gas station turned speakeasy, pouring rad as shit wines and playing bomb as hell music. Cool California vibes mixed with vintage decor bring to fruition the most quirky encounter you’ll get at a winery. We think tasting wine should be easy, chill, and accessible for everyone and that’s the experience we’ve created at Tank. No judgment. No pressure. No frills. Everything we do is with our heart and soul.

 

Time Posted: Jan 27, 2021 at 11:45 AM Permalink to The Sierra Foothills... Permalink
Tank Garage Winery
 
January 20, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

Becoming a MADE Member...

There are so many chateaus and castles in the valley, but there’s only one gas station tasting room and it’s sittin’ pretty in Calistoga, California. Cool California vibes, vintage decor, and unusual blends bring to fruition the most quirky encounter you will get at a winery. If you’re looking for something a little different to enjoy and share with friends and family, then you know we’ve got the coolest wine club in Napa Valley. 
The benefits of membership are endless. To start, there is absolutely no cost to join. Our unique wine club gives you a number of perks: 10-20% off wines and merch, 2-6 free tastings every time you come into the garage, discrete access to our members only speakeasy lounge, and tickets to our garage sale parties we host a few times a year. You will also receive a free shirt or hat upon sign up! 
We release wines 5 times a year in February, April, July, October, and December and members may skip up to two consecutive releases. With tons of flexibility, our members have the option to fully customize their shipments prior to billing to ensure they get the wines they really want. 
One of the most unique parts of our wine club is access to our hidden speakeasy lounge in the back of the garage. The back room alone took a whole year to renovate. Through the curtain, you’ll find a gaudy chandelier and lounge seating with gothic velour wallpaper. Old photos of Napa during the 1920s line the walls in ornate gold frames. It’s a different kind of vibe back there. Secret, sultry, and just for you.

Come on down! A few times a year we throw a garage sale party (timed around the club release) where we open the garage door, park a food truck, and pour unlimited wines. While rocking out to some sick jams, feel free to roam and use our giant cornhole boards and giant Jenga or try to nab the high score on the lot of old pinballs machines stationed inside. Our parties are legendary (we may or may not have had the cops shut it down in the past). 

We’re always pumping out rad new wines so as a wine club member, you will always get to try something different. You will never get the same thing twice since every bottle is a one-off and we have handpicked them just for you. In addition to red wine, white wine, and rose, we also dabble in the dazzling worlds of orange wine, sparkling pet nats, natural wine, carbonically macerated wines, and so on. We collaborate with tattoo artists, digital artists, and photographers to create some of the most eccentric labels you’ve seen on a bottle. So if you’re adventurous and love trying new things, we’re the winery for you. 
If you’re game, join the club and get to know our wines, the vineyards we source our fruit from, and the rad folks who bring them to you. It’s one you won’t forget.

Time Posted: Jan 20, 2021 at 11:00 AM Permalink to Becoming a MADE Member... Permalink
Tank Garage Winery
 
January 20, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

What it Was Like to Be a Winery During 2020

The Best Winery in Calistoga

When tasting in Napa Valley, we know you’re looking for the most fun winery experience. We got you. For approximately an hour, we will pour you through four unique, limited release wines, delving into stories behind our one of a kind labels and the history behind our treasured spot. We pay attention to the little things: the tables are made of old wine barrels and the garage is decked out with Indian motorcycle memorabilia, a custom-made surfboard, and an Evil Knievel pinball machine.  Feel free to wander the garage, play a few rounds of pinball, check out our specially curated merch room, or just hang with our staff. We think tasting wine should be easy, chill, and accessible for everyone and that’s the experience we’ve created at Tank. No judgment. No pressure. No frills. Everything we do is with our heart and soul.

Our Winery Shut-Down Story

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic bringing all of our lives to a seemingly forced halt, life in the vineyards of wine country continues on. The biggest change has been the silence; there’s a new lack of hustle and bustle from the cars lining up highway 12 up and down the valley. Back in July of 2020, Governor Newsom issued an order mandating that wine tastings must cease in 19 counties. For a small, family-owned winery, the news was tough but we know it was the right thing to do. In December of 2020, a regional stay at home order has forced closure again for over 3 weeks. For wineries all over, it seems a pivot to online experiences is in order. You can shut us down, but we’ll keep trudging on and find new ways to adapt.

Our Commitment to Health & Safety

We are implementing important measures to assure the safety of our employees and our guests. We have enlisted in tasting room precautions to ensure an experience enjoyable for everyone. When the tasting room is open, all Tank Garage Winery staff will be screened daily for symptoms of COVID-19, including temperature screenings. Employees will not be allowed to work when they exhibit any such symptoms. All Tank Garage Winery staff will wear personal face coverings. Guests must also wear face coverings at all times, with the exception of when wine has been served to them for their experience. Hand sanitizer will be available at multiple locations around our property. Guests are asked to wash or sanitize their hands upon arrival, and to follow good hygiene practices at all times.

Wine Tastings During a Pandemic

To make sure we are able to provide a safe wine tasting experience, we have followed all of the safety guidelines recommended by the state. While we were open, service took place outdoors and indoors with parties not exceeding 6 guests at a time. We limited the number of parties on property at any time, and all tables were stationed at least 6 feet apart. Guests must also comply with our social distancing requirements, and be mindful of maintaining distance from other visitors and our employees at any time they are away from their tasting experience area. Tastings during a pandemic may be limited, but guests are able to enjoy a more personalized, one on one experience with their host. We are truly thankful for the times we are able to be open during COVID-19.

Calistoga Wildfires

When we first read the forecast for dry lightning, we didn’t know what to expect. To our dismay, dry lightning amped up our fire season like nothing we’ve ever seen. But the resiliency of Calistoga is astonishing. In 2020, fires roared out of control in California, destroying much of wine country and displacing thousands of people. In just a few days, the Glass fire erupted in size and destroyed upwards of 80 homes and wineries. All wineries were affected by the Calistoga wildfire in a city highly reliant on tourism. At Tank, we mourn the loss of the wineries who were destroyed in the fires and were terrified when the fires only reached a mile from our little garage. The recovery efforts will take time and we are so thankful for those who have supported us through this year of unpredictable disruption.

Virtual Wine Tastings

As part of this year’s adaptation, we are stoked to be able to provide a way to enjoy our wines from anywhere. We're making it easier than ever to gather with friends and family with our insanely cool virtual wine experiences. Bring the Tank Garage Winery experience to your home. In this one-hour private Virtual Tasting, a member of our team will taste you through 3-4 wines over Zoom. You'll learn about our unique varieties, vineyards, winemaking methods, and worst break-up stories. A wine experience on Zoom may sound intimidating, but our staff makes it super comfortable and fun. We’ve even incorporated wine trivia into our tasting experience to further engage with our favorite folks and so y’all have a shot at winning some prizes. Happy tasting!

Our Cool Tasting Room Staff

Our crew has been working tirelessly through the pandemic and we’re so grateful to have them on our team. Help keep our crazy band of misfits doin’ what they do best and give us a call down at the tasting room. Our goal is to create a memorable experience you won’t forget so we found the finest in the business. When you walk through the front door, it is like walking into a friend’s house. We have the raddest crew around with Heath rockin' the stereo, Jacey singin’ a tune, Conary flexing his camo, and Aaron dropping some hot somm knowledge. From club member, Steph H: “Every experience I've had with a team member there has been fun, educational, and genuine. Almost like hanging out with friends!”

About Tank Garage Winery

Hey there! Welcome to Tank Garage Winery, the coolest winery in Napa Valley. No... really. Visiting the tasting room is like taking a trip back in time to a 1920s gas station turned speakeasy, pouring rad as shit wines and playing bomb as hell music. Cool California vibes mixed with vintage decor bring to fruition the most quirky encounter you’ll get at a winery. Every day, we celebrate this crazy dream turned into a movement where we get to do cool shit and you get to come along for the ride. We celebrate the adventurers, the dreamers, the weirdos, the free spirits, and the misfits. So next time you’re in town, you won’t want to miss out. Come by our little garage and celebrate with us.

Time Posted: Jan 20, 2021 at 9:00 AM Permalink to What it Was Like to Be a Winery During 2020 Permalink
Tank Garage Winery
 
January 13, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

Let's Talk Vineyards!

Let’s talk vineyards! Ann Kraemer is known for her meticulous creation of Shake Ridge Ranch in Sutter Creek, California. She spent 25 years in vineyard management and development in Napa Valley, Oregon, and Chile and longed for a place of her own to work on. From a longtime farming family, she bought the property with her father in 2001. Of 8 siblings she was the only one to stay in agriculture. 

Shake Ridge is surprisingly young for how well known its fruit is, having been cultivated in 2001 and only begun yielding in 2005. Shake Ridge has reached a level of fame unmatched by vineyards in the same location that has been around for generations. With Kraemer’s love for puzzles, she considers this venture the ultimate puzzle; the vineyard is divided into tidy blocks of vines pieced as snugly together as a jigsaw. 

Shake Ridge Ranch straddles the Sierra Foothills 1800 ft above sea level, featuring approximately 42 acres of wine grapes in several blocks, each boasting unique soil characteristics, microclimates, and slope. The overall soil at the vineyard consists of well-drained loam with quartz, shale, soapstone, and a touch of granite. Before planting, Kraemer dug up six-foot deep pits around various locations to analyze the soil and determine which grapes would be best planted where. For example, Barbera craves heat so those vines are orientated on west-facing slopes. Petite Sirah was planted at the base of the vineyard, where the soil is more fertile and the climate is cooler. Shake Ridge is farmed organically, even though they aren’t certified, using organic fertilizer and composting to promote natural movement, cover crops for soil erosion control, and using natural predators to attack pests. The calling of the vineyard is for as minimal intervention as possible while maintaining the strongest, healthiest plants. 

The rad thing about Shake Ridge wine is that 80% of Kraemer’s famous fruit is sold while 20% is kept for her label. “I’m giving them really good ingredients like you see on those cooking shows everyone watches, like ‘Iron Chef,’” Kraemer says. “The contestants are given the same ingredients and they make completely different meals with those same ingredients. That’s what I think is so cool.” Kraemer takes her relationship with grape customers to the next level. She is well-respected for her attention to detail and works closely with winemakers to give them the best possible grapes for their desired style of wine. She also hosts an event, “The Shades of Shake Ridge,” where winemakers are invited to meet and share their wines made with Kraemer’s fruit. 

Our most recent wine from Shake Ridge is called Middle Finger and sold out of 325 cases in just one day. Middle Finger is a blend of 95% Barbera, 3% Primitivo, and 2% Graciano. It is a shimmery shade of garnet in color, with aromas of herbal cherry, violets in bloom, and maraschino cherry. In your mouth, it’s like a strawberry gusher (remember those?!), with tart strawberry, blue Icee (or those?), and creamy vanilla bean flavors balanced by mouth-watering acidity and a finish that JUST. DOES. NOT. QUIT. We are forever grateful to folks like Ann who keep the dream of creating cool wines a reality for us.

Time Posted: Jan 13, 2021 at 11:00 AM Permalink to Let's Talk Vineyards! Permalink
Tank Garage Winery
 
January 6, 2021 | Tank Garage Winery

Behind our Little Garage

The story behind the garage begins with Eddie Bratton, a young fella from Fargo, North Dakota. He bought his first motorcycle bike in 1926 at the age of 15 and eventually rode out from Fargo to California, surviving solely on onion sandwiches and potatoes he'd dig up from rural farms. Eddie started at Hap Jones' Indian Motorcycle dealership in San Francisco, tuning bikes and manufacturing custom "Bratton Cams," his rendition for the nation’s top riders looking for an extra boost. 
When he wasn’t working, he was riding. He competed annually in the Catalina Grand Prix, one of the biggest races in the country at the time. According to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, it was a 100-mile event held on Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles and the course was a mixture of road, dirt fire trails, singletrack, and even went through a golf course. Many big riders skipped the Grand Prix to avoid embarrassment when riders who typically dominated the race came out on top. 

One of his favorite tricks while riding was with his wife. He would stand on one foot peg and raise his body off the seat on that side. His wife would scoot under him and he would slide back, swapping him as the driver. Consider it the motorcycle version of the Chinese fire drill except while the bike was moving. Then, they’d catch up with their group and surprise their fellow riders with her in charge. 
He was known for his devotion to Indian motorcycles, considering them tried and true. He opened up his shop where Tank sits today, racing and repairing classic bikes until retiring in the early 80s. His custom 1947 Indian Chief still sits in our brick hallway with his trophies line on the wall behind it. Some tasting room staff may say that Eddie still hangs out in the back hallways of the garage. True legends never die but don’t worry, he’s not the hell-raiser he used to be. 


The inspiration behind Tank comes from a visit our owner, James Harder, took earlier in his career to a gas station winery in Walla Walla, Washington. A wine bottle shop, a pet shop, and a few other miscellaneous ventures along the way, our very own Harder then discovered our little garage in 2014 and saw something different. With an extensive marketing background, he had no idea he possessed all the tools to create the best tasting room in Calistoga.  A little dreamin’ later, Tank Garage Winery was born. 
When you step into Tank Garage Winery today, you can feel the presence of a story. There’s something different about walking into a location that has taken on many different hats over the years. Strolling through the big restored rolling garage door and pouring wines under a giant lubrication sign, we think Eddie would be proud. The preservation of the history of the garage combined with a love for cool, new wines has created your new favorite place to hang.

Time Posted: Jan 6, 2021 at 11:00 AM Permalink to Behind our Little Garage Permalink