• Flourless Chocolate Cake


    This cake is like a super moist fallen chocolate soufflé with a delicately crisp crust. It puffs up a lot while it bakes and then falls as it cools – so don’t panic. Be sure to give it at least 20 minutes to cool before serving; if it’s too warm, it will be tasty but much too difficult to cut. – Caprial Pence and Melissa Carey from Caprial’s Bistro

    This recipe is one of our summer favorites. Try it with some seasonal berries, like strawberries, raspberries or blueberries and pair with some of our REININGER & Helix red wines, like the Helix 2011 Merlot or the REININGER 2012 Syrah.

    5 eggs
    1 c. granulated sugar
    1/3 c. coffee liqueur
    1 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks; see note)
    6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    powdered sugar, for dusting
    1 1/2 cups whipped cream (3/4 cups unwhipped)
    organic rose petals (optional garnish)

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 10-inch springform pan and wrap the outside with foil to prevent leaking; set aside.

    Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip attachment and whip on high speed, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until very thick and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (Yes, it really takes that long; if you mix it for a shorter length of time, the cake will be only 1/4 inch tall.) Add the liqueur and mix well.

    With the mixer on medium speed, add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and beat until well blended. (The batter may look broken, or separated, at this point, but the chocolate will bind with the butter and fix that.) With the mixer on low speed, add the chocolate and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake moves as one mass when you gently jiggle the pan, about 30 minutes. (It’s much better to underbake this cake then to overbake it; it will be a bit gooey, but I’ve never seen anyone turn up their nose at that.)

    Let cool for 10 to 20 minutes, remove the outer ring of the pan and the foil, then let cool about 30 minutes longer before serving.

    Serve at room temperature, topped with dusting of powdered sugar and softly whipped cream. Garnish with rose petals, if desired. (And don’t forget those berries!)

    Note: Use real butter or stick margarine. Do not substitute reduced-fat spreads.


  • Grilled Red Potato Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette


    This potato recipe is simply delicious, and an excellent side dish for barbecue ribs. Our recipe selections this time around may seem a little onion crazy, but Merlot is a fantastic pairing with the sweeter onions – Walla Walla Sweets and Red Onions.

    4-5 lbs. red new potatoes, scrubbed (we recommend baby reds, but the larger red potatoes are just fine)
    1 tbsp. salt
    10 oz. bacon
    1 red onion, sliced into very thin semicircles
    5 tbsp. olive oil
    3-4 tbsp. apple-cider vinegar
    1/2 c. light brown sugar
    Freshly ground pepper and salt

    Add the potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt to a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil; boil until almost fork tender. Drain.

    Cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon, drain, crumble and set aside. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from skillet.

    Return the skillet to heat; add onions, cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar and sugar; cook, stirring until sugar dissolves, 3-5 minutes. Add fresh ground pepper and a pinch of salt.

    Heat barbecue to medium hot. Slice the potatoes in half if using baby red potatoes; quarter the potatoes if using the larger reds. Toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and ground pepper. Grill the potatoes until crisp and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. (If using the baby reds, you may wish to use a grilling tray or basket and grill in two batches.) Return the potatoes to the bowl. Add the dressing and bacon; toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Makes 6-8 servings.

  • The World of Cabernet Sauvignon with Chuck Reininger, Part 1


    Every June, the Walla Walla Wine Alliance coordinates Celebrate Walla Walla, a weekend exploration of one of the Valley’s most popular grape varieties. For 2016, the focus was on the King of Grapes—Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Because of its vigor, Cabernet Sauvignon is planted in just about every wine region around the world; but for its popularity, the grape is comparatively one of the younger varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon is a hybrid between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc that ampelographers (botanists who specialize in the classification and identification of grapevines) believe naturally occurred sometime during the 17th Century.

    Read More

  • Pork Baby Back Ribs with Espresso BBQ Sauce


    What could be better in summer than ribs on the BBQ? We love this recipe because the ribs can be cooked ahead of time in the oven in the morning, then barbecued for 30 minutes prior to serving. Walla Walla and Columbia Valley Merlots and Cabs are noted for their bright acidity, making them a wonderful accompaniment to tomato-based sauces, such as this delicious and unique Espresso Sauce.

    Ingredients for Pork Baby Back Ribs
    2 racks baby back ribs (about 4 to 6 ribs per person)
    Grey salt
    Freshly ground black pepper

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

    Cut each rack of ribs in half along the bone so they can be easily stacked. Lay them out on parchment paper for easy cleanup.

    Salt and pepper liberally on both sides and pat spices into the meat. Make sure to over season the ribs, because part of the rub will inevitably come off in the pan.

    On a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, stack the ribs close together, 3 layers high. Place in the oven for 2 hours, shifting the bottom layer of ribs to the top every 30 minutes until they are tender and almost falling off the bone.

    One half hour before serving, transfer ribs to a preheated grill (if using coals, make sure they have burnt down to an ember).

    Brush ribs with Espresso Sauce and close grill. Continue to turn and brush the ribs with sauce every 10 minutes, about 3 more times.

    Ingredients for Espresso Barbecue Sauce
    4 tbsp. mashed and minced garlic
    4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
    1 c. cider vinegar
    1/2 c. soy sauce
    2 c. ketchup
    2 c. honey
    Grey salt
    2-3 demitasse cups espresso (or about 1/3 cup of strong coffee or instant espresso)
    Fresh ground black pepper

    Mash garlic with the side of a knife and then mince finely to release oils.

    Add olive oil to a preheated saute pan. Add the garlic and saute until it gets light brown, about 1 minute. Add cider vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, and honey and stir well. Add a pinch of grey salt, then whisk in the coffee. Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

    Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.

    Let cool and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions & Merlot on the BBQ


    We’re not sure which Walla Walla winemaker deserves credit for this unique recipe, but we do know that Walla Walla Sweet Onions paired with Walla Walla Merlots are a wonderful combination. Easy to prepare, this recipe is terrific for large gatherings this Fourth of July holiday.

    6 Walla Walla Sweet Onions
    Reininger Merlot or Helix Merlot (1 -1.5 cups)
    4-6 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Freshly Ground Black Pepper
    Fresh Thyme Sprigs or chopped thyme (optional)

    Cut the tops and bottoms from the onions to flatten them. Remove the skin and outermost layer of onions. Using a small knife, cut a reservoir into the center of each onion. Place each onion on a sheet of foil large enough to completely surround the onion.

    Fill each onion reservoir – not quite to the top – with Merlot. Top with freshly ground black pepper and thyme. Drizzle olive oil over the tops of each onion. You may also wish to brush the sides of the onion. Wrap each onion tightly in foil, adding a second layer over the first.

    Place the onions on the barbecue and cook about 30 minutes over medium high heat. You can test doneness by squeezing. Remove from the grill when they are soft.

    Carefully remove the foil – they will be steaming hot – and serve one whole onion per guest.

    Note: Onions can be prepared slightly ahead of time, as they will remain hot for some time if they are left in their foil packets.

  • Transplanted


    verb. moved or transferred (something) to another place or situation, typically with some effort or upheaval.

    [caption id=”attachment_6959″ align=”alignright” width=”300″]Carmenere Grapes at Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley Carmenere Grapes at Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley[/caption]

    One of my favorite grape varietals is Carmenere, the “Lost Bordeaux grape.” Believed to be one of the ancient grapes, Carmenere once thrived in the Bordeaux region of France.  During the 1860s, Carmenere, along with much of France’s vines, were infested by phylloxera, a tiny little aphid that came over from America. Already a difficult grape to grow, the Carmenere vines were pulled up after the phylloxera epidemic and the grape was thought to be lost forever.

    During this same time period, French vine cuttings of what was believed to be Merlot were sent to Chile. The grapes thrived in Chilean soil, but it wasn’t until the 1990s when scientists tested the vines that they discovered it was the long-lost Carmenere grape. Today, Carmenere is primarily produced in Chile. But outside of Chile, Carmenere is found in Italy, California and the Walla Walla Valley.

    The long and storied transplanted history of Carmenere spans three continents and arguably thousands of years. Although my story is not quite so long, it spans three states and ends in the Walla Walla Valley.Read More

  • Our secret ingredient is…


    Raul Morfin, Assistant Winemaker

    It is often said, and it is utterly true, 90% of winemaking is cleaning… tanks, barrels, vats,floors, walls, hoses, valves, pumps, and let us not forget, the lowly barrel bung.

    A ritualistic approach to cleaning is essential for crafting the very best ultra premium REININGER and HELIX Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah, Sangiovese and Chardonnay.  Here, Raul Morfin, Assistant Winemaker, cleans fermentation bungs in barrels holding 2014 wines.

    Cheers to the New Year !

  • Harvest 2014 Update


    Crush at Reininger began the second week of September, and as of October 1st, we’re just about half-way done. “Intense” best describes our winery activities during harvest-time, and many liken it to a 60-day sprint from early September to early November. Overall, the fruit has been very high in quality as well as high in Brix.*

    Chuck notes the ripening has been a bit hectic, with Syrah in some vineyards ripening before Merlot. But as we’ve learned over the past 18 years, adjusting quickly to change is the norm. Thus far, we’ve brought in 64.5 tons of fruit including Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Semillon.

    Walla Walla Valley weather has been sunny and dry, with daytime temps in the 70’s, and night time temps dipping into the 50’s and 40’s. All in all, we are very happy with the fruit and the weather!


    Ann & the gang at Reininger/Helix


    *Here’s a brief refresher on Brix:

    Named for A. F. W. Brix, a nineteenth-century German inventor, the Brix scale is a system used in the United States to measure the sugar content of grapes and wine. The Brix (sugar content) is determined by a Hydrometer, which indicates a liquid’s Specific Gravity (the density of a liquid in relation to that of pure water). Each degree Brix is equivalent to 1 gram of sugar per 100 grams of grape juice. The grapes for most Table Wines have a Brix reading of between 20¬? to 25¬? at harvest. About 55 to 60 percent of the sugar is converted into Alcohol. The estimated alcohol that a wine will produce (called potential alcohol) is estimated by multiplying the Brix reading by 0.55. Therefore,a 20¬? Brix will make a wine with about 11 percent alcohol.

    Source: The Wine Lover’s Companion, by Ron Herbst & Sharon Tyler Herbst

  • Harvest Countdown


    With the 2014 harvest just around the corner in Walla Walla, here is a recap of our summer weather from winemaker Chuck Reininger:

    2014 so far has been on fire, literally and figuratively, but don’t expect an early harvest. Plants slow down their ripening process at temperatures above c.95 degrees to conserve moisture by shutting down photosynthesis.

    We’ve been hovering around triple digits the entire month of July. Walla Walla to date has accumulated 1917 “degree days,” 310 more than the running average since 2008.

    I anticipate harvest beginning around the same time as last year – September 8 – as a result of this phenomenon. Canopy management to guard against sunburn is very important this year.

    There’s also concern regarding forest fires. Our vineyards did not experience any smoke taint a few years ago, the last time there were significant fires. However, the smoke did block a significant amount of light waves, enough to also slow ripening, according to research by Washington State University.

    Thank you for your continued support of Reininger and Helix. Stay tuned for more crush updates in the coming weeks!



  • A Fall Dessert to Love: Chocolate Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake


    Chocloate Pumpkin Cheesecake photoThis past weekend my friend Nan brought a beautiful and delicious cheesecake to a fall gathering of food. Though I’m not going out on a limb to suggest a wine pairing, this is one of those desserts that is visually stunning and worthy of your holiday table!  Kudos to Nan’s teenage daughter, Anna, who created the decorative swirls.  Nan says it’s not difficult to make the cake or the swirls… The directions for creating the swirls are included in the recipe, and there’s additional information on how to make other swirled patterns. Lastly, don’t miss the whipped cream with sour cream and honey.

    The recipe hails from Fine Cooking Magazine, and here’s the link:


    Happy Fall Baking

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