The New Deal Supper Club – A Moveable Feast

Sarah Pace and Suzanne Barr prepare tacos for the meal. Photo: T. I. Williams

Sarah Pace and Suzanne Barr prepare tacos for the meal. Photo: T. I. Williams

Last week, Blue Planet Green Living had the privilege of introducing our readers to a unique, traveling supper club in the greater New York City area. Chef Sarah Pace of Rabbit Mafia and Chef Suzanne Barr of Sweet Potato Bakery have come together to provide unique, locally sourced, raw meals at a modest cost. To the delight of their patrons, they choose a different venue for each event. If you’re inspired to join this movable feast, check the websites at the bottom of the post for future event announcements.Julia Wasson, Publisher

The New Deal Supper Club on July 15th was sweeter than a song.

This time, the ladies of Rabbit Mafia and Sweet Potato took their awesomely sophisticated show on the road to Brooklyn’s hinterlands (I mean, Williamsburg). The trip to BRIDGET Tasting Room felt like an updated Mission Impossible scene. Only this time, the instrumentals were the introductory bars to the infamous 1987 hit, Smooth Criminal.

Brooklyn provided a beautiful backdrop that surprised the guests, some from as far as New Jersey. There, miles from a train (translation: civilization) attendees were greeted by a beautiful waterfront — bridge and all. The wide-open streets of the once commercial district in Williamsburg edged right up to the wide-open glass façade of BRIDGET Tasting Room at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge.

The dinner, like Michael Jackson’s song, was a never-ending interplay of unexpected experiences and associations. Chefs Sarah Pace and Suzanne Barr touched on multi-layered possibilities when they served the Papaya Lime Summer Soup. Ooooowwwww. Spicy and smooth, guests at the dinner raved about the shock delivered to their palates in the form of summer tropical fruits cinched with lime.

The Cucumber Agave Juice, which came by the carafe, was eagerly downed by folks playing with the flavors of the mildly sweet and super-refreshing drink.


Summer Corn Tacos proved to be a hit. Photo: T. I. Williams

Then came the crescendo — both at the table and in the song that looped in my head. When the Summer Corn Tacos were placed before me, I was officially hit — by the smoothest of criminals. Radicchio & Romaine Chiffanade, Pico de Gallo, Chunky Guacamole & Nut Chili with a pickled side salad… these were just the parts of the carefully orchestrated whole. What more does anyone want from a taco… besides another serving?

And in keeping with the raw Latin American theme, the ladies capped the meal with the most appropriate dessert. Somewhere between pre-Colombian past and 2051, they landed in a middle ground that’s eons away from the present. And yes, I was very much okay after having the Spiced Chocolate Mousse. Thank you for asking.

There is one aspect of the New Deal Supper Club that outshines the food: the price. Pace and Barr make a conscious effort to buy local produce from Satur Farms and other local farmers, in combination with consciously sourced international items, like papaya, all at a an economical rate for guests.

All New Deal Supper Club meals are served at establishments that share the team’s mission to embody sustainability. A delicious, nutritious, three-course meal for $25.00 in New York is a rarity. A three-course meal that is raw, seasonal, and touches all the finer parts of the palate for $25.00 in New York is near impossible. The ladies, once again, shine as stars in the New York City Supper Club scene.

The most

BRIDGET Tasting Room proved to be a delightful venue for the New Deal Supper Club's second event. Photo: T. I. Williams

BRIDGET Tasting Room was well worth the trip. The tasting room carries a selection of amazing wines that round out BRIDGET’s own collection of superb bottles from the Bridge Urban Winery’s vineyard on Long Island. Respecting both the environment and discerning consumers, the vineyards in Hudson Valley were developed and cultivated by Greg Sandor and Paul Wegeimont. Later they were joined by Everard Findlay, who expanded BRIDGET’s presence by creating a home for the excellent wines in Brooklyn.

T. I. Williams
Baker and Live Foods Chef-Educator

Contributing Writer
Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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The New Deal – A Progressive Supper Club

Hall Wines St. Helena Earns LEED Gold Certification

Hall Wines announces LEED Gold certification for their St. Helena facility. Photo courtesy: Hall Wines

Hall Wines announces LEED Gold certification for their St. Helena facility. Photo courtesy: Hall Wines

You’re out to dinner with friends, ready to order a glass of wine with your meal. You look over the wine list, considering your options: White or red? Dry or sweet? Domestic or imported? Organically grown or not? And on and on… But it’s a good bet that you never stop to wonder whether the wine you will choose was produced with energy-savings in mind. For most of us, energy savings don’t spring readily to mind when we’re sitting in a restaurant. But starting today, there’s another factor to consider when choosing a wine. — Julia Wasson, Publisher

HALL Wines announced today that its St. Helena winery is the first in California to receive the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold Certification.

LEED certification measures all environmental metrics for a building or a community, including indoor air quality, water efficiency, energy savings, reductions in CO2 emissions, resource stewardship, and sensitivity to environmental impacts.

“The certification of HALL Wines not only marks a momentous occasion for the wine industry of California, but demonstrates how all industries can choose to be solvers of our collective environmental challenges,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The HALL Wines project efficiently uses natural resources, makes an immediate positive impact on our planet and as a business leader, can expect to reap financial benefits over the lifecycle of the building.”

Kathryn Hall, owner and vintner of HALL Wines, and President Mike Reynolds have made it their long-term mission to become the leader in earth-friendly California wine growing. Accordingly, they designed the new HALL St. Helena facility to meet the rigorous standards of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification system.

To become Gold LEED certified, HALL has incorporated many sustainable design elements and practices in their new, state-of-the-art facilities, including:

  • Radiant Floors – By using radiant flooring, HALL precisely controls the facility’s temperature while conserving energy. The wine-making team specifies the exact temperature needed, then cold or warm water is pumped through tubing within the floor slab, to create an energy-efficient and stable storage and production environment.

    Grapes go into the hopper in an outdoor area of the Hall Wines St. Helena facility. Photo courtesy: Hall Wines

    Grapes go into the hopper in an outdoor area of the Hall Wines St. Helena facility. Photo courtesy: Hall Wines

  • Solar Energy – More than 35 percent of the electricity needed to power HALL St. Helena comes directly from the sun using solar photovoltaic cells (solar panels) on the rooftops of the barrel cellar and fermentation building. Approximately 42,000 square feet of solar panels span the St. Helena winery roofs.
  • Local Building Materials – To reduce the CO2 generated in materials transportation, more than 10 percent of the building materials were extracted, harvested, recovered, or manufactured within 500 miles of the project site.
  • Recycled Building Materials – More than 10 percent of the materials used were made with recycled content.
  • Water Conservation – Drought-tolerant plants were selected for the winery landscaping, which will reduce the demand for irrigation by more than 50 percent.  In conjunction with this, all of the landscaping and vineyards are irrigated with recycled water. A 40-percent reduction of building water has also been achieved through the use of low-flow water outlets, without compromising performance.

HALL extends their environmental responsibilities to their general operations by recycling and by using recycled materials whenever possible in their offices, as well as by shipping direct-to-consumer wine in recyclable packaging.

“Visitors come to HALL to experience hand-crafted Cabernet Sauvignon and are excited to learn about our vineyards, buildings, and operations, which result in a minimal carbon footprint,” says Kathryn Hall. “At HALL Wines, we grow our own grapes and craft our wines, and so we are obligated to ensure the health of the land, as well as that of the greater Napa Valley ecosystem.” The Halls own nearly 500 organically farmed acres in Napa and Sonoma counties. These acres are expected to be certified organic within a year.

From July through the end of August, HALL St. Helena is offering complimentary LEED tours daily at 11 AM. For reservations, please call 707.967.2626.

Hall Wines St. Helena. Photo Courtesy: Hall Wines

Hall Wines St. Helena. Photo Courtesy: Hall Wines

HALL wines are distributed in major markets throughout the U.S. The Halls have a second wine-making facility in Napa Valley, HALL Rutherford, which was completed in 2005.  Additional information is available on the Hall Wines website .

# # #

U.S. Green Building Council

The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

With a community comprising 78 local affiliates, more than 20,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 100,000 LEED Accredited Professionals, USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to soar to $60 billion by 2010. The USGBC leads an unlikely diverse constituency of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students.

Buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 13% water consumption and 15% of GDP per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity. Greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.

Courtesy of HALL Winery

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Birth of a Biodynamic Winery

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Thousands of wild Coho and Chinook salmon once swam with steelhead trout in the waters of Sonoma County’s Dry Creek. For a time, the common use of pesticides had all but wiped out the salmon. Today, Dry Creek is a protected stream. Nearby farmers now understand the dangers of applying chemicals to their vineyards and their crops — dangers not only to the fish in the creek but also to the people who will drink the wine and eat the produce grown on their land.

Truett Hurst Winery in the springtime. Photo: Truett Hurst Winery.

At Truett Hurst Winery, a new addition to the fine wineries of Sonoma County, we not only have decided to forgo pesticides and herbicides, we also have begun to farm biodynamically. Simply put, biodynamics is a form of farming that strives to be self-sustained, self-contained, and harmonious with nature.

We have embarked on a three-year program to adhere to the rigid standards set by Demeter, an international certifying body, whose standards are said to exceed those of the National Organic Program. We are confident that the winery we are creating will be sustainable both in farming practices and economically, and will produce world-class wines.

Salmon have begun returning to Dry Creek.

Salmon once again spawn in Dry Creek. Photo: Truett Hurst Winery.

I invite you to come along with me as I walk through the property and point out the progress we’re making on this biodynamic farming adventure. We’ll start on the banks of Dry Creek, which runs through the heart of the valley. Despite its name, Dry Creek is never dry; Warm Springs Dam feeds it throughout the dry months. The creek forms the western boundary of our property, and Dry Creek Road borders us on the east. Truett Hurst Winery is located on the land between the two.

Dry Creek is my favorite place at the winery. In the five years I have been on the property, I have seen a steady increase in the number of fish running in the stream.  During the rainy season, I can walk down to the creek and observe salmon migrating, and even spawning, in the shallow pools on our stretch of the creek. We are working in conjunction with the Department of Fish and Game and with Trouts Unlimited to create an observation area and a release point for wild salmon. Viewing the salmon is one of the many rewards of our project.

A truck crosses the farm bearing barrels of wine.

A truck crosses a pasture carrying barrels of wine. Photo: Truett Hurst Winery.

Walking from the creek toward the vineyards, we first have to go through the sheep pasture. We are in the process of building our sheep fencing, as sheep will become a vital part of the ecosystem. They will roam throughout the vineyards, serving as our lawn mowers and our fertilizers. We will also incorporate chicken coops to provide nitrogen-rich fertilizer and weed abatement. We’ll especially appreciate their help with scratching crab grass, a huge nuisance in Dry Creek Valley. The middle five acres are dedicated to open sheep pasture.

More than 15,000 newly planted vines spread across 18 acres on the property. It looks a bit like a milk carton vineyard at the moment. In the springtime, we will be grafting more than 10 acres to Zinfandel and 7 acres to Petite Sirah.

Grafting new vines onto old.

Grafting new vines onto old. Photo: Truett Hurst Winery.

The creation of elaborate compost piles is also underway, and we’ll build them up over the coming years. We are, in essence, farming the soils, creating powerfully alive soils that will allow for true “wines of place.” In biodynamic farming, everything we need to farm the property is created on the property. By doing this, the grapes are truly representative of the land we farm. This terrior will become the hallmark of our wines.

We are also working with a sharecropper, who will be planting three acres of biodynamic gardens to bring to market. He is planning out areas of fruits, vegetables, and a small orchard that will allow us to farm diverse crops on our land. Some of our produce will be sold to organic restaurants, and some will be given to local food banks.

Lunar cycles are important in biodynamic farming.

Lunar cycles are important in biodynamic farming. Photo: Truett Hurst Winery.

One fascinating aspect of biodynamics is the practice of farming by lunar cycles.  Summer and winter solstices are very important in the preparation of our organic compounds. I call it “Farmer’s Almanac farming,” and it simply is a very hands-on, practical way to farm.

Winemaker, Ginny Lambrix, carefully tends each vine. Photo: Truett Hurst Winery.

Everything we do is clean, pure and, wherever possible, done by hand. It is a very pure way to farm and truly become one with your land.

Ginny Lambrix, our amazingly talented winemaker and head of viticulture, walks the vineyards often to see how the rootstock is doing and how the soils are progressing, as well as to get a personal feel for our vineyards. I kid her that she has probably named each one of the 15,000 vines.

Bottles of Truett Hurst wine, ready for labeling.

Bottles of Truett Hurst wine, ready for labeling.

A little over a year ago, a team of three wine-industry pioneers took ownership of this land:
•    Paul Dolan, one of the most respected names in the wine business and godfather of biodynamic farming practices where wineries are concerned. He led the efforts of organic pioneer Fetzer Winery for almost three decades.
•    Heath Dolan, scion of Paul and 5th generation grape grower. He is the developer of one of the most famous biodynamic vineyards in the world, Dark Horse Vineyards in Hopland.
•    Phil Hurst, founder of Winery Exchange and one of the former winemakers at Fetzer in their early years. Winery Exchange is one of the largest private label wine companies in the world.

The patio adjacent to the tasting room. Photo: Truett Hurst Winery.

One of the most refreshing things about what we are doing is the fact that the owners say we must become financially sustainable, as well as a sustainable farm. Financial sustainability is key to this venture; otherwise wineries that still farm with conventional methods (herbicide, pesticide, machine farming) will have no incentive to convert. At the end of the day, profitability is a key part of sustainability.

The owners’ collective vision was to create a beautiful destination and a biodynamic winery in the heart of Dry Creek Valley. They wanted to show how world-class wines can be created from strict biodynamic practices. The truer we are to our core farming values, the better Truett Hurst Wines will taste.

There is something truly special about this place, and in the coming months and years, I will share with you what is happening as we move ahead with our biodynamic farm. If you find your way to Sonoma County, come see for yourself. We love showing the place off. And you might just see a migrating salmon or two while enjoying a glass of our wines.

Jim Morris

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Organic Farming Yields the Finest Wines

Overlooking the vineyards. Photo: Courtesy C. Donatiello Winery

Walk through the garden gate at C. Donatiello Winery, and aromas of raspberries, peaches, and fragrant flowers waft to your nose. Take your time. Stroll along, sipping from a glass of Maddie’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, made with organic grapes grown nearby. Savor the experience. You’ll soon understand why owner Chris Donatiello treats the land and the grapes in his vineyards with the care of a loving parent.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed Donatiello from his office near Healdsburg, California. We wanted to learn about the sustainable and organic farming practices that are integral to the production of C. Donatiello’s fine wines. — Julia Wasson, Publisher

BPGL: How do you differentiate your winery from anything else in the Russian River Valley?

DONATIELLO: There are two parts of who we are. Actually neither of them is about being “green” and “organic”; that’s something we do because it’s important to us, and we think it helps make better wine. From a wine profile perspective, we want the wines to show where they’re coming from.

Entrance to the aroma garden. Photo: Courtesy C. Donatiello Winery

The Russian River Valley is a special place with a lot of varied areas, different soils and vegetation; there’s no point in making a single vineyard if it doesn’t show the valley’s diversity. We look for balanced wines, food-friendly wines. From a wine-making and taste-profile perspective, that’s what’s important. The second part is that when people come here and picnic, we want them to feel our hospitality. We want them to stay as long as they want, to go to our garden and pick raspberries and peaches. Hospitality is a large part of what we do.

BPGL: What are you doing to be organic and natural?

DONATIELLO: It’s more what we’re not doing. We’re not putting Roundup on our fields. We don’t use any pesticides or herbicides that are not organic. We use a lot of organic oils to discourage insects. We’re not using rat poison. You may kill the rat, but then the cat that eats the rat dies, and then the vulture that eats the cat dies. It keeps going and going and going. It’s not healthy for the environment. As much as what we are doing, we pay attention to what we’re not doing. That’s a big component of our CCOF certified organic vineyards.

BPGL: So, are C. Donatiello wines considered “organic wines?”

DONATIELLO: There’s a difference between organically farmed grapes and organic wine. Organic wine requires organic grapes, but you can have organic grapes without making organic wine. It comes down to a winemaking decision. It’s more important from a global, environmental perspective to grow organic grapes. And from a taste perspective, it’s also important. If you don’t take care of the grape on the vine, in process, or in the barrel or the bottle, it will affect the taste of the wine.

Two offerings from C. Donatiello wines

Two organic offerings from the winery. Photo: Courtesy C. Donatiello Winery

None of our wines are technically “organic,” but we use organically grown grapes. Because there are sulfides used in the winery process, we can’t say the wine is organic. For example, Maddie’s Vineyard Pinot Noir is made with certified organic grapes. Even though we can’t advertise it as “organic wine,” using organically grown grapes to make it is important to us — and it improves the wine. Our Bradford Mountain Grist Vineyard Zinfandel and Syrah are also made from organically grown grapes.

BPGL: You mentioned that your vineyards are sustainably farmed. What does that mean in terms of how you tend the land and care for the grapes?

DONATIELLO: It means we’re tending the vineyards in a way that they aren’t going to run out of nutrients and harm the environment. Whatever we take out, we’re going to put back in. It’s not like in the past; when it got to the point that there weren’t enough nutrients, you moved to the next spot. We saw that before farmers started rotating crops. That’s not great for the environment, and not what we want to do. This land is here for a long time and it will continue to provide for us; we need to provide for it. We want to make sure the fertilizers we use and the cover crops we grow will improve the land. That’s not just for the grapevines, but for the land itself.

BPGL: What extra effort does it take to organically farm grapes?

DONATIELLO: The extra effort isn’t substantial. Some of the things we use to be certified organic — such as organic oils for pest control — cost a little more, but it shows. Whatever you do to the earth, it shows through. That’s especially true with the Pinot Noir grape; it makes such a light, elegant wine. We choose our cover crops carefully and want to be as green as possible. We take about 8 to 10 tons off the land each year, and we plant about that much cover crop — New Zealand clover to peas, to yellow and white mustard. We plant between the vines, so that makes a home for the insects. We plant in October, and it grows through the winter. Then it decomposes and adds nutrients to the soil. It’s good for the earth.

BPGL: You mentioned earlier that you plant cover crops partly for the insects. Explain what you mean by that.

DONATIELLO: We plant certain crops to attract beneficial bugs, whether it’s the worms that are helping to aerate the ground or spiders. We love spiders! They spin their webs and catch the smaller insects that otherwise would be trying to feed off the grapevines. We’re in a pretty rural area, and we attract everything from field mice to spiders. We’ll be bringing in bees in another month or two. We don’t need bees for the grapes, as they’re self-pollinating; we want them for the garden. And we’ll sell the honey in the tasting room. We have the space and the facility to do it; it’s beneficial to us and to them, so why not do our part?

BPGL: Are most vineyards in your area using sustainable farming methods?

Rich, juicy grapes await harvesting at C. Donatiello

Rich, juicy grapes await harvesting at C. Donatiello. Photo: Courtesy C. Donatiello Winery

DONATIELLO: A lot of the vineyards are farmed sustainably. And, if they’re not fully sustainable, they’re working toward it. Vineyard owners tend to have a keen understanding of the need to take care of the environment and balance that with actually doing business. If you’re a vineyard owner and have a serious infestation, you might break down and use pesticides. That doesn’t mean you’re not looking after your grapes in every other way. But you need those grapes to pay the bills. I can’t blame someone who does use a pesticide to treat an infestation. All grape growers care about the environment. They want to see it maintained so generations to come can partake in their profession and not worry about what the generations before did.

BPGL: Is the drought affecting your wines?

DONATIELLO: Not really. The drought has become a problem for a lot of people, and we do need some rain. But we put very little water on the vines. We don’t dry farm, but we come pretty close. We want to stress the vines a little. We can always buy water if we need to. We have enough to grow good grapes. What we need it for is cleaning, sterilizing, and processing when we’re making the wine.

BPGL: I’ve been told that the best wines are produced when you stress the grapes. Is that consistent with your experience?

DONATIELLO: I think that’s especially true when you’re talking about some of the Italian or Bordeaux varietals. But the Pinot Noir is a very delicate grape. I say this all the time, “Pinot remembers everything you do to it, and holds a grudge.” It’s one of the reasons why some of our vineyards are organic, and the rest are sustainably farmed.

BPGL: You talk about wine like it has a human personality.

DONATIELLO: Each wine has its own character. We have expectations for our wines, just as I do for my daughter. I have an understanding of my wines, just as I do of my daughter. I watch them evolve from grape to wine to aged wine. They change and grow. There’s a parallel for sure.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)