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Ruby Hill Winery
 
May 28, 2021 | Ruby Hill Winery

Proud as a Peacock

In the southwest corner of our estate vineyard, a block of Zinfandel vines grow in gravelly soil. The grapes produced by these vines are flavorful and bold, giving our Peacock Patch Zinfandel the most luxurious aromas and flavors. To celebrate the iridescent bird that graces our bottles, we wanted to share some fascinating facts about the peacock. 

  1. Not all peacocks are actually called peacocks. The word “peacock” refers only to the males of the species peafowl. Females are called peahens and babies are called peachicks (not to be confused with chickpeas). Males are the most famous because they sport the characteristic kaleidoscopic plumage. Peahens and chicks are a dusty brown color.
     
  2. Peacocks’ “tail feathers” don’t actually grow from their tail. The iconic train of feathers grows from the males’ backs and drags gracefully behind them.  The train can be made up of 200 individual metallic feathers with dazzling eyespots and gorgeous sheen. Even though their trains can weigh up to 13 pounds, all peafowl are capable of some flight, especially to escape predators. Peahens will sometimes allow their chicks to hitch a ride on their back to fly up to safety in the trees.  
     
  3. Peacocks are cousins of pheasants, turkeys, and even domestic chickens. Similarly to chickens, peacocks like to roost in high places but will not be seen soaring through the sky. Peacocks prefer running to flying, with an impressive top speed of about 10 miles per hour. 
     
  4. Peacocks are a natural alarm system. Their usual call sounds like a shrill cry. Wild peacocks’ cry can alert the surrounding forest inhabitants of a predator’s arrival. Not only do their cries outwit tigers, they are also said to signal the coming of rain—or even a monsoon. Peafowls make other expressive noises as well, including a sassy, subtle “honk” when annoyed. 
     
  5. Peafowl are surprisingly adaptable. Native to the forests and lowlands of the Indian subcontinent, they have been introduced to new climates all over the world. Here in the Livermore valley, we are always enchanted to see the peacocks who visit our “Peacock Patch,” the block of Zinfandel grapes named in honor of these majestic birds. 
     
  6. Peacocks appear in stories throughout history and across cultures. They are the national bird of India, often appearing in their mystical stories as harbingers of rain. In Greek tradition, peacocks were protected as sacred to the goddess Hera. In some legends of Robin Hood, the hero uses arrows with peacock feather fletching.
     
  7. Peacocks are reminiscent of phoenixes. Every year, peacocks go through a moulting season, wherein they shed all of the magnificent feathers from their train. Though their upper body remains a gorgeous, iridescent blue, their appearance more closely resembles peahens for a few months until their train regrows. For this reason, the peacock is heralded as similar to the mythological phoenix, losing and regaining its ornamentation in cycles.
     
  8. Peacocks are proud to strut their stuff. Fitting to their extravagant display of fanning their train, these fabulous birds have earned their place as a symbol of both pride and luxury. A group of peacocks is sometimes called a “party” or even an “ostentation.” These birds promenade through the forest, foraging together and relying on safety in numbers. 

If safety is in numbers, make sure your Peacock Patch Zin
doesn't go home alone! This smooth wine is dense with fruit flavor
and pairs will with all your summer cookout dishes.
Get some while it's still on sale!

Ruby Hill Winery
 
May 21, 2021 | Ruby Hill Winery

Feeling Oaky: Weird Facts about Barrels

They say “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” and when it comes to our wine barrels, we agree. Even still, we’re happy to take a moment to appreciate what these oaken masterpieces bring to the industry. Below, we’ve included some of our favorite obscure barrel facts. See if you can find a favorite!

Barrels were a much needed innovation

Wooden barrels have an illustrious history that dates back as far as 350 BC. Prior to barrels, wine was stored in containers made of clay or goat skins. The clay containers, called amphorae, were infamous for being heavy and highly breakable (not to mention the flavor they could impart). The transition from clay to wooden barrels began during the Roman times. 

Tiny artisan barrels were a beloved possession

Early barrels were produced on a very small scale as drinking vessels. Small staves of oak, yew or pine would be tightly fastened together by metal loops. Craftsmen would make these vessels using precious metals and the resulting items were so prized by those who owned them that they sometimes chose to be buried with them.

Early barrels might remind you of an IKEA project

Archaeological finds of early full-size wooden barrels show that some barrels included Roman numerals on the staves to aid in assembly if needed. After the barrels had fulfilled their purpose, the staves were often reused to line shallow wells. Barrels in this era could be made from silver fir, cedar, larch, or oak.

Barrels brought peril

As barrels continued to be produced as handy tools, they earned a small role in warfare. While besieging cities, Julius Caesar would order barrels of tar to be set ablaze and then catapulted into the city. On at least one occasion, the town returned fire by rolling flaming barrels back down onto the attacking forces. 

Barrels give some up to the angels

Even though barrels are remarkably watertight, there is always a slight loss of volume due to evaporation while wine or another distilled spirit is aging in an oak barrel. The evaporated portion is a combination of water and alcohol and is referred to as the “angels share.” Winemakers account for this loss and monitor the capacity of the barrels. 

Since its invention in 1868, the pepper mash used to make Tabasco sauce is aged for three years in previously used oak whiskey barrels.

Barrels are a cask of all trades

You probably knew that barrels are the container of choice for aging wine and whiskey, but how about other products? Historically, resources like gunpowder, meat, fish, paint, honey, nails and tallow would be stored in wooden casks. In modern times, barrels are used for products like traditional balsamic vinegar, specialty tequila, and Tabasco sauce.

Barrel anatomy words are great for scrabble

The words used to describe the different pieces of a barrel include staves, bilge, chime, and bung hole. Rather than a “lid” wine barrels have a small hole, called a bung hole. The bung hole is drilled in one of the staves at the bilge, which is the widest part of the barrel. The stopper (called the “bung”) is usually made of white silicone and keeps the precious cargo from leaking out.
 

If you would like to repurpose a decommissioned Ruby Hill barrel, we're selling! Our 100% oak barrels have served their time keeping our wine safe and delicious and are now looking for a new home. Available for pickup anytime at our sister winery, Rubino Estates. Call (925) 484-1699 with inquiries or to purchase your own! 

Ruby Hill Winery
 
May 14, 2021 | Ruby Hill Winery

Grilled Filet Mignon for Jewel Cabernet Sauvignon

The weather is officially warming up! Spring is on its way out and summer is quickly approaching, which means we're ready to fire up the grill and relax by the pool. This Sunday, May 16th is National Barbecue Day, and that’s great news for us. We’ve just introduced a new vintage of our Jewel Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, so we’re ready for a celebratory steak dinner—we have our eye on rich cuts of beef to pair with a wine like our Jewel Cab. We feel it’s proper to splurge on a hearty helping of filet mignon to welcome this new vintage. For pairing purposes, this cut is best served between rare and medium-rare, and a topping of herb butter never hurts! 

Below, we’ve included a quick guide for reliably delicious grilled filet mignon, with mouthwatering char and perfect color. When grilling your filet, a minute or two can make a world of difference, so don’t sweat it if it takes time to perfect your technique. 

Foolproof Grilled Filet Mignon

For the Steak

  • 2 10-ounce tenderloin beef filets (roughly 2 inches thick)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, removed from sprig and minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Garlic & Herb Butter

  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, removed from sprig and minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Instructions

  1. Season both sides of the filet generously with salt and pepper and fresh rosemary. Rub with a little olive oil and let rest for 30 minutes before cooking. This is to bring the steak to room temperature and ensure your cooking times are accurate.
  2. While the steak is resting, begin preparing the butter. Gently soften (do not melt) the butter in the microwave, about 10-15 seconds. When the butter is soft and malleable, work the rosemary and garlic into the butter. 
  3. Spoon the seasoned butter onto tin foil, reshaping it to roughly resemble two large pats of butter. Be as artistic as you like, they don’t have to be perfect. 
  4. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes; remove 5 minutes prior to topping your filet.
  5. Preheat your grill to high heat. Keep the lid closed and let the internal temperature reach around 500° F.
  6. Once the steaks have reached room temp in their seasonings and the grill is preheated, place the filets face down on the grill and sear undisturbed for 5 minutes. Flip the filets and sear for an additional 5 minutes. This is ideal for medium rare.
  7. Remove filets from the grill and set on a plate. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. This is important to bring your steak to its final serving temperature and seal in the precious juices. Top with a slice of your seasoned butter and serve with a glass of wine.

Additional Tips:

If you have a favorite level of doneness, adjust the sear time. For rare, cut down the sear time to 4 minutes per side. Increase one minute for each level of doneness:
Medium rare, 5 minutes.
Medium, 6-7 minutes.
Medium well, 8+ minutes.

Remember, depending on the size of the steak, the more or less time it will take. This recipe is ideal for an 8-10 ounce portion, roughly 2 inches thick. We recommend using a digital thermometer to confirm, and enjoy making the perfect steak every time! 

Serve your filet with a glass of our new 2018 Jewel Cabernet Sauvignon and your favorite side. We recommend continuing the celebration of all things cookout with Grilled Mexican Street Corn or Old-Fashioned Potato Salad!

Are you ready for barbecue season? Tag us on social media to let us know your favorite cookout pairings @rubyhillwines!

Ruby Hill Winery
 
May 7, 2021 | Ruby Hill Winery

A Wine Glass Bouquet

Spring is in full swing and summer is fast approaching here in the scenic Livermore Valley! We don’t want to let spring slip away without taking a few moments to stop and smell the roses. Admittedly, our favorite kind of "bouquet" is the collection of delicate aromas found in a glass of wine, but we’ve learned to appreciate the smell of the flowers themselves. Sometimes, the bouquet of a wine features floral characteristics, some of which may also appear on the palate. Tossing flowers into barrels is not a part of our process, so how do wines earn these lovely essences? The wine grapes themselves have a number of compounds in their pulp and skins which are also found in other plants, including aromatic flowers. Wines may be described as having notes of violet, lily-of-the-valley, iris, and many more. Several of the wines here at Ruby Hill Winery boast a flowery touch, making them a perfect wine for savoring the remainder of springtime. This week, we're reflecting on a few of these wines, and the symbolism behind their floral accents. 

Jewel Collection Petit Verdot and Lilacs

The Petit Verdot varietal is known for carrying an essence of violet amidst bold flavors. In addition to these delicate complexities, our Jewel Petit Verdot presents pleasant notes of lilac. Lilac flowers grow in fragrant bunches, blossoming for only 2 weeks in late spring. These blossoms are featured in Greek myth to represent the joy and first love of youth. In our Jewel Petit Verdot, we say that love has matured well!

Grapeful Rosé and Roses

Quite fittingly, our Grapeful Rosé is highly aromatic with the scent of roses, delighting one's senses with the classic fragrance. This wine is light, crisp, and refreshing, making it the ideal beverage for summer sipping. Our Rosé earns its color from the combination of Trebbiano, a white wine grape, with the rich purple-red hue of Petit Verdot. Pink roses can symbolize grace, admiration, loveliness, and thankfulness. Pink wine, on the other hand, symbolizes something delicious (in our opinion). 

Reserve Chardonnay and Honeysuckle

White wines generally offer an even broader selection of floral notes, and our Reserve Chardonnay is no exception. This rich and buttery Chardonnay has a gorgeous aroma, including layered honeysuckle, cloves, vanilla, wildflowers and lemon curd. The climbing vines of honeysuckle boast fragrant leaves in addition to their sweet-scented blossoms. These flowers are irresistible to butterflies and hummingbirds, and add another lovely layer of appeal to our Reserve Chardonnay. 

Jewel Collection Chardonnay and Orange Blossoms

The semi-sweet citrus character of orange blossoms delicately frames the creamy flavors of butterscotch and s’mores on the palate as you enjoy this wine. For centuries, brides were adorned with orange blossoms which represented good luck, fertility, and innocence. Now, we appreciate the timeless enjoyment of our Jewel Chardonnay, which is a delight on the palate and perfect in every season.

 

Mother's Day is coming up this Sunday, so it's the perfect time to find mom's favorite flowers and buy a wine to match! Is there any better gift?

Enjoy complimentary ground shipping when you order 6 or more bottles.

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