Grape Destinations: Growing Your Own Home Vegetable Garden & Pairing Your Meals with Great Napa Valley Wines
Living in the Napa Valley, we’re blessed with a very moderate, almost Mediterranean climate, from average winter highs of 60 degrees to lows of 40, and in the summer, we typically average highs of 82 degrees and lows of 53. While we know it’s perfect for growing world-class wine grapes (my profession in the 70s and 80s), it’s also ideal for growing your own vegetables.
Throughout the year, we grow an assortment of healthy veggies such as asparagus, artichokes, beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, mixed greens, hot and sweet peppers, squash, tomatoes, and many herbs. Our farming practices are all organic, void of pesticides and herbicides.
We built a number of raised beds filled with topsoil and homemade compost. They’re 4 feet by 20 feet, 2 feet high, which makes them much easier to access when tending to the garden, as well as keeping the weeds almost nonexistent. Using 2-by-8-inch boards, 10 feet long and secured with both 3-inch deck and lag screws, makes the assembly a fairly easy process.
In the Napa Valley, we typically start planting near the end of April for the summer garden and early November for the winter garden, when the weather has started to warm up and the soil is workable from the spring rains.
You’ll need to consult with your local nursery to see what is best for your region.
As we are “foodies” with the passion to cook, and all things wine, venturing into the garden with a glass of wine to hand-pick fresh vegetables for the upcoming meal just doesn’t get any better.
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One of our favorites, and very popular with our family and friends, is the caprese salad, with heirloom tomatoes and fresh-cut basil from the garden as the main ingredients.
Easy Caprese Salad Ingredients:
- Heirloom garden tomatoes
- Water-packed buffalo mozzarella
- Garden-fresh basil
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt flakes
- Coarsely ground black pepper
Overlap alternating slices of tomato (1/4 inch thick), mozzarella (1/4 inch thick) and whole basil leaves on a platter. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and top with coarsely ground black pepper.
(Note: If tomatoes are lacking some sweetness, drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar)
This salad is sure to be a hit throughout the summer and into fall while the tomatoes are at their peak.
I would pair this salad with a crisp Napa Valley sauvignon blanc or possibly a rosé. These two wines can match the acidity in the tomatoes and showcase their fresh fruit flavors.
— Michael Quinn
Michael-Scott Wines, Ltd.