ABOUT WINEMAKER CLAY MAURITSON:
Winemaking may have been the logical evolution in our family’s long history of farming in the Dry Creek Valley, however, it took an absence from the valley and attention to those inner voices that led Clay Mauritson back to these same vineyards that he spent planting, tending and picking as a teen. What he came to realize was that he already had a lifetime of understanding about the subtleties and strengths of each micro-climate within the Dry Creek, Rockpile and Alexander Valleys. The only thing left was to DREAM BIG!
Clay is joined in the cellar by Associate Winemaker Emma Kudritzki and Jesus Garcia, Adrian Reyes, Joe Richards, and Nick Mast as cellar hands bringing 40 years of cellar experience. Together, our team has developed a winemaking process that focuses on small vineyard lot separation and fermentation — last year alone we ushered 68 different lots to maturity before the final blending. This gives us enormous flexibilty, enabling us to pinpoint that perfect Mauritson signature with every varietal, every vintage. Fermentation is typically open-top, punchdowns made by hand, native yeasts employed. The resulting wines might be best described as the perfect expression of each vineyard.
With a little over 270 acres of estate vineyards, we are not only able to source the absolute best of each vintage, we are also able to meticulously follow our passions. For example, when we decided to create a wine in the true porto tradition, we planted four of the “big five” authentic Portuguese varietals then mixed in some Tannat, resulting in our signature “Independence,” a wine that refers to a section of our Rockpile property dating back six generations. As the photo at left shows, we choose winemaking techniques that will best exemplify the wine style and the vineyard. The fruit reigns supreme here...and as Clay often tells visitors to the winery "winemaking is 95% fruit and 5% the winemaker not screwing it up!"
ABOUT CLAY MAURITSON OWNER / WINEMAKER:
Clay Mauritson is the sixth generation in a family of grape growers. Born and raised in the Dry Creek Valley, Clay was destined for the wine business.
In college Clay exhibited his prowess on the gridiron, playing outside linebacker for the University of Oregon Ducks in the 1995 Rose Bowl and the 1996 Cotton Bowl. Clay graduated in 1997 with a degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Marketing and a minor in Economics. Armed with his new degree he came back to Sonoma County to officially enter the wine industry.
Clay worked for 5 years at Kenwood Vineyards in the Sales & Marketing Department (starting even before he graduated from college), spending much of his time traveling and making sales contacts as Assistant National Sales Manager. After leaving Kenwood, Clay had the opportunity to work with the winemakers at Taft Street Vineyards and Dry Creek Vineyards, allowing him to hone his winemaking skills and gain additional knowledge of winery operations.
In 1998, Clay produced his first bottling of Dry Creek Zinfandel under the Mauritson label and, in 2002, he began devoting his efforts full-time to the Mauritson Family Winery project.
Clay's winemaking philosophy is simple: You need exceptional fruit to make exceptional wine. This is where the advantage of having a family heritage of grape growers becomes obvious: About 300 acres of Sonoma County family vineyards and strong relationships built over the years with other growers have given Clay access to some of the best fruit that Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley and Rockpile have to offer. Devoted to making exceptional wines, Clay is on his way to becoming one of California's foremost young winemakers.
Clay lives in Healdsburg with his wife Carrie-Anne, sons Brady and Davis, daughter Ella, and the family's gentle yellow lab, Chelsea.
AMERICA’S GLOBAL GRILLING AND SMOKING AUTHORITY, STEVEN RAICHLEN - AUTHOR, PROJECT SMOKE: SEVEN STEPS TO SMOKED FOOD NIRVANA
PROJECT SMOKE: SEVEN STEPS TO SMOKED FOOD NIRVANA
The practice of smoking food has been part of the American culinary DNA since colonial times (in 1769, George Washington famously attended a three-day barbecue in Alexandria, VA). It used to be that smoked cuisine was only available at smokehouses or barbecue joints, where an experienced pitmaster smoked heirloom family recipes over hardwood fires in custom-built pits. But now, thanks to new fuels, new tools, new techniques, and a dazzling array of smokers, a new generation of home cooks can turn out competition-quality smoked foods in their own backyards and kitchens.
Award-winning and bestselling author, PBS TV host, and Barbecue Hall of Famer, Steven Raichlen has revolutionized the art of smoking food and adapting it to modern tastes. At a time when smoking is quickly becoming the new grilling (over 18 million smokers and grills were sold in the United States in 2014 alone!), Raichlen demystifies the classics, such as brisket and smoked salmon, but also shows how to smoke vegetables, cocktails, and even desserts on his PBS show and in his cookbook of the same name PROJECT SMOKE.
7 Surprising Facts from PROJECT SMOKE
- Smoke results when you burn wood, but not all wood smokes or tastes the same. Hardwoods (from deciduous trees like hickory and apple—which shed their leaves once a year) produce the best-tasting smoke.
- Moisture is an essential component of successful smoking. A 600-pound load of meat puts out roughly 200 pounds of water. To keep the smoking environment moist, try using soaked wood chips, placing a bowl of water in the smoke chamber, spraying the food with apple cider or wine, or mopping the food with a mop sauce.
- Want to introduce smoke flavor without using a smoker? Add one of the following ingredients to your dish: bacon, chipotle chiles, Virginia ham, liquid smoke, mezcal, pimentón (smoked paprika from Spain), Scotch whiskey, smoked cheese, or lapsang souchon (smoked black tea from the Wuyi region in Fujian, China, that imparts a distinctive smoke flavor to brines and marinades).
- You can smoke what?!? Yes, you really can smoke the following (with delicious results!): butter, cream, ricotta cheese, salt, sugar, honey, maple syrup, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, hot sauce, olive oil, tomato sauce, capers, olives, lemons, garlic, vanilla beans, bologna, and ice.
- Today, Americans consume over two million pounds of jerky annually, a derivative of smoke-drying, one of the first methods our prehistoric ancestors used to preserve meat and seafood. Native peoples in both North and South America dried thinly sliced strips of meat next to a smoky fire. Our word jerky likely comes from charqui, the Quecha Incan tribe’s term for dried meat.
- Widely considered the red badge of honor of great barbecue, a smoke ring is a pinkish-red band found just below the surface of barbecued meats that’s produced when the gas created by burning wood dissolves into the meat. But, since hackers have been known to fake the ring by lightly rubbing their meat with sodiumnitrite-based curing salt prior to smoking it, the Kansas City Barbecue Society ceased making a smoke ring one of the criteria for professional judges in barbecue competitions.
- All barbecue is smoked, but not all smoked foods are barbecue. Texas brisket, Carolina pork shoulder, and Kansas City ribs are barbecue. Virginia ham, Scandinavian smoked salmon, and Italian smoked mozzarella are smoked, but they’re not barbecue.
PROJECT SMOKE reveals how to make the alchemy happen with Raichlen’s seven steps to smoking nirvana:
1. Choose Your Smoker
2. Source Your Fuel
3. Assemble Your Tools
4. Flavor Your Food
5. Select Your Smoking Method
6. Light Your Fire
7. Know When Your Food Is Done
An in-depth rundown introduces you to all the smokers; the essential brines, rubs, marinades, and barbecue sauces; and the complete roster of smoking fuels. And ingenious ways to smoke—from traditional cold-smoking and barbecuing, to smoke-roasting and smoke-braising, to smoking with hay, tea, spices, and of course, a multitude of woods. The recipes are adaptable to the smoker or grill that you have, and some can be made on a stove-top. Appearing throughout are lively boxes, such as The Ten Steps to Brisket Nirvana, Jerky, and How to Infuse Smoke into a Cocktail.
Raichlen has pursued an enduring fascination with live-fire cooking, visiting over six continents and 60 countries to research the flavors and techniques of smoked cuisine across cultures and translate them into replicable recipes for the American home cook. A magnificent and timely achievement, PROJECT SMOKE shares over 100 recipes distilled from Raichlen’s extensive travels and research.
Raichlen’s enticing, succulent, boldly flavored recipes run the gamut from starters like Smoked Nachos and Smoked Fish Chowder to classics like Home-Smoked Pastrami, Made-from-Scratch Bacon, Honey-Cured Ham Ribs, and Big Bad Beef Ribs, to creative dishes like Tea-Smoked Duck and Smoked Black Cod with Fennel-Coriander Rub. For sides, try Raichlen’s Smoked Potato Salad or Smoked Vegetable Cassoulet, all washed down with a Mezcalini and rounded out by Smoked Chocolate Bread Pudding or Smoked Flan.
PROJECT SMOKE is incredibly versatile—it’s a great resource for people who are ready to graduate from grilling to smoking, and for competition smoke masters seeking creative ideas and new techniques. It provides a wealth of information for those looking to take the traditional route of low and slow, and also for those who want to infuse a dish with smoke flavor in 10 minutes or less.
STEVE EVANS – THE MOVIE GUY
GREAT MOVIES OPENING THIS WEEKEND AND BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS AND HOPES. FIND OUT WHAT MOVIES ARE WORTH YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY. GET SET FOR THE WEEKEND.