2:02pm | August 7, 2014

A day making verjus…

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Sustainability to me starts with understanding the life-cycle from origin to end and every touch point in between.

I recently had a few folks from my team (both Bottega and Coqueta) join me at Chiarello Family Vineyards to make verjus. Of course my first question to the group was, “do you know what verjus is?” Happy to report that they were able to explain that verjus is the pressed juice of unripened grapes; and there were plenty of cabernet grape clusters on the ground, which were used for this key field project.

Why the beautiful clusters on the ground? What we did with the grapes is called “dropping fruit” or “thinning fruit” – cutting off bunches of grapes to allow the vine to focus on ripening the

GallonofVerjusgrapes that remain on the vine. Dropping or thinning fruit ensures quality and timely ripening. If too many grapes are left on the vine, the resulting wines tend to be one dimensional, thin and flabby, because the vine could not evenly and fully ripen all the grapes.  Most often times, grape skins and stems are composted and folded back into the soil, but this time we wanted to reuse for multiple cooking purposes.

We gathered, washed, stomped and then filtered the juice into five gallon glass containers. A bit of citric acid was poured in the gallon to stabilize the juice, and the bottles were closed. These unripened pressed grapes have a semi-soft, somewhat sweet-tart taste. Since they are unfermented there’s no alcohol – the result is a super great ingredient for salad dressing, sauce – the way you would use vinegar or wine when you cook. We’re all feeling good about working with the land…technology free for day….and creating flavors that will last…even if it’s just a memory…

 

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