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Melville’s 2014 Santa Rita Hills Estate Pinot Noir

Melville’s 2014 Santa Rita Hills Estate Pinot Noir.

The subtle tannins of the pinot noir paired with the earth-bound flavor of mushrooms always seem to pair well. Try this vegan-style cream of mushroom soup with a local 91-point favorite.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Serves about 4 cups.

For the vegetable mixture:

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large stalk of celery, chopped

Wild rice (optional). Cook to package instructions and add in at the broth stage of this recipe.

For the mushrooms:

Two 8-oz. pkgs. baby bella Mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and quartered

1 jar fancy whole button mushrooms reserving a few for presentation

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp. dried sage or to taste

To thicken the sauce:

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

For the broth:

2¼ c. low sodium vegetable broth

¼ c. vegan sour cream

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

¼ c. almond milk

For serving:

Reserved fancy whole button mushrooms

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Chopped chives

In a large stock pot, add 1 tablespoon of oil, the chopped onions and celery. Sauté until they begin to soften.

Add the cleaned baby bella mushrooms. Sauté for 5 to 10 minutes until they begin to soften and brown. Don't go too far with this, we want them to retain their shape and have some texture. Season with salt, pepper and sage.

Sprinkle the flour over the sautéed vegetables and stir until combined. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes to remove that raw flour taste.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and almond milk. Mix thoroughly. Add to the soup slowly. It will thicken quickly. I drizzle it in, stir and wait a few minutes until it gets to its full thickening power.

Stir in the fancy whole button mushrooms allowing to heat through for a few minutes, reserving a few for serving.

Garnish with chives. 

Pair this mushroom soup with Melville’s 2014 Santa Rita Hills Estate Pinot Noir. Brilliant ruby in color, vivid aromatics of red currants, cedar and cinnamon stick spring from the glass. On the palate, delicate and lifted floral notes of crushed rose petal and hibiscus are anchored by more tender impressions of strawberry gelatin, tangerine oil, black cherry compote and baked red apples. The mouthfeel is focused and vibrant, possessing a gorgeous mineral component along with lively acidity that augment the wine’s generous and cohesive finish.

This is 100% Melville fruit from their Santa Rita Hills estate, and is a collection of 16 pinot noir clones. Forty percent of the fruit was fermented as whole clusters with 60% gently destemmed in small (1.5 ton) open-top fermenters. From the press, the wine was transferred directly into neutral barrel (10+ year old French oak), where it remained sur lie without sulfur until June 2016, when it was gently racked and prepared for bottling.


John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at