Steelhead Vineyards is a Sonoma winery named after the steelhead trout, a threatened freshwater fish species of the Pacific northwest. It's also found in the cold water streams of Northern California wine country, and this particular winery is engaged in conservation efforts to save the trout.
I love cooking and eating trout. It's got a wonderful flavor, looks beautiful on the plate, and is pretty easy to cook. And I love to fish: I've enjoyed many wonderful weekends throughout my life fishing for local bass, bluegill, perch, catfish, stripers... I'm not a master angler but I've caught and consumed many fish from our lakes, ponds, and rivers. What have I never caught? Arkansas trout. I've been on canoe trips when I was able to reach down and pick up a trout out of the water, but couldn't get one to take any sort of bait. My father and I stood bare-legged in the Ozarks' White River while watching our lures bump off the heads of the snooty brown trout. Dad thought he caught one but upon reeling it in realized that he had merely snagged it in the gills and couldn't claim it as a catch.
I'm willing to admit that part of it might be my own technique and experience: bass have been known to gobble up frogs, slow moving birds, and anything else that moves. Catfish will gobble up the most rancid scraps of chicken liver hung off a trotline--no actual rod and reel needed, and I won't even go into stink bait recipes. But trout seem to require such finesse and artistry, which is why they attract the hardcore fly fishers.
2011 Steelhead Sauvignon Blanc
100% Sauvignon Blanc
3,000 Cases Made
$12, 13.5% abv.
For a bargain Sauvignon Blanc, this is quite delicate. The nose opens up with light mild peach. On the palate it has balanced acidity with a gentle round body. Quite tasty and one that would in fact match well with trout.
2011 Steelhead Pinot Noir
100% Pinot Noir
2,500 Cases Made
$15, 13.8% abv.
A fairly strong Pinot Noir, with elements of red cherry and bold tannins. There's a big fruit flavor with a little earth underneath, and a long finish. Sturdy for this particular grape, and perhaps well suited to roasted lamb dishes.
2010 Steelhead Red Wine
65% Zinfandel, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Syrah
2,700 Cases Made
$15, 14.2% abv.
Another big, fruit-forward wine, but I preferred this one to the Pinot Noir. Bold plum and chocolate dominate the aroma and flavor profile. A big bodied wine with huge tannins that dry the palate, but one that I would strongly recommend for summertime BBQ dining. It would be perfect with smoked pork ribs doused in a sweet Memphis sauce.
Note: These wines were provided as samples.