Clif Notes

A Virtual Tour Of Clif Family Winery

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dry Farmed Tomatoes

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Tuesday, April 23, 2013

By Drew Erickson, Assistant Farm Manager

The first thing I ever grew was a potato, a simple process my grandfather taught me. Put a slice of potato with a few eyes on it in some light soil, cover it with some more light soil and watch it grow. When the plants started to die back we dug them up to find a gold mine of spuds.

He never said it directly, but I’m sure my grandfather was teaching me that growing your own food isn’t rocket science. With a little hard work and a little know how you can grow some amazing veggies to share with your family and friends - an important lesson for a child of a generation raised on food anonymously sourced from the local grocery store. In his garden on a quarter acre in the Oakland Hills grandpa had a variety of fruit trees, a few rows of vegetables, and my favorite part, a raspberry patch. I am often reminded of this garden now that I work on a farm where we grow many of the same trees and vegetables that he grew..

While I will always remember my grandfather’s keep it simple attitude there is always room for innovation, and farming is no exception. In our continuous effort to stay on the cutting edge of organic farming we are planting a crop of dry farm tomatoes. The idea is to grow a tomato with the most concentrated amount of sugar by starving it of water. On the plus side we will be saving water and growing great flavored tomatoes. The down side -more labor intensive to plant, decreased crop yield, and not the simplest crop to grow. Not rocket science, just hard work and a little know how.

The process began a few weeks ago when we turned our cover crop in on a portion of field. The first step was to prepare the soil to a depth of two feet using the double turn method where the farmer removes 12 inches of soil and blends it with well composted manure. The next step is to turn the soil another 12 inches deeper. Finally you add the first 12 inches back to the hole rich with amendments.

Once the soil had been prepared it was time to plant the tomatoes. We encourage the plants to root deep in the soil by growing them in our greenhouse to around a foot tall. At planting time we removed all but the uppermost leaves and planted the root wad and stem as deep as possible so that the resulting plant is only four to five inches tall.

The plants were watered in deep on Sunday and will continue to receive drip irrigation once a week until fruit begins to appear. At that point we will cut the irrigation off, cross our fingers and hope that the roots have made it deep enough for the plant to survive.

In the next few days we will be setting up a support system of trellises and pinching of any early flowers that appear to encourage the plants to put energy into growth rather that fruit production.
Keep your fingers crossed with us and stay tuned for updates on our dry farmed tomatoes and other edible projects we are working on here at the Clif Family Farm. We hope to have these tomatoes available through our CSA program this summer.

Seared Scallops In Meyer Lemon Wine Sauce

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Monday, April 15, 2013

Celebrate Mother’s Day with a delectable seared scallops dish complemented by a Sauvignon Blanc and Meyer Lemon reduction sauce.

I have created this recipe as a single serving size just in case you want to treat your Mom to her own very special meal. Pour her a glass of the chilled Rte Blanc Sauvignon Blanc and start assembling the ingredients.

This recipe goes quickly…. Enjoy!

1 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp. Clif Family Winery Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
6 Large Sea Scallops
1/2 cup of 2012 Rte Blanc Sauvignon Blanc
Sea Salt
1 Tbsp. Meyer Lemon Marmalade – Gary and Kit’s Napa Valley
1 cup of Organic Baby Spinach


Preheat oven to 400F.

Season the scallops with sea salt and set aside. Heat a stainless steel skillet to medium and melt the olive oil and butter together. Next carefully place the scallops in the skillet and sear for 1 and a half minutes on each side. Remove the scallops and place on a heat resistant plate. Pour the butter/oil mixture out of your skillet and reserve in a small dish. Now you can add the wine to deglaze your skillet and reduce by half. Add the Meyer Lemon Marmalade and 1 Tbsp. reserved butter & oil mixture and stir until the sauce appears slightly syrupy. Finish the sauce with the fresh parsley.Prepare the plate by placing the fresh spinach and drizzling the Meyer Lemon sauce over the scallops and the remaining butter/oil mixture over the spinach. Now, place your plate in the oven to finish for 3 minutes. Spinach will wilt and the Scallops will finish cooking with the sauce. Garnish with additional wedges of Meyer Lemons.

Enjoy with a chilled glass of Clif Family Winery Rte Blanc Sauvignon Blanc.

Give your Mom a hug!

Celebrate Easter Brunch

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Thursday, March 21, 2013

Celebrate Easter Brunch with a Simple, Elegant Crepe – Light and Delicious!

– Spelt Crepes filled with Butter Roasted Asparagus, Shitake Mushrooms and Sliced Brie. Garnish with Crème Fraiche and Fresh Herbs, I used tender chives.

Use any basic crepe recipe, I used one from the “Joy of Cooking” and substituted Healthy Whole Grain Spelt Flour for the regular White Flour.

The crepes can be made one day in advance and layered between sheets of parchment paper to preserve the freshness. Serve this special brunch with a nice Clif Family Winery Gewürztraminer.


  • 8 Premade Crepes
  • 8 oz. asparagus tips sliced in 2 inch pieces, cut on the diagonal
  • 8 oz. Shitake Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 oz. Crème Fraiche
  • 8 oz. of Triple Cream Brie
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, more if you like more richness
  • 1 Tbsp. Clif Winery Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Preheat oven to 350F

Start assembling the ingredients to fill and garnish your premade crepes. The asparagus tips should be blanched in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Place on a plate to cool. Meanwhile, melt the one tablespoon of butter with one tablespoon of olive oil. Sautee the shitake mushrooms for about 10 minutes or until a nice golden brown on the edges. Slice a triple cream brie in 1/4 inch slices.

Take each crepe and fill with the asparagus, shitake mushrooms, 1 oz. of sliced brie cheese and garnish with the fresh chives.

Roll and place on a plate and into the oven for 10 minutes, just long enough for the cheese to melt.

Remove from the oven and drizzle the Crème Fraiche on top and garnish with additional asparagus, mushrooms and chives.

Serve immediately.


April Fools Biking Challenge

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Let’s Fool Around!

Join us as we kick-off our 2013 April Fools Biking Challenge

Benefitting the St. Helena Family Center
Wednesday, March 27th @ Velo Vino
709 Main Street, St. Helena
From 5-7pm

A complimentary glass of wine will be provided by Clif Family Winery
15% of purchases during the event will be donated to the St. Helena Family Resouce Center
Sign up to cycle in April for a great cause at

Sweet Potato Baked Wedges

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Monday, March 11, 2013

Sweet Potato Baked Wedges with Savory Coconut Dukkah

One of my favorite comfort foods is sweet potato fries. And for a healthier option, I often bake my own sweet potato wedges at home. To spice it up a little this weekend, I added our Savory Coconut Dukkah and used my Meyer lemons to make a crème fraiche dipping sauce. They were a delicious side dish! Here’s the recipe if you want to try it out yourself.

3 Medium Sweet Potatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp sea salt
Gary & Kit’s Napa Valley Savory Coconut Dukkah

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the sweet potatoes but don’t peel them. Cut each into 8 long wedges. Place them in a parchment lined roasting pan and brush lightly with the extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and Savory Coconut Dukkah. Roast for about 25 minutes.

To make the dipping sauce, mix ¾ cup crème fraiche with juice from half a lemon. Add sea salt and fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine. Serve hot.

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