What: It’s time to start planning what to drink for Halloween. There are many holiday-themed labels, and your favorite wine shop should have plenty in stock.
It is fun to be silly on this holiday, but this Flora Springs GhostWinery Red Blend is not one to sip while you’re passing out candy to the neighborhood ghosts and goblins. This is a special occasion wine that you should serve at a nice dinner with time to savor it.
It is a serious wine in a fun package, with a label design by Wes Freed, known for his CD cover art. He produced three special labels this year, Ghost Jumper (which I had), Cemetery Band and Dead Man’s Vineyard Party. They’re all playful and fun, and really well done. The wine is the same regardless of which label you get. Flora Springs also has several other Halloween-themed wines available through its website.
This wine is spooky good. It is a cabernet sauvignon-based blend with enticing aromas of black cherries and spice that leads to blackberry, plum and cassis flavors. The tannins are well integrated with the fruit-forward flavors. This is a wine that should age well for several years.
The wine is made at the Flora Springs Ghost Winery. It is called a ghost winery because it had been an operating winery in the 1800s and then abandoned before it came back as Flora Springs.
The wine is a blend of 52 percent cabernet sauvignon, 20 percent merlot, 17 percent syrah, 8 percent petit verdot and 3 percent cabernet franc. It is barrel aged for 20 months in a combination of new and seasoned French (80 percent) and American (20 percent) oak.
Winery: Jerry and Flora Komes bought the ghost winery property 40 years ago, hoping to retire there. Their son John persuaded them to restore the winery.
Flora loved the old winery building at the foot of the Mayacamas Mountains, so they fixed it up, expanded caves into the hillside, and they were in business. The winery is named for Flora and the natural springs that flow through the property in the Rutherford region of Napa Valley.
The winery had been the old Rennie Brothers property from the 1880s. There were grapevines on the property already, so the family made wine the first year, 1978. They made 200 cases with home winemaking equipment. Their 1979 chardonnay won a gold medal at the prestigious Los Angeles County Fair.
Eventually, the whole family got involved in running the winery, including Jerry and Flora Komes and their children, John and his wife, Carrie, and Julie Garvey and her husband, Pat.
The original estate consisted of 325 acres of land and 60 acres of vineyard. The family now owns 650 acres of organically-farmed, sustainable vineyards. The estate blends history with state-of-the-art technology and environmentally conscious techniques.
Specifically tailored stainless steel and concrete fermenters are sized to match the blocks of the nine estate vineyards. The family tries to craft each wine to reflect the place in which it was grown.
The winery also is run primarily by solar power.
Flora Springs’ signature wine is a blockbuster Bordeaux varietal blend called Trilogy.
The Napa Valley series includes a cabernet, a merlot, a chardonnay and a sauvignon blanc. They also produce several single vineyard cabs, and a number of artisanal wines that include a barrel fermented chardonnay.
Goes With: We had the Flora Springs Ghost Winery Red Blend with slow cooked baby back ribs that turned out just about perfect. They were crispy on the outside with lots of juicy flavor inside.
The wine was a great match, with enough body to stand up to the hearty ribs and enough fresh fruit flavor to bring out the best in the pork. We added baked potatoes and peas to complete the meal.
I love ribs, so I give them a lot of extra care. I trim off major pieces of fat, but leave some on to add to the flavor and juiciness. The bone side has a membrane that I peel off, too. I sprinkle both sides of the rib slabs with Morton Nature’s Seasons, and as they cook I baste them with mop sauce.
The secret to success is to cook the ribs on a grill slowly, at a low temperature. I try to keep mine between 200 and 250 degrees, although I have made them in a cooker that got as high as 300 degrees.
The mop sauce is made from apple cider vinegar, water, Morton Nature’s Seasons, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, Kosher salt and garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil on the stove and then move it off the heat. You can mop it warm, or let it cool down and use a spray bottle.
Cook the ribs for at least an hour, usually two or two and a half hours, depending on the heat and the thickness of the ribs. You can tell when they’re ready when they get crispy on the outside and the meat starts falling off the bones. If you keep the temperature low enough, the meat won’t burn. And don’t put barbecue sauce on while cooking because the sauce will burn.
This wine also would be great with duck,wild game or a hearty stew.