There was always a big ham on the Easter dinner table. And for the longest time, I thought all hams came smoked, on the bone with cloves stuck into the scored top and sprinkled with brown sugar.
Until many years later, after reading a recipe somewhere, I ordered a fresh ham from the butcher without knowing what I was getting myself into. When I unwrapped it, I had serious misgivings. It had the bone, it was the right shape but it just didn’t look like ham to me.
I faithfully followed the recipe and served it with a creamed horseradish sauce and a big jug of Navalle Burgundy. Forks were flying and before long there was just a soup bone left.
Fresh ham, it turns out, is a pork roast with a big bone in it. Never brined, cured, or smoked. It’s fresh.
Today, this baked fresh ham will be served with a dried cherry and leek sauce and a Pinot Noir. And I have just the wine for the match! Having recently tried a couple of wines from a winery I was not familiar with – Oak Ridge Winery – I can highly recommend this Lodi winery.
Lodi lies between the Sierra Nevada foothills and the San Francisco Bay where the days are quite warm and the nights are cool. The Lodi AVA was established in 1986 but grape growing in this prolific farming region has been going on since the 1850s. Many German farming families formed cooperatives and sold their grapes to outfits like Sebastiani and Bronco.
The winery, opened in 1934, was originally a cooperative for the local growers. In 2001, winegrower Rudy Maggio and his partners, Don and Rocky Reynolds, bought the winery. They produce small lots of hand-crafted wines, and like many Lodi wineries, they’re known for Zinfandel, Old Vine Zinfandel.
While over 50 grape varietals thrive in Lodi, Zinfandel shines. Old gnarly vines, some over 100 years old, sculpted by time, yield small amounts of fruit to create a fabulous wine.
While Zinfandel would be great with this dinner, the wine that I had in mind was their Pinot Noir. Pretty unusual climate for Pinot Noir but there it is. The 3 Girls Vineyard California Pinot Noir is not produced from 80% Lodi grapes to get Lodi on the label. And it actually has 13% Zinfandel in it!
I’m happy I didn’t know that while I was enjoying this delicious bottle of wine. The latent wine snob in me might have emerged.
Oak Ridge is one of the fastest growing wineries in the U.S. and easily the one with most extraordinary tasting room. It’s made from a 75 year old redwood holding tank. The tank had a capacity of 49,429 gallons of wine or 20,610 cases of wine.
Their very affordable wines can be found at these local markets:
CostPlus World Market – Silverdale
Fred Meyer – Port Orchard
Central Market – Poulsbo
Savage Vine – Kingston