A friend took me to a place that captures Wine Country in the spring when the mustard is in full bloom. Frog’s Leap Winery in Rutherford showcases the flower well, whether it’s isolated in patches or woven into the vineyard.
But even more impressive than the mustard viewing is the tasty treat most people don’t know about. The winery has an organic garden with nearby bins and bags for people to take home rare finds after sipping in the tasting room. It’s unusual in Wine Country to stop off at a tasting room and go home with a bundle of fresh veggies.
Of course the word is that the there’s limited produce this year now that the winery is supplying product to high-end restaurants like Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford and Long Meadow Ranch’s Farmstead in St. Helena. The staff warns that some days the bins are empty so it’s a bit of a crapshoot. But if you’re lucky, spring finds include heirloom lettuces, beets and carrots. Naturally peak season is in August and September when harvest likely includes melons, peaches, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, green beans and squash.
The winery grows grapes organically and the garden shows off what else can be grown this way. This is well known in ecological circles – the more diverse the garden, the more resistant to pests.
As a wine taster who appreciates the flagship wines of Frog’s Leap – sauvignon blanc and merlot – it’s nice to know the grapes are cohabitating with flowers and plants rather than chemicals.
The winery is at 8815 Conn Creek Rd., Rutherford. Tasting room number – 707-963-4704, ext. 238.