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In the Garden

April 5, 2017

The vines are waking up from the dormant winter and so are the gardens of Paso Robles Wine Country! Wondering what wine to pair with your fruits and vegetables? Peek into the gardens of Zina Miakinkova-Engel of Le Vigne Winery, Lynette Sonne of FARMstead ED, and the team from the Restaurant at Niner Wine Estates.

Zina Miakinkova-Engel, Le Vigne Winery


zitaWhat in your garden pairs best with wine? I think that stone fruit is the easiest to pair with wine.  With so many varietals having hints of peaches and apricots it makes it easy to grab a white make a stone fruit salad.

What in your garden is toughest to pair with wine? What do you recommend? Asparagus is the dread of every Somm when it comes to pairing.  The trick that we find works is to sauté it in a little of whatever white you want to have with the dish along with a little garlic and butter.  That and insanely hot peppers.  We grow Carolina Reapers and no wine can kill that heat.  There are times when you just have to give up and have a beer.

What are you planting this season? Why? In addition to the orchard, our Summer garden consists of 60 + varieties of heirloom tomatoes, basil, edible flowers, peppers, melons, squashes, and eggplant.  Living in Paso Robles means that summers are perfect for growing great produce.  The tomatoes do exceptionally well with a little bit a tender, loving care.  Much like the grapes of the area, they love the hot days and cool nights.

Like Grenache with vigorous growth, what in your garden can take over and how do you tame? TOMATILLOS!  We planted six Purple Tomatillo plants four years ago and now they grow wild all over the property.  We have given up on taming them.  We pull all that we can from our planted areas and just dry farm the rest.

Are there any similarities between your passion for gardening and your career in the wine industry?Gardening and wine go hand and hand.  It is all about the gourmet lifestyle.  Much like working in the wine industry it is a work of passion.  You may never become a millionaire but you’ll eat like one!

Any expert gardening tip to share?  Plant sunflowers next to your garden.  In addition to their added beauty, they will provide shade and attract pollinators to your property.

Lynette Sonne, FARMstead ED


garden wineWhat in your garden pairs best with wine?   EVERYTHING!

What are you planting this season and why? Peppers, heirloom tomatoes, garlic, baby greens, olives, carrots, apples, stone fruit, potatoes, squash, asparagus, beans, peas, and more! Why?  Because all these fruits and veggies grow bountiful here in our many Central Coast micro-climates

What wine do you have in your glass while gardening? A chilled Paso Robles Rosé

Are you a single variety or blender? (Aka- do you combine flowers and veggies/fruits OR just do one)?  We are blenders!  Edible flowers, root veggies, baby greens, stone fruits and tomatoes make an amazing kitchen sink salad!

Are there any similarities between your passion for gardening and your career in the wine industry?  We enjoy the fruits of our labor as farmers, that in which we grow, and the fruits of those who farm grapes, that in which we drink!

Any expert gardening tip to share?   Be patient, take time, handle with care and enjoy the bountiful results of time well spent tending to your gardens.  Knowing how and where it was grown makes it all taste better!

The Restaurant at Niner Wine Estates Team

niner chefWhat in your garden is toughest to pair with wine? What do you recommend? We grow and use a lot of kale which is such a great vegetable but it can be bitter and unforgiving when it comes to pairings. We soften it with some of our Estate Olive Oil, garlic and lemon juice which makes it easier to pair with a crisp white.

 What are you planting this season? Why? Spring Peas, a mix of heirloom beets, edible flowers, baby watermelons, and micrograms are a few things we’re planting this season. Anything that gives us the opportunity to use the entire vegetable. The beets we’re planting are all different colors (stems and roots) which is going to give us fun opportunities for pickling the stems for cheese plates, slicing them thin for salads and anything else. 

Like Pinot which can be temperamental to grow, what in your garden is most challenging? Microgreens. You’re basically harvesting something in its infancy and they are very delicate and sensitive so we need to pay extra attention to them. 

 Like Grenache with vigorous growth, what in your garden can take over and how do you tame? MINT and CILANTRO! We have to top these herbs it before they go to seed otherwise, they will take over the entire garden.

Are there any similarities between your passion for gardening and your career in the wine industry? For us, it boils down to the drink local, eat local ideology. We can do that by growing vegetables and herbs in our Estate Garden and buying whatever else we can’t farm locally. Same goes for wine – with so many great Paso Robles wineries around we can always find something to sip on that comes from a local vineyard.

 Any expert gardening tip to share? We have two – 1) Know your area and climate very well. You need to be familiar with your soil, pests and everything else so that you can react with changes. 2) Make your own compost if you can. Even the waste we use in the kitchen can be recycled into creating next season’s vegetables. Some common throwaways that are easy to compost are carrot tops, eggshells, beet tops & potato shavings.