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Local Winemaker Turns Passion into Profession

An inside look at John Christopher Cellars.

It was a love affair with the, Little Grape that Could, that started it all. Tom Doczy's passion for Petite Sirah was the inspiration behind his business.

In this week's , Monique Soltani heads to and shows us the secret to his success after more than three decades in the wine business.

John Christopher Cellars

Blacksmith Square, 25 S. Livermore Ave, Suite 103
Phone: 925-456-WINE (9463)

Hours: Thursday, Friday: 2 to 6 p.m., Saturday, Sunday: 12 to 6 p.m.

Recipe Recommended by JCC to pair with their Petite Sirah:

Hearty Beef Stew

Clove Scented Beef from Rome

(Garofolato di Manzo alla Romana)

  • About six tablespoons of olive oil (as needed)
  • 1/3 lbs pancetta, cut into half-inch thick slices and cut crosswise in one-fourth inch pices
  • Two large yellow onions, chopped (about four cups)
  • Four carrots, peeled and chopped (about one and half cups)
  • Three celery stalks, chopped (about three-fourths of a cup)
  • One and a half tablespoon of minced garlic
  • Half tablespoon of ground cloves
  • Two tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme
  • Two pounds of brisket, boneless short ribs or well-marbled chuck, cut into two-inch pices
  • One and a half cups of beef stock
  • Four tablespoons of tomato paste
  • One and a half cups of dry red wine (JCC Petite Sirah)
  • Salt

Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat and film the bottom with olive oil. Add the pancetta and let it render some of its fat for three to five minutes. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and cook — stirring occasionally — until softened for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cloves and thyme and cook another two minutes to blend flavors.

While the vegetables soften, place a large deep skillet over high heat and film the bottom with olive oil. Add the meat and brown in batches on all sides, and cook for about 10 minutes. Repeat until all the meat has browned. (When you brown the meat, do not crowd it in the pan or it will steam and not develop a brown crust.) Remove the meat, set aside, deglaze the pan with half cup of the beef stock, and add it to the Dutch oven. Stir in the tomato paste and then add the beef, wine and the rest of the stock. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the beef is very tender — about two and a half to three hours. 

Now, taste the wine and taste the pan juices. Season with salt but go easy on the black pepper, as it will accentuate the tannins in the wine. I did not add very much at all.

Serve hot.

Note: You can also braise the stew in a 325 oven — it will take the same amount of time as on the stovetop — or you can cut the liquids in half. Put everything in a slow cooker, and cook on low for five and a half to six hours.

a local citizen December 21, 2011 at 05:15 PM
John Christopher Cellars has some of the best wine in the Valley.
Laureen Turner December 22, 2011 at 08:16 PM
THis recipe looks fantastic - I think im going to make it for dinner. Thank you for sharing. Laureen
Monique Soltani December 23, 2011 at 04:04 PM
I am so happy you liked the recipe and the story! Have a wonderful holiday! Monique:)

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