Mornings often find Lou Preston, owner and winemaker of Preston Vineyards near Healdsburg, California, mixing bread dough, not cuvées, and deftly loading his brick oven with dozens of uniform loaves.
Heavy wood farmhouse tables cohabit amicably with gleaming stainless steel equipment in the winery's commercial bakery, an arrangement echoed by the way Preston keeps track of the recipes for his artisan breads ― on a floury Palm Pilot in his pocket.
Much of what grows on the winery grounds ― vegetables, herbs, olives, even the grapes themselves ― finds its way into Preston's crusty loaves. It makes sense that a passion for baking bread would coincide with a passion for making wine.
Both depend on warm weather to ripen the harvest that imbues them with the character of the place where they were made; both develop the best flavor from a long, cool fermentation; and for both, a successful blend of flavors depends on no one element overwhelming the rest.
Combinations like leek and walnut and tomato and herb inspired us to adapt Preston's recipes and techniques for the home kitchen. We offer them here, along with tips and shortcuts, in the cause of making artisans of us all.
Preston Vineyards's tasting room is open 11:00-4:30 daily (holiday hours vary); 9282 W. Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg; (707) 433-3372.