NEWS / FEATURES

Fruit Fantastic

By John Darling

Designed to accomplish pairing in a jar, Vintner's Kitchen wine-infused jams and jellies can be described as conventional conserves-turned-sensational spreads.

Just released at the beginning of the year, this Medford company's products include: Blueberry Jam with Pinot Noir & Licorice, Port Cherry Marmalade, Champagne Blush Jelly, Strawberry & Pinot Noir Jam and many more.

Bob Steuk of Vintner's Kitchen says the delicacies "taste like adult jam and jelly, with more depth, flavor and complexity, but are still kid-friendly."

Steuk, a former wine buyer newly arrived from New Hampshire, his wife, Barbara, and their children, Kristin Navickas and Rob Steuk, who already lived in Southern Oregon, are making it a family affair. With great energy and drive, the foursome has quickly established solid distribution in the Rogue Valley, with a goal of building sales in the Willamette Valley.

Pairing the wine varietals with fruits has been fun, notes Steuk. They're using vin ordinaire at this point but will employ a winery's product on special order. They're finding certain combinations especially palate pleasing, such as citrus with Gewürztraminer, and pineapple with Pinot Gris.

Pinot Noir is a favorite for the jams and jellies, as tasters say they like its subtle notes. It also provides a good background without overpowering the fruit.

Rounding out the line is a selection of sauces and mustards - Savory Cherry Sauce, Claret Sauce, Red Wine Mustard and Honeyed Wine Mustard with Garlic. Each jar comes with recipe suggestions.

Barbara Steuk, "the soul of the company," and her daughter fell in love with French cooking à la Julia Child, and from there the Steuks found inspiration from Christine Ferber, "the godmother of French preserves."

For more information, visit www.vintnerskitchen.com. A nine-ounce jar retails for $8.95.

John Darling is an Ashland writer.

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