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Fennel Crusted Salmon with BF Pinot Noir!

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Salmon. I can’t think of an ingredient that is more quintessentially Northwest. It’s by no means just a tourist thing. It’s true, the locals eat it regularly. Every restaurant has it on the menu. Many Seattleites have “a guy” – that very special friend who has a boat who regularly hits the water and has an unholy amount of the bounty sitting in his chest freezer in his basement. If you’re lucky “your guy” shares with you. My “guy” is actually a girl I met in college 10 years ago, who even back then was spending weekends on the Sound fishing with her family rather than hitting the bars like the rest of us college kids. This ups her coolness factor by about 100 points. Anyways, I digress. We love our salmon.

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When my girl doesn’t have any she’s willing to part with, I head to Pike Place Market. If you’ve ever watched any sporting event being broadcast from Seattle you’ve seen the market. It’s where the guys toss the fish. Now that particular vendor is a little touristy for my tastes (Fish shouldn’t be thrown, it should be caressed and babied like a small, cherished child) so I head a few stalls down to see my friends at Pure Food Fish. I talk to Harry, who has been working there since 1970 and is something of a legend in Seattle for the consistent quality of the product.

Most instinctively reach for a white wine when pairing with a seafood, especially with salmon. However, I’m here to tell you that while that generally is a safe bet, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that reds, like a certain Blind Faith Pinot Noir for example, pair very well with salmon.

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While there are a million fantastic ways to prepare salmon, be it smoked, cured, baked or poached, I really enjoy my salmon pan roasted with a spice crust. The following is a recipe I have been playing around with exploring how spice, fish, and wine interact. You’ll find the fennel interacts nicely with the fruit and blackberry notes in the Blind Faith Pinot Noir.

I hope you enjoy!

Fennel Crusted Salmon
1.5 T fennel seeds
1/4 t cayenne
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 t ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
(4) 6-8oz fillets of King salmon or your favorite salmon

Combine all herbs in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Blend well into a fine powder.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat nonstick pan on medium high. Pat salmon fillets dry on all sides with a paper towel.

While pan is heating, generously season the flesh of each fillet with approximately 1/2 teaspoon of spice mixture. Generously sprinkle a big pinch of salt across the flesh. Add olive oil to hot pan. Add salmon with the flesh side down to the pan. Briefly and gently shake pan forwards and backwards to slide salmon around in pan. (This prevents sticking.) Sear salmon in pan until spice crust is a lovely brown color, approximately 2-3 minutes. Gently flip salmon so skin side is down. Transfer and place pan in oven. If your pan isn’t oven safe you can transfer the salmon to an aluminum foil lined baking sheet or a baking dish. Bake for approximately 5-7 minutes until salmon flakes easily or reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees F*.

I recommend serving with carrot confit and steamed edamame. If you’d like a recipe shoot an email ( my way or hit me up on social media and I’d be happy to share mine with you. On instagram @88keyslayer

*Being a Pacific Northwest guy, I prefer my salmon medium. Some health departments recommend cooking your salmon to “well” which is 145 degrees F.



2015 Winter Update!

After a wet start to the rain season we had one of the driest Januaries on record and we sure felt it. Throughout January the weather was warm, sunny and often times in the mid to upper 70s! I’m not gonna lie, it was great Disc Golfing and beach weather but also a bit unsettling. As I write this post the winds are blowing outside and a small storm system is headed our way from Northern California. It won’t bring much rain but anything is better than nothing and definitely needed in these dry times. Despite the dry weather we have been experiencing very cool and incredibly foggy mornings here on the west side of Paso Robles, resulting in difficult driving conditions and beautiful vineyard landscapes. Bimmer walks the vineyards almost every morning and captures amazing photos of the seasonal changes we experience that I will share with you here!

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Aside from the unpredictable weather patterns, things at Castoro Cellars are better than ever. Our newly added Whale Rock Disc Golf Course has been gaining immense popularity within the community and we are also seeing people traveling far distances to come play a round amongst the vines. Lots of patrons are even bringing out their small children who absolutely love being out on the course. In an effort to make the sport more approachable we are hosting an introduction to Disc Golf event for wine club members, with lessons being given by the local group SLO Throwers. SLO Throwers members will give an introduction to the sport followed by lessons on how to play. The event will be held on February 21st and will be enjoyable and valuable to players of all skill levels. Space is limited so please RSVP for the event if interested by e-mailing

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As many of you have seen, our wines continue to take home amazing scores and one wine in particular has had another amazing year. Our Zinfandel Zinfusion Reserve recently scored 92 points in the Wine Enthusiast as well as Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. It is pretty amazing to watch this wine out do itself year after year and we can’t credit our winemaking team enough for this success. We have one of the hardest working and most knowledgeable winemaking teams around and their dedication continues to shine in our wines. If you haven’t tried our Zinfusion, now is the time!

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With February here, lets all hope for a wet end to this winter and a nice and moist spring to follow. We have lots of exciting things coming to our blog so stay tuned and never hesitate to surf our website for all the upcoming events at our Tasting Room.