Gold in the Umpqua

If you’re entertaining this holiday season and not sure what to serve, gourmet chef Nancy Rodriguez provides the following menu suggestions and recipes, pairing award-winning Umpqua Valley wines with each course.

Story by Nancy Rodriguez


As we move through the seasons, the colors in the vineyards change from variegated greens to the vibrant hues of yellow at harvest and finally to the fallow vines that await the spring. In the Umpqua Valley, though, the golden glow is sustained by the award-winning wines that represent the region. 

Just as the seasons range in color and character, so do the many varietals and styles of wines that have come to define the quality produced in this valley by winemakers with a vision.


A Menu for the Season

Roasted Fennel Risotto with Rosemary Pesto
Brandborg 2015 Riesling

Seared Scallops on Micro Greens with Saffron Aioli
Misty Oaks Vineyards 2016 Gerwurztraminer

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Hazelnut Romesco
Girardet 2014 Sangiovese
Pecan Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Wine Reduction
Reustle Prayer Rock 2015 Malbec

Chocolate Pot de Creme with Dulce de Leche
Abacela 2013 Estate Port


Photo courtesy of Victoria Townsend - Dash of Savory

Photo courtesy of Victoria Townsend - Dash of Savory


• 1/8 t Saffron threads (a pinch)
• 1/3 C Fresh orange juice
• 1 t lemon zest
• 1/2 C mayonnaise
• 2 T unsalted butter
• 2 T Olive Oil
• 18 large scallops Sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper


• In a small sauce pan, add saffron to orange juice and zest. Bring to simmer, cook 1 minute until juice is infused with saffron. Cool.
• Whisk mayonnaise into cooled saffron and juice infusion. Set aside.
• Heat butter and olive oil in sauté pan. Gently place scallops into pan, sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown , turning once. Season with salt and pepper.
• Plate on a bed of the micro greens, drizzle with saffron aioli sauce. Serve immediately. 


Serves six


• 2 T unsalted butter
• 1/2 C dried bread crumbs
• 1 C chopped pecans
• 2 T flour
• 1 egg
• 2 lbs pork tenderloin
• 2 C red wine, Malbec
• 1 shallot, minced
• 1 T rosemary, thyme, finely chopped
• 16 oz. dried figs

• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
• Melt butter in sauté pan, add bread crumbs and chopped pecans. Sauté until golden brown. Remove from heat.
• Dredge pork tenderloin in flour, whisked egg and pecan/bread crumb mixture. Place in roasting pan and roast in 400-degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes.
• While pork tenderloin is roasting, add to sauté pan red wine, minced shallot and herbs, reduce by half. To the wine reduction, add 16 oz. sliced, dried figs and serve with pork tenderloin.
• Remove pork tenderloin from oven, allow to rest before slicing, serve with wine reduction. 

Serves six

Photo Courtesy of From A Chef’s Kitchen

Photo Courtesy of From A Chef’s Kitchen


• 3  medium-size sweet potatoes
• 1 lb. gnocchi
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• Olive oil
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper

Hazelnut Romesco
• 1/4 C olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2  red peppers, finely diced
• 1/2 lb. plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
• 1 C ground hazelnuts
• 1/2 C red wine, Sangiovese
• 1  T honey
• Italian parsley, finely chopped

• Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1/4- inch cubes. Blanch in simmering water until tender. Remove. Reserve water for gnocchi. Cook gnocchi in simmering water for 5 minutes. Remove and combine with sweet potatoes. Sauté garlic in olive oil, drizzle over gnocchi and sweet potatoes, season with salt and black pepper. Keep warm.
• In large sauté pan, combine minced garlic, diced red peppers and lightly sauté until peppers are soft. Add tomatoes and wine, simmer on low heat until reduced by half. Stir in hazelnuts and honey. Combine Romesco sauce with gnocchi and sweet potatoes. Garnish with Italian parsley. 

Serves six

Photo courtesy of Viviane Bauquet Farre - Food and Style

Photo courtesy of Viviane Bauquet Farre - Food and Style



• 2 bulbs roasted fennel
• 1 shallot
• 4 C chicken stock, heated
• 6 T unsalted butter
• 1 1/2 C Arborio rice
• 1/4 C of white wine
• 2/3 C  Parmesan cheese, grated
• 1  T Finely chopped rosemary
• 1/4 C basil pesto
• Olive oil

• Cut fennel bulbs in half and thinly slice.  Add olive oil, fennel and finely diced shallot to sauté pan. Slowly pan roast until translucent.
• In heavy bottom pan, sauté Arborio rice in the butter. Add white wine. Slowly add heated chicken stock and stir continuously. Add more stock as it is absorbed. 
• As Arborio rice becomes creamy, add finely chopped rosemary and stir in pesto. Season with salt and pepper.
• Finish with Parmesan cheese and fennel. Serve hot in individual bowls. 

Serves six


• 1 C whole milk
• 1 C half & half
• 1 T almond extract
• 1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
• 1/3 C dark chocolate cocoa powder
• 6 eggs
• 1/2 C white sugar

Dulce de Leche
• 1 qt. whole milk
• 1 1/2  C white sugar
• 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
• 1/2 t baking soda

• Heat oven to 325 degrees.
• In small pan, slowly heat milk, half & half , almond extract to gentle simmer.
• Melt chocolate on top of double boiler. In large bowl, combine eggs, cocoa powder and sugar. Gradually add egg mixture into chocolate, gently blending.
• Pour mixture into individual ramekins. Place in baking dish filled with 2 inches of water, cover with foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove ramekins from water bath. Cool. Serve with Dulce de Leche. 
• In sauce pan, combine milk, sugar and vanilla bean. Simmer until sugar is dissolved, add baking soda.
• Reduce heat, cook for 1 hour, remove vanilla bean. Continue cooking until reduced to 1 cup and caramel in color.

Serves six