October 2008

Ribollita – Vegetable Soup

by admin on October 31, 2008

Ribollita is a hearty, thick Tuscan soup with soft textures….it is really all vegetables with only the gleam of the cooking water.

I love this dish because of the flavors and the nutrients…and also because traditionally, you make a batch and then heat it up later…seasoning again with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Ribollita really means “reboiled”.  I love anything that I can prepare early!


  • 10 1/2 oz. Dried Cannellini Beans….soaked overnight
  • 2 Celery Stalks – trimmed and chopped
  • 2 Medium Red Onions – peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb. Swiss Chard – washed, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 lb. 12 oz. Kale or Savoy Cabbage – washed, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 9 oz Country Style Bread – cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • St. Helena Olive Oil Co. Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil view product


    1. Drain the soaked cannelini beans and put them in a large saucepan.  Cover with plenty of water and bring to a boil.  Remove any “scum” that comes to the top of the surface.  Lower heat a bit and cook for around an hour or until beans are tender.  Make sure the beans are always covered with water..add more if necessary. Oh…don’t forget to add some sea salt half way through…..our grey sea salt would work great…just a couple of big pinches.
    2. In a stockpot, saute the onion and celery in the Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil until soft.  Add the Swiss Chard and Kale or Savoy(in Tuscany they use Cavolo Nero) and saute a little longer…again until soft.
    3. Cover the ingredients with 12 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Add the tomato paste and sea salt and pepper.  Now, lower the heat and simmer for around an hour and 15 minutes.
    4. Put the bread pieces on a tray in the oven until they are very dry.  Remove and put aside.
    5. Drain the cannellini beans and keep about a cup of their cooking water.  Puree half of the beans with that cooking water.  Add both the puree and the rest of the beans to the stockpot in the last 10 minutes of the total cooking time.   Now you can just mix in the bread but traditionally you put a ladleful of the soup into a large soup dish….add some bread….and then ladle some more soup….then bread….until everything is combined.
  1. If you need a little more moisture you can add hot water.  But, remember, it’s not a traditional soup…it turns out like a bowl of stewed vegetables.

    LAST STEP…….DRIZZLE WITH GENEROUS AMOUNTS OF OUR TUSCAN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL…you can use Sevillano as well….the Napa Valley oils may be a bit big for this but if you are into the stronger flavors then give it a shot!

    I’ve noticed in Florence they add different ingredients of the season…the last dish I had included potatoes…..feel free to mix in anything that is in season!

    Let me know how it goes!

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Calling the Pick at Stagecoach

by Peggy on October 22, 2008




Today I got a call today from Jason at Krupp Vineyards…he thought the olives were turning…I needed to come check them out. My initial thought was that it was VERY early…I had been hearing from other growers and producers that the fruit was coming in early…so, amidst website issues and computers crashing, I jumped in my SUV…told my staff I’d be back in an hour….and sped off.

It was a beautiful day….80+ degrees….I arrived at the ranch to find Jason and Jan preoccupied with their grape harvest. They gave me a map and off I drove into the maze of the 1000+ acres. Okay…so I got lost once…but I finally made my way to the acreage of the olives. I drove to the far end of the trees….got out of my car…anticipating that I would spot check the trees and then make my assessment. As I began to hike to the end of the row, I felt the pull of the trees….each and every one of them….I needed to look at every tree…and assess its health…and the maturity of the fruit….it was as every tree needed to be seen….recognized….and acknowledged for the fruit it was about to bear.

I know that sounds crazy but I couldn’t help myself…..ask my friends…I am not what you would consider a naturalist…I don’t commune with plants…matter of fact I have been cut off at the nursery for real plant purchases….AND….just 20 minutes prior I was engulfed in heated conversations with our website developers while guiding my retail staff through the manual transactions with customers due to our system crash…I was not in the mood for nature and intended to only do a cursury review of the trees in order to get back to the “real” world…but the power of mother nature was too great to deny…and She had different plans….

In astonishment, three hours later, I had bonded with the last olive tree……I had not only documented every row…where it was in maturity….evidence of fruit fly….dehydration….etc…but I had introduced myself to every tree…I mean so to speak…I’m not nuts….I simply showed my respect to every tree…and overall, there was very little weakness in the fruit…I think I was right…this is going to be a very special harvest.

Stagecoach was not ready to pick….. there were trees with purple and black olives…but, if I broke them open the flesh was still too green. An olive tree can fool you…the skin turns before the flesh…so, you always have to check inside. There is no scientific method to calling the pick….I look for a majority of purple olives….bleeding purple in the flesh…..preferably mixed with trees that are still green…and then I make the call. I don’t know when that will be for Stagecoach but I know that it is not today…

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History of Stagecoach Vineyards

by admin on October 16, 2008


Settlers in the 1800s first took advantage of the well drained soils and optimum growing conditions found on the Stagecoach property. Each harvest, the settlers would haul their crop by horse and wagon into Oakville…catching some of the highest prices. By the early 1900s the increase in deer population brought the crops to a hault…leading to the abandonement fo all viticulture on the hill by Prohibition.

Fast forward to 1995…..The Krupp family started developing Stagecoach Vineyard with the help of a few longtime friends. An excavation of a half million tons of rocks and a eureka find of water later, the Krupps were able to develop over 500 plantable acres. Stagecoach is the largest contiguous mountain planting in the Napa Valley. Stretching from the westernmost regions of Atlas Peak all the way to the east overlooking Oakville, this 1200+ acres of rocky, volcanic terroir graces the southern edge of Pritchard Hill.

Spending time on this ranch has been surreal…you can sense not only the great respect that the Krupps have for the history but also for mother nature…the vegetation, whether it be vineyard, sagegrass or olive trees are satisified…well cared for….and eager to produce the best. There is no doubt that this land has the potential to produce one of our finest Extra Virgin Olive Oils…and I’m going to do all I can to ensure that it does!

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I am so excited to introduce you to a new estate that we are pressing this year….Stagecoach Vineyards. I got an email from a friend a month ago who told me that Stagecoach was looking for a home for their olives. I was told they had hundreds of trees that bordered the 500+ acres of vineyards…a mix of Italian and Arbequina varietals. Of course my interest was peaked so I contacted Jan Krupp of Stagecoach Vineyards and set up a time to check it out.

As I journeyed up Soda Canyon Road, I couldn’t help but feel the ease of the stress of the valley floor…radio stations became static….cell phone went searching…. and before I knew it, I was at the gate of Stagecoach Vineyards. As I ventured through the gate, I came across a small barn that housed the office. Awed by the beauty that surrounded the barn, I made my way inside…only to be greeted by Jan Krupp and his Vineyard Manager, Jason. The greeting I received had no evidence of the stress of their own harvest…and they were eager to show me their olive trees…amidst it all. We hopped in their SUV and drove the ranch….my mouth dropped. It reminded my of the Napa Valley where I grew up….yes, there were hundreds of acres in grapes but the surrounding wilderness was surreal…cruising through the vineyards, we came across a coyote, jack rabbits, quail, and even a bald eagle….I grew up in the Western hills of the Napa Valley where wild life was abundant…with all of the development, you don’t see much anymore….so, to see it again…in abundancy…was refreshing…and peaceful…a true oasis.

Ah…the olive trees…they were beautiful…and full of olives…still pretty green. I don’t know any other estates that have planted Arbequina in the Napa Valley so that was exciting to see. The trees were healthy…a lighter harvest then last year….to be expected as olive trees are alternate year bearing and their harvest last year was abundant.

Without hesitation, I let Jan know immediately that I would love to partner with him in the production of our Stagecoach Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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