Ahhh, fall. It really is my favorite time of year as it is the season of my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, college football (Go Irish!), and back to school.1 So yeah, I was happy when my friends at Pedroncelli Wines had a fall, crock pot recipe for our #TasteUp4.2 If you recall,3 the folks at Pedroncelli not only send wines for you to try, but they also send a family recipe that pairs with the wines.4 No wracking my brain to figure out what to pair. Then we all get together to discuss on Twitter using the #TasteUp hashtag. And yes, anyone is welcome to participate.

Pedroncelli is a four generation family (& women) owned winery located in Dry Creek Valley. They’ve been around since 1927 and are currently enjoying their 91st harvest. Ya gotta be doing something right to make wine for that many years. I continue to be amazed at the QPR theses wines provide. One of the questions I am most asked is my recommendation for wine at $25 or less. Well here you go. With so much adulterated wine at low values or high-dollar wines that the average person can’t afford, Pedroncelli manages to produce great wines at wallet friendly prices. Their secret? They are family owned and operated, they own their own land and vineyards, and they control every aspect of their production all of which is done by the family. Well done Pedroncelli Family.

The Wine

2016 Pedroncelli Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County ($22)

2016 Pedroncelli Pinot Noir

I had this while sitting on my front porch (its so easy to sip on) as well as while I was prepping dinner. Floral and red fruit nose with flavors of cranberry, strawberry preserves, plum, vanilla, and a hint spice and earth. Great acid, sexy, silky tannins and oh so smooth. Crazy good for only $22! Add this to the list for your fall food pairings. Y’all know I loves me some Pinot!

2016 Pedroncelli Bench Vineyards Merlot, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County ($18)

2016 Pedroncelli Bench Vineyards Merlot

Described as a Cabernet lovers Merlot, the Bench Vineyards Merlot was used in both the recipe5 and as a pairing wine with dinner. I loved the herbaceousness, spice, and red plum on the nose. The palate showed cherry spice, red and black fruit, pepper, wood, and vanilla along with great structure and well integrated tannins. It was a natural match with dinner and definitely drinks well above it’s price point. Merlot has always been one of those bridge wines between lighter wines like Pinot Noir and heavier wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon which makes it quite versatile.

2014 Pedroncelli Wisdom Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County ($36)

2014 Pedroncelli Wisdom Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Last, but not least was the Cabernet Sauvignon. The Wisdom Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard was established in 1965 and replanted in 2005 with Clone 4, known as the Mendoza Clone. Aromas of plum, black cherry, dusty earth, mocha, and dried herbs just engulf the nose. The palate showed dark cherry, black pepper, and a nice full body with pronounced acidity and tannins. While this was a treat to drink now, it can certainly go the distance so don’t be afraid to cellar a few. Yes, you can age this $36 Cab!

The Food

Slow Cooker Beef with Pasta & Porcini 

With the busyness of fall, a meal that cooks in a slow cooker can be a lifesaver. Add in the fact that I was supplied the recipe, and I barely broke a sweat. I did all of the prep for the recipe the day before while watching football (and drinking the Pinot) and simply turned the slow cooker to low on my way out the door to the office. #Winning. The prep the day before allowed the mixture to marinate overnight which resulted in even more intense flavors. As I mentioned before, it was a bit painful to use so much of the Merlot in the recipe but it was well worth the sacrifice. You can find the recipe on the Pedroncelli site here.

The Ingredients
Throw it all in the Slow Cooker

While the recipe called for pasta, we made a lighter version and used squash noodles instead. In fact, one of the great things about the Pedroncelli recipes is how easy they are to modify. This was quite the flavor packed recipe with so many different layers of flavors (hello porcinis) all cooked together. Not even Thing 1 and Thing 2 could offer up a complaint about this meal. Even better is that this recipe will easily take you from fall to winter without missing a beat.

Slow Cooker Beef with Porcini & Squash Noodles

The only problem I ran into was trying to decide which wine I liked best with the meal. A good problem to have I guess. You seriously can’t go wrong with ether option.

Dinner with both the Pedroncelli Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon

Cheers to Fall y’all!


  1. Structure is my friend whether I like to admit it or not and Thing 1 & Thing 2 need to be at school ALL DAY.
  2. Yes I know I live in Texas and the first day of Fall doesn’t mean anything here (check back in early November), but I’m always in tune with the rest of the country and their changing leaves, cooler temps and all the other signs that point to Fall.
  3. See some of our other Taste Ups here and here.
  4. Their website is full of wine-friendly recipes and I find I go there even when I’m not pairing with one of their wines.
  5. It kinda hurt my feelings to put so much into the recipe but alas I persevered.

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