At most wineries, dinner during harvest is a burrito inhaled on the crush pad while waiting for the next load of grapes. But for Sashi Moorman, co-winemaker and co-owner of Santa Barbara County’s Piedrasassi winery, harvest dinner is more likely to be a luxurious meal of flatiron steak braised in Syrah for almost three hours. Moorman’s secret: One of his investors is Peter Pastan, chef and owner of Washington, DC’s stellar Obelisk restaurant. Every fall, Pastan helps Moorman with the crush—punching down fermenting grapes, hauling barrels, you name it—and acting as unofficial winery chef.
It all started with bread, Moorman explains at a recent harvest dinner. “A few years ago, we were crushing, and Peter tasted one of the berries. Then he just reached down into the bin and hauled out a whole scoop. ‘I’ll be back,’ he said, and an hour-and-a-half later he was, with this amazing warm bread with grapes in it, drizzled with honey.”
Now, every afternoon during harvest, Pastan disappears to hunt for ingredients, making up the evening’s menu as he goes. The winery itself is an important ingredient source, since Pastan uses grapes or wine in most of his recipes (he even raises his bread dough with winemaking yeasts). And every night, a grab bag of Moorman’s friends and co-workers sit down to what’s probably the best harvest supper within 300 miles.