March Grower Spotlight of the Month - Jim Binns of Andremily Winery - Ventura County Agricultural Education
Hello Friends of SEEAG,
Wine is the nectar of the Gods. This month I had the extreme pleasure of interviewing Jim Binns the down to earth wine maker for Sin Qua Non and his very own new wine, Andremily. Read on…
With over 30 interviews under my belt I’m not normally nervous or intimidated when I’m about to meet a grower. However, this was not the case with Jim Binns. People who know wine, know Jim Binns. Even my videographer said, “Jim Binns! You better brush up on your questions, Mary.” You see Jim is known for creating some of the finest wine in the world. Well my intimidation quickly subsided as soon as he opened the door to his new winery and his own label, Andremily. He was incredibly humble, down to earth and welcoming. I liked him right away.
“The secret recipe to wine making is hard work.” That is only one of the many righteous quotes he said during my time with him. Jim believes paying attention to the tiniest details is what makes his wine special. Focusing on all the elements and making sure the farming is correct is essential. He meticulously manages the process from vineyard to bottle. He monitors all the elements on the vine, including making sure there are enough leaves on the canopy for photosynthesis, heading towards dormancy. Now that’s commitment. I wonder if he actually counts the leaves. He also controls all the inputs and is constantly conducting random samples for analysis and integrity of grape skins, leading up to the exact right day to harvest. He strives to be as excited and enthusiastic about picking the 20th bucket as he was with the first. In the cellar his decisions are based on pros and cons and not on following trends.
I want to stress if there is one thing I learned to be important to Jim it is the land and agriculture. He believes wine making starts on the land. Like my father Marvin, Jim’s father was a livestock farmer in Lancaster, CA. The family raised sheep, pigs and cattle and Jim was very hands on and involved in all facets on the farm. Jim proudly explained, “The family farm is where I learned to work hard”. Then in his early twenties while working in Paso Robles his reputation of having a strong work ethic traveled and this is where he took the call from Manfred Krankel, world famous winemaker of Sine Qua Non, that forever changed his life. Sine Qua Non means a thing that is absolutely necessary. Jim started working for Manfred in 1996 and he quickly became one of Jim’s biggest mentors and partners. Manfred’s knowledge of wine making combined with Jim’s agricultural instincts and hard work have become a winning combination. Jim said, “Learning begins when your mouth closes and your ears open”. Jim must have done a lot of listening.
I only learned after this interview that a bottle of his finest vintages of Sine Qua Non can sell for thousands of dollars at wine auctions. I think Jim is proud of this, but he’s more proud of the process from land-to-glass. It’s the journey not the destination or an award. A credo many farmers always tell me. They love growing things. They love feeding people. In this case, the a glass of wine his wine members can enjoy with their families at dinner.
Great wine making is important to Jim, but his family is even more important. When I asked him where he sees himself in 10 years he said, “I hope that I’m spending more time with my family”. He never wants to become too big where the majority of his time is spent away from his wife and his son Andrew and daughter Emily. His new wine label is a combination of their names placed together, Adremily. Nothing makes him prouder then to watch his son playing baseball.
Other wine makers are “constantly trying to pick his brain” asking Jim about the latest trends and he has no interest in answering these types of questions. Leading back to Jim’s famous quote, “The secret to great wine making is hard work.” At the end of the interview Jim was gracious enough to share his new Syrah varietals with us straight from the barrel. What a treat. Tasting is believing! This novice critic is forever a fan of Jim Binns. Thank you Jim for sharing your gift of wine making with the world and for taking the time to answer a little agricultural nonprofit’s questions. Respect.
At this time Andremily does not have a website. To learn more about Sine Qua Non please go to – SINE QUA NON
Video by John Phaneuf
March Spotlight Recipe – Coq Au Vin
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.
Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.
Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.
2007, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved