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February, 2020


In California’s sustainable vineyards, there’s an invading army you mostly can’t see. Ladybugs, beneficial mites, bees, parasitic wasps, praying mantis, spiders and other tiny soldiers are patrolling the leafy grapevines, hunting for aphids, harmful mites and other destructive insects that are up to no good.

By growing cover crops and maintaining thick stands of host plants, known as insectaries, grape growers can attract the hard-working predators that keep pest populations under control.



The Pour

Which Wine?

California sparkling wines range in price from easily affordable to big splurge, but all reliably lift the mood when that cork pops. No special glassware required. Slender sparkling wine flutes are nice for admiring the bead (that’s the bubble), but many somms prefer a standard wine glass.

Despite its delicacy, sparkling wine can handle the riot of flavors on a cheese board, from savory to sweet. Choose a blanc de blancs if the cheeses are mostly young and fresh, a brut if the selections are mostly aged or more robust. Sparkling rosé, with its romantic blush, is a Valentine in a bottle.

The Recipe

Cheese and Salumi Board

If you’d rather spend more time dining with your Valentine than cooking and cleaning up, why not assemble an abundant cheese board that will take your evening from antipasto through dessert?

Wine suggestion: California sparkling wine or California sparkling rosé

cheese board


Nuts in Honey:

  • ¼ cup (85 g) honey
  • 3 tablespoons mixed toasted nuts (walnut pieces, toasted almonds, pistachios)

If the honey is stiff, put the jar in a saucepan of barely simmering water over low heat until the honey liquefies enough to pour. In a small serving bowl, combine the honey and the nuts.

Suggested Cheeses:

  • Laura Chenel Aged Crottin
  • Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam
  • Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor


  • Crackers and flatbreads
  • Sliced baguette
  • Prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced
  • Sopressatta, thinly sliced
  • Black and green olives
  • Dried apricots, Medjool dates, and other dried California fruits
  • Roasted pistachios in shell




Add what you love; omit what you don’t. It’s yours to compose. Good cheese counters typically have many selections, like truffled cheeses, luscious triple-cream cheeses, and mini cheeses meant for two. Add roasted nuts, dried fruits, condiments, and crackers. You can purchase mixed nuts in honey but making your own is a cinch.

Wine Institute is an association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses from the beautiful and diverse wine regions throughout the state. Wine Institute works to create an environment where the wine community can flourish and contribute in a positive fashion to our nation, state and local communities. For information please contact