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November, 2021


So many California vineyards and wineries are family affairs, third- and fourth-generation businesses operated by multiple generations today. Not surprisingly, the families behind successful enterprises like LangeTwins, Groth, Jackson Family Wines, Wente Vineyards and E. & J. Gallo are leaders in sustainability. When you intend to pass your business on to children and grandchildren, you want to leave them with healthy vineyards and a vibrant winery managed for the future. Being in the forefront of energy and water conservation, progressive employee practices and good community relations is how these families create a legacy for the next generation. 

The Pour

Whether your autumn comfort food is clam chowder, posole or pork stew, you’ll want some California wine with that. Comfort food satisfies us when we’re tired and hungry and don’t want to fuss. The wine you pour with it should be undemanding, too — maybe a young California Merlot with a screwcap, or an affordable red blend from any of our great Golden State wine regions. While you’re at it, pick up a few extra bottles of that Merlot for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s an easygoing, people-pleasing variety that gets along with just about everything on the table. 

The Recipe

Braised Pork Shoulder with Butternut Squash and Prunes

With slow, moist braising, pork shoulder becomes fork-tender and succulent. Trim the meat well before cooking and your stew will be rich but lean. Butternut squash and prunes contribute the sweet notes that pork loves and bring the flavors and colors of fall to your table. 

Wine suggestion: 

Braised pork shoulder


  • 1-1/2 pounds (750 g) boneless pork shoulder (butt), trimmed of fat, in 1-1/2 inch (4 cm) cubes
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 thick slices bacon, about ¼ pound (125 g), diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fennel seed, ground fine in a mortar or spice grinder, or 1-1/2 teaspoons ground fennel
  • 1 large fresh thyme sprig
  • 2 cups (500 ml) chicken broth, diluted 50/50 with water if canned
  • ½ pound (250 g) peeled butternut squash, 1-inch cubes
  • 12 prunes
  • 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley, plus more for garnish

Serves 4


Season the pork all over with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large, broad Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the pot is hot, add the pork and brown well on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes, adjusting the heat to prevent scorching. Transfer the pork to a plate as it is done. Pour off the fat in the pot and return to low heat.

Add the bacon and let render slowly, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Raise the heat to medium-low, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion is soft, 5 to 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium, add the white wine, and simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon to release any meaty bits on the bottom of the pot, until reduced by half. Add the flour and ground fennel and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Return the pork to the pot along with any juices on the plate. Add the thyme sprig and broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for 1 hour. Add the squash and prunes, re-cover, and continue cooking until the pork and squash are tender, about 30 minutes longer.

Remove the thyme sprig. Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately in bowls, garnishing each serving with a little more parsley.

Wine Institute is an association of 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