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April, 2022

winery event


California wineries will be celebrating Down To Earth Month in April, all month long, so check our list of winery events and offers for activities that appeal to you. Vineyard hikes, behind the scenes sustainability tours, and virtual and in-person tastings are on the menu and some of the activities will fill up quickly. During Down to Earth Month, we raise a glass to all those folks who are making California wine more green from grapes to glass. 

The Pour

When vegetables are the star of the main course, think Sauvignon Blanc. Broccoli, asparagus and leafy greens love the variety’s pineapple and citrus aromas and crisp texture. Each sip of the wine brightens the dish, like a squeeze of lemon in a salad.

Sauvignon Blanc is grown all over the state of California, but Lake County is one of its prime territories, especially in high-elevation sites where the swing between daytime high temps and nighttime lows can top 50ºF (28ºC). That difference is known as the diurnal swing, and it helps Sauvignon Blanc ripen fully while maintaining its zippy acidity. 

The Recipe

Broccoli Pesto with Penne Pasta

Many markets sell broccoli crowns, the florets with most of the stem removed. If you can’t find the crowns, purchase whole broccoli and cut off all but 1 inch of stem. But don’t throw away the stems! Pare them with a knife or vegetable peeler, steam them and enjoy as a nutritious snack.  

Wine suggestion: California Sauvignon Blanc or California Pinot Gris

Penne with Broccoli Pesto


  • ¾ pound (350 g) broccoli crowns  
  • 16 to 18 large fresh basil leaves 
  • 1 small garlic clove, thinly sliced 
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) heavy cream 
  • 2 tablespoons (20 g) pine nuts 
  • ¼ cup (20 g) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino romano cheese, plus more for the table 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 pound (450 g) dried penne rigate or rigatoni 

Serves 6


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Boil the broccoli crowns whole until the stems are just tender when pierced with a knife, 3 to 4 minutes, then transfer with tongs to the ice water to chill quickly. Drain well and pat dry. Reserve the boiling water for cooking the pasta.  

Set aside one-third of the broccoli and chop the remainder coarsely. Put the chopped broccoli in a food processor with the basil and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running, add the olive oil through the feed tube, processing until the mixture is nearly smooth. Add the cream and pine nuts and process again until nearly smooth.  

Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and stir in the grated cheese and salt and pepper to taste. 

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. While the pasta cooks, cut the remaining broccoli into bite-size florets. Just before the pasta is done, add the florets to the boiling water to heat through. Remove 1 cup of the boiling water and whisk just enough of it into the pesto to make a sauce that will coat the pasta nicely. You won’t need it all. 

Drain the pasta and broccoli and add it to the serving bowl. Toss well and serve immediately. Pass additional grated cheese at the table. 

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