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March, 2021

certified sustainable sign


Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing marks its tenth birthday this year—a full decade of steady progress toward sustainability in the state’s wine industry. The program’s accomplishments are evident in the numbers: more vineyards and wineries seeking sustainable certification, more wine made in accordance with sustainable practices. A new report  updates what Certified Vineyards and Wineries have done in areas like water and energy efficiency, employee relations, community involvement, soil health, waste reduction and pest management. There is always more to do, but this look back shows how much can be achieved when individual enterprises commit to shared goals. 

The Pour

Which Wine?

Some people think asparagus is a challenging match for wine, which might be true when the spears stand alone. But add the lively acidity of goat cheese, a whiff of lemon zest, some buttery pistachios and pungent basil, and you greatly expand the pairing possibilities. A California Riesling from one of the state’s cooler spots, such as the northern Anderson Valley, has the steely zip and freshness to complement tangy goat cheese and a delicacy that makes it an excellent aperitif. Launch a spring dinner with asparagus bruschetta and a glass of California Riesling and turn any pairing skeptics into believers.

Meet the Grapes: Explore more wine pairings

The Recipe

Bruschetta with Warm Goat Cheese, Roasted Asparagus, and Pistachio Pesto

California’s asparagus season is short so it’s a good idea to get your fill while you can. When you crave a change-up from plain steamed or roasted asparagus, try them this way: on top of crunchy toast with warm, creamy goat cheese and a dollop of fragrant pesto. Serve as a hearty appetizer at a dinner party or enjoy for lunch with a green salad. 

Wine suggestion: California Riesling, California rosé or California Sauvignon Blanc

goat cheese and asparagus bruschetta



  • ¼ cup (35 g) raw pistachios
  • 16 large basil leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic, sliced
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh lemon juice


  • 2 dozen very slender asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 4 slices sourdough bread, each about 4 by 3 inches (10 by 7.5 cm) and ½ inch (12 mm) thick
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 to 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Sea salt
  • ¼ pound (110 g) fresh goat cheese with no rind

Serves 4


Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). 

Make the pesto: In a food processor, combine the pistachios, basil, garlic, and olive oil and pulse until the basil and nuts are finely chopped but do not grind to a paste. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the lemon zest and salt to taste. Add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the flavor.  

If necessary, trim the asparagus spears so they are no longer than the bread. Place them on a baking sheet and toss with enough olive oil to coat them lightly, about 2 to 3 teaspoons. Sprinkle with salt and roast until they are tender and starting to char, about 8 minutes.   

If the goat cheese is firm enough to slice, cut into three or four evenly thick slices and place them in a lightly oiled baking dish just large enough to hold them. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. If the goat cheese is too soft to slice, spoon it into a lightly oiled baking dish, flattening it slightly with the back of a spoon, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake until the goat cheese quivers when touched, like a soft custard, about 5 minutes. 

Toast the bread. Brush one side of each toast with olive oil. Divide the warm cheese among the toasts, spreading it evenly. Top each toast with asparagus and a dollop of pesto, dividing evenly. Serve immediately. 

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