Food, Wine

Steakhouse at Home

Early autumn can bring some of the warmest days of the year to California wine country. People in other parts of the world may be donning fleeces and making stews, while Californians are typically enjoying warm weather, even if the calendar says it’s fall.

steakhouse dinner at home

The vineyards know it’s autumn, however. They remain lush and green right up to the moment when the grapes come off, then they seem to realize their job is done. Quickly those green leaves turn gold, burnt orange and burgundy, a sight so lovely that painters often set up easels on the roadside, enchanted by the view.

The mild temperatures rouse the appetite for one last “summer” dinner from the grill, with thick New York steaks and California wine front and center. Halloween and pumpkin carving are just around the corner, but for now it’s time to celebrate the last vine-ripe tomatoes and fresh California garlic. Roasting both heightens their sweetness, even caramelizing them a bit, and makes the garlic super mellow. Blend with butter and spread on the warm steaks; when the butter melts and mingles with the meat juices, take a bow. If you’ve been saving a fine bottle of California red wine, now’s the moment for it. Or ask a wine merchant to suggest the perfect bottle for your awesome steaks.

certified california sustainable


Consumers looking to make more thoughtful wine choices can be puzzled by the differences between organic, Biodynamic® and sustainable wines. These three approaches have a lot in common — a dedication to building healthy soil and favoring natural methods of pest and disease control — but they differ in key ways, too.

Organic and Biodynamic® methods go deeper in to the healthy soil and crop protection processes used to grow grapes and make wine. Sustainability is broader in scope, encompassing energy and water efficiency, employee relations and community involvement as well. Sustainability is a journey, and maintaining certification requires constant improvement. Learn more.

The Pour

Grilled beef needs a wine with tannin, that essential ingredient that makes red wines seem firm and sturdy. Tannin, naturally present in grape skins, gives red wine its backbone and long finish, a feeling of structure and solidity. Think of it as the wine’s scaffolding. Cabernet Sauvignon has plentiful tannin, and oak aging contributes more. Premier Cabernet regions like Napa Valley, Alexander Valley and Livermore Valley produce wines with firm yet silky tannins. Zinfandel tends to have a bit less tannic strength but a fruit-forward intensity and robust character that make it a great match for steak. Look to Dry Creek Valley or the Sierra Foothills for outstanding Zins.

Grilled Steaks with Roasted Tomato-Garlic Butter

Salting the steaks a few hours ahead improves flavor and texture. If you have extra roasted tomato-garlic butter, use it for topping grilled fish or baked potatoes. Pair with California Cabernet Sauvignon or California Zinfandel.

Grilled Steaks with Roasted Tomato-Garlic Butter


  • 4 boneless steaks, 10 to 12 ounces (300 g to 350 g) each
  • Sea salt
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, about 6 ounces (175 g), halved
  • 6 large cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 ounces (90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon Spanish pimentón (smoked paprika) or sweet paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish



  • Season the steaks all over with salt, using ½ teaspoon salt per steak. Place the steaks on a rack set over a plate or tray and refrigerate, uncovered, for 6 to 12 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling.
  • Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the cherry tomatoes and garlic on the baking sheet, drizzle lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir gently to coat. Arrange the tomatoes cut side up and roast for 1 hour but remove the garlic as soon as it is soft, after 30 to 45 minutes. Peel the garlic and let the tomatoes cool completely.
  • In a mortar, pound half of the cherry tomatoes and the garlic until well crushed. (You can also use a small spice grinder.) Add the butter and pound or puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the pimentón and salt to taste.
  • Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to high. Preheat the grate. Brush the steaks on both sides with olive oil and season with pepper. Grill to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer the steaks to individual dinner plates. Top each with some of the seasoned butter, some of the reserved roasted tomatoes and a basil sprig.

Recommended Pairings

California Cabernet Sauvignon or California Zinfandel

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