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Amista Vineyards

Sparkling Moments in Wine

I have been asked lots of questions about owning a winery after spending so many years in the corporate world. Here are some of the stories of my journey into wine that have added sparkling moments to my life.

Vicky Farrow
July 4, 2024 | Vicky Farrow

Celebrate July 4th with Perfect Grilling and Wine Pairings from Amista

Three of Mike's FavoritesGrilled Steak, Potato and Vegatables with Amista Wine

...that inspired my grilling journey.

July 4th is the quintessential day for grilling, making it the perfect time to share three simple and delicious grilling options, each paired with an Amista wine.

Skip to the Perfect Pairings

It’s been seven months since Mike, my husband and Amista co-founder, died. I still miss him every day, but I’m beginning to emerge from the heavy fog of grief. For anyone who has lost a partner, you’ll understand the almost daily surprises of things you never knew how to handle. I try to see these challenges as little puzzles Mike left for me. Most of the time, this perspective helps, unless it's something to do with the printer, which is just frustrating. But I digress.

I Had to Learn to Grill!

One of the things I realized was that I had never grilled anything in my entire life. Growing up, my dad was the grill master. In college, I couldn’t afford a grill and it didn't fit in my dorm room. When I married Mike over 40 years ago, he assumed all grilling duties. I love grilled food, so I was determined to learn. Surprisingly, it turned out to be easier than I thought!

In addition to grilling, Mike was our home chef. He loved to cook and bake bread. My contributions were making salads and cleaning up. Now that I have to do everything, I prefer simple yet delicious meals that showcase the incredible farm-to-table bounty we have in Sonoma wine country. When grilling, I like to prepare the entire meal on the grill to avoid heating the oven or messing up the stove. Here are three of Mike’s favorites that I’m learning to master.

Grilled Salmon and Amista Grenache

Mike always chose a tail fillet of a nice piece of salmon, seasoned it with salt, pepper, and lots of dried dill, and marinated it for about 30 minutes in Mr. Yoshida’s sauce (you can substitute teriyaki sauce and a little honey). He would then place it skin-side down on the grill, turning it briefly. The challenge is getting it off the grill while it’s still moist and succulent.

I like to serve it with vegetables done in a grill basket. My favorites are fennel (which is amazing with salmon), broccoli, and red pepper. I chop all the vegetables, toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then throw them in the grill basket. They just need a quick stir about halfway through. On my grill, they take about six minutes total.

Amista Grenache pairs wonderfully with grilled salmon. It’s a lighter red that doesn’t overpower the salmon. On a hot summer day, it’s great to chill it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving—a trick I learned from our Amista winemaker, Ashley Herzberg.

Grilled Rib-eye and Amista Syrah

Mike and I didn’t eat much steak, but every so often, a juicy rib-eye was a special treat. The wonderful thing about grilling is that most meats require very little preparation. In this case, just salt and pepper on both sides is all it takes.

My favorite part of this meal is the grilled Yukon gold potatoes. I don’t know if Mike made up this preparation or saw it on one of the many cooking shows he liked to watch, but it’s now my favorite way to make potatoes. He cleaned the potatoes, left the skins on, and cut each in half lengthwise. He put them in a microwave-safe bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and used the Steam Cook setting for potatoes on our microwave.

Just a note: the plastic wrap expands into a huge bubble from the steam, so be extremely careful when you remove it to avoid burns. Mike liked to poke it with a sharp knife to let the steam escape before removing the wrap.

Then he drained the potatoes, added salt, pepper, and olive oil, and placed them cut side down on the grill. They are already fully cooked, so all they need are those great grill marks and a little crispiness. Add a selection of grilled vegetables, and you have a hearty summer supper.

Syrah is the suggested pairing because we specialize in Rhône wines and it was the first wine Mike made in our garage when we moved to Healdsburg. However other Amista reds like the Rockpile Cabernet or the Interlude Zinfandel would also be wonderful. The tannins in all of these wines help to cut the richness of the steak.

One of our favorite things to do was open two different wines to see which one paired best. It meant we had two bottles open, but if stored properly, they were ready to drink another night. I haven’t tried it yet, but I want to pair our Mourvèdre with a steak. I bet it will be fantastic.

Grilled Hamburgers and Amista Tres

The Fourth of July screams for hamburgers. Mike used 80/20 ground beef, shaped into thick patties, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. We liked them medium rare, served on Mike’s homemade hamburger buns that he placed face-down on the grill for a few moments to toast. With freshly made buns and all the condiments, we didn’t need anything else—except a glass of wine—to enjoy a satisfying summer meal.

Guess which wine Mike liked with his favorite meal? It had to be Amista Tres, his favorite wine. Tres has notes of dark fruits and just the right spiciness to complement the hamburger and condiments.

Enjoy these delicious recipes and wine pairings as you celebrate July 4th. Happy grilling!


Vicky Farrow
June 20, 2024 | Vicky Farrow

Everything You Need to Know About Rosé

What it is, how it's made, perfect pairings...Amista Rose de Tres - a Toast to Friendship

...and a special celebration with Amista Rosé de Tres

Rosés Have Exploded in Popularity

Dry, crisp rosés are surging in popularity across the U.S. Wine expert Liz Thach notes in Forbes that U.S. rosé sales volume skyrocketed by an incredible 1433% from 2010 to 2020. It seems I'm not the only one who loves rosés, especially as the weather warms and lighter foods dominate our plates.

What is Rosé Wine?

If you're reading this, you likely have some idea, but let's make sure we’re on the same page. Rosés, distinct from blush wines, are generally considered more premium. Those tracking rosé sales typically focus on wines priced at $7 and above per bottle, explicitly labeled as rosé. Like their European counterparts, these wines are dry.

How is Rosé Made?

Contrary to popular belief, rosé is not made by blending red and white wines. Instead, it is crafted entirely from red grapes using one of two methods:

  1. Limited Skin Contact: Red grapes are harvested and left to sit on their skins for only a few hours before pressing. This brief contact gives the wine its pink hue, unlike red wine, which develops a deeper color from extended skin contact lasting days, weeks, or even months.
  2. Saignée Method: Saignée, meaning "bleeding" in French, involves pulling juice from a tank of red grapes early in the maceration process when it is lighter in color. This lighter juice is then fermented separately as rosé. While some consider this method a byproduct of concentrating red wine, others use saignée intentionally to produce both red and rosé wines.

What Pairs Well with Rosé Wines?

Rosés pair beautifully with a variety of dishes. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Steamed mussels with crusty bread
  • Greek salad
  • Chicken and avocado salad
  • Grilled shrimp
  • Linguine with pesto
  • Thin spaghetti with cherry tomato and garlic sauce
  • Seafood paella

Does Amista Make a Rosé?

Yes! Our Rosé de Tres is our current release, and it has quickly become my go-to wine for many recent evenings. Considered a Rhône-style rosé, as described by Wine Enthusiast, it is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Over our 20-year history, we’ve crafted several different rosés, starting with our first Rosé of Syrah, which came about serendipitously.

That initial wine inspired the creation of our first sparkling wine, Sparkling Syrah. Today, we offer four sparkling rosés: Sparkling Syrah, Sparkling Grenache, Sparkling Mataró (made from Mourvèdre grapes), and Sparkling Tres. But let's return to our Rosé de Tres.

What About Rosé All Day?

Our winemaker, Ashley Herzberg, often says she enjoys pairing our Rosé de Tres with a porch swing. It’s also perfect for the beach or lounging by the pool on a hot afternoon. Last Saturday, my friend Miriam and I enjoyed rosé—not all day, but all evening. The following Monday would have been my late husband and co-founder Mike’s 81st birthday, so Miriam and I celebrated in his honor. Mike’s favorite Amista wine was Tres, our red blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, but on that hot day, I chose the Rosé version for his birthday celebration.

A Special Celebration - Cheers to Mike!

Miriam and I began our evening on the back deck where Mike and I used to sit in the same director’s chairs, watching the dogs play in the yard. It was a truly “sparkling moment” as we gazed out over the vineyards, the sun setting over the hills, with a glass of wine and a good friend. Miriam kept spreading her arms, looking at the view, and exclaiming, “This, this; need I say more?” We enjoyed simple hors d'oeuvres—roasted potatoes, cucumber wedges, and pita chips with a red pepper dipping sauce—that paired nicely with the rosé.

After a happy hour (or maybe longer, since we had a lot to catch up on), we put on our aprons and got to work. Miriam wore Mike’s Fire BBQ apron, which brought a small tear to my eye (I miss cooking with him). She made Mike’s favorite dessert, strawberry shortcake with a twist: chocolate shortcake, a variation he discovered several years ago. He served it for the first time at a breakfast meeting with winemaker Ashley, who has never forgotten the treat.

I was in charge of sautéing fresh corn and grilling salmon. Mike loved salmon and was a master at the grill; I am now teaching myself how to use it. The Rosé de Tres was amazing with the grilled salmon, offering fresh berry fruit, citrus notes, and wonderful acidity.

Amista Rose de Tres Paired with Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

After dinner, we assembled our strawberry chocolate shortcakes, added candles, and proposed another toast to Mike’s birthday. The Rosé was with us the entire evening, a delightful companion to the back deck, the sunset, every course (including dessert), several toasts, and, most importantly, a precious friendship.

Still Thirsty?

If you want to learn more, here is a curated list of resources.

Hot Brands And Instagram Are Fueling Rosé Wine’s Phenomenal Growth Rate In The U.S. Market by Liz Thach in Forbes

A Quick Guide to Rosé Wine in Wine Enthusiast

What Do We Mean When We Say Rhône-style Wine? in Wine Enthusiast

Raising Our Glass to Mike Farrow, Amista Winemaker Emeritus and Co-founder, 1943 - 2023


Discover Rosé: What it is, how it's made, perfect pairings, and a special celebration with Amista Rosé de Tres in Healdsburg, California.

Vicky Farrow
December 7, 2023 | Vicky Farrow

Raising our Glass to Mike Farrow

Raising a Glass to Amista Co-Founder Mike Farrow

Mike Farrow (1943 - 2023)

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Amista Vineyards co-founder Mike Farrow, who died at the age of 80 in hospice care on December 4, 2023. His wife and Amista co-founder, Vicky shared details of Mike’s health challenges in a blog post in August. Ultimately, he never fully recovered after contracting sepsis from an injury sustained during a fall earlier this year.

Mike Farrow, Amista Co-founder


We will greatly miss his sense of humor, his warmth, and constant determination to find a way to turn challenges into creative opportunities. He was an inventive home chef and baker who enjoyed wine country living and sharing those simple pleasures with friends. We will always remember him so dapperly dressed in his tuxedo and top hat each year at our Sparkling Soirée.

Mike’s wife Vicky, Amista’s CEO, will continue to lead the winery and carry on the spirit of Amista with the help of their dedicated team. She invites those who knew Mike to come by the tasting room anytime to raise a glass in his honor.

It was Mike’s inspiration that led to the founding of Amista Vineyards with Vicky in 2004. The journey actually started in 1994 when he decided to plant 150 vines on their property in Saratoga, California, to solve a landscaping problem. Shortly thereafter, he started dabbling in making wine in their garage. Mike immediately fell in love with the alchemy of turning grapes into wine and sharing this love with others, including the many friends along the way who encouraged Mike and Vicky to found Amista. The winery name, as anyone who’s ever been to the tasting room knows, roughly means “making friends” in Spanish. 

Mike retired to “Winemaker Emeritus” with the appointment of Ashley Herzberg as winemaker in 2011. Their friendship and collaboration over the years resulted in the expansion of Amista’s wine program, notably the planting of additional Rhône varietals and the creation of Mike’s favorite wine, a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, which they named Tres. Ashley and Vicky ultimately persuaded Mike that they should launch what has become a growing portfolio of estate sparkling wines.     

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of Amista’s founding. It was always a great source of pride for Mike to have built a business that created friendships and connections, including helping to nurture career paths for many team members over the years.

Mike was born in 1943 in Boulder, Colorado, as the sixth in a line of eight boys to parents Mason, a chemist and Elizabeth, a teacher. After attending the University of Colorado Boulder and then going on to earn a PhD in chemistry from Oklahoma State University, he performed research and taught at the University of Utah, and then joined IBM as a research chemist. While at IBM he met Vicky, and they were married in Boulder in 1983. Mike is survived by his wife, his brothers Joe, Bob, and Tom, brother-in-law Chuck Goudge and many nieces and nephews, and his faithful shelties Torin and Dylan. 

A celebration of Mike’s life is planned for the spring, and his legacy will be honored throughout 2024 as part of our 20th anniversary celebrations. We will share more details early next year, in the meantime, please come by for a special pour of Tres in his honor.  

Cheers to you Mike, we tip our hats to you!

- Vicky and the Amista Team

Mike and Vicky have been longtime supporters of Sonoma County’s Career Technical Education Foundation. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to support the foundation’s work to provide hands-on, career-connected learning opportunities to local students at https://ctesonomacounty.org/support-us/

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