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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

In Praise of Pyrazines: Stuffed Bell Peppers + Horse & Plow Winery Cabernet Franc 2021 #CabFrancDay

Years ago I was enticed into exploring Cabernet Franc by a wine colleague who is spearheading #CabFrancDay, Lori of Dracaena Wines and Exploring the Wine Glass.

Pyra - what?!

Pyrazines are as distinctive as they are divisive. Pyrazines are responsible for the 'green' aromas in wine. Think green bell peppers, grassiness, and any herbaceous notes. For those who are in the hate-pyrazines camp, they might describe the wine as smelling like overcooked asparagus. I tend to fall on the fan-girl side of pyrazines. I love when wines smell like fresh herbs, green peppercorns, or roasted peppers.

Horse & Plow Winery Cabernet Franc 2021

For #CabFrancDay v.2023, I poured a Cab Franc from Horse & Plow Winery. Owned by husband-wife team, Chris Condos and Suzanne Hagins, they source from organic vineyards throughout the northern California coastal counties of Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino. They work with growers who are certified organic and/or biodynamic, then they create their wines without additives and sulfites.

This Cabernet Franc was made with grapes from an organic hillside vineyard called Rancho Rocoso, in the Bennett Valley in Sonoma County. The grapes were hand-picked and hand-sorted before being cold-soaked for a week. They fermented each lot in small batches. The tanks were open-topped and punched down by hand before being aged in French oak barrels. The wine is unfined and unfiltered.

This poured a bright, clear ruby with a golden rim. On the nose were bold aromas of green peppercorn, black cherry, roasted peppers, and chocolate. On the palate it started with a burst of acidity tempered with a touch of vanilla and other warm baking spices.

I decided to embrace the pyrazines and pair the wine with a stuffed green pepper and a salad.

Stuffed Bell Peppers


  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 leek, trimmed and diced

  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic

  • splash of olive oil

  • 1/2 cup organic chicken stock

  • 2 cups cooked rice

  • 1 Tablespoon chopped basil

  • 1 teaspoon chopped oregano

  • 1 beaten egg

  • 1 cup shredded cheese, divided

  • 6 to 8 peppers, depends on the size of the peppers


In a large, flat-bottom pan, sauté the leeks and garlic in a splash of olive oil until they soften and begin to caramelize. Add in the ground beef and cook completely. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Then add in the cooked rice, beaten egg, and 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

Wash, dry, and core your peppers, leaving the body of the pepper intact. Gently stuff the peppers with the rice mixture, pressing gently with a spoon to get rid of any air pockets. Place stuffed peppers in a rimmed baking dish. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese among the peppers, pressing lightly into the filling.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle with olive oil and over with foil. Bake for 50 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve hot with a crisp, cool salad on the side.

That's a wrap for my 2023 #CabFrancDay post. I have a Cab Franc Rosé pairing coming soon. Stay tuned!

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