Strawberry Pinot Noir Black Pepper Jam

A few weeks back I was invited to tour Phelps Creek Vineyards right here in Hood River, Oregon. Their wine was not new to me, I have visited the tasting room on several occasions, which is not located at the vineyard. So when I received the invitation to walk the vineyard I was beyond thrilled. 

Their small boutique winery focuses on estate grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, annually producing 5,000 cases total of all our varietals. During my visit I learned how their grapes are grown, walked amongst the vines, visited their barrel room and indulged in their lovely cheese and wine pairings. 

Since then we have enjoyed several of the bottles from my visit. And while I love a nice glass of wine, I even more so love experimenting with it in the kitchen. Using Chardonnay with seafood, especially oysters. Or during the summer infusing a Rose with fresh berries, citrus, and herbs. And then there is my favorite, taking a nice red, like Pinot Noir and making strawberry jam with black pepper. This jam is unique and bold in every way. You can leave the black pepper out. But I don't think you should. It makes this jam go from sweet to savory depending on your pairing. Served simply with bread or used as a glaze for meat. By the spoonful completely works too. 

To go with this jam, I made one of my favorite bread recipes from Smitten Kitchen, her Sally Lunn bread. I skipped making the honeyed brown butter and smothered this jam over top. However, next time, I strongly urge you to make the honeyed brown butter. It is unbelievably good. 

Strawberry Pinot Noir Black Pepper Jam
inspired by Oregon Growers 

2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups of Pinot Noir
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 vanilla bean
large pinch of black pepper

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine strawberries, sugar, pinot noir, lemon juice, vanilla bean seeds, and a large pinch of black pepper. Occasionally stir while bringing the mixture to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until it reaches your desired consistency. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Remove from the heat and carefully spoon into clean jars. Let cool and then screw on lids and refrigerate. The jam will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. 

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