This article is part of a series of interviews entitled Tools of the trade, a column with tips, tricks and expert-approved product recommendations. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
If you think boxed wine can’t be high quality, Woody Hambrecht and Ross Dawkins are here to change that. Career winegrowers and longtime friends, the two men are co-owners of At Miamia direct-to-consumer brand that focuses on providing high-quality, eco-friendly and delicious boxed (yes, boxed) French wines.
“Most wine brands are hyper-focused on wine, in terms of “Let’s see what rank (vine) it comes from or what Brix he was chosen,“But that’s not our main goal,” explained Ross. “We have three decades of experience producing high quality wines around the world. You can trust us. We don’t need to explain the nuances of everything to you. We try to break down the barriers of pretension around wine and make it more inclusive and accessible.
When the duo decided to create the brand – named after their daughters who are both named Sophie and are best friends, as ami means “a friend” in French – they knew they wanted to create a premium product. of quality that would be practical. , accessible and memorable, whatever the occasion. More importantly, they wanted to package their wine sustainably. “More than two-thirds of glass in the United States is not recycled and ends up in landfill,” they write. on their site. Not only that, the carbon footprint of glass production and transport is huge. This inspired the shift from more traditional glass packaging to canned packaging. After all, it generates half the carbon footprint and is more efficient and easier to transport.
Based in Healdsburg, California, the two men are in the heart of wine country. With that, and their obvious roles in the wine community, comes a program filled with endless wine tastings, vineyard tours and accommodations, whether it’s a garden BBQ, dinner or happy hour in the garden. “I love hosting,” Woody said. “I’ve been hosting for as long as I can remember; it is totally rooted in my family culture. I live on this beautiful ranch, we grow a lot of our own food, we raise pigs and chickens and we have orchards. So we’re able to use a lot of what we grow and it’s one of my great joys in life to be able to share that with people.
Living among countless vineyards definitely has its advantages. “If you’re a winemaker, you’re probably also a really good cook: those two things go hand in hand,” Ross said. “So with our friends, we’re all competing to host because we all want to be THE host and are all very precious about our wine, we’re super snobs about our food, so we’re all competing for the title. Spend a warm-weather day in Healdsburg and you might find yourself in front of a casual backyard barbecue, topped with some of the best wine in the country. “It’s kind of ridiculous to go have a little barbecue in Healdsburg, because you’ll find exceptional wine and exceptional dishes that the chef has just concocted.”
All that considered, when I began my search for experts in hosting great outdoor gatherings centered around great drinks, great food, and great friends, Woody and Ross felt like an obvious choice. So we sat down and talked about all things Ami Ami, backyard barbecues, tips and tricks for organization, and so much more. Read on to discover 10 of the pair’s essentials for the perfect garden party, whatever the season.
1. Ami Ami Summer Duo$60
“Who wouldn’t want that when you have people over? asks Ross. “There are two bottles in each box, so it goes further (than a regular bottle) and it looks great on the table. It really is perfect – and it’s not just us trying to do too much – especially for an outdoor barbecue. It can be used in spritzes or enjoyed as is, and it’s so convenient. The convenience of packaging goes far beyond mere entertainment, adds Woody. “It’s great if you want to come home and just have a glass of wine,” he says. “Rather than having to open a bottle, you can have a glass of wine without the pressure of finishing the bottle so it doesn’t go bad after a few days if you don’t.”
The couple love these compostable cups for their eco-friendly blend. And well created. “Many plastic cups or other compostable cups don’t have a pretty design. They have a nice shape and are durable: they are a great alternative to plastic,” says Woody.
3. Polaroid Go Instant Camera,
“This one’s from my wife,” Ross said. “We got married in 2017, she wanted a Polaroid for our wedding and I had to google what it was. I’ve never seen anything at an event or party get as much attention as a Polaroid – that’s an absolute no-brainer. There’s something so special about them, and it’s a great way to create memories without being one of the 3,000 iPhone photos taken throughout the day.
“Remember the main thing, do you? said Ross. “I must have a nice clean grill.” Woody has a whole system to keep his grill nice and clean. “I light my fire first. Once the fire is hot enough, I use a brush to break up the leftovers from our last barbecue. Then I take a paper towel, drizzle some olive oil on it, and wipe the grill. But you need that brush to break down the carbon from your last meal: you’re only worth your tools,” he says.
“I have a really neat house, the bottle sits next to my stove and I cook with it pretty much every day,” says Woody. “I think it’s a great product and a great package.” Ross, also in love with Graza, agrees. “I have a monthly subscription that comes to my door every month,” he says. “Nice packaging, amazing and very educational olive oil (about where it comes from, how it’s harvested, why Picula olives are used, and more).”
6. French oak serving boards$74+
“When I host, I always have a cheese and charcuterie platter,” says Woody. “I’ve been doing them for over a decade and they’re just gorgeous.” Bubbles and charcuterie are the norm in Healdsburg, confirms Ross. “If people arrive and no cold cuts are served when they arrive… do you welcome them? ” He’s joking.
7. Tundra Yeti$325
“The amount of time I spent before I got a Yeti going back and forth from the fridge to get people to drink is ridiculous,” Ross says. “I can’t believe it took me this long.” Now there’s no need to go back and forth from the garden to the kitchen for cold drinks. The duo rely on a Yeti Tundra to keep drinks close and cool, even when sitting outside in just the sun. “I don’t even know how they make them, but I left ice in them for about two weeks without melting.”
“My kid is in the pizza phase,” Woody says. “We eat pizza almost every night, which results in better quality frozen pizza. It also taps into my chef fantasies: it makes me feel a little more serious in the kitchen. Ross, whose daughter is also in the pizza phase, has also used the stone to cook flatbreads on the grill.
“It’s the real thing. If you want to do something, do it right,” Ross says. “Gas grilling is very convenient and very practical, but coming from South Africa, we call grilling over embers a Braai– and you’ll get canceled in South Africa if you invite people over and hit the gas. Old vine wood is actually one of the best woods for grilling, but I love this brand for coals. In fact, I am outside, looking at a huge bag in the corner, ”he adds.
ten. KHEM Studios Single Meat Board$90
“What’s great about this cutting board is that it has a dimple to catch the juices,” says Woody. “Let’s say you throw a steak on the grill, you let it sit for 10 minutes, you start cutting that steak and it’s still going to release juices and those juices have flavor, so you have to capture.”
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