Focus on Enrique, Winemaker and Cellar Master

A photo of Au Bon Climat's cellarmaster, Enrique smiling as he stands in front of wooden wine barrels.

At Au Bon Climat, the legacy of long-term employees has been a blessing, ensuring continuity in both the winemaking crew and the wine style, even after the passing of Jim. Among these dedicated individuals, none has served the winery longer than Enrique Rodriguez, whose tenure spans an impressive 38 years, beginning when he was just 16.

As cellar master, Enrique plays a vital role in the winemaking process, overseeing the care and maintenance of the wines from harvest to bottling. His responsibilities include managing the racking, blending, and preparation of the wines, ensuring they meet the high standards set by Au Bon Climat.

Enrique, whose first job evolved into a lifelong career is a testament to his dedication and passion. Hailing from Mexico with little exposure to wine, he honed his craft under the guidance of Jim Clendenen and Jim Adelman, mastering the intricacies of winemaking over time. With each approaching harvest, Enrique faces the anticipation and challenge of producing world-class wines, knowing that each year brings its own set of variables.

Fortunately, Enrique has witnessed a consistent improvement in winemaking quality, thanks to the expertise of the staff and the incorporation of new equipment. However, it’s not just his winemaking skills that have earned Enrique acclaim; he is equally renowned for his prowess in the kitchen.

Enrique continues the tradition started by Jim Clendenen of preparing a daily staff lunch, showcasing his culinary talents to the delight of all who taste his creations. From chefs to world-famous winemakers and esteemed customers from around the globe, Enrique’s meals have left a lasting impression. In fact, after visiting the winery, the top question our Australian importer is asked is what the lunch was prepared by Enrique.

His culinary mastery has prompted many to urge Enrique to compile his recipes into a cookbook—a testament to the profound impact he has made, both within Au Bon Climat and beyond.

Enrique’s Pasta with Bacon, Corn, and Scallops

Enrique Rodriguez has been our cellar master at Au Bon Climat for over 3 decades. His role in winemaking is vital, but his side gig was as Jim Clendenen’s “sous chef”. When Jim was traveling, Enrique made lunch for the winery staff and guests.  With Jim gone, he is now the “Chef de Maison” for the winery and our daily lunches continue to be exemplary. This recipe is a staff favorite and is highly adaptable; it’s the bacon, corn and cream that give the basic flavors.  You can switch out the scallops for shrimp, clams or even crab.  Enrique uses whatever we have on hand, and it’s always delicious.

A bowl of pasta with scallops and bacon, garnished and ready to serve hot!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box bowtie pasta
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon
  • olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bag frozen corn (or six ears of fresh cooked corn)
  • 1 pound bay scallops
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto sauce
  • ¾ cup cream
  • ½ cup basil leaves, chopped

Procedure:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add salt and pasta.
  2. While the water begins to boil, fry bacon in a large sauté pan until crisp.  Drain bacon on paper towel.  Pour off most of the grease from the pan.  When cool, rough chop bacon.
  3. Return pan to stove, when hot, add onions.  If onions stick, add some olive oil.
  4. When onions soften, add bag of thawed corn.  Sauté corn for 3 to 5 minutes.  If it needs moisture add some wine.
  5. Add scallops and sauté until scallops are almost cooked, just a minute or two.
  6. Add wine and pesto sauce.  Let the wine cook down a bit then add cream and mix thoroughly.  You may add more wine or cream, or some pasta water if you want additional sauce.  Add chopped bacon and half of the chopped basil to sauce.  
  7. Drain cooked pasta and toss with a little olive oil and place in large serving bowl.  
  8. Pour corn and scallop mixture over pasta and toss until pasta is well coated.
  9. Garnish with remaining basil and serve hot.