Inspiration through Unity: How a Bakery and Winery broke bread

Tim and Kelly Hightower

Tim and Kelly Hightower

One thing you will notice in all of our breads is the care and inspiration baked into each item. A favorite of these inspired bread stories is the Hightower Cellars Bread Starter, a sourdough bread starter made with skins from Sauvignon grapes and developed with our  dear friends Tim and Kelly Hightower.

In the mid 1990s, while keeping their day jobs, Tim and Kelly Hightower pursued their passion of winemaking. In Woodinville, WA, the couple’s research and determination proved successful with their inaugural release of 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon. Soon after, they moved to Benton City in Eastern Washington where they purchased acres of prime vineyard land.

Hightower's vineyards.

Hightower’s vineyards.

Macrina’s friendship with Hightower Cellars began years ago when Leslie visited their beautiful winery perched within the Red Mountain appellation hills near the Yakima Valley, three hours east of Seattle.

In 2010, these passionate, gifted winemakers proposed to Leslie a pretty quirky idea, offering cabernet sauvignon wine grapes to be used as a sour bread starter. Sourdough starters can be developed from the natural yeast found on grape skins, adding leavening and delicious flavor.

A few dashes here and there of this and that, and soon we pulled our Pane Francese from the oven. This is an Italian version of a crusty baguette: batonlike, with a light, porous crumb and a crisp, caramel-brown crust. Our Pane Francese is a beautiful, tasty creation with a story rooted in a genuine, heartfelt bond between artisan industries.

From a simple meeting sprang the creation of a bread that the Hightowers could use for tasting and Macrina could offer in our cafes. We think you, and your guests, would love the pairing of these two artisanal favorites this holiday season. Now that you know the story behind the bread, and the wine, we hope you will enjoy both at your table.

Stiebrs Farms Eggs

Are you a fan of our fabulous weekend brunch menus and our Bialy Egg Sandwiches? This June our cafes made the switch to using cage-free eggs from Stiebrs Farms in Yelm. With their amazing golden yolks, their fresh eggs look great and taste delicious. We’re very proud to be using them for all of our brunch and café pastry offerings.

Leslie first became familiar with Stiebrs Farms eggs at the grocery store. She was delighted to learn that the eggs that she bought for home use were from Yelm. It was natural to want to use them at our cafes. As eggs age, they lose both flavor and nutritional value. Stiebrs’ proximity to Seattle helps ensure that the eggs we use are as fresh as can be.

Stiebrs Farms was one of Washington’s first cage-free and organic egg producers. Jan and Zelma Stiebrs immigrated to the United States from Latvia with their two children, Anita and Jon in 1949. They made a home for themselves in Yelm and decided to start a farm with just a dozen chickens. By 1953, their hard work had paid off and the farm had enough hens to start selling their eggs door-to-door and later to businesses in Tacoma.

In 1978 Jan and Zelma retired, passing the farm to their son Jon and his wife Dianna. Along with their children, they now employ about 70 people across 800 acres of farmland. The hens all perch in community houses and are outside all day, except when the temperature is too cold.  The Stiebrs own a feed mill and produce all of their feed for the chickens on the farm, using a blend of corn, wheat, soybean meal and oyster shells which help to create a stronger eggshell.  They also employ a nutritionist to make sure that each chicken’s diet is complete. Jon is quick to point out that their source of eggs is self-sustaining; they raise all of their replacement hens.  John is very proud of the quality of his eggs and we are pleased to be using them.