The big question was Washington or California, and she was getting pulled in both directions by winemaker friends Butch Milbrandt and Daryl Groom. Anyone who dines at Heritage Restaurant/Bar should be thankful the owner of Milbrandt Vineyards and Ryan Patrick Wines won the recruiting battle.
"I've known her for so long that she's like a daughter," Milbrandt said. "That friendship has helped both of us, and I've got to say that I'm proud of her. Heritage seems to be pretty well-received."
The friendship began a dozen years ago when Beike was a 23-year-old executive chef at the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago. Milbrandt came in for a sales meeting just before her dinner crowd, so she brought out dish after dish.
“He was at the end of a long day working the market, and I knew he must be hungry,” she said with a chuckle.
They talked about food and wine and opportunities in Washington wine country. By the fall of 2013, she’d moved out to become the executive chef at the Seattle Yacht Club.
"I have really good friends in Sonoma who are winemakers, but I chose Seattle because I thought that I would have to work first in San Francisco before starting something in Sonoma," she said. "I didn't want to do that."
Groom, winemaker at famed Penfolds in Australia prior to launching his eponymous brand and becoming rooted in Sonoma, obviously doesn't hold it against Beike or her husband, Chris Brende. Groom dined in the private dining room at Heritage not long after the April 11, 2018, opening.
"Awesome young lady and chef and the new restaurant is fantastic," Groom wrote via Facebook. "We are very proud of her ... and Chris."
At Heritage, Beike often sports a pair of lime-green, old-school Chuck Taylor basketball sneakers, which fits her "come-as-you-are" approach.
"This is not a fine-dining experience, but we have fine-dining elements,” she said. “We're very much a community restaurant. I want people to feel comfortable when they walk in the door. We’re not trying to be corporate, but rather seasonable and approachable and affordable.”
While Beike and Brende do have an investor in their restaurant, it is not Milbrandt. However, because Heritage shares a hallway and washrooms with the new Ryan Patrick and Milbrandt tasting rooms next door, she needed to convince state liquor agents her restaurant and those tasting rooms are not affiliated and do not violate Washington state’s "tied house" laws.
"At this point in my life, I don't need to become a restaurateur," Milbrandt quipped. "It was Bre's idea to do this at that site. She came up with an investor, and we rallied to get this together."
Beike also credits her longtime membership in Les Dames D'Escoffier, the nationwide organization for women in the hospitality industry. She joined while in Chicago and became involved in the Seattle chapter. One of her Les Dames colleagues, restaurant consultant Deba Wegner, learned a garden spot was opening up in Woodinville's Hollywood District. A Mexican restaurant on the corner for 16 years was leaving its 6,000-square-foot space. It didn't take long for Beike and Milbrandt’s team to mobilize.
"I already had my business plan and knew I wanted to do something in Woodinville," she said. "I wasn't sure who was going to be in this spot, but I received the phone call from Deba and the stars aligned with Butch. There's nobody else I'd rather work with. We're cheerleaders for each other."
Heritage supports a number of her other Hollywood Circle neighbors, including Alexandria Nicole Cellars and Long Shadows Vintners as well as other Woodinville stalwarts such as Brian Carter Cellars and Patterson Cellars.
There’s no doubt Beike has spent nearly her entire life working toward Heritage. A native of steel town Portage, Ind., she earned a bachelor’s of science degree at Kendall College, the acclaimed culinary and hospitality school in Chicago that had six alumni nominated for James Beard Awards in 2018. Her Windy City résumé includes three restaurants spearheaded by celebrity chef Rick Gresh — Green Dolphin Street, Caliterra in the Wyndham Hotel and David Burke's Primehouse in the James Hotel.
"Both sets of grandparents had gardens, and they canned," Beike said. "My mother made dinner six nights a week, and we baked a lot. My mom never opened a box, so everything was from scratch. It was a huge influence on me."
Hence, the name for Beike's restaurant and bar — Heritage.
"It's all for family and friends," she said. "My mom gave me a recipe box when I was 12, and it's engraved on the bottom with 'May you always cook with love and pride. Keep the heritage.'"
Welded elements that add to the décor of Heritage serve as an homage to her father, a welder by trade. "That's where I got my work ethic," she said. "I'm an only child, and I truly built this restaurant as a tribute my parents, based off those values."
Maybe by next spring, she and Chris can get back to camping in the Cascades. They fell in love with Leavenworth and toyed with the idea of opening a steakhouse there, something they didn’t find in the Bavarian-themed town.
"A huge goal of ours is to have a small cabin to escape to, maybe around Cle Elum," she said.
A Midwest up-front friendliness adds to her charm, and her interest in local history can be found on the walls in the series of black-and-white photos of the Hollywood Farm and the town's very first restaurant. One wonders if her modern American fare and inviting vibe might not have worked in Sonoma.
"There is a consortium of community here that's heart-melting," she said. "And every day I come out the kitchen and see the support of the wine industry and neighbors. Not everybody is always going to be happy — and Yelp will tell you that — but all you can do is try your best to make people happy."
She first offered up scallops when asked about her signature dish.
"Even though my dad loves to fish, it wasn't my mom's thing, so fish was one of the biggest things I struggled with when I got into culinary school," she said. "I almost lost an internship over scallops, but it's become one of my favorite things to make, and I've done three seasonal preparations of it since we've been open."
Leave room for her custards as well. Her deft touch presents them with a texture that's reminiscent of a dense meringue rather than a heavy pudding. And don't pass up her savory potato chips.
When it came to her Match Maker assignments, she paid tribute to her German heritage each time, starting with Alsatian-style sausage that's chopped up and cooked in her Spicy Clams with Sausage. She relies on fifth-generation Hama Hama Co., on the Olympic Peninsula for her shellfish, and she enjoys incorporating sausage into many of those dishes.
“At the Columbia Yacht Club, she would come up with things I’d never heard of, but they worked,” Milbrandt chuckled. “She's a lot of fun and has a lot energy. She'll be good for Woodinville.”
The salinity of the clams and heat from the sausage builds a refreshing aspect into the Ryan Patrick 2017 Rock Island Chardonnay while bringing out the wine's Bosc pear and Golden Delicious apple notes.
Her German background showed again in the braised red cabbage served as part of the Sous Vide Bone-In Pork Chop with the Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Vineyard Series Tempranillo. A French technique of cooking food in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag within a temperature-specific water bath, sous vide has been featured just once previously in the 20-year history of the Match Maker series. Pronounced sue-VEED, it translates to “under vacuum” and is an ideal way to keep proteins such as pork and halibut moist. There are a number of sous vide devices on the market that precisely control the temperature of a stove-top water bath.
"We use Salmon Creek Farms and butcher our pork chops in-house,” she said. “It's been sous vide for 30 minutes and then pan-seared to get that crispy outer. The chanterelles are from a forager who brings us fresh mushrooms twice a week, and they were picked just outside of Aberdeen."
Six years beyond the vintage is just about right for most Northwest-grown Tempranillo as the tannins are falling into a dusty place. Marbling within the pork chop is met by great acidity from dark currant and Marionberry flavors in the wine. Savory elements brought by the mushrooms and pork broth fit with the earthiness and cumin spice of the Temp, while the red cabbage brings back a boysenberry brightness to the wine's finish.
"The portfolios of Ryan Patrick and Milbrandt are so diverse, everything from your budget-friendly everyday drinker that's going to get a 92 because it's fabulous, all the way up to a $55 bottle of wine," Beike said. "I'm a champion for their wines, and I've always carried them wherever I've been."
Adding to her sense of pride in the relationship was that in November Wine Spectator named the Milbrandt Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon — a $17 bottle — at No. 43 on its Top 100 wines list for 2018. At some point, expect to see a Milbrandt-built Heritage Red Blend poured at her restaurant.
"Wow, that's the ultimate dream of mine," she smiled. "How lucky could I be to own a restaurant and have people in the wine industry to do a custom blend for me?"
And look for it to be a food-friendly Super Tuscan-styled blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.
"I love them because they are big and bold, and I'm kind of big and bold and gregarious, I think," she chuckled.
Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Vineyard Series Tempranillo $28
— 375 cases, 14.5% alcohol
Columbia Basin vintner Butch Milbrandt doesn’t shy away from the stove, and some of his first video cooking demonstrations featured Chicago-trained chef Breanna Beike.
“They did a series for a while where they had peel-off label recipes on the bottles, and I did recipes for them, so my name would be on the back of the bottle,” Bieke said. “And those early videos branched out into his 'Pair This' series. I can't say enough good things about Butch."
Last year, the Milbrandt brothers officially reconfigured their operations. Jerry took over the vineyards and the custom-crush facility that Mix oversees — Wahluke Wine Co. Now, there’s also Ancient Lake Wine Co., a young and massive winemaking plant near Quincy. As for the winery brands, Butch, and his son, Buck, who already owned the Ryan Patrick brand, became full owners of the Milbrandt Vineyards.
Milbrandt Vineyards still pulls from many of the vines the brothers planted together on the Wahluke Slope starting in 1997 — Northridge, Clifton Hill, Pheasant Ridge, Purple Sage and Katherine Leone. There’s also Ravenscliff, which Butch owns himself. Their wine program also leans on family vineyards in the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area, including El Castillo and Spanish Castle.
An early-ripening variety, Tempranillo got its foothold in Southern Oregon, thanks to the pioneering work by Earl Jones at Abacela in 1995. The grape now is gaining popularity in Idaho’s Snake River Valley, where Cabernet Sauvignon rarely achieves the ripeness sought by most winemakers.
In Washington state, however, interest in Tempranillo has slipped. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Northwest Regional Field Office reported acreage of Tempranillo fell from 94 in 2011 to 73 for 2017.
“It’s one of those lesser-known grapes, and we’ve concentrated on Cab, Merlot and Syrah because that's where the demand is,” Butch Milbrandt said. “You'll have to create demand, and that’s not easy to do, so if you are going to do Tempranillo, you’ll need to grow two tons for this guy and five tons for that guy.”
That’s not often the business model for larger operations.
Tempranillo has no problem getting ripe on the Wahluke Slope. Milbrandt’s string of bottlings for Tempranillo began in 2009, and Wahluke Slope Vineyard was at the core from the beginning. The Mielke family behind Arbor Crest Wine Cellars in Spokane planted it prior to selling the 150 acres to the Milbrandts, making it their easternmost vineyard.
During the classically balanced 2012 vintage, harvest came early — September — and the bottling is 91 percent Tempranillo, joined by other Iberian Peninsula varieties Syrah (8 percent) and Grenache. It’s not common to see Tempranillo in the Northwest influenced by an abundance of new oak, and the 2012 wine made by Joshua Maloney involved just 10 percent new French oak. That allows the wine to stay true to the dusty herb and food-friendly nature of the grape.
Since 2012, however, Tempranillo has become a wine club project at Milbrandt. The latest features Tempranillo as a Spanish-themed blend co-fermented with Grenache and Mataro - a.k.a. Mourvèdre. Bieke occasionally gets her hands on a few cases of club wines to feature at Heritage.
“We try to give her interesting wines whenever we can,” Milbrandt said.
The peel-off suggestion for the 2012 Tempranillo is a Roasted Tomato Soup recipe by Rachel Mercer, now wine program director at the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser. Milbrandt himself enjoys creating his Fig Crostini, with jalapeno jam and caramelized shallots to serve with his Tempranillo, And there’s a recipe for marinated olives that he’s willing to share, too.
Milbrandt Vineyards, Western Washington tasting room, 14450 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Woodinville, WA 98072, (425) 949-7972; Central Washington tasting room, 707 Highway 2, Unit D, Leavenworth WA, 98826, (509) 888-2236, Eastern Washington tasting room, 508 Cabernet Court, Prosser, WA 99350, (509) 788-0030, milbrandtvineyards.com.
Sous Vide Bone-In Pork Chop with Braised Red Cabbage and Chanterelle Mushrooms
Two 12-ounce pork chops (Ask butcher for a center-cut, bone-in loin chop)
1 1/2 cups braised red cabbage (see recipe below)
1 cup chanterelle mushrooms
1/2 cup high-quality demi glace (we make our pork jus)
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1. Season pork chops generously with salt and fresh-cracked pepper. Place pork chops in a Ziploc plastic bag and squeeze as much air as possible from the bag.
2. Set up a sous vide machine (circulator) with a water bath, (Joule by ChefSteps is a great home model), and set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Drop pork chops in water bath and allow to circulate for 30 minutes. Remove pork chops.
4. In a sauté pan, sear the pork chops for 1 minute on each side. A golden, caramelized color should be the goal.
5. Pull chops and set on cutting board.
6. Serve with warmed braised red cabbage and sautéed chanterelle mushrooms. Drizzle on demi glace and garnish with chives.
Braised Red Cabbage
1 large red cabbage, 2 to 2 1/2 pounds, quartered, cored and cut crosswise in thin strips
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 tart apples, such as Braeburn or Granny Smith, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup bacon, chopped
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. In a large pot, add bacon and render until bacon is crispy.
2. Add onions, apples and cabbage. Add apple cider vinegar.
3. Cook until cabbage is tender.
4. Season with salt and fresh-ground pepper.
Ryan Patrick Wines 2017 Rock Island Chardonnay, Columbia Valley $20
— 700 cases, 14.5% alcohol
Ryan Patrick Wines began in 1996 with Terry and Vivian Flanagan, who planted vines near the Columbia Basin town of Quincy and named the project after their two sons, Ryan and Patrick. Their wines found success soon after opening in 1999 with Charlie Hoppes as their first winemaker.
By 2003, Patrick was helping to make wine with grapes his brother was growing, but unfortunately he died in a car accident a year later. In 2011, the Milbrandts purchased the brand. However, Ryan oversees several of the vineyards that Butch Milbrandt sources from.
A few weeks ahead of the 2017 harvest began, Kendall Mix took over the winemaking for Ryan Patrick.
Ryan Patrick’s portfolio now features eight bottlings priced from $12 to $45.
Milbrandt and Santo launched the Rock Island Chardonnay program with the 2015 vintage, naming it for the island in the middle of the Columbia River downstream from Wenatchee. It proved to be golden at several West Coast competitions. An easy way to remember the angle of Rock Island is via the mash-up RI-Ch, as in “rich” and a signal to a reserve-style 100 percent barrel fermentation, with 18 percent of the barrels being new oak.
This 2017 vintage focused on two vineyards - Sagemoor along the Columbia River and Sundance Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope.
While there are still signs of the oak with hints of toast and vanilla, the recently released 2017 RI Chardonnay offers more brightness, balance and less roundness in terms of mouth feel from the malolactic fermentation, shining more light on the ripe white-fleshed orchard fruit flavors that symbolize the Columbia Basin.
Ryan Patrick Wines, Western Washington tasting room, 14450 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Woodinville, WA 98072, (425) 949-7972; Eastern Washington tasting room, 707 Highway 2, Unit D, Leavenworth WA, 98826, (509) 888-2236, ryanpatrickwines.com.
Spicy Clams with Sausage
1 pound Manila clams
4 ounces Italian sausage, cooked (we use a house-made Alsatian-style sausage)
1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup lacinato or curly kale, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons red chili flakes
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large sauté pan, sauté shallots, garlic and sausage in butter. Add Manila clams, chili flakes and white wine.
2. Cover sauté pan and steam for 4-5 minutes until clams are about half-way open. Add beans and kale.
3. Continue to steam for another 4-5 minutes until clams are fully open. Season with salt and or pepper.
4. Serve with crusty bread.