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Category Archives: CellarMaster

‘Tis the Season…

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…For Dungeness crabs!

Tomorrow morning, for the second year running, George will make the trek south to Half Moon Bay to pick up a rather large order of live (delicious) Dungeness crabs from our friends aboard The Cricket. A few weeks back, he took orders from the Montelena Team and we’ve been anxiously awaiting and pondering how to serve them up…

To whet your appetites, here is one of Brian’s favorite pairings from our CELLARMASTER on the Road Tastings this year. Recipe courtesy of Brian Sheehan, Executive Chef at TPC Boston.

Avocado mousse, arugula, celery root, green apple

1 ripe avocado
2 limes (zest & juice)
½ C  Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Puree all ingredients in blender until silky smooth

2 T  lime juice
4 T Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp honey
1 tsp fresh cilantro (chopped)
Salt & pepper to taste

Blend lime juice, mustard, and honey in small bowl
Slowly drizzle in oil to form an emulsion
Add chopped cilantro
Season with salt and pepper

1 small celery root (peeled) (cut into matchsticks)
1 Granny Smith apple (cut into matchsticks)
1 tsp apple cider
Pinch of salt and pepper

Toss ingredients together


12 oz. Jumbo lump crabmeat (picked of shells)
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp mayonnaise
2 tsp Extra virgin olive oil

Spoon Avocado mousse onto chilled plate
Place crab salad next to mousse
Toss apple celery root salad with honey lime vinaigrette
Place celery root apple salad on top of crab salad
Dot plate with remaining honey lime vinaigrette


Oh What A Night We Had!

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Every year, we put on an exclusive event for our UltraMont wine club members.  This small group represents the highest tier in our membership structure.

Two weekends ago, we hosted this event, which was a day and a half affair.  It started with a welcome reception at Judy Barrett’s home.  She is one of the owners of Chateau Montelena Winery.  We were truly appreciative to have this opportunity and our UltraMont members were over the moon.  Judy was a very gracious hostess and was seen often helping out in the kitchen.





Our event continued with an educational component where our members learned what types of wood are used to make a barrel, how to make one as well as how the different woods can affect the taste of the wine.  The day portion ended with a lunch and then our members had ample time to relax and enjoy the Valley on their own.



The event culminated with our first ever formal dinner.  The Harvest Moon Dinner Dance was offered in a tented space at the winery.  All of the members, including the staff, dressed for the occasion.   We even had our own paparazzi and red carpet.  Fantastic food from one of our own CellarMaster members, Tony Spleen.  And rockin’ music from the band, The Special Guests.   A good time was had by all!!!




We look forward to seeing our UltraMont members again next year.   Who knows…this might be a tradition!


A view from the City

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San Francisco! A beautiful multicultural metropolis located between the Pacific Ocean and the ever-changing bay of the same name.  In many ways “The City” as many of us affectionately refer to it, could be considered the gateway to the California wine country. These days a 25 minute drive from SFO in almost any direction will land you on the door step of a plethora of places that will proudly serve you anything from a small sample to a full glass of the life-blood that has given rise to a truly global industry. While wine has permeated all four corners of the globe and is now produced in all 50 of the United States, few people realize that up until 107 years ago, San Francisco was among the major hubs of wine production in California and the US. You see, starting with the gold rush of 1849 and the proliferation of grapes being planted in northern California by many of the immigrant gold seekers, California enjoyed a quick growth in wine production. However, in order to stay close to points of distribution, which in those days was still mainly by ship and rail, wineries were mostly located in the city of San Francisco, as it was a major port and hub for trains and ships.

Fast forward to 1906; San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area was rocked by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake. Among the destruction were many of the wine making facilities located closer to the bay. During the recovery process and encouraged by growing technology for transportation, many winery owners decided to build or rebuild closer to where grapes were grown in the surrounding  valleys, joining others, like  our founder Alfred Tubbs and Chateau Montelena, who had smartly made this decision in the first place.

Today, the Bay Area wine industry has come full circle and once again wine is being made closer to and in the city-by-the-bay. Beginning 5 years ago, Chateau Montelena became part of this growing trend when we opened our first San Francisco tasting counter at Press Club in September of 2008. After much success there, we relocated our tasting room to the historic Westin St. Francis hotel in Union Square and opened full time 2 years ago. By partnering our two historic brands, we continue the growing trend of bringing wines out of the valleys and back to the people in San Francisco.

Often times we’ve heard from people about how limited their time is when visiting the city, and despite being only 60 miles away, Napa Valley often is just out of reach. For us specifically, we recognize that being at the very top of the valley makes it difficult for some people to make it to see us, even when already in Napa.

So we took a page from history and have brought our wines to where the people are! We offer the same tasting room experience as if you were visiting the winery with the convenience of being able to stay in San Francisco. We offer a tasting flight, bottle purchases, the ability to have your wine selections shipped home for you and a variety of winery souvenirs.  We’re open from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm Wednesday through Saturday and our tasting room is staffed with a knowledgeable winery representative who is happy to take you through our flight and offer a variety of insight into the world of wine and Chateau Montelena’s place in it.

We also love to see our wine club members who might be visiting San Francisco as well as any of you who live in or around the city. All of your member benefits apply in our San Francisco tasting room just as they would up at the winery itself. If you’re not yet a member, come by either tasting room to find out all of the benefits our Cellar Master club has to offer.

The next time you find yourself in San Francisco and are craving a sip of something from Montelena, please stop by and see us. We’re located just off of the lobby in the Westin St. Francis Hotel: 335 Powell St. San Francisco, 94102.


Celebrating this Fourth of July

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The month of July has multiple celebrations for me – the celebration of summer in full swing, the celebration of my work anniversary, (year nine for me at Chateau Montelena), but most importantly the celebration of our country.

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As I go through my day to day life, I find that I sometimes take for granted what freedom we have here in the United States.   I mean, I get glimpses of the measures we take to have this freedom, like security lines at the airport, military skirmishes on the news but otherwise I am, like most people, in my own bubble and focused on our day to day lives.   The fact that I can do this and not worry about my safety makes me very grateful.  This luxury is part of Freedom.

I am extremely grateful to live in this country and am thankful for the women and men who continue to fight for our freedom.   During this Fourth of July, I will be raising a glass in honor.

Happy Independence Day, America!

Tales of the Travelling CellarMaster Tastings: Torrey Pines Pairings

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A big thank you to all of our Wine Club members who joined us for our Traveling CellarMaster Tasting in San Diego!

We were expecting the warm So-Cal sunshine that San Diego is famous for, but the warm welcome from our Wine Club members was more than enough to make us feel at home.  Executive Chef Jeff Jackson with The Lodge at Torrey Pines did a fantastic job creating recipes that perfectly paired with our Chateau Montelena wines. I’m never going to forget the Chicken Pâté in a Donut with Apricot, which he paired with our 2009 LateHarvest Sauvignon Blanc.

For those of you looking for inspiration at home:

Chateau Montelena CellarMaster Wine Club Member Tasting Event Menu

Chateau Montelena, 2012 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc: English Pea Purée, Dungeness Crab and French Breakfast Radish


Chateau Montelena 2010 John Muir Hannah Chardonnay: Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp with Peach Purée


Chateau Montelena, 2010 Estate Zinfandel: Potted Shortribs with Onion Marmalade


Chateau Montelena, 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Roasted Lamb Rack, Herb Bread Crumbs


Chateau Montelena, 2003 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Preserved Duck Tostada Mole


Chateau Montelena, 2009 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc: Chicken Liver Pâté in a Donut with Apricot


We’ve recently begun hosting our Traveling CellarMaster Tastings throughout the year and across the country, exclusive for our Chateau Montelena CellarMaster Wine Club Members; yet another perk of membership.

Next stop, New York!

American Milestones Video

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A few months ago a video production team visited the Chateau to interview Master Winemaker Bo Barrett and Vineyard Manager Dave Vella for a 7.5 minute piece that will air on PBS periodically. UltraMont member Tom Koch also makes a cameo, and talks about what keeps him refilling his glass with Chateau Montelena wines.


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Simply Divine Lemon-Thyme Bruschetta

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Perfect Pairing with Chateau Montelena’s 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay!

Simply Devine Lemon-Thyme BruschettaWhat could be simpler than these fresh bruschetta? The creamy texture, delicate thyme, perfume of citrus and sweet honey are a match made in heaven for our Chateau Montelena 2010 Chardonnay!


  • 1 traditional French baguette; thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces whole milk fresh ricotta cheese
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 8-10 springs fresh thyme
  • Additional lemon zest, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

De-stem the fresh thyme leaves and bruise with the back of a soup spoon.

Mix together ricotta, half of the fresh thyme leaves and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Brush baguette slices with olive oil on one side, reserve remaining olive oil. Toast baguette slices in the oven for 5-7 minutes until slightly browned and warm.

Spread toasts liberally with seasoned ricotta. Drizzle with remaining olive oil; repeat drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with reserved thyme leaves. Arrange on serving platter; zest lightly with addition lemon if desired, for garnish. Serve warm.

Lemon Chicken Curry

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So Delicious with Chateau Montelena Riesling!

Our Potter Valley Riesling compliments the spicy and delicate flavors of this warming curry. Try substituting butternut squash for the carrots to make this a truly fall dinner.


  • 2 chicken breasts, oven roasted on the bone and shredded
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 T. butter
  • 4 Tbsp lemon curry powder (or medium madras style)
  • 2 teaspoons fleur de sel
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground peppercorns
  • 14 oz. lite coconut milk
  • 1 Qt home made chicken stock
  • 1 ½ c. jasmine rice 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 serrano chili peppers, seeded, de-veined, minced
  • 2-3 medium carrots, julienne cut
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 8 green onions, medium dice
  • 1/3 cup each finely chopped mint and cilantro
  • Juice of one small lime
  • 1 med. Heirloom tomato large dice, for garnish


Roast chickens ahead and debone when cool: shred breast meat into bite sized pieces. Heat butter and flour in a large saucepan on medium- high heat; cook roux until blonde. Add curry powder and combine quickly. Heat coconut milk and whisk immediately into roux; reduce heat to medium. As white sauce thickens, gradually add chicken stock and simmer 5 minutes. In a separate small saucepan, prepare basmati rice and cook per instructions. Add the carrots ginger, garlic, and chili pepper to curry sauce and simmer until carrots are al dente, about 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken, lemon zest, green onions and peas; reduce heat to medium low and stir occasionally until heated through.*

***Just before serving, add the coriander seeds, cilantro and mint. Adjust seasonings and stir in lime juice. Serve with basmati rice scooped into center; garnish with tomato and more cilantro as desired. Serves 6 as a main course.

Do-ahead tip: Prepare curry ahead to *, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat and continue with **.

Cocoa Nib Caponata

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A Perfect Pairing with Our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon!

Cocoa Nib CaponataThis caponata is an interesting appetizer or side dish when you plan to uncork our smooth, intense Napa Valley Cabernet. The pine nuts, tomatoes and balsamic come into harmony with the dense, nutty and slightly bitter cocoa nibs to perfectly compliment the cabernet/merlot marriage, always a lovely wine to open with dinner. Cocoa nibs are available in most gourmet grocery markets packaged in small pieces. The flavor is slightly nutty with chocolate notes and a hint of bitterness. We think it is a brilliant bridge to deep concentrated red wine aromas and flavors. Our recipe was inspired by Zazu Restaurant in Santa Rosa, California.


  • 3 medium, firm eggplant, unpeeled, 1 inch dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ lbs. garden tomatoes, peeled and diced ( substitute 1 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes, drained)
  • 1 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped small
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup raisins, soaked for 1 hours in ¼ cup cabernet wine
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
  • ½ c. finely chopped Italian parsley
  • olive oil, for sautéing
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Slice the eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and place in a single layer between paper towels, weighted with a large skillet, to press excess moisture: about 30 minutes.

In a large sauté pan on medium high heat, sauté the eggplant in single layer batches in 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil until golden and soft, about 7 minutes. Set aside.

In the same pan, sauté the garlic until fragrant, about a minute. Add the tomatoes and chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted. In a mixing bowl, combine eggplant, garlic, tomatoes, balsamic, celery, raisins, pine nuts, capers, cocoa nibs, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chill the caponata for one hour before serving or spoon into a glass jar and keep for later, up to 3 days.

Delicious with crusty French bread, as a side, or spooned onto toasted baguette slices…all with a glass of Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet.

Stuffed Roulade of Pork Loin with Cabernet Reduction

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It’s fall…and time to cook for Cabernet!

Nothing says fall better than warm and earthy roast pork loin. This delicious dish is actually easy to prepare, especially if you have the butcher butterfly the pork loin for you. (The instructions are included here as well.) Enjoy this delicious fall dish with Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.


  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 3/4 cup red wine, preferably Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon rubbed sage
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2-1/2 cups French bread cubes (day old is preferred)
  • 3 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and diced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 boneless whole pork loin roast (about 3 pounds)

Cabernet Reduction:

  • Reserved wine from cherries
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 sprigs thyme or rosemary
  • 3 Tablespoons butter


In a small saucepan, bring cherries and red wine to a simmer. Remove from the heat; set aside (do not drain).
In a large skillet, sauté the onion, celery, parsley, apples, and sage in butter until tender. Remove from the heat. Strain the cherries, reserving the wine for sauce. Stir in the bread cubes, broth, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, cinnamon, pistachios and drained cherries. Let stand until liquid is absorbed. Season with salt to taste.

Pre-heat oven to 400°. Lay the roast fat side up on a clean cutting board. Trim the fat cap and discard.


Slice into the roast crosswise, parallel to the counter, about 1 inch from the bottom, slicing to within ¾ inch of opposite side.

Open roast so it lies flat; repeat slice crosswise, parallel to counter, about 1 inch in thickness; open this flap.

Cover with plastic wrap; flatten to 3/4-in. thickness. Remove plastic; spread stuffing over meat to within 1 in. of edges.

Close roast; tie several times with kitchen string or use silicone bands. Place fat side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle with remaining pepper and salt.

Bake roast, uncovered, at 400° for 10 minute; reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue to bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 145°. Let meat stand for 10 minutes before slicing.


Meanwhile, place roasting pan on over medium heat; add reserved wine to roasting pan and stir to loosen browned bits. Pour into a small saucepan. Add chicken stock; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; cook until reduced by half. Whisk in butter and remove from heat. To serve, slice roast, place two slices on plate and drizzle with reduction, or serve sauce separately.

Yield: 8-10 servings.

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About Our Authors

George Blanckensee

An expert event planner and an avid basketball and sports fan, George can tell you about all the best off-the-beaten path eateries.

Kali Clark

A Napa Valley native, Kali returned to the area after a stint on the East Coast and can be found documenting the latest happenings at the Chateau. When not behind the camera, she likes to experiment in the kitchen, travel, and enjoy the outdoors

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