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Category Archives: Food

Fresh & Easy Ceviche

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Fresh & Easy CevicheOur Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc has a great acidity that stands up to bright citrusy notes in any dish. Fresh lime, aromatic cilantro, and firmly textured fish compliment the bright palate and crisp finish of this delicious wine! Serve both well-chilled for a perfect beginning to a dinner repast, or let them shine together as the star of a light lunch!


  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh firm white fish, such as sea bass fillet or tilapia fillet, cubed in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 2 fresh medium vine ripened tomatoes, cubed, seeded and drained
  • 2 avocados – peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Lettuce leaves, for garnish


In a medium non-reactive bowl combine the lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice and olive oil. Add the fish and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for about 3 hours. The flesh of the fish should be white and opaque.

Add the cilantro, onion, celery, tomato, and avocado. Season to taste with salt and pepper, To serve, spoon onto lettuce leaves and garnish.

Grab a bottle of our Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc – available only through the winery – and enjoy alongside this dish. Cheers!

Recipe Challenge Grand Prize Winner: Vanilla Lobster Tails With Caviar And Micro-Greens Salad

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Try this Grand Prize Winning Recipe, submitted by CellarMaster member Jack Douglas, that pairs beautifully with our Napa Valley Chardonnay.

“Simply, a most delicious and elegant first course that sets the stage for a wonderful evening…easy!”

You will need:

  • A special oblong individual dish for each serving is dramatic and beautifully sets the salad
  • A heavy bottomed, 12 inch saucepan


  • 4 small lobster tails (one lobster tail per person)
  • 4 Tablespoons salted European or Irish butter
  • 1 tablespoon pure Madagascar Bourbon/Tahitian Vanilla Extract ‘Crush’
  • 1 small container of American Golden Caviar or Salmon Roe
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • 1 container of microgreens,  availailable at most gourmet grocery stores
  • Balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • Extra Virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Split each lobster tail lengthwise down the middle and leave the shell on each piece.
  2. Set the saucepan on medium heat; melt 3 tablespoons of the butter.
  3. Add the vanilla to melted butter and stir.
  4. Place the lobster tails, meat side down, in the melted butter and cook, spooning butter over the tails, until meat begins to turn opaque. Before completely cooked, remove from direct heat.
  5. Place lobster tails in a glass holding dish, meat side up. As soon as they can be handled, remove tails from the shell. (Shells can be discarded, or stored frozen for making stock, if desired.)
  6. Return the pan to medium heat and add the last tablespoon of butter, stirring to melt.
  7. Add the tails back to the butter and vanilla and allow tails to finish cooking, approximately 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

To Serve:

Lightly toss the micro greens with a splash or two of balsamic vinegar and approximately 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, or to taste. Place ¼ cup on one end of the plate; place two pieces of lobster tail meat on the other end. Salt and pepper to  taste. Place ½ teaspoon of caviar on top of each tail and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Enjoy (preferably alongside a glass of Chardonnay)!

Submitted by Chateau Montelena CellarMaster Jack Douglas

Recipe Challenge Winner: Dark Chocolate Upside Down Cake

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Try this “Dessert” category winner, submitted by CellarMaster Patrick Blondin, with our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

“A fabulous and simple, yummy dessert…use your favorite pie filling!”

Serves: 8

Prep Time: 40-45 minutes 

You will need:

A glass or ceramic deep dish pie plate, or square baking pan, buttered on bottom and sides.

Flowers, or other decorative element, to dress up the top.


  • 1 tablespoon  corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup dark baker’s cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 15 oz. can blueberry pie filling (or other, to your liking)
  • Whipping cream, if desired
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir together the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water until dissolved.
  3. Gently stir in pie filling.
  4. Spread mixture evenly on bottom of buttered pan.
  5. Stir together flour, sugar, dark cocoa, baking soda and salt in a separate large bowl.
  6. Add shortening  and mix together; then add one cup water, vinegar and vanilla.
  7. Beat with spoon until batter is smooth and well blended.
  8. Spoon batter over pie filling.
  9. Bake in center of oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  10. Cool 10 minutes; carefully invert onto serving plate. Garnish as desired.  Serve warm with whipped cream.


Recipe Challenge Winner: Amy’s Crab Cakes With Lime Aioli And Fennel Grapefruit Salad

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Try this “Appetizer” category winner, submitted by CellarMaster Amy Weinberg, with our Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

“Absolutely delicious cool summer appetizer…the salad is a refreshing compliment to the rich fresh crab!”

You will need:

Plastic wrap

a muffin pan

a large flat bottomed skillet

Prep Time: 60 minutes, including 30 minutes  for crab cakes to refrigerate and set.


For the Crab Cakes:

  • 8 oz. high quality crabmeat; preferably fresh
  • 1 tablespoon Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil, for frying

In a non-reactive bowl, combine crab, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Place the beaten egg and panko bread crumbs in two separate bowls. Use plastic wrap to line muffin tin.  Using two large spoons, mold approximately 1/3 cup and dip into egg mixture, then panko crumps. Place each crabcake into the lined muffin tin and gently press flat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more to set. While crab cakes are chilling, make the fennel  salad and the aioli.

To cook crab cakes, heat one inch of vegetable oil in frying pan over medium high heat.  Add crab cakes gently and sauté until golden brown;  gently flip and repeat; set aside on paper towels.

For the Lime Aioli:

  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup grapeseed  oil
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor add lime zest, lime juice, garlic, egg and egg yolk and turn on food processor to combine.  Next, while food processor is running, very slowly add in the two oils.  Finally, add in salt to taste.  Transfer to container and place in refrigerator to help firm it even further.

For the fennel grapefruit salad:

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

On mandolin, slice fennel paper thin.  Chop a small amount of fronds and set aside for garnish.  Supreme and segment grapefruit and cut sections into thirds.  Toss fennel with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix in grapefruit.

To plate: place a small mound of fennel grapefruit salad on one side of the plate.  Then smear 1 tablespoon or lime aioli an inch or two away from the salad on the larger side of the plate.  Place the crab cake leaning on the salad between the lime aioli smear.  Garnish with fennel frond and serve with a Montelena Sauvignon Blanc.


Submitted by Chateau Montelena CellarMaster Amy Weinberg

Recipe Challenge Winner: Rib Eye Rolls

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This “Main Dish” category winner, submitted by CellarMaster Robert Hopkins, pairs perfectly with our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

“A delicious late summer evening entrée for the grill!”

You will need:

Butcher’s twine

A flat-bottomed grill pan for the outdoor grill (or line the grill grates with foil to catch melting cheese)

Plastic wrap, for pounding the steaks.


  • 4 each 8 oz. (approx.) rib eye steaks, pounded to ½ inch thick
  • 4 tablespoons  prepared pesto (see below)
  • 6-8 cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 8-10 fresh spinach leaves, cleaned, stems removed
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 4 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.


  1. Trim excess fat from the steaks. Place each steak between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound out to even ½ inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread 1 tablespoon pesto on one surface of each steak.
  3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of blue cheese on top of pesto.
  4. Layer in a single layer: mushrooms, then spinach, then provolone cheese, tearing cheese to fit.
  5. Starting at the narrowest end of each steak, roll tightly; secure each roll with butcher’s twine. Further secure each roll by wrapping a length of twine around the long length of each roll.
  6. Prepare an outdoor grill for indirect heat, to approximately 325 degrees.
  7. Place the steak rolls in center of grill (not over direct heat source). Cook for 8-10 minute, turn once and cook for 6-8 minutes (medium rare).
  8. Rest rolls off heat, covered with foil, for 7-8 minutes. Slice each roll to desired thickness.
  9. Enjoy!

Delicious when paired with Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon!

-CellarMaster member Robert Hopkins and Cynthia Ancona

I’m Back!

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After two weeks in Italy.  It was a wonderful trip, but I’m happy to be home. The one thing about traveling overseas, as great a vacation as it may be, it certainly makes you appreciate home (easier said when you live in one of the most beautiful places in the world!).  Anyways, as I continue to recover from jet lag, and get right back into the groove, you can expect a few posts on my Italy excursion along with pictures.  In the mean time, maybe I’ll see some of you next week at a Chateau Montelena Wine Dinner that I’m hosting at Ruth’s Chris in Irvine…. Curious about other upcoming wine dinners?  Be sure to check out our Events Page to find out when we’ll be hosting an event near you.

More to come….


Recipe Challenge Winners

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Congratulations to our CellarMaster Recipe Challenge Winners! We had many wonderful submissions for our first ever members’ Recipe Challenge and our staff culinary team had to narrow down the submissions to four category winners in each of the categories: appetizer, salad, main course, dessert.   We are delighted to share their tasty recipes, each paired with their selection of a Chateau Montelena wine.

Our four finalists are as follows:

Our category winners are all invited to schedule a private tasting, vineyard tour, and catered lunch on the islands for four people – all with our compliments and congratulations.

Our Grand Prize Winner is Jack Douglas, for the oh-so-sumptuous Vanilla Lobster Salad, which swept the challenge in the final taste-off.  Jack and up to seven guests are invited to come to the Chateau, use our Private Residence kitchen to cook up his dish, and sit down to enjoy the Vanilla Lobster Salad and an additional three-course luncheon prepared by our in-house chef – each course will be paired with Chateau Montelena wines.

We encourage you to try the recipes for yourself and perhaps share some of your own favorite pairings. Who knows? We may ask to share your recipe on our blog! Better yet, become a CellarMaster so you can participate next year and submit your own recipe in next year’s challenge.

We’ll reveal each of the winning recipes over the next few weeks so that you can make them and taste for yourself (and, of course, enjoy with your favorite Montelena wine).

Happy Cooking!

Summer Sips: Riesling And Tofu Tempura

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Oh, how we love the 2011 Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling with Asian cuisine! The traditional sweet and spicy flavors in Thai sweet chili sauces, along with a smidge of Sriracha hot sauce, provide a perfect dipping companion to this easy Tofu Tempura dish! The irresistable floral notes and bright acidity of our Potter Valley Riesling compliment the rich taste and texture of any tempura.


  • (14-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained
  • 4 cups (1 quart) safflower oil or peanut oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups club soda, chilled
  • ¾ cup prepared sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha , or to taste


  1. Slice block of tempura into thirds. Place tofu slices on several layers of paper towels; cover with paper towels. Top with a heavy skillet; let stand 30 minutes. Discard paper towels. Cut each tofu slice into bite size cubes. Hold at room temperature on paper towels while oil is heating.
  2.  Clip a candy/fry thermometer onto the side of a medium deep skillet or large (2 quart) saucepan; add oil to pan. Heat oil to 380°.
  3. Combine flour, cornstarch, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add club soda, stirring until smooth. Using a slotted spoon, OR long chopsticks,dip tofu in batter. Gently place tofu in hot oil, and fry 1 minute or until golden, turning once. Fry cubes in small batches; do not crowd pan. Remove each batch of fried tofu with clean slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.  Make sure oil temperature remains at 375° to 380° during each batch.
  4.  Plate with dipping sauce, and serve. (Keep tempura warm in oven for up to 20 minutes before serving.)


What To Expect In A CellarMaster Tasting

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Our members have an exclusive experience waiting for them when they reserve their CellarMaster Tastings here at Chateau Montelena. Members enjoy a semi-private, hour-long educational experience in which our library and Estate wines are sampled alongside local artisan cheeses selected for their unique flavor profiles. Set in the private quarters of the winery’s private residence, our members have an opportunity to taste and purchase select wines available exclusively to them. Members are welcome to reserve one of the islands for the day to picnic before or after their tasting. If you haven’t been to visit us in a while, please call us at (800) 222-7288 and reserve your tasting soon; this is the perfect time of year to enjoy the Chateau and the beautiful grounds! CellarMaster Tastings are offered twice daily, Thursdays through Sundays, at 10:20 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you!


Judy Tischler, Wine Club Ambassador

Summer Wine And The Living Is Easy

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So what is a “summer wine?”  Well, the snarky (but accurate) answer is that a “summer wine” is whatever happens to be in your glass from June 20th to September 21st.  However, most of the time we’re talking about anything that is light, crisp, and refreshing – a wine that can benefit from a bit of time in the refrigerator (or even – *gasp* – the occasional ice-cube in the glass).  For me, most often that means Sauvignon Blanc nice and frosty right out of the ‘fridge.   In fact, I think one of the things I like the most about this wine is that whenever I have a sip of it, no matter what time of the year it may be, it always conjures up visions of relaxing on warm summer evenings with family and friends.

Close runners-up for summer time R&R are Riesling and Rosie – little known fact: we make a fantastic rosé, but it isn’t available for purchase, sorry, we make it just for our owners and employees – which are both exceptional end-of-the-day thirst quenchers and also pair beautifully with that other great American summer tradition, barbeque!   Try the Riesling with some Memphis style ribs – you’ll be pleasantly surprised; the Sauv Blanc, on the other hand, is a great match for barbequed oysters.   As far as the Rosie goes, it is a small production rosé of Zinfandel that is great with grilled pork chops.   Maybe someday we’ll make enough to share…   Now, don’t worry, I’m not leaving out the Chardonnay, and no it is not 4th place on my summer (or any other) list, but it is far too versatile to be pigeon-holed as a “summer wine.”  I love a cool glass of Montelena Chardonnay anywhere and (just about) any time – with delicate sable (butterfish) in August, or herb crusted roast chicken in January – it is always a great choice.


What will you fill your glass with this summer?

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About Our Authors

Kristina King

Born in Colorado and led a nomadic life until the ripe old age of four. Kristina loves to travel, eat, drink wine, and enjoy the outdoors. One of her mottos is: Life is an adventure - enjoy!

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.

Cameron Parry

Winemaker since 2008, Cameron has been an integral member of the winemaking team at Chateau Montelena since 2004. He and his wife live in Calistoga with their two beautiful daughters.

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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