Category Archives: Just For Fun
Last Saturday, a group of tasters joined us at the winery along with their families. While the adults tasted through the current release wines, the children exercised their creative sides. The talented young artists left us with some of their artistic renditions of the Montelena Chateau. See for yourself below:
Wanting to pull out that 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet at sunset for friends? A perfect small bite to pair with this sumptuous red is a plate of warm gougères just out of the oven. Gougères traditionally are made with a choux pastry base. But who wants to fuss with making the pasty when guests are on the way over? Puff pastry sheets fit the bill. The versatility of this product should never be underestimated! The pastry sheets thaw quickly and can make easy work of impressing family and friends.*
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and center a rack in the oven.
Thaw one sheet of puff pastry in fridge or on the counter as directed on the package.
On a lightly floured stone counter top, roll the pastry to an 8 x 12 inch rectangle.
In two separate bowls, mix:
-one egg white and 2 T. milk
-any mixture of 3 T ea: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram, madras curry, dried dill, minced dried onion or shallot. Put together what pleases you. Add to this bowl: 1/3 c. grated gruyere or dry Vella Jack cheese, and a dash of black pepper or cayenne.
Brush the rolled square of pastry with the egg white mixture; then liberally sprinkle the mixture of herbs, seeds and cheese over the pastry. Press gently with your rolling pin, using a light touch.
Using a very small cookie cutter (1.25 inch diameter, or the top of a shot glass), stamp out the shapes. This should yield at least 2 dozen gougères.
Bake on a silpat mat or ungreased cookie sheet for 18-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden. These yummy bites freeze beautifully for up to a month…cool completely before wrapping and freezing. Reheat frozen gougères @ 400 degrees on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes, until warm and slightly crisp.
*Tip: Keep the boxes of puff pastry frozen until you’re ready to use. You can put a box in the fridge up to a day ahead if you like, but after a few days the sheets will develop a sour taste and will fail to rise properly.
We’ve been hard at work planning a new bash for the New Year. Introducting: House Party 2012 – Rock & Rotisserie. On January, 28, 2012, we’ll open up the Chateau for our first-ever House Party, where our guests will have the run of the place (and the first glimpse at our newly renovated cellar). Upstairs, downstairs – there will be food and wine around every corner. We’ll be featuring slow-cooked rotisserie meats (think: pig, lamb, poultry and beef) to enjoy along with the Montelena classics, a special collection of older vintage wines from our library, and even a few limited-production winery-only wines. Join us to eat, drink and be merry and then stay to party the night away, dancing to the music of San Francisco’s Wonderbread 5, at the first great party of the New Year. Rock and Rotisserie 2012 - we hope to see you there.
Tickets are on sale now – reserve yours today. It’s a perfect gift for someone special; a perfect occasion to celebrate once all the holiday parties have died out; a perfect excuse to come enjoy the beautiful Napa Valley for a weekend getaway; a perfect opportunity drink some great wine, dance to your favorite 80′s and 90′s hits and be merry. Whatever your reason for joining the party, we can’t wait to see you here!
Up here at Chateau Montelena, we like to think that we know a good idea when we see one, even if it sometimes takes us awhile to get on board. So, in what is proudly a blatant rip-off of the Schramsberg “Harvest Dress”, we present to you the “Harvest Hat!” A real gem that I found in Chinatown and just couldn’t pass up – who doesn’t love a fuzzy white pig? The rules are the same as for the dress – wearer must have done something to deserve it. In this instance one of our interns (Matt Johnson), in a case of bad judgment, failed to hang the “man in press” sign on the outside of the press while cleaning it, so now he gets to wear the hat as a reminder to himself and the rest of the staff to follow the rules for their own safety. Goes nicely with his outfit, don’t you think?
On the more serious side, today was our 3rd day of fruit this year, and we’ve got just shy of 60 tons in so far. All white grapes to this point (Chardonnay and Sauv Blanc), but we’re looking at potentially harvesting the first few tons of Estate Cabernet Sauvignon tomorrow. Today’s hot weather is moving everything along quite nicely, and should help push several blocks into pickable condition. Rain next week? That’s the next big question…
Stay tuned and happy harvesting!
As the avid sports fan, I’m in a quandry at this time of the year. Yes, I’m a Bay Area sports fan: 49ers, Raiders, Giants, A’s, Warriors (it is possible to like both sides of the Bay). This time of the year, I would never have to worry about the Giants going too deep – well, until last year, that is. Normally, they’re done by what – say, August? I can then get on with my life – worrying about the high season at the Chateau, harvest and holiday preparations. Last year was tough; the Giants went all the way to the World Series, so I had to balance my time between them and the Chateau. Sadly, this year the Giants are already out of the running. It’s funny how our expectations of them are so great now that they’ve won; their failure to get in to the post-season is a horrible let down (when in the past 40 years, having a +500 season was an achievement). Even at the point where there were 14 games left and they were like 8 games out, people were still optimistic that the Giants could pull it off. Come on! Let’s be realistic. Now it’s time for me to move on.
Anyways, I can rant all day about sports…but, I now get my life back early and can concentrate on the harvest and activities around the Chateau now.
That is, until the new Fall season of shows started back! Damn that tv addiction….
Crush for our 40th vintage started today. The first bin of Chardonnay from the John Muir Hanna vineyard arrived and we wasted no time getting a video of sorting table activity for your enjoyment. This is always an exciting time here, more so this year with our newly retrofit cellar. Enjoy.
There is nothing better for a do-ahead recipe than this easy-to-prepare carrot ginger soup. Of course, we have the 2010 Riesling in the chiller for warm harvest season nights …who wouldn’t love this off-dry lovely first glass alongside a starter of early autumn carrot soup? The ginger, lemongrass and orange zest pick up the natural bright floral notes and spicy finish of our crisp and refreshing Riesling. Serve them both chilled on a warm harvest evening!
- 1 large Vidalia or Maui onion large dice
- 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin floral green olive oil
- 4 Tbsp of minced fresh ginger
- 2lb. carrots, large dice
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 qt. chicken stock
- ¼ c. orange zest
- ¼ c. cilantro
- 2 T. lemongrass paste
- sea salt and ground white pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over medium heat in the bottom of stockpot. Add onions and cook until translucent; reduce heat as needed. Add celery, ginger and carrots and cook until soft and fragrant, about 7-8 minutes. Add stock, orange zest, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes, covered, on very low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lemongrass and allow to cool to room temperature.*
In batches, puree soup in blender (an immersion blender works in soup pot).
Thin with additional broth as needed. Season to taste with sea salt and white pepper.
*Do ahead tip: This soup is easy to make and very little prep is needed…refrigerate in a microwave-safe container for up to three days, and reheat to serve warm. In summer, this soup is delicious when served chilled with a dollop of greek yogurt or low fat sour cream, and, of course, our 2010 Chateau Montelena Riesling!
Our ship was the Regent Navigator. A smaller cruise vessel compared to the other ones sailing the Alaskan passages. This ship holds a maximum of just under 500 passengers. We boarded in Seward, just outside of Anchorage. Apparently it was the nicest day they had seen in a while – lots of sunshine.
Our first winery event was our welcome reception – all turned out. Cameron Parry, our winemaker, gave the official welcome to the cruise. We poured two older Estate Cabernets, 2002 and 2003, a 1999 Potter Valley Riesling as well as current releases of our chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. Everyone was excited to be here and on this trip.
We finished in time for dinner and a good nights rest for our big day of winetasting - a mini-Quarter of a Century! Ten vintages of Estate Cabernet as well as ten vintages of our Napa Valley Chardonnay. Oh boy, can’t wait!
We’re kicking off the last, official week of summer (though the temperatures in Napa Valley yesterday didn’t seem to indicate the change in seasons!) and transitioning into fall…which makes me very happy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy summer and sipping great, light wines on the patio, because I definitely do! I just happen to love fall a little bit more. I like everything that fall represents – Halloween, Thanksgiving, cooler weather and cozy weekends, pumpkin spice lattes, boots and coats, warm soups and stews and the beginning of ski season. Most importantly, as a wine-lover, I am looking forward to the change in seasons because we’ll soon begin harvest here at the winery and that’s always the most exciting time of year. Sure, we’re a little late this year, but we’re expecting another great vintage as the grapes begin to come in. Fall of 2011 also marks the completion of the cellar upgrade and the Barrett family’s 40th vintage – so there’s a lot to celebrate this year! As the days begin to get a little shorter and the nights begin to get a little cooler, I’ll be embracing this new season and putting my patio wines away. I’m now looking forward to hearty meals, comfort foods and comfort wines. For me, that means our Estate Zinfandel – a great partner for chili, soups, roasted meats and spicy pastas (just a few of my favorite cool-weather meals). What are you looking forward to as summer turns to fall? What is your comfort wine in the cooler months?
On January, 28, 2012, we’ll open up the Chateau for our first-ever House Party, where our guests will have the run of the place (and the first glimpse at our newly renovated cellar). Upstairs, downstairs – there will be food and wine around every corner. We’ll be featuring slow-cooked rotisserie meats (think: pig, lamb, poultry and beef) to enjoy along with the Montelena classics, a special collection of older vintage wines from our library, and even a few limited-production winery-only wines. Join us to eat, drink and be merry and then stay to party the night away, dancing to the music of San Francisco’s Wonderbread 5, at the first great party of the New Year. Rock and Rotisserie 2012 - we hope to see you there.