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Category Archives: Winery News

On the road with Montelena…Pork & Cabs

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Most of us don’t automatically put “pork” and “cabernet” together when we think of food and wine pairings, but in the hands of a talented and creative chef, the combination can be magic.


At a recent Montelena dinner at Table 6 in Denver, Chef Carrie Shores partnered our ’06 and ’09 Estate Cabernets with porchetta marinated for several days in a juniper berry-laced brine.  The porchetta was roasted whole, sliced, seared, and served with a spicy blueberry demiglace and pirogues filled with turnip puree.   The hint of juniper and blueberries provided just the right flavor bridge between the richness of the pork and the complex fruit and spice flavor components of the two Cabernets.




Carrie’s menu started with a first course of seared scallops with smoked trout, miso honey butter, grapefruit and a touch of tarragon, paired with 2011 Montelena Chardonnay.  The next course:  lamb stroganoff cradled in salt-baked whole onions, served with 2010 Montelena Zinfandel.  To top it all off, after the main course of porchetta, we were treated to freshly made beignets and donuts for dessert.  How good is that on a snowy evening in the Mile High city!



Food and wine aside, two things struck me about this delightful evening—first, the enthusiasm of Aaron Forman’s Table 6 “A-Team.”  They obviously love what they do, and they do it well!  Second, it’s always so gratifying for us to meet our friends and club members, old and new, where they live.








Swan(less)Lake and Other Tidbits on Nature

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I’ve written a few times about mother nature’s awesome power and influence, and she strikes again!   We tragically lost our latest pair of swans in Jade Lake to a hungry predator. Our first reaction after sadness was anger towards the beast. I realized, however, how nature really is at full display here at the Chateau.  Foxes, coyotes, skunks, racoons, bobcats, turkeys, and yes, even bears have been spotted in the vicinity.  At least 3 mentioned are not vegetarians either.  Part of the beauty of the grounds at Chateau Montelena are the natural surroundings, and keeping it wild.  This means we’re on stage to what happens in nature.  We’ve all seen it on National Geographic or the Animal Channel; it’s just a bit more shocking when it comes to your back yard so to speak.

Just a couple months ago, during a heavy wind storm, we lost a 100 foot eucalyptus tree; it fell in front of our driveway in a way that was least damaging and harmful to property and life.  It could have been a lot worse. All we lost besides the tree and a few other trees along it’s path, was power and phones for part of the day. (and I’m not sure that was a bad thing!:)  Losing a 150 year old behemoth gave new light, literally, opening up the sun to help new growth and young trees to thrive now.

And now, we, along with the whole state, are faced with a drought of epic proportions; of which, many of the new generations or recent California transplants have not seen.  I don’t remember the last significant rain fall we’ve had. The hills are brown, the lakes are low.  Strong urgings by the local communities to conserve may lead to mandatory cutbacks and fines.  Mother nature at it again.  We’ll survive, and thrive, as we always do, but what this is may be a wake up call; helping us remember to appreciate our precious natural resources.  We’ll learn to adapt, where conservation rather than waste is the norm.  We’ll all be fine.  But once again, I’m just amazed that despite modern comforts and technology growing, and yet the lack of rain will impact us greatly, in a domino effect, our economy, and our way of life.

Ok, so what’s the moral of this blog?  Save water, drink wine….:)






‘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


Wine Advent Calendar

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With the holidays quickly approaching, I’m getting excited for family and friends to visit and enjoy some great vino. This year, I’ve decided to have a little fun with it – I’m going to pick up some wines and make my own version of an Advent Calendar…an Advent Wine Calendar, if you would. I will randomly number each bottle of wine for one of the days leading up to Christmas!

What fun and creative ideas will you come up with for the upcoming holidays?? Leave a note in the comments section.


Vineyard Strolls & Thanksgiving Preparations

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The Fall has been extended and mild this year, temperatures hanging in around the sixties and seventies for most of the last two months.  I have been doing a lot of walking in the vineyard and enjoying the wild life.  There is a pair of great egrets that have been spending a lot of time here, fishing along the shore of Jade Lake or flying up into the willows on the islands. They are so beautiful.


There is also a pod of four river otters that have joined us.  They seem to spend a lot of time in a luxurious  fur bundle on the back of the raft.


So, the last time I posted it was summer and I was lolling in my hammock making plans for Thanksgiving. Now Thanksgiving is next week!  George is right, the older you get the faster the time goes by.  Three of my sisters and one of my brothers are coming with their respective spouses.  It will be nice to spend a quiet Thanksgiving with my family.  I will be picking up the turkey on Tuesday and have handed out the cooking assignments – salad, vegetables and dessert – to everyone else.  I have already laid in a supply of the Potter Valley Riesling and will be picking up some zinfandel, both great with turkey. They will all be arriving on Wednesday and I am looking forward to a long, relaxed weekend.  It should be fun.  Although it wasn’t planned this way it turns out that it will be just my siblings without nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews; just a great bunch of people sitting around remembering the Thanksgivings we had together as kids – Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Where has the time gone

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I know, we ask ourselves that every year.  The older, or “more mature” we get, the faster it seems to go.  I could swear we just started October.  As a child, getting to Christmas (and school break) seemed an eternity. The only time that went fast were the two week break before going back to class. What makes it fun, however, is I still get excited for the holidays.  The cold weather, festive decor, spirit of giving just brings a different attitude to everyone.

So here we are.  Holidays 2013.  And this year, I pledge to go through my wine collection; scattered around various family and friends’ homes, and consolidate, purge, and drink or gift some of what I hope are forgotten jewels.  Just as Spring cleaning has become a tradition for some(and should be for others I might add)  This is the type of cleaning that truly is fun.  I will uncover some that needless to say need to simply go away, but I know there are bottles that will bring back memories of the times I was inspired to buy them; and what they may have become now.  If you’re in my area, within pouring distance, be sure to find me after a good cleaning……it is the season of giving!


The Vineyard Tour

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Estate vineyards_Joel

Greetings. Now that the harvest is over I thought it would be a good time to remind folks that our Vineyard Tour will continue (weather allowing) throughout the year.  The Vineyard Tour offers a nice opportunity to see the Estate Vineyard from the “stretch” Club Car which holds 8 people including the driver. The tour is currently offered on Monday and Wednesday @ 10:30 AM (on a first come first served basis) and focuses on the viticultural aspect of making wine and a chance to view the vineyard at various stages throughout the year. If you are curious about the various procedures involved to vineyard maintenance–growing, pruning, irrigation (or lack thereof), frost control, fertilization, etc. then you might want to check out the Vineyard Tour. In terms of soil, climate, and topography, the Chateau Montelena Estate Vineyard is truly one of a kind!

Sights of the Season~Happy Halloween!

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Fall colors on our 1974 Cabernet

Fall colors on our 1974 Cabernet vineyard

Spooky graveyard down valley

Spooky graveyard down valley

Biggest spiders I've ever seen!!

Biggest spiders I’ve ever seen!!

These guys always have a  beautiful pumpkin display

These guys always have a beautiful pumpkin display

On the Napa Riverfront

On the Napa Riverfront

Happy Halloween from Chateau Montelena!

Happy Halloween from Chateau Montelena!

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.


And…it begins

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It happens every year…this time, the 41st time matter of fact. Yet, every time, we’re like kids waking up on Christmas morning.  Yes, harvest is upon us.  Chardonnay coming in fast and furious.  Time for us to break open new equipment, dust the old ones.  We all gather around as if it’s something new to us.  There’s an excitement in the air.  It’s what makes me realize, again, that we’re really just farmers.  Every time I crack open a bottle, swirl, sip, slurp and enjoy wines in a formal setting, it really comes down to the fact it’s grapes. Grapes; enjoyed for centuries; loved by kids as raisiny snacks, a can of sweet juice in their lunch bag, Waldorf salads,…  Ok, these are much more than Thompson Seedless, I know.

Harvest is early.  Nice, warm Summer days, cool nights; setting up for a potentially great season.  What also excites the team; we can be done by mid October.  Nice after several years of late harvests.  Not only does it hamper personal holiday plans, it stressed everyone out that it didn’t rain or freeze over.

Anyways, the magic is just beginning.  Come see for yourselves.



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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