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Category Archives: Winery News

Fall’s Arrival

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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?



Garden Entry, Part Two

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So, a few weeks ago I mentioned the abundance of harvest from my garden.  Well, it continues…  Now, the tomatoes are  coming in fast and furious just as squash is finishing up the growing season.  And yes, I’ve found the most creative ways to get rid of squash – number one: charities.

I definitely had those heavy ambitions when we planted the tomatoes.  Over 40 plants. I figured, ‘Eh, they’re small.  We’ll see what we get.’  The more veteran farmers looked at me with a bit of disbelief, saying they planted 2 or 3 for their families, and that’s probably more than they’ll need.   Ok, so now I am hauling away bushels of these beauties, and making lots of friends and family members very happy by sharing the bounty.

In one sense, it’s great – there’s nothing better than vine-ripened tomatoes.  Even more so when you go to the store and see them at $5/lb!

I’ve learned my lesson…but next year, I’m sure I’ll do it all over again the same way!


House Party 2012 – Save the Date!

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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 2012we hope to see you there.

Food Truck Movement Coming to Calistoga!

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Well, if for only a day at least…

Yes, some of you may wonder, George is up early; he never blogs before 2pm…  I’m trying to give you the opportunity to get up to Calistoga and take advantage of our two month promotion as we’ve partnered with two fabulous truckies in San Francisco – starting today.

Seoul on Wheels will be here handing out Korean bites to go with our wines from 11am-2pm just today.  Julia, the owner, is a full-of- life personality (you may have caught a glimpse of her on Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Eats: San Francisco episode earlier this year).  What she and her crew are able to do in tight confines results in sheer magic on your plate.

I met with her in the city with our wines to make sure her dishes will pair well – no brainer.  Wait till you try the beef rib eye with our Napa Cab; the spicy pork with the Zin; the grilled chicken with our Chard!    Darn it, my mouth is watering and it ‘s only 8am.

Anyways, hope to see you up here today.  Put on your calendar for the next one: Oct 4; Curry Up Now!



The Benefits of Moving

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So I just moved from one place to another in St. Helena and I forgot just how fun it can be.  I must’ve been drunk when I wrote that sentence.  My new place is 6 blocks from my current residence, so I figured, ‘why pack everything up so neat and tidy to just go 6 blocks and then unpack again?’  So, my bright idea was to go by every day after work, load up my car, and drop off stuff at the new place.  The challenge is, it stretched my move from one full day into about 7 mini days.  Oh how this is dragging on!  Plus, I’m not sure how safe it is, even in a residential neighborhood like SH, to have one hand on the steering wheel and the other balancing my Riedel Grand Cru Sommelier glasses on the passenger seat.

What I did realize (just as I have on all my past moves)  is how much stuff I can get rid of.  After not using or seeing it for a couple years,  I realize how insignificant some material things are; or over time, they’ve lost their sentimental value; and they can be better appreciated by someone else.  I know if I had a residence I lived in for decades, I’d be a classic hoarder.  With the frequent moves, I’ve purged a lot more, and it feels good.   I finally got rid of my disco clothes that I hung onto forever, figuring I’d need it for some Halloween or theme party soon (and giving it no mind that I couldn’t fit in them anyways!).

By now, you’re wondering, “hey, this is a wine blog; where’s the reference to wine?”  Well, I did mention my Riedel glasses!  And, the other benefit of moving: after moving my wines, I realized, I have a lot to drink.   Moral of this story: Even if you’re not moving, do an occasional check of your wine stock; you may find some gems that need to be consumed.  So throw a party to do just that…and make sure to send an invite my way.


2nd Annual #Cabernet Day

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This Thursday, September 1st, marks the 2nd annual #Cabernet Day social media extravaganza.  In 2011, it’s an international party with #Cabernet headquarters scattered all over the world.  Check out the official page to find a #Cabernet HQ in your neighborhood.  We’ll be celebrating with our Napa friends at the Napa Marriott…and we’ll be featuring a delicious older vintage of our Estate Cabernet.  Join us in toasting this internationally celebrated grape on Thursday, Septemeber 1, 2011.  

The Waiting Game

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Oh, the doldrums of Winter…I mean Summer.  We’re experiencing another cool season this year, and our winemaking team is anxiously awaiting harvest.  It’s hard to realize, when one goes outside in Napa, just how beautiful and warm it is outside and that here at the winery we’re still behind in ripening.  Remember how late Summer started this year?  We normally hit high 80′s/low 90′s temperatures by this time of year and so far we’ve been averaging in the low 80′s.    Sooo, keep your fingers crossed!  We do know it won’t be a large crop this year (thanks to those June rains), but as for quality, we can hit a high note there…

Stay tuned.


Thank You

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We have a new face on the blog! Lynn Pedone will be working in the vineyard, with Dave Vella and his crew, as she pursues her studies in Viticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College. A little background on Lynn: she’s a recent East Coast transplant, has lived all over the world growing up in a military family and has previously worked in the world of business and finance. She’s now hoping to settle into her “last career stop until retirement” in the wine industry and is looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about vineyard maintenance with Dave.  Lynn will be writing a weekly blog post about her experiences working in the Chateau Montelena vineyards.  Read her latest post below:

Wednesday was my last day at Chateau Montelena – I go back to school today for my last semester of viticulture study at Santa Rosa Junior College.  While I am happy to be returning to classes, I am sad that my summer vineyard “internship” here is over, and want to thank everyone who played a role in making it the valuable experience I hoped it would be.  I learned a lot of things about growing grapes that I expected to learn – methods of irrigation, canopy management, and pest control, among others.  What I did not expect to learn: how hard the work really is!  Now when I hear someone say “the vineyard is where wine is made,” I will understand firsthand what they mean.  I also did not expect that I would enjoy the company of my coworkers as much as I did – they helped to make each vineyard day a good one for me with their positive attitudes, good nature, and guidance. Jamie Rothberg, Marketing Coordinator, allowed me to share her blog space and was always helpful and responsive to my questions.  But my biggest thanks has to go to Montelena’s Vineyard Manager, Dave Vella.  Dave related to my desire to learn, and was willing to give me this opportunity, something for which I will always be grateful.  On my last day, I posed for this picture (below) with some of the vineyard crew.  Only half were available at the time we took the picture, but my thoughts were with all 13 of them…Hasta la vista!

Lynn, on behalf of the whole Montelena Family, we wish you all the best in your next wine adventure!

Chateau Montelena 2011 Alaskan Adventure Wine Cruise

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Recently I was extremely fortunate to represent Chateau Montelena Winery along with our winemaker, Cameron Parry, on our most recent wine cruise.   We sailed the inside passage of Alaska from June 25th through July 6th, starting in Anchorage and ending in Vancouver, Canada.   We along with our 50 guests, some of which are CellarMaster club members, spent some wonderful time getting to know one another during our wine seminars, receptions and dinner.  My next few blog entries will be postings of this adventure along with photos of the scenery, the events and our wonderful guests.     

I hope you enjoy the entries and maybe I will see you on our next cruise in 2013?

No trick photography here. The iceberg calves are really that color.

A sample of some of the yummy Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon we poured, (1994, 1996, 1998, 2000).

My Journey Past the Orange Curtain

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 So I leave tomorrow down to Orange County, home of Disneyland, TV shows like The OC, Real Housewives of OC.  I’m there to do some wine dinners starting Wednesday with my friend Pascal at his restaurant in Seal Beach.   The restaurant, Thai on Main, a block from the pier, is amazing; and therefore, always busy.  How does someone named Pascal own a Thai Restaurant you’re wondering?  Well, Pascal’s background is Cambodian/Chinese, but he was raised in France.  He speaks fluent French, Cambodian, and English.  His family owns Chinese restaurants in Grenoble, France; his mom the Chef who created the recipes.  Thai food has been another passion for them.  And best of all when visiting is that Pascal’s hospitality is second to none. I’ve had the privilege to travel to France and Cambodia with him and his family.  I can tell you, I’ve never eaten so well and so much as on trips with his family.  They are always looking over my plate and piling it on when it gets half empty.  Their genuine care for other’s enjoyment is very visible at his restaurant when you see the customers’ faces.

Thursday I’m in Newport Beach at 21 Oceanfront.  This is as classic as it gets.  When you want the dishes of yesterday that continue to live on, it’s nice to go to a place that does it right.  Not to say that’s all they do; their chefs have been innovative keeping up with new culinary trends; but it’s nice to go back and know you can get some of the classic favorites they’ve had there for decades.  Sadly, this dinner is sold out; but we may add another one Friday! 

In any case, if you can’t make it this week, don’t let that stop you from visiting them another day.  Just cause I’m not there, doesn’t mean the hospitality and quality stop. They don’t.

And if you’re afraid to get through the Orange Curtain, don’t be.  I’ve lived there for over 20 years, and those were some of the most memorable years of my life.  There’s a reason those shows based their themes there.  Its beauty, conveniences (and shopping) are arguably second to none in this country.


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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