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Category Archives: Winery News

Oscar Fever!

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I admit it;  I have Oscar fever.  I look forward to Awards Season every year – the glamour and the hype gets me every time.  Also, it’s not a bad excuse for a party!  Last night was no exception – I parked myself in front of the television with a few of my favorite people (and a few favorite wines) to watch the 83rd annual Academy Awards.  After months of movie-going and speculation, it’s exciting to see who takes home the big awards.  A few highlights from my house:

  • “The King’s Speech” was the biggest winner of the evening, taking home Best Actor, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.  I loved it, but I was also secretly rooting for some of my other favorites of the past 12 months – “The Social Network” and “Toy Story 3.”
  • Aaron Sorkin gave a great acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay. “I’m going to have to demand some respect from your guinea pig.”
  • By the end of the night, I had maxed out my Netflix queue – “True, Grit”, “Inside Job” or “The Fighter”, anyone?
  • And lastly, you can’t have an Oscar post without mentioning the fashion; hands-down, my favorite look of the night was the always-impeccable Halle Berry.

If you tuned into the big show last night, what were your favorite moments from Oscar 2011?


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A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to cook up a big pot of Louisiana Gumbo for a wine-industry get together we hosted a Montelena. And, since then, I’ve had quite a few people ask for the recipe. When people ask for the recipe, however, my gut instinct tells me that I shouldn’t give it out…Louisiana cooking, especially Gumbo, doesn’t have a recipe. You just use what you have around and it comes out different every time. But, for those who didn’t grow up eating gumbo and tailgating at LSU football games, cooking gumbo may not be natural. So, I’ll give the recipe thing a try. But, keep in mind, this is a ruff recipe and improvisation is welcome.

Gumbo pairs very well with Zinfandel–especially our 2007 and 2008 Estate Zinfandel!

Chicken breast and thighs (preferably with bone in)
Good smoked sausage or Cajun andouille
Seasonings (onion, bell pepper, jalapenos, garlic, celery, or whatever you have)
Chicken stock and/or water (bone-in chicken will make its own stock)
Okra (frozen okra works fine)
Filé (if you can find it; if not, that’s ok—Google Gumbo Filé)
Red pepper, black pepper and salt to taste
Bay leaves

How to:  In a large pan, brown your chicken and sausage in a little oil or butter (brown a few pieces at a time). Season chicken with salt and pepper as you go. After removing chicken and sausage, fry vegetable seasonings until tender. Combine chicken, sausage and seasonings in large pot and cover with chicken stock and/or water and cook over medium heat.  Add bay leaves.

In a separate pot, combine equal parts flour and butter. Make the roux by stirring butter and flour mixture over medium heat (stir constantly!) until the roux is the color of a dirty penny.

Add roux to the pot (until color is dark brown) and cook the gumbo until chicken is tender (about 2 hours). Season with salt and pepper to taste and add okra about half way through. (If using bone-in chicken, remove whole piece after they are tender, let cool and remove bones).

Right before serving, add filé (do not boil filé).

Serve over rice with sweet potato or potato salad and garlic bread on the side (Louisianans love to triple starch).

Enjoy with a glass of Montelena Zinfandel!

Me serving gumbo at the industry night.

Bill Hanna

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This is Bill Hanna.  He grows some of the chardonnay grapes that go into our wonderful Chard.  In fact, no less than 33% of every vintage of our Napa Chardonnay is made up of Bill’s fruit.  The Hannas have been part of the Montelena family since 1972.  Keep up the good work Bill!

Snow at Montelena?

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Thanks to  La Niña, we are experiencing quite the weather here in Calistoga.   Last week it snowed on Mt. St. Helena and closed Hwy 29 for a couple of days.  This week it’s chilly but sunny.  However come Friday evening there is a chance that it might snow again – down to the 500 foot level.   Which means we might have some snow at the winery.  Come out and visit us and warm up in the tasting room.

Who knows, you might see this when you visit this weekend.

Dining In The Valley: The New Napa Heavyweight

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While coming to Napa Valley has always been about the wine, top flight chefs are now finding their new home in “The Valley.”  Among my faves:  SolBar at Solage – Chef Brandon Sharp is a magician in the kitchen and it isn’t too expensive; Cindy’s comfort food at Cindy’s BackStreet Kitchen – don’t miss the duck burger and, not to mention, they have the best fries I’ve had since venturing over the Pond; Cook; Market; oh, and there’s Palisades Deli in Calistoga – where all of our staff goes for lunch!  And I haven’t even touched on those in the city of Napa…till next time.

Many are very “corkage” friendly.”    Call ahead…

Happy President’s Day!

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Thomas Jefferson is perhaps best known as our third President, one of our Founding Fathers and author of the Declaration of Independence, but he was also an avid wine collector, wine connoisseur and is widely-recognized as the father of the Virgina wine country (did you know about Virginia wine country?).  He also became George Washington’s wine expert, while also serving as Secretary of State, and worked hard to keep the White House stocked with great wine from around the world.  If you ever get a chance to visit his Monticello Estate in Virginia, you’ll learn more about the former President’s love of wine and you may be surprised to discover a small vineyard planted on the Estate.

Jefferson truly believed that America was capable of producing the same quality of world-class wine that was coming out of Europe and he was an ardent supporter of the American wine industry.  Some 200 years later, wine is now produced in America in all 50 states and we are the fifth most-vine-planted country in the world.  We have some of the best wines in the world right in our backyard.  As Jefferson once remarked, “Good wine is a necessity of life for me.” We’ll drink to that!

Thomas Jefferson and WIne

photo courtesy of Appellation America

If you are enjoying the day off today in honor of our Presidents, say a little “Thank You” to Mr. Jefferson and toast with a glass of your favorite American wine.

Tell us, what’s in your glass this President’s Day holiday?

Another Beautiful Day in the Valley.

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After a week of rain, Sunday was nearly perfect…light freeze in the morning with a high of around 50…and, of course, perfect sun with snow on the top of the nearby mountains!  Thank you to all of our guests who dropped by and enjoyed a tasting.

Your 2007 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

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For those of you who have ordered the 2007 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon through the Chateau - get ready.  This delicious wine will be sent out to you the week of March 7.  Look forward to an email with all the details.


New Estate Release coming to the Tasting Room

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Hold the date!  March 1st is the official release of our Estate wines; Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Zinfandel, 2008.

Happy Birthday, KC!

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*This post was written by our own Anne Banfield in honor of her friend Harry Casey’s recent birthday…

“Once in a while we have encounters with special people and the memories of such encounters stay with us forever.  A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of hosting Harry Casey, or ‘KC’, of KC and the Sunshine Band, and a couple of his closest friends.  The tasting was so much fun that it lasted much longer than planned, but none of us noticed.

Our Chardonnay became an instant favorite of KC’s that day, so it was no surprise, when some weeks back there was a call from one of his band members wanting to order a special bottle to commemorate his special birthday.  We took it a step further…. Our very own Bo Barrett hosted a short video to wish Harry a very happy birthday, and we are sharing it with you.

So once again Harry, a Very Happy Birthday to you from all of us at Chateau Montelena.  And remember, to keep yourself feeling young, one has to ‘shake, shake, shake’ on a regular basis!”

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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