Category Archives: Winery News
My name is Amy Biege. I am the Club Ambassador at Chateau Montelena. It is an honor to host our CellarMaster Family on the weekends in our private tastings. I always enjoy getting to know our members and learn about their different walks of life as they enjoy savoring Chateau Montelena wines matched with cheeses made in heaven… Ossau-Iraty paired with our John Muir Hanna Chardonnay always receives a shout of praise mid-sentence as I talk about our unique story. Everyone has a story. When speaking about Chateau Montelena’s, our club family always has a memory or two to share around the table too… funny ones, sentimental ones, inspiring ones, and occasionally one that brings us all to a tear. The inspiration behind the stories told always star Chateau Montelena wines, provoking memories of sips past and enjoyable moments of sips present. Life is best enjoyed with Chateau Montelena wines from the testimonies I hear!
One of my favorite questions to ask our club family is, “where were you born and raised?” Guests love to answer this question and tell a little bit about themselves opening up conversation around the table. I love to share that Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is “born and raised” right here on the property, this is where we are rooted… and our roots, after all, are a very important beginning. As our lovely wines travel the world, coming to rest in your wine glasses and getting to know you, Chateau Montelena always remembers where it comes from!
The wines do most of the talking in the tasting, as I support and encourage what members are experiencing in their glass… it is kind of similar to how we use a minimal amount of new French Oak in our wines to allow the beautiful fruit from the vineyard to shine! As the tasting comes to a grand finale, thankfulness roots in my thoughts as I raise a glass of Chateau Montelena wine and say, “To All That Is Good In Life!”
Williams-Sonoma lovers: have you received your catalogs yet?
Did you notice the Chateau Montelena feature in their Wine Club?
Our famous, classically styled Napa Valley Chardonnay is highlighted in their Wine Club catalogue, and paired with a delicious roasted chicken, lemon and herb recipe. We are excited about the new partnership – especially given that the Williams-Sonoma Wine Club team evaluates nearly 10,000 wines and only select about 3% to include in their shipments.
In addition to our Chardonnay’s debut in the Williams-Sonoma catalogue, we were a part of their fall Wine Country spotlight.
Earlier this summer, a team of Williams-Sonoma experts came up to our Estate for a two-day photo shoot in our Chateau for a special feature on Wine Country. They drove a U-Haul up from headquarters in San Francisco packed with all sorts of fabulous products. The team unloaded and took over the Private Residence area inside our Chateau. Bo Barrett, our CEO and Master Winemaker, was also featured on the Williams-Sonoma blog in a fun, candid interview.
We always hear about pairing wine with food but how about pairing your favorite art form such as music, painting or sculpture with a complementary wine as well?
For mid-century art forms such as modern jazz and classical music, abstract paintings or sculpture, I prefer the Chateau Montelena “Napa Valley” wines with their clean and delicate complexities. I Like Chardonnay with Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, or interesting classical composers like Ravel. The Cabernet with Coltrane definitely works and is also excellent for events where rock is on the menu. Paintings by Klee, Miro, and Picasso will also pair well with our “Napa” wines.
For the “heavier” stuff a contrast is sometimes the way to go. Potter Valley Reisling, fragrant and fruity, with Mahler, often dark and brooding. The fact that they are both German in origin plays well for this type of pairing. I also like Reisling with Mozart (depending on the piece) and some of the other classics as well. Also nice for events where “easy listening” is the musical order of the day.
Renaissance painting, big band jazz, classical composers–Montelena Estate Cabernet.
Medieval chants, English lute music, traditional Scottish and Irish melodies, “folk” art–Montelena Estate Zinfandel with it’s lighter “claret” (the English word for table wines imported from France prior to 1700 and still in use today) style.
Just like pairing the right wine with the right food, pairing the right wine with the right artist can bring out the best in both. Something to think about the next time you play a recording or thumb through a book of fine art and open a bottle of vino.
Hope to see you soon,
Harvest is just about here! One of my favorites times to be in Wine Country. Just something about all the sights and smells going around the winery that makes this time of year particularly miraculous. Taking these luscious little grapes and turning them into a beautiful bottle of wine is no easy task. From all the extra help of those picking, and sorting. The cellar crew works vigorously going through the fermentation processes and non-stop pump overs. It’s lengthy and exhausting, but a magnificent journey! If you have never been out to the area to witness this incredible time of year, then I would highly recommend that you book the trip at some point. And for the first time ever, I’m going to make an attempt at making wine myself. I have helped pick grapes, worked in the cellar, and been on the bottling line, but never before have I actually tried to make my own wine. Here goes… everything! Wish me luck and I hope to see you all out here for a harvest!
I am a dog lover – animal lover really – and as I travel the Valley doing tastings of my own, I’ve seen an increase in dog friendly wineries. Dogs are commonly viewed as people’s kids and they take them everywhere – on vacation, to the grocery store, to the department store, to work…everywhere. We even have a few here at the winery, 3 to be exact.
Now dog friendly doesn’t always mean the same thing at each winery. Here at Montelena we say bring on the dogs! But please not in the tasting room (service dogs are welcome). There are beautiful grounds to walk them and we even have created at safe and convenient “Dog Parking” area right outside the tasting room. As you can see in my picture, these 3 cuties are patiently waiting for their mommy or daddy to finish up tasting. Some wineries allow the dogs in the tasting area, mingling amongst the guests, looking for that belly scratch or ear rub, but to be honest, not everyone is a dog lover and we try to be considerate of that.
It’s that time of the year where Gil and I do our veggie garden. Realistically, it’s Gil doing the veggie garden and me swooping in and sharing credit. Anyways, truths aside, it’s been a strange year for sure. Last year was a bountiful harvest of heirloom tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, beans, cucumbers, peppers…. This year, squash producing like a weed, but sadly, all else has been spotty at best. What I thought would be good for the tomatoes (those heat spikes we’ve been feeling all Summer), have actually been detrimental. I always thought tomatoes just love heat. I guess I’m wrong. Apparently, that hurt the actual fruit development. The plants look like a million bucks, just very few tomatoes on them. Cucumbers, shishitos, eh… Padrons; those have been great and plentiful. Beans, not so good. After 4 years of success with tomatoes, I just figured it was a given. What it makes me realize, it’s still agriculture. Nothing is for certain. Only mother nature knows and dictates.
Humility in respecting nature is a good thing. Whether it’s the shear power and destructive violence of a hurricane or earthquake, or reflecting on that absolute perfect, 70 degree afternoon, we adjust or prosper according to those forces. When I pull a bottle of wine and get excited about a particular vintage or sigh about a year with challenges, I really look back at what we were dealt with. I’m happy to drink a vintage with less pedrigee and understand the efforts that went into it. I treat each year like a different child; each with their own unique character and personality. I try and be less critical and more open minded, and appreciate the nuances rather than criticize. Yes, all this philosophy came from me swearing off the weak tomato crop this year. I will no longer take it for granted!
Great squash! Tough love tomatoes.
One of my favorite things to do when I’m not working is to get a few friends together and go wine tasting. While I don’t get out and do this as often as I would like, when I do, it’s a great way to enjoy the experience of trying new wines without having to commit to buying a whole bottle based on nothing more than the label. I find I’m a lot more adventurous about trying new things when I can just taste and spit without having to worry about the cost of a bottle. By going wine tasting you are getting the opportunity to try wines that you may not be at all familiar with which is great because even wines made from the same grape variety can be drastically different depending on the winemaker’s decisions.
This is why when I go wine tasting I try to keep an open mind. I don’t like to read any tasting notes or hear a friend’s opinion about a wine until I have had my first taste lest the power of suggestion cloud my palette. I want my opinion to be biased only by my own personal preference. I must say, I’m always surprised to hear people decline a taste of wine that they’ve never tried before; trying something is the only way to really be sure of disliking it. Honestly, even if I try something I don’t particularly enjoy I’m happy I did it, as I’ve still learned from the experience (even if all I learned was to not ever buy that wine). My motto: Keep trying new wines you never know when you’ll find a new favorite.
Something new to club members this year is the 2012 Rose. In June, ‘Rosie’ made a trip to the coast of Maine. The weather was perfect and all who met her, loved her! If you are a wine club member, hurry and order before we run out. Rosie will be going back to the beach for a longer stay this time, and will undoubtedly bring her friends, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay! Stay tuned for updates from Drakes Island, Maine and the Chateau Montelena wines. (who knows…Rosie might even go paddleboarding!)
It was root, root, root for the home-team last Friday at Giant’s Stadium. Chateau Montelena Winery hosted the second annual Montelena Day at the Giants event. Our Club Members enjoyed the Club-level Audi Suite complete with food and fantastic Montelena wines… check out that view of the field! Even better, the Giants pulled out all the stops for a 2-0 win over the Diamondbacks.
A special congratulations to CellarMaster Club Member Stephen King, who won the raffle that night. The one-of-a-kind Giants Montelena jersey signed by our wine-making team will look fantastic on you!
Aaaah, Lunch Break….my favorite time of day. Not that I don’t enjoy my time in the Tasting Room, Library and on Private Tours with you, but a little break is always welcome particularly when I time it right so I can share it with the Cellar Crew. The Cellar Crew works hard in the tunnels and the caves of the chateau and sometimes rarely sees the light of day. Maybe that’s why we fondly call them “Cellar Rats”. Secretly I call them the “Heart and Lung Machine” of the winery…because without them, the wine would not get made.
We share many things during our break. I ask them what’s going on in the cellar, barrels, bottling line, etc. depending on the time of year. Right now the guys are moving the 2012 Chardonnay from the barrels and readying it for bottling. Bottling is often done before harvest to make room for the new vintage. I also fill them in on what’s going on in the Tasting Room, Special Events and any “beefs” I might have. We also talk a lot about our personal lives, family, and experiences. Stories are embellished and dramatized. Jokes fly and much laughter can be heard coming from the Employee Kitchen. Sometimes we even tell the truth.
I’d like to thank the Cellar Crew for giving me a genuine break in the middle of my day. What we share is special to me……Thanks to Gil for his diet tips and special hot sauce, thanks to Louis for his daily fresh lemonade, George for our special connection, young Eddie for his silliness, and Alex for his caustic insight. You know, I may change my mind about the Cellar Crew “Heart and Lung Machine” moniker. I just might change it to the “Heart and Soul” of Montelena.