Category Archives: Winery News
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!
We’re just a few hours into Harvest 2011 and already things are shaping up very nicely. It’ll be extremely busy over the next few weeks, but we’re excited to see the white grapes coming in now…
Learn more about the white wine harvest in Napa Valley by watching this video, produced by the Napa Valley Vintners:
The launch codes have been given and the pad prepared, we are T-minus 21 hours to the start of our 40th crush! The new cellar is finished, the headlamps are cleaned and checked, the crews are rested and ready for tomorrow (early) morning when we will begin Harvest 2011. The first fruit across the scale this year will be about 10 tons of night harvested Sauvignon Blanc from our Takahashi Ranch in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Vallley.
A long standing tradition on the first day of harvest here at Montelena is the Blessing of the Grapes. Tomorrow, mid-day before we begin pressing the Sauvignon Blanc, we will invite our friends and neighbors to join all of Team Montelena for an invocation and blessing of this year’s crop, the new cellar, and all of us working with them. Two priests will be on hand to help us out, followed by a few toasts, and lunch by Jade Lake. A fine way to start what is bound to be an interesting and intense Harvest 2011.
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!
Finally! We’re at 22 brix; now we need just a bit more! The heat is on and things are looking good. The challenge for our production team, however, is that it looks like everything will be coming in at the same time. Normally we get our white grapes first, then the reds and lastly the Riesling (I know, it’s white, but it ripens late because it’s coastal). This year is the perfect storm. Do we have room for all the grapes? Not to worry; you won’t see any blush wine coming out as we lump them all together. Our renovated high-tech cellar and experienced vineyard and production teams are in full preparation to handle all the influx of grapes. Will it be easy? No way – it’ll be very long days and nights in the weeks ahead, but we can take homage that the end result is always worth it.
We are bracing ourselves for the impending storm….
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?
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!
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.