Category Archives: Wines
Along with the warmer weather and longer days, we bring more good news to our wine-loving friends. This Spring, we’re pleased to release three new wines for your sipping pleasure: our 2008 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, our 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and our 2009 Montelena Estate Zinfandel. To coincide with celebration season, barbecues and cook-outs or even just those random Tuesdays when you’re craving a glass of really good red – these wines have arrived just in time for those instances. With fantastic reception from our friends in the CellarMaster wine club, we’re looking forward to sharing these wines with new friends and visitors to the winery. Whether you want something to stash away in the cellar for a special anniversary or birthday or something deliciously smooth and versatile to enjoy at a dinner next week, there’s a perfect wine for every palate and occasion. Personally? I can hardly wait for warm, late summer nights – those nights that beg for barbecuing with friends and family and enjoying a glass of our delicious Zinfandel. Why the Zinfandel? Well, I’ve found that it’s great with summer fare like burgers, barbecued ribs and grilled veggies foods that are omnipresent during the months of June/July/August/September (it also pairs nicely with chocolate and I’m definitely not one to pass up that combo). What are your spring sippers?
Our vineyard crew is busy pruning the vines, so I visited with Bo in the Estate Vineyard to witness some of the trimming process, an annual task that takes weeks to complete. Important cutting decisions are made along the way. In one case, it involved literally sawing off a large branch on an older (1973) vine to allow another, better-positioned cane to take over for high quality grape production. I saved the piece Bo sawed off because I thought it would look cool in my office. After a while, it looked to me like a seahorse smoking a cigar. Any other ideas?
Well, I’m off to a dubious start already on my New Year’s resolutions.
1st Resolution: Be on time with my commitments. Ok, so my first blog of 2012 is a week and a day late. Not good.
2nd Resolution: Go to the gym at least 3 times a week. I’ve been once since Jan 1 and I sort of waved over the machines on that visit.
3rd Resolution: Eat better; do a juice cleanse. Does wine count as a juice? Let me wipe my fingers from the chicken finger grease before I wreck my keyboard and write more excuses.
4th Resolution: Watch less tv; be more productive; go to the library; read more. How can I when I’m in the middle of Top Chef Texas, Walking Dead, Modern Family? No to mention that new episodes of Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain are just coming on! Do magazines count as reading?
5th Resolution: Learn more. Ok, let’s stop with this one.
As you may have read in a previous blog, I was ranting about having to go back and study for my CSW and how I thought I gave that up in college, and never wanted to look back – forgoing any more “tests and exams” in the future. Oh how I hated that stress! Well, now looking back, I was truly productive during the studying! I learned a lot, found myself covering 3 of my 4 resolutions above because of it, and that was without even trying. So, with a little discipline/self control, my commitment is to learn a new language. I’m traveling to Italy in the summer, so I figure, why not Italian? Being in the wine industry, I love our wines; no doubt, but what makes me appreciate it more is knowing what else is out there, including the Italian stuff. So here’s a resolution I intend to keep; and I know that it will help me with all the others. Check back with me in a few months; I’ll tell you if Rosette Stone is really worth the money. Ciao.
The oldest block of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Estate Vineyard has been pulled for replant. Block 1A, situated in mostly sedimentary soil – in fact, the only area in the Estate Vineyard where sedimentary soil occurs – was planted in 1973, just after Jim Barrett acquired the property. For those of us who see the vineyard on a daily basis, the first impression is always “something’s missing” from this picture. But we also know that what’s to come are new Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines, a new generation of fruit for the next generation of Chateau Montelena. It’s all part of our ongoing replant program designed to grow the best fruit we can as stewards of this incredible property.
For those of you on my Christmas shopping list, a word to the wise: resist my constant requests to give me your Christmas wish list. If you give me your list, you’ll get something predictable. But if you don’t, you’ll stress me out and I’ll keep thinking about an ideal gift, wait until the last few shopping days and buy something beyond my budget just to get it over with.
So yes, I’ve just finished my holiday shopping, and those who procrastinated with sending me their wish list are the true benefactors of a highly expensive gift. Will they like it? Hard to say. The tough thing for me is, most of my friends love Montelena, but that’s too easy of a gift from me. That’s the low hanging fruit of shopping: too easy, too predictable. They’d love it, sure; but they also know I didn’t put a lot of effort into shopping beyond the workplace!
And you’d think that all of us working here at the Chateau are tired of the good juices. Well, we had our holiday luncheon last week with the (in)famous White Elephant gift exchange. Who would’ve thought it would be all the good boozy stuff that people kept stealing…. Nothing warms the soul more than the gift of booze, unless it was stolen from your co-workers.
Anyways, Merry Christmas to all…eat well, drink well; then we’ll all think about a good New Year’s resolution after we indulge.
For those who waited till the day before an exam and then crammed – it didn’t work, did it? If you waited till the last day of a clothing sale, you’ve probably often found the inventory to be limited to sizes of except Small and XXL. Well, it works that way here too! With a small harvest, our 2008′s are either gone, or going fast! Well, many current releases as well. The 2010 Riesling? Gone. Our 2008 Zinfandel? Gone. And 2008 Napa Cabernet and 2007 Estate Cabernet? Going very, very soon.
I blinked and then they’re gone. Will we have wine to sell? Yes, we will; but if you have a library or would like to continue your vertical, don’t wait till the last-minute!
I just spent a week on vacation after finishing another high season here at the Chateau and it was just what the doctor ordered; Thanksgiving in Boise, Idaho with some of my closest friends. I often get a funny reaction when I tell people I’m going to Boise for vacation. The consistent reaction I get is, “Why!?” My answer is always the same, “Have you ever been to Boise?” And the answer from all those who ask is always, “No.”
My friends have lived there for 20 years now, have built a beautiful home, have started a business, and know just about everyone you need to know in town. Boise is a city with a small town feel: it’s comfortable, easy to navigate and has great food and shopping. Did I mention the great food?
For breakfast, Goldie’s is a must: corned beef hash, farm fresh eggs – ohhh sooo good. Lunch/dinner: Fork was a standout; I went there twice in one week. I was there once for a burger (they use fresh brisket in their meat) and the other time for perhaps the best BLT (with egg on top) I’ve ever had. We were tempted to go back a third time! The only downfall there? No Chateau Montelena … Keep going back; we’ll get them to carry it!
For wine shopping, the Co-Op is as good a wine shop as I’ve seen in the best Urban cities. The selection from country to country, price point – all great. And, yes, they do carry CM!
Moral of this story: Before you poopoo a city you’ve never visited, give it a shot! Sometimes you just have to get out of your vacation comfort zones (i.e. New York, Hawaii, San Francisco) and head for a small town for true Americana.
As George noted last week, Thanksgiving is finally here! And I can hardly believe it – feels like it was NYE 2011 just the other day! Regardless, it’s great for me because Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday. Any day that I can eat delicious food to my heart’s content, spend time with my favorite people and drink amazing wines is a great day by me. This year, I’ll be attending two Thanksgiving feasts which is pretty much double the fun. I’ll really have to pace myself, that’s for sure.
This year, I’m really looking forward to dessert (which probably comes as no surprise to those who know me). I’ve found a scrumptious Paula Deen recipe laden with cream cheese, pumpkin and sugar that I’m hoping will take top prize in the annual dessert competition. As a bonus, it’s an homage to one of my best friends (and college roommate) who used to bake a traditional St. Louis-style gooey butter cake every time she went home for the holidays – and brought back the ooey, gooey, goodness when she returned to school each January. Needless to say, that cake was always devoured within about an hour after her arrival back on campus…it’s just THAT good. Now I’m trying my baking hand at it with the addition of pumpkin. I fully expect that to tip this dessert off the charts. Wish me luck in the competition.
As for the wine? Guess it’s time to raid the cellar and pick out a few special bottles. It’s always a treat to open those bottles that I’ve been saving for a special occasion – what better occasion than a fantastic feast with family and friends?
So this year, this Thanksgiving, I’m incredibly thankful for the people that make me laugh and smile each and every day and an opportunity to have them all together at one dinner table. Of course, I’m also thankful for great wine and the occasion to break out those special bottles and for Paula Deen and her indulgent sweets! I can barely wait for Thursday.
Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones. Open that special bottle and enjoy!
Save the date, Bay Area friends! On November 17th we’ll be at San Francisco hot-spot ZeroZero (826 Folsom) for a special Happy Hour appearance. Featuring some classic Montelena wines, and a few special surprises, it’s an event not-to-be-missed. Join us for some sips of your favorite Montelena wine or a new-to-you Montelena wine and stay for a scrumptious pizza hot out of the oven and cap off the evening with a sweet treat of soft-serve. It’s the best of both worlds: pizza and wine. We’ll be there from 6:00 to 9:00 – stop by and see us!
If you don’t have plans yet for the last weekend in January 2012, make some – quickly – and join us for House Party 2012. If you love wine, you can rest assured that we’ll be pulling out some incredible bottles from our cellar: current release wines, winery-only-wines (those that you can find only here at the winery) and even some special, older bottles that we’ve been saving for a special occasion. We’ll also have slow-roasted meats and the musical talents of the Bay Area’s own beloved Wonderbread 5 (if you know this band, you know we’re going to have a blast!). So I hope I’ve given you enough information to make it an easy decision that you need to get tickets and come party with us, but I understand you may be undecided about whether or not to stay here in Calistoga for the weekend or head back to the city. To make the decision a little easier, we’ve partnered with a few local hotels so you can not only enjoy our party, but you can enjoy all of Calistoga, too. Mention the “Chateau Montelena House Party” when you call to make reservations at either Stevenson Manor or Solage Calistoga.
So get your tickets, mark your calendar and come to party with us on January 28th. Then stay and take advantage of all that Calistoga has to offer – great food, mudbaths and spa treatments, fantastic wine and a down-home vibe that makes everyone feel right at home.