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Category Archives: Wines

Procrastinating Doesn’t Pay

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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!

Find the wine you’re looking for here.

Back from Vacation

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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.


A Dose of Thanks

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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: November 17th

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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!

Where To Stay for House Party 2012

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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.

Stop the Presses…Please!

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Ok, I know I commented on this in a blog a while ago, but I’ll re state it since it is important to know.  The press will unmercifully declare the 2011 vintage in California a disaster.  Yes, the weather has been less than optimal for growing wine grapes, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.  We’ve had late June rains, followed by a mild Summer and then a few October rains.  Some wineries continue that panic of “bringing in grapes” before the rains hit.  Well,  they’re basically saying “we’ll sacrifice optimal time for picking to avoid a total disaster.”  We, on the other hand, let nature run its course.  Over the decades, Mother Nature has really found ways to correct herself.  Our winemaking team continues to prove to us how good this year is shaping up.  We sampled juices of recently harvested fruit, and it’s as deep and rich as always.  Now, I may not be the best judge to taste wine in its infancy and be able to declare it a stellar product, but I have a pretty good sense of recognizing great wine by trying the juice over the years.

Will this year be one for the ages?  It’s too early to tell, but don’t be too quick to write it off.  In the winemaking circles, this vintage will test the mettle of who really knows what they’re doing in trenches.  I have all the confidence in our team….and proof has always been in the bottle.

The 1998 vintage was recognized for less than optimal growing conditions, but has proven to be a star over the years.



Easy Do-Ahead Gougères

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Wanting to pull out that 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet at sunset for friends? A perfect small bite to pair with this sumptuous red is a plate of warm gougères just out of the oven. Gougères traditionally are made with a choux pastry base. But who wants to fuss with making the pasty when guests are on the way over? Puff pastry sheets fit the bill. The versatility of this product should never be underestimated! The pastry sheets thaw quickly and can make easy work of impressing family and friends.*

Faux Gougères

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and center a rack in the oven.

Thaw one sheet of puff pastry in fridge or on the counter as directed on the package.

On a lightly floured stone counter top, roll the pastry to an 8 x 12 inch rectangle.

In two separate bowls, mix:

-one egg white and 2 T. milk

-any mixture of 3 T ea: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram, madras curry, dried dill, minced dried onion or shallot. Put together what pleases you. Add to this bowl: 1/3 c. grated gruyere or dry Vella Jack cheese, and a dash of black pepper or cayenne.

Brush the rolled square of pastry with the egg white mixture; then liberally sprinkle the mixture of herbs, seeds and cheese over the pastry. Press gently with your rolling pin, using a light touch.

Using a very small cookie cutter (1.25 inch diameter, or the top of a shot glass), stamp out the shapes. This should yield at least 2 dozen gougères.
Bake on a silpat mat or ungreased cookie sheet for 18-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden. These yummy bites freeze beautifully for up to a month…cool completely before wrapping and freezing. Reheat frozen gougères @ 400 degrees on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes, until warm and slightly crisp.

*Tip: Keep the boxes of puff pastry frozen until you’re ready to use. You can put a box in the fridge up to a day ahead if you like, but after a few days the sheets will develop a sour taste and will fail to rise properly.

SF Party Oct 13: Did You Get the Golden Ticket?

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So this Thursday, Oct 13th, at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square in San Francisco, we’ll be celebrating the unveiling of our new tasting room in the city which is situated in the lobby of this historic hotel.  This hotel has a special place in my heart for a few reasons:

1:I used to work there.

2:It defines San Francisco and its storied past.

3:There are some wonderful people who work at that hotel; and have so through decades.

US Presidents, foreign dignitaries, movie stars, sports teams have all passed through the hotel’s doors.  So, it was only natural that one of the historic wineries of California should partner with this hotel to be the first (and only?) winery to have a remote tasting room in the city.  The party will celebrate the opening in style with current and library wines, an amazing array of canapes from the Culinary team, and all our closest friends at the winery.

Sorry to say it’s by invitation only, but if you have one of the  golden tickets, be sure to RSVP now before it’s too late (which it will be tomorrow morning).  The tasting room is open to the public from 1-8pm Wed-Sat.   If you’re one of our Cellarmaster club members, your benefits will apply at our new location just as if you were visiting us here at the Chateau!  Be sure to say hi to Ryan or Jonnie when you stop by…


Napa Cab is Finally Here…

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Today is the day; 2008 Napa Cabernet can now be yours.  If you thought the ’07 was good, wait till you try this wine!  The only problem: so little was made of it.  Such a bummer.

Come see us and get a few bottles before it’s gone…


House Party 2012 – Rock & Rotisserie

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We’ve been hard at work planning a new bash for the New Year.  Introducting: House Party 2012 – Rock & Rotisserie.  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.

Tickets are on sale now – reserve yours today.  It’s a perfect gift for someone special; a perfect occasion to celebrate once all the holiday parties have died out; a perfect excuse to come enjoy the beautiful Napa Valley for a weekend getaway; a perfect opportunity drink some great wine, dance to your favorite 80′s and 90′s hits and be merry.  Whatever your reason for joining the party, we can’t wait to see you here!

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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