This Friday, on June 24th, we’ll be celebrating the beginning of summer by cooling down with some refreshing glasses of Sauvignon Blanc in honor of #SauvBlanc Day. To participate in the online festivities, simply use the hashtag #SauvBlanc when you are sharing/tweeting/Facebooking information about this beloved summer wine. Visit the official page for more information: http://sauvblanc2011.eventbrite.com
We have a new face on the blog! Lynn Pedone will be working in the vineyard, with Dave Vella and his crew, as she pursues her studies in Viticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College. A little background on Lynn: she’s a recent East Coast transplant, has lived all over the world growing up in a military family and has previously worked in the world of business and finance. She’s now hoping to settle into her “last career stop until retirement” in the wine industry and is looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about vineyard maintenance with Dave. Lynn will be writing a weekly blog post about her experiences working in the Chateau Montelena vineyards. Read her latest post below:
I can’t move….
Yesterday was my first day of work in the Chateau Montelena vineyard – my “dream job” – ? Wow, this old body isn’t used to physical labor – especially not for 8 hours! The last time I worked this hard was back in the day (emphasis on “back”) when I was a gym rat, body building and power lifting, and learned “muscle has memory” – in this case, it had better be a long one!
We started off suckering the vines – pulling unwanted green shoots off of the trunks below the drip lines. No problem. Then someone handed me a shovel – !? Oh yes, using a shovel to break up/dig out weeds in the berms. If you have ever pounded a metal shovel into hard, dry dirt, you know it’s not a lot of fun! But I persevered. I couldn’t keep up with the men (incredibly hard workers), but at least I had their respect that I wanted to pull my weight and do my share. The heat did not help matters – yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far, 90. Fortunately there was a breeze and I took my share of shade breaks. The good news is that I probably sweated off at least a pound – at this rate I’ll be back into most of my wardrobe by September! Also, the foreman told me there wouldn’t be any more shoveling – they were pretty much done with this for a while. So now we will be doing other typical summer vineyard activities – tucking the vines up into the wires, pulling leaves in the fruit zone, etc. Anyway, it was a good day – the workers are all very kind, seemingly tolerant to have me in their midst, and willing to take the time to explain how and why we do certain things in the vineyard… Placido, Paulino, Heriberto and Beto – those are the names I learned yesterday.
Vineyard Manager, Dave Vella, has over 25 years of experience working with the soils, vines and weather here at the winery. With that kind of experience working with one particular vineyard, he has seen it all over the years. I recently caught up with him to get an update on how things are shaping up in the vineyard for the 2011 vintage.
Most of you know wines from what you buy at the store, read in reviews, hear from friends and enjoy at dinner parties. For those who venture to the regions where it’s actually made, their learning curve goes up exponentially. They get the stories first hand (sometimes, subjective); but even then, that’s a good thing. What makes our wine different than someone else’s may seem better to some, not to others. That’s the beauty of enjoying wine. If it were that easy, it wouldn’t be fun.
Well, we’re taking your learning curve a bit farther if you visit us in Calistoga. Starting soon, on Mondays and Wednesday mornings at 10:30am, we’re offering vineyard tours. Our little 8 passenger electric cart will whisk you around (in an environmentally-friendly way) our 100 acres of vineyards, giving you a fun and educational, Disney-like drive through our Estate vineyards. You’ll get an up-close and personal experience learning how our wines begin. Should start up next week; but check our website for details soon!
It’s official…the 2009 Chardonnay is released and ready to enjoy!
Have you had a chance to try it yet? If so, what do you think?
There is another House of Representatives bill, being submitted (HR1161) , that will affect the direct shipping of your wine regardless of whether you are in a wine club, have a wine allocation or just occasionally order wine. This act was sponsored by the wholesalers and will bring us back about two decades on wine shipping. Read more here.
According to Free the Grapes.org, this is what this bill will do if it is passed:
- Establish that State Laws Override Federal Laws: Shifts the burden of proof from state to challenger in all cases that deal with the validity of any state law regarding the regulation of matters involving alcohol beverages and makes such state laws presumably valid over any federal law that is inconsistent with its provisions.
- Render Commerce Clause Ineffective: Establishes federal law that makes the Dormant Commerce Clause not applicable to any state law that deals with alcohol beverage sale or distribution unless they are demonstrated to “facially discriminate, without justification”.
This is a disagreement between beer wholesalers and beer producers. U.S. House Resolution 1161 was introduced March 17 at the request of the National Beer Wholesalers of America with the support of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America. But, because of its broad scope, HR 1161 is a direct threat to wine direct shipping by exempting anti-competitive and discriminatory state alcohol beverage laws from most federal review. It will reverse the federal decision brought about from Heald vs. Granholm which was instrumental to increasing the number of states that allow legal, regulated winery-to-consumer shipments, making it essentially difficult to buy wine directly from your favorite wineries.
Please reach out to your representatives, as well as your senators, to let them know that this is not okay. Free the Grapes.org has a template that you may use to to send an email or fax directly to your representatives.
In the famous words of one of the greatest bands of our time, thank God it’s here! I won’t talk much about the weather, as that’s been beaten down in blogs and articles everywhere; so if you’re wondering what it means to vintage 2011, ask us in the Fall. It’s still too early.
What I can say, however, is my tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash may have a chance after all. Without warmth and sun, they were showing signs of doom.
I can put away the jackets I had already stashed in April, just to dust them off for May and June.
Vacation in Montana looks promising.
A day at the beach may be a reality now.
Farmer’s markets can start showing off some real Summer fruit.
After all man has done in modern technology, we’re all still at the mercy of Mother Nature in so many ways. I love California!
Well, after a week of February weather capped off with a couple of inches of rain over the weekend, the sun is finally coming out! Maybe, just maybe, summer is on its way? We can only hope….
We’ve been experiencing some unpredictable and wet weather in the last few weeks in our little town of Calistoga. With major construction projects in the works for our Chateau and the courtyard outside it, all of this rain has forced us to delay some larger projects and set our timeline-for-completion back by a few months. As a result, we’ve had to make the very difficult decision to cancel Franc&Blanc and reschedule for next year. By next spring, we’ll have a renovated, state-of-the-art cellar, the weather will have improved and we’ll be looking forward to letting loose to enjoy the party. Stay tuned as we work on planning the party of the year for 2012.
- The Montelena Family
Chateau Montelena Sauvignon Blanc deserves an ideal companion for pairing. Fresh lime, aromatic herbs, and shellfish compliment the bright palate and crisp finish of this varietal. For me, it’s a light lunch or first course of Bodega Bay Crab Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Our 2009 Sauvignon Blanc has a great acidity that champions both the citrus and the crunch in these delectable fresh rolls! No worries if you’re too far from Bodega – any fresh crabmeat rocks this dish, and so does shrimp. You can omit protein altogether for a veggie version-try adding sliced avocado! I use a spicy peanut sauce for dipping, but any Asian-inspired sauce (mango, lemon, or other prepared sauces) can boost your own kitchen creativity. These rolls take less than 30 minutes to make and plate if you have your ingredients prepped – but you do need to prepare them within 90 minutes of serving. Like sushi rolls, they will get soggy if you try to make them too far ahead.* The good news? Nutritious, delicious, low cal and a perfect match-up for our Chateau Montelena Sauvignon Blanc!
Serves 4 as a light lunch or 8 as an appetizer (makes 8 rolls)
- 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage
- 3/4 cup carrots, fine julienne
- 1/4 cup green onions, fine julienne
- ½ English cucumber, fine julienne
- ¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro, reserve whole leaves for garnish
- ¼ cup snipped fresh mint, reserve whole leaves for garnish
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 8 8-inch round spring roll wrappers
- 8 ounces fresh or frozen crab claw meat
- Prepared peanut sauce for dipping
- Juice of 1 lime
- For filling, in a large bowl combine cabbage, carrots, green onions, cucumber, cilantro and mint. Dissolve the sugar in the rice vinegar; combine with soy sauce. Toss lightly with the vegetables to coat.
- For the dipping sauce: in a small bowl stir together 1/2 cup of peanut sauce and juice of one lime; season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Place 1 cup of luke-warm water in a shallow dish. As you prepare each roll, dip each wrapper in warm water for 7-10 seconds until limp (as a cooked lasagna noodle). Place on damp dish towel for filling and rolling. Don’t over-soak; they will tear or rip if over-soaked.
- Center 1/3 cup of filling about 1 inch from bottom edge of one of the moistened spring roll wrappers. Top with 2 tablespoons crab meat. Driizzle with a bit of dipping sauce. Fold the bottom edge of the wrapper over the filling. Fold in sides. Gently, roll up tightly as you would a burrito, keeping filling snug. Repeat with remaining filling and spring roll wrappers. Cut in half on a diagonal; serve with dipping sauce. *Do-ahead tip: Prep all the veggies as early as the night before and submerge in ice water; drain well on paper towels before assembling the rolls.