If you have ever been here, you know it’s a pretty cool place to visit. If you have never been here, perhaps you have read that it’s a pretty cool place to visit. Lots of people share their experiences coming here in the social media sphere. Oh yes, there are the wines. But for visitors there are the added impressions that seem to linger for years: the memory of first setting eyes on the awesome stone Chateau; or wandering the long hallway that connects the tasting room with the Estate Room; or strolling the crooked walkways over the placid waters of Jade Lake; or catching a glimpse of the world famous Estate Vineyard through the willows of a Chinese Garden while waterfowl honk for your attention. Well, we took a leap into new technology to add a feature to our web site, something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. It’s a Virtual Tour of Chateau Montelena. We’re still working out some technical bugs, but it’s up and running for your viewing…er, visiting…pleasure. Just go to our home page and look for the “kicker” link in the lower left corner (there’s also a link in the upper sub-navigation line) to get it started. A 1-minute video will welcome you. Go to the “Help” tab to find out how to navigate the content-rich suite of locations and videos and 360s and…well, there’s too much to really explain in this space. Other than we are excited about it. It’s almost as good as being here. We hope you like it. Let us know.
Ok, now seems to be the time that EVERYBODY wants to come visit. And it’s not just fans or interested consumers or even tourists, but friends and family too. Inevitably, they all want to come on Saturday afternoon. Well, at the risk of repeating myself from last year’s blog…it’s worth repeating.
Pick any other day! Have you ever gone to a nice restaurant on Valentine’s Day for dinner? Brunch on Mother’s Day? Easter? Book a nice night out on the town for New Year’s Eve? Drive out for the weekend on Memorial Weekend? You know what I’m getting at. What all these have in common: everyone else is doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. You’ll be in major crowds, have pre-set menus, potentially lousy service (I used to work in hospitality food and beverage). I pleaded with all my friends and family, “Come to dinner on Feb 13th or 15th!” Take Mom out a week before Mother’s Day. The actual dates are just dates; make it more special by picking another time to celebrate.
Well, in Napa, everyone wants to come up on a Saturday in Fall. They usually start from SF/Bay Area, then hit the first winery they see in Napa and work their way up to Calistoga. We get insane traffic on Saturday afternoons. So I offer this suggestion which may make more sense: Drive all the way up to Calistoga, start your day there and then work your way south. Advantage? Traffic is lighter in the morning; you’ll get to Calistoga first and avoid any crowds here; and you’ll notice as you drive down south the stacks of cars on the highway heading north. And when you’re done, well, you are now that much closer to home. The other way around, you have a car full of happy but tired folks and you still have a solid 1 1/2+ hour drive back in a lot of bumper-to-bumper traffic. They’ll be asleep by Oakville.
So if Saturday afternoon is the only day that works for you, we welcome you in with open arms. Just be prepared for a group hug….
For more information on our tasting and tour options, check out this page - you can even make a reservation to guarantee a more intimate experience.
But have been remiss in posting…I’d give you all the usual excuses, but you’ve heard them all….busy, busy, busy….
And I know I promised some Italy pics, but I still haven’t organized them. It’s coming, promise….
As for the Summer season at the Chateau, we’ve been experiencing good weather so far. My tomatoes plants are looking good, but I’m not seeing a lot of fruit yet because the moles and gophers are playing buffet on the garden.
More importantly, however, we might actually have a grape harvest that’s on time! All indications so far are going that way, but we’ve got a full month to go before we pick anything!
BTW, we’re offering Riesling in the Tasting Room coming up for a limited couple of weeks in our tasting lineup….be sure to come in and get some while you can, as that window will close by the 23rd of August.
“A delicious late summer evening entrée for the grill!”
You will need:
A flat-bottomed grill pan for the outdoor grill (or line the grill grates with foil to catch melting cheese)
Plastic wrap, for pounding the steaks.
- 4 each 8 oz. (approx.) rib eye steaks, pounded to ½ inch thick
- 4 tablespoons prepared pesto (see below)
- 6-8 cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
- 8-10 fresh spinach leaves, cleaned, stems removed
- 4 slices provolone cheese
- 4 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled
- Salt and pepper, to taste.
- Trim excess fat from the steaks. Place each steak between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound out to even ½ inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread 1 tablespoon pesto on one surface of each steak.
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of blue cheese on top of pesto.
- Layer in a single layer: mushrooms, then spinach, then provolone cheese, tearing cheese to fit.
- Starting at the narrowest end of each steak, roll tightly; secure each roll with butcher’s twine. Further secure each roll by wrapping a length of twine around the long length of each roll.
- Prepare an outdoor grill for indirect heat, to approximately 325 degrees.
- Place the steak rolls in center of grill (not over direct heat source). Cook for 8-10 minute, turn once and cook for 6-8 minutes (medium rare).
- Rest rolls off heat, covered with foil, for 7-8 minutes. Slice each roll to desired thickness.
Delicious when paired with Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon!
-CellarMaster member Robert Hopkins and Cynthia Ancona
After two weeks in Italy. It was a wonderful trip, but I’m happy to be home. The one thing about traveling overseas, as great a vacation as it may be, it certainly makes you appreciate home (easier said when you live in one of the most beautiful places in the world!). Anyways, as I continue to recover from jet lag, and get right back into the groove, you can expect a few posts on my Italy excursion along with pictures. In the mean time, maybe I’ll see some of you next week at a Chateau Montelena Wine Dinner that I’m hosting at Ruth’s Chris in Irvine…. Curious about other upcoming wine dinners? Be sure to check out our Events Page to find out when we’ll be hosting an event near you.
More to come….
Upon returning to the office Monday morning, we were greeted with an email from a customer about an experience he’d had with one of our wines over the weekend. The wine in question: our 1976 North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon. He writes:
Last night I had a small dinner at my home in Healdsburg, CA, in order to honor a friend, and to try out some Napa “Cult” Cabs I had assembled. Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate, Bryant Family etc…. But the most amazing surprise was a 1976 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast (I’ve attached a picture of that) … wow! Whoever made that wine should be very proud, it’s drinking wonderfully, even after 35+ years! Please give my regards to the Barretts and anyone else who had a hand in that very fine bottling. What a pleasure, I’m a winemaker myself, and I just had one of the best wines I’ve ever had. Bravo!
As you might imagine, it was a pleasure to find this email in our inbox Monday morning and to know we were included in a tasting with such wonderful wines. We love hearing from our customers about their memorable experiences with our wines.
What was the best bottle of Chateau Montelena wine you have ever had and who did you enjoy it with?
Congratulations to our CellarMaster Recipe Challenge Winners! We had many wonderful submissions for our first ever members’ Recipe Challenge and our staff culinary team had to narrow down the submissions to four category winners in each of the categories: appetizer, salad, main course, dessert. We are delighted to share their tasty recipes, each paired with their selection of a Chateau Montelena wine.
Our four finalists are as follows:
- Amy Weinberg, for her appetizer, “Amy’s Crab Cakes with Lime Aioli and Fennel Grapefruit Salad”, paired with Chateau Montelena Sauvignon Blanc
- Jack Douglas, for his salad, “Vanilla Lobster Salad”; paired with Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay;
- Rob Hopkins, for his main course, “Rib Eye Rolls”, paired with Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon;
- Patrick Blondin, for his dessert, “Dark Chocolate Upside Down Cake”, paired with Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our category winners are all invited to schedule a private tasting, vineyard tour, and catered lunch on the islands for four people – all with our compliments and congratulations.
Our Grand Prize Winner is Jack Douglas, for the oh-so-sumptuous Vanilla Lobster Salad, which swept the challenge in the final taste-off. Jack and up to seven guests are invited to come to the Chateau, use our Private Residence kitchen to cook up his dish, and sit down to enjoy the Vanilla Lobster Salad and an additional three-course luncheon prepared by our in-house chef – each course will be paired with Chateau Montelena wines.
We encourage you to try the recipes for yourself and perhaps share some of your own favorite pairings. Who knows? We may ask to share your recipe on our blog! Better yet, become a CellarMaster so you can participate next year and submit your own recipe in next year’s challenge.
We’ll reveal each of the winning recipes over the next few weeks so that you can make them and taste for yourself (and, of course, enjoy with your favorite Montelena wine).
Oh, how we love the 2011 Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling with Asian cuisine! The traditional sweet and spicy flavors in Thai sweet chili sauces, along with a smidge of Sriracha hot sauce, provide a perfect dipping companion to this easy Tofu Tempura dish! The irresistable floral notes and bright acidity of our Potter Valley Riesling compliment the rich taste and texture of any tempura.
- (14-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained
- 4 cups (1 quart) safflower oil or peanut oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups club soda, chilled
- ¾ cup prepared sweet chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon sriracha , or to taste
- Slice block of tempura into thirds. Place tofu slices on several layers of paper towels; cover with paper towels. Top with a heavy skillet; let stand 30 minutes. Discard paper towels. Cut each tofu slice into bite size cubes. Hold at room temperature on paper towels while oil is heating.
- Clip a candy/fry thermometer onto the side of a medium deep skillet or large (2 quart) saucepan; add oil to pan. Heat oil to 380°.
- Combine flour, cornstarch, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add club soda, stirring until smooth. Using a slotted spoon, OR long chopsticks,dip tofu in batter. Gently place tofu in hot oil, and fry 1 minute or until golden, turning once. Fry cubes in small batches; do not crowd pan. Remove each batch of fried tofu with clean slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Make sure oil temperature remains at 375° to 380° during each batch.
- Plate with dipping sauce, and serve. (Keep tempura warm in oven for up to 20 minutes before serving.)
As I gear up for a trip to Italy (I depart on Friday), I’m getting excited to venture into some of the best food and wine in the world! It’s been a while since I’ve been there and I’ve indulged in all things Napa Valley/Chateau Montelena for the last few years. We all should realize that variety is the spice of life! I need to re-expand my wine horizons; recognize other varietals, regions, foods, etc…
The other great thing about travel is that you come back and appreciate all that you have right here at home, such as: bathrooms that make sense, air conditioning, wider streets….and some pretty darn good Cabernet Sauvignon!
I’ll be off the blog for a little while. See you back here in a few weeks.
Our members have an exclusive experience waiting for them when they reserve their CellarMaster Tastings here at Chateau Montelena. Members enjoy a semi-private, hour-long educational experience in which our library and Estate wines are sampled alongside local artisan cheeses selected for their unique flavor profiles. Set in the private quarters of the winery’s private residence, our members have an opportunity to taste and purchase select wines available exclusively to them. Members are welcome to reserve one of the islands for the day to picnic before or after their tasting. If you haven’t been to visit us in a while, please call us at (800) 222-7288 and reserve your tasting soon; this is the perfect time of year to enjoy the Chateau and the beautiful grounds! CellarMaster Tastings are offered twice daily, Thursdays through Sundays, at 10:20 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
We look forward to seeing you!
Judy Tischler, Wine Club Ambassador