Lynn Catania- V. Sattui’s Ray of Sunshine

Lynn Catania is sunshine personified. Her sunny personality lights up our Cellar Club when she’s pouring wine for members, and it’s perfect for the outreach she does with our local hotels and B&B’s.   Her smile is infectious, especially after she’s hit you with a quick witted a one-liner, or bursts into song with her beautiful voice. 

Lynn is a Napa local and grew up working at her family’s restaurant, Catania’s Pizza, which was a favorite hangout for locals. This job fueled her passion for cooking, a hobby she still continues today.  She’s also a great floral designer and even owned her own flower shop at one time.

Q: When did you first start at V. Sattui?

A: “The first time, I was 18 years old. A friend got me a job working in the deli.  This was back in the day when we didn’t have an automatic vacuum sealer for the deli meats. It was all hand-done by wrapping the plastic really tight. My arms still ache when I think about it! I also worked in the cheese case and at the registers. 

About 18 years later, I worked in our Events Department helping with weddings and parties.  A few years ago I was working at Artesa Winery in the Tasting Room, and Tom (Davies, President of V. Sattui) called me one day and asked, ‘When do you want to come home?’ And that was it. Working here is like coming back to family.  It’s my home base.”

Q:  Now you work in our Cellar Club and get to see our best members daily. You also help out with our Wine of the Month Club

A:  “I love our members. I have so much fun down there!  People come from all over the world to see us. They just love V. Sattui Winery.  I have members that come in and want to have lunch with me, which I’m just too busy to do!  They plan a day just to come here, and don’t want to visit anywhere else. I get invitations to visit their homes.  They’ll say ‘If you’re ever in St Louis, or San Antonio, or Hawaii or wherever – you can stay with us.’  They bring me gifts too. I got a Lady Gaga toothbrush once!  V. Sattui isn’t just a Winery, it is a wonderful, extended family.”

Q:  Speaking of family, you recently got to visit family in Italy and learn to cook some of their dishes?
A:  Yes, I visited my Aunt in Sicily.  On the 4th day of the six that I stayed with her, she allowed me into the kitchen to help her cook.  This was a major accomplishment!

Q:  What is your favorite V. Sattui Wine?
A:  I’m very seasonal with my drinking. I like the Anderson Riesling in the summer. It’s not overly dry, but has these nice crisp, apple flavors. In the fall, I just love the Entanglement. I always tell people this is the wine I reach for when I hit a wall with Pinot. It’s a chameleon wine – it can be heavy and seductive or bright and acidic.  In the winter I really love our Morisoli or Mt Veeder Cabernets.

V. Sattui’s Henry Ranch- A Step Back in Time

Let us take you on a short, virtual journey to one of our favorite places.  V. Sattui’s Henry Ranch is located in the Los Carneros appellation at the southern end of Napa Valley.  It is the one appellation that is shared by both Sonoma and Napa counties.  

Henry Ranch is on the Napa side of the border and it is made up 528 acres that have seen their share of history, yet have remained relatively untouched by time.  When you’re there, you can close your eyes and almost hear the sounds of antique farm equipment powered by horses and humans.

Once home to Wappo Indians and then Spanish and Mexican settlers living on one of General Vallejo’s grants, the land was acquired by the Henry Family in 1850. It operated as a dairy ranch with an ingenious tram system of moving hay into the barn and taking milk out when Carneros Creek made road passage impossible during the winter months.

 

Dario Sattui purchased this property in 1993 from Herb Henry, one of the last living Henry family members, now in his late 80’s.  Dario remains friends with him today.

“He is eccentric, almost innocent and unspoiled and a throwback to a previous generation of people who worked the land.  He lived without a phone, without a TV, in a trailer and eventually in a culvert under the ground.  He never drove a car to my knowledge and did the farm work with primitive equipment.  I don’t know if he and his brother Ralph ever had a tractor on the farm.  He even spun thread from wool and tanned hides.”

A small portion of this land, 111 acres total, has been planted to grapes.  Henry Ranch’s cooling breezes from the San Pablo Bay and daytime heat on the lowlands and the hills that are part of the Mt. Veeder appellation, are the perfect mix for growing acclaimed Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat Canelli, Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Add in rolling grassy hills, old oak trees and slopes over 900 ft. with views of the Napa Valley to the north and San Francisco to the south—you see why Dario was attracted to this property.  But of course, so were many developers who wanted to build homes.  To keep this place intact, Dario had to buy out these developers’ options and place their escrows in his name. Since then, he’s placed 528 acres  of the property including historic buildings, Carneros Creek and tributaries to the creek in the Land Trust of Napa County.  Three quarters of this land will remain forever wild and undeveloped.

“It was and is such a beautiful valley I didn’t want to see it spoiled with homes.  I wanted to preserve it, so it will never be built upon.   We want to preserve the beauty for future generations.  We have also fixed up the historic barns attempting to preserve what was. We are only custodians who must preserve the historic and wild nature of the property to pass it on as we found it for those who come later.”

We do our very best to take care of Henry Ranch with sustainable vineyard practices.  We use cover-crops in the winter that attract beneficial insects that feed on harmful ones that can damage the vines. Cover-cropping also reduces soil erosion and, in the spring, we plow down the cover crop which acts as a natural fertilizer and returns valuable nitrogen to the soil. We compost our pomace (leftover skins and seeds after pressing) for a year, then use the composted material as nutrient-rich, organic fertilizer in the vineyard. To combat vertebrate pests such as birds and turkeys, we use an audio system in the vineyard with speakers that emit actual bird distress and predator calls which ward off pest birds. We’ve also continued our Fish Friendly Farming certification that protects harmful runoffs into creeks and streams and provides wildlife corridors between vineyard blocks.

At V. Sattui we believe the best grapes and the best wine comes from a land that is loved and cared for.  Our Henry Ranch is a shining example of that.

Recipe: Dungeness Crab Cakes

We are very fortunate to often have fresh Dungeness crab, that delicate, sweet and tender crustacean found along California’s western shores. In our Deli, we offer a little mayo and some wedges of lemon to go alongside; but we also particularly like them, slightly warmed, atop a lightly dressed mound of baby greens. These are 4-ounce crab cakes. Serve one as a first course; two as a main course.

Dungeness Crab Cakes

(Makes 8 four-ounce cakes)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup red bell pepper, small dice
½ cup yellow bell pepper, small dice
½ bunch scallions (green onions), green part only, cut ¼ inch

1 pound fresh Dungeness crabmeat
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cups fresh focaccia crumbs
2 quarts vegetable oil for deep fry
2 cups plain bread crumbs

Directions

In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter and cook peppers and scallions until tender. Set aside to cool.

Place crabmeat in a large bowl and check for bits of shell. Add the mayonnaise, mustard and focaccia bread crumbs and mix well. Stir in the peppers and scallions.

Heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees F. If you do not have a fryer, use a heavy 6-quart saucepan.

Place the plain bread crumbs in a medium bowl or on a wide plate.

With a large spoon (and your hands), scoop a mound of the mixture (approximately 4 ounces) and shape a round patty.

Pass the crab patty in the bread crumbs two times, pressing the crumbs with your hands.

Fry or sauté the patties for about three minutes, until light brown.

Let rest on a plate with kitchen paper or paper towels at least 5 minutes before serving.

We love pairing a Chardonnay or a refreshing Riesling with these flaky and delicious crab cakes.

STOMP 2015- A Harvest Celebration with Deep Roots

In the next day or two, grapes are going to start coming into the winery crush pad, and the 2015 harvest will be upon us!  This year is even more special as we are honored to host a unique annual tradition that officially kicks off harvest in Napa Valley, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers’ Annual Harvest STOMP. 

“There is simply no event like this one in the world of wine”, Steve Moulds of Moulds Family Vineyards and President of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG).  “We take the best time of year in the Valley and throw every great thing about Napa Valley into it: the vineyard setting, the wines, the food, the people, and the camaraderie that exists is unparalleled.”

This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, August 22, and tickets have already sold out.  There is a wait list if you’re interested in the possibility of attending, but this blog is about sharing information on two missions that we are happy to partner with NVG through this event:  to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards, and to support the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation

We are hosting STOMP at our Henry Ranch in the Los Carneros appellation at the southern end of Napa County.  This 525-acre property is a shining example of preserving Napa Valley’s agricultural heritage. It was once home to the Wappo Indians and part of an original Spanish land grant.  Around 1850 the land was purchased by the Henry family, who farmed and raised livestock on the ranch until Dario Sattui bought the property from Herb Henry in 1993. To date, 120 acres of sustainably-farmed vineyards have been planted and virtually all of the 525 acres of land have been protected by any further development through conservation easements and the Land Trust of Napa County, ensuring the unspoiled beauty of this ranch for future generations. 

STOMP also helps support the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation.  The Napa Valley is known for its world-class vineyards that produce the world's highest quality wines, but what really makes this valley so special are the people.  The Napa Valley farmworker community is the heart, soul and foundation of our industry.  Founded by the NVG in 2011, the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation supports and promotes Napa Valley’s vineyard workers through education and professional development. This foundation is the only one of its kind in the United States and to date has helped more than 7,500 vineyard workers and their families.  Not only are the lives of Napa Valley’s vineyard workers improved, but also their families, their children, and our community-at-large. 

Cheers to the 2015 harvest!  May it be bountiful not only in wine grapes, but also in keeping Napa Valley a beautiful destination, and one of the best places to live.

Recipe: V. Sattui’s Mustard Prawns

Winter rains promote the rapid growth of wild mustard in the Napa Valley. January visitors are treated to our Valley floor being blanketed in a vibrant carpet of bright yellow mustard flowers. So it’s no accident that mustard is a favorite ingredient of so many Napa chefs—our own included. We’ve found that prawns and mustard have a natural affinity for each other. Add shallots and champagne vinegar and this dish is transcendent. No dipping here…these prawns are already sauced!

V. Sattui's Mustard Prawns

(Serves 6)

Ingredients

½ cup plus 2 teaspoons sea salt
3 pounds prawns, heads removed, peeled & deveined

¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground red chili flakes
½ cup champagne vinegar
1 cup canola oil
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley

Directions

In a large pot bring 6 quarts of water to a boil, then add ½ cup of sea salt.

When water begins to boil again, add the prawns. Bring to a boil once more and cook for only a half minute (30 seconds). Drain and let the prawns cool.

While waiting for the prawns to cool, make the emulsion: In a mixer bowl, place the Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, chili flakes and champagne vinegar.

Mix on medium-low for about 1-2 minutes, then add the oil very slowly (so the ingredients don’t separate) until the oil is done.

In a large bowl, place the prawns, then add the emulsion, the shallots and the parsley. Mix very well to coat the prawns. Serve chilled with a bottle of your favorite V. Sattui Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.