COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY
Sustainability has been a core value at V. Sattui throughout all aspects of Winery and vineyard operations since it was founded in 1976. As a California Certified Sustainable winery, V. Sattui's commitment to stewardship of the land is inherent in all techniques it employs from soil and vine to the bottle.
Throughout the Winery, energy conservation is prioritized from the use of solar power to adherence to a stringent composting and glass recycling program and the selection of organic and biodegradable products to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
The viticulture team is constantly evaluating the environmental impact of its farming practices. Certified through the Fish-Friendly Farming program, V. Sattui introduces beneficial predators and organisms in the vineyards to reduce the need for use of damaging pesticides or herbicides, in line with its commitment to preserving natural wildlife habitats. This dedication extends beyond the Winery to a family of private grape growers who tend their vineyards with the same care and concern required to make the distinctive wines for which V. Sattui is known.
VITTORIO'S VINEYARD, ST. HELENA: The original Estate vineyard property of V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, adjacent to the Winery itself. It is currently planted to seven varieties, with Cabernet Sauvignon comprising well over half of the 34 acres. As of the 2012 vintage, Vittorio's Vineyard is USDA Certified Organic, and so our Vittorio's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, from that vintage, is our first estate wine that will be entitled to use the designation.
"We've always tried to take a proactive role in preserving the health of the lands we have," explains vineyard consultant Larry Bradley. "Vittorio's has actually been organic for the past five seasons, but the process of certification takes a while." What this means is that no chemicals or inorganic fertilizers are used that could leach into the groundwater. "This of course is more costly," says Larry, "but we believe we're doing the right thing and that the resulting wines will be more flavorful."
The spacing between Vittorio's vines have been planted with all organic cover crops, mostly bell beans and other legumes and grasses. "Green manures," as Larry describes them. "We want lean soils," he says, "and we supplement the weaker areas with fish emulsions and other organic composts."
BLACK-SEARS VINEYARD, HOWELL MOUNTAIN: At just over 2400 feet, it is among the highest vineyards in all of Napa Valley. The unique climate of Howell Mountain produces wines with a firm structure, intense fruit flavors, earthy spice, and round acidity. The ashy, iron-laden soils are perfectly suited for growing full-bodied, peppery Zinfandel that have inspired a dedicated following from many V. Sattui fans. The Black-Sears family is committed to caring for the land they call home, farming organically and biodynamically in the vineyard and in their orchards and gardens. Wine lovers who have enjoyed the fruit and the wines of the Black-Sears vines will testify: "there's just something special about that vineyard."
What is "biodynamic" farming?
Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms, emphasizing balancing the holistic development and interrelationship of the soil, plants, and animals as a self-nourishing system.
Regarded by many as the first modern ecological farming system, biodynamic farming has much in common with other organic approaches, such as emphasizing the use of manures and composts and excluding the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include the use of fermented herbal and mineral preparations as compost additives and field sprays (preparations 500-508), and the use of an astronomical sowing and planting calendar.
Q: "Are you guys crazy, practicing this voodoo?"
A: "Yes. But crazy people grow the best wines."
THE PEOPLE: The value of sustainability extends beyond the ecological sense of the word, and into the ethos of employee (and guest) relations at V. Sattui, where members of the staff are valued highly and treated like family. The environment at V. Sattui provides such a healthy work/life balance that it isn't uncommon for employees to stay with the winery for decades.
V. Sattui is committed to all changes resulting in the preservation of the habitat for generations to come. We're very excited about participating in preserving our vineyard land and watershed, reinforcing the idea that we not just see the vineyards for the vines, but for all the living things that share our ecosystem.
We invite you to celebrate Earth Day every day with V. Sattui Winery!
Zinfandel arrived in the United States in the 1820s and was first cultivated along the East Coast. It was brought to California in the 1850s and by the late 19th century was the state's most widely planted grape. It was very popular with home winemakers during Prohibition, but its reputation declined in the years following repeal. The grape was generally relegated to workhorse status. That began to change in the mid-to-late 1960s as winemakers and savvy drinkers began to discover the elegance and versatility that great Zinfandel could offer. Credit Ridge Vineyards of Saratoga, founded in 1962, for putting a serious face on the grape with their ground-breaking single vineyard wines.
V. Sattui’s Zinfandels were first released in 1975 with only a modest blend and a single Howell Mountain bottling. We now offer eight different vineyard-designated Zins, each distinctive and representative of its origin. SHOP NOW >>
FROM THE VIDEO ARCHIVES: Watch the Wine Guys explain the term "old Vine" Zinfandel
Size Does Matter!
When it comes to bottle sizes, the bigger the bottle, the greater potential for aging wines for the long term. Here’s why: the space between the top of the wine in the bottle and the bottom of the cork is referred to as the ullage. This space contains a very limited amount of air, which over time, oxidizes the wine very slowly. This slow, oxidative process is part of the magic that happens in a bottle of wine as it ages and it allows the wine to mellow and soften. Over time, corks also allow a minute amount of oxygen into the bottle, further accelerating the aging process.
The oxidation rate in bottled wine is a function of the ratio of air to wine in the bottle and the length of time of aging. Because big bottles contain more wine with about the same amount of ullage, these bottles can age much longer, compared with the traditional 750ml bottle, and can achieve complexities and flavors unique to their size. Large format bottles also allow us to drink older vintages long after 750ml bottlings have become old and tired. For these reasons, big bottles are preferred by collectors and wine enthusiasts.
Magnum to Nebuchadnezzar
Wine bottles range in size from the airline 187ml (quarter of a bottle) to sovereign, a bottle that holds 67 bottles or nearly six cases of wine (now that’s a party wine!) Each year, we bottle a limited number of magnums (2 bottles), double magnums (4 bottles), imperials (8 bottles) and Nebuchadnezzars (equal to 21 bottles) of our Preston and Morisoli Vineyard and Reserve Cabernets.
We guarantee that you will be the biggest hit at your next party if you show up with one of these gargantuan bottles. The wax seal is brittle and breaks off easily with a few raps of a dinner knife handle or similar blunt object, and please be sure to use a good waiter’s corkscrew and pull slowly and straight! How do you pour wine from a big bottle? Very carefully.
We have listed the most recent vintages in magnum and double magnum online.
For older vintages and larger formats call 707-963-7774
There are few experiences greater than being in the Napa Valley in Autumn. Driving around at night when the air becomes colder and heavy, you can smell deep, profound aromas emanating from the pressed skins (called pomace) in the vineyards which literally perfume the air.
……….And the colors!! Vibrant colors bounce off a mantle of green grass brought about by fall rains. Did you ever wonder why certain vineyards become yellow and others red or both? Probably not. Well, without becoming too technical here is what you don’t see. The petiole (leaf stem) swells with the onset of colder and longer nights which does two things. It causes the Palisade layers in the leaf to collapse and chlorophyll production ceases turning the leaf yellow instead of green.
Secondly, at this time of year, all of the vine’s energy is now headed for the roots where it will be stored for bud break and initial shoot development next spring. Some vines and vineyards have contracted virus infections carried by mealy bugs or nematodes. This interferes with the movement of fluids in the vine and some of the anthocyanins (the stuff that makes tannin in wine) are trapped in the leaves turning them completely red or a mottled red. Some examples are Red Leaf Roll and Red Leaf Mosaic which effects the leaves more than the vines. The vines will wake up around mid March, as they do every year, and they will be just fine. You probably will not be able to look at a vineyard the same way again. In any event, when you are about to enjoy a glass of V. Sattui wine, just give our vineyards a little mental toast for all of the hard work they do.
Reprinted from KGO-TV/DT
If an expert were to guess the date only by looking at grapes ripening on vines, he or she would most likely say August, even based on what we're seeing in July. Grape growers say they're facing one of the earliest harvests ever.
The French word "veraison" describes when grapes turn from green to purple and signals ripening. It's happening now in the Napa Valley. According to Tom Davies, who runs V. Sattui Winery, this is the warning bell, or the start of a countdown to a harvest that may begin three weeks earlier, this year
It's all due to the weather. The dry spring kick started the grape growing season.
In reality, every wine from every season, even from the same vineyard, is different. Early wines from warmer seasons may be bolder, with more alcohol.
If the reds seem to be ripening fast, they're nothing compared with the whites. They don't change color, they just get softer and those grapes are almost ready now. Champagne grape growers say they could be picking by the first week of August.
Come to V. Sattui Winery on April 8th-14th and meet artist Zeny Cieslikowski who will be showcasing his fine art photographs on our picnic grounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Additionally, on April 13 & 14, Fabio Sanzogni will be in the Vittorio Room displaying his original art pieces. Fabio designed our label Paradiso (Premium Bordeaux-blend). The Paradiso will be available to purchase in a special vertical for Arts in April.
Dario Sattui is well known in the Napa Valley as the entrepreneur behind two successful Napa Valley wineries, V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena and Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga. But what many may not know is that Dario Sattui cares deeply about environmental issues and agricultural land preservation, and that he also supports education and vocational programs for youth. It was just announced that he has pledged $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga for construction of a permanent Calistoga club facility. Sattui will attend the club’s board of directors meeting on March 20th to present two $500,000 checks, one each from V. Sattui Winery and Castello di Amorosa.
The donation was a perfect fit as the Boys and Girls Club will also teach the children about environmental issues. Sattui believes in order to preserve the land, we must start by educating children. “The Club will teach about the environment and how important it is to preserve it, especially the precious environment in Napa County,” Sattui said. “It will teach of the value of agriculture, and teach nutrition as well as exercise.” He continued, “The Club will tutor kids, teach computer skills, among others, and provide guidance counselors.”
Additionally, for the past eight years V. Sattui has partnered with the Napa Valley Vintners “Adopt-a-School program,” for which V. Sattui yearly hosts 125 students from the 8th grade class of the Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School. The students arrive at 9 am and are greeted by Sattui who speaks to the students of his family’s 19th Century immigration to the USA, and a history of the winery including how they survived prohibition in the 1920s. They then break into small groups where they attend short lectures presented by the V. Sattui executive management team on topics such as the science of winemaking, mathematical applications in business, and language arts as it applies to communication with consumers and employees. At noon students are then treated to a picnic lunch.
Similarly, Castello di Amorosa hosts the school’s 7th grade students providing them with a hands-on historical tour of the 12th century Tuscan castle-winery.
For Sattui, the Adopt- a-School giving is ongoing, both in cash and in-kind. For example, V. Sattui Winery encourages student exercise by providing a grant to the hiking club. Additionally, the winery has delivered a catered lunch from the gourmet Marketplace and Deli as recognition for teachers, staff and administrators. Furthermore, V. Sattui Winery participated in a Summer Scavenger Hunt as well as being a large contributor to the Yosemite scholarship fund field trip for the eighth graders of RLS Middle School.
Sattui is also a significant supporter of Napa Valley Hospice, Hands Across the Valley, St. Helena Family Center’s Student Assistance Program and the Napa Valley Land Trust. In the last 10 years, V. Sattui Winery has protected over 550 acres in the Napa Valley with conservation easements that restrict the development of land with homes and preserves hundreds of acres of vineyards, oak woodlands and grassland open space forever. He also has an active role with the Festival del Sole to help bring music to the Napa Valley.
Late harvest is a term applied to wines made from grapes left on the vine longer than most other wine grapes. The grapes themselves are often raisined, or nearly so, but have been naturally dehydrated on the vine. We allow botrytis to develop—a beneficial fungus that, in response to the humidity of warm days and cool, misty mornings, shrivels the fruit of its water content but preserves its acidity and natural sugars. It takes careful cultivation—and ideal conditions—to foster the growth of this fungus (botrytis cinerea, also called “the noble rot”), for if the weather is unremittingly damp, or rains come shortly before harvest, the botrytis spores run rampant, causing “gray rot” that spreads throughout the clusters, spoiling the fruit.
Even in favorable conditions, harvest workers typically have to go through the vineyard several times to hand-pick the choicest bunches; and often the usable grapes from a single vine may only produce enough juice for a single bottle.
You’ll find that we have been successful once again with a small lot of Riesling that we fostered through the late fall months of 2011 and were rewarded with an amazingly concentrated and intensely flavored after-dinner wine. Rich and sweet, there’s a very desirable honeyed and complex nature to both its aromas and flavors, reminiscent of dried apricot, tangerine and vanilla.
Have you ever come across what appear to be white flakes floating in your bottle of wine? The result is similar to a snow globe. Or perhaps the cork has crystalized? Did you assume that this somehow meant the wine was flawed or ruined?
Video courtesy of Dr. Vino
What you had most likely seen are tartaric crystals, commonly referred to as "wine diamonds."
Tartrate crystals are not uncommon for wines that are minimally filtered. Mass market wines will usually be treated to minimize crystal and sediment precipitation. Tartrate crystals are colorless and add no flavor to the wine (in fact Crème de Tartar is used in cooking as a thickening agent), but can as you noted, cause the wine to be gritty. Here are a couple of things that should mitigate (not eliminate) this issue. First and foremost, we frequently recommend that wines purchased from any winery and shipped via a package express company be laid down and left to rest for 4 to 5 weeks. That will allow any sediment (or tartrate crystals) to settle to one side of the bottle. Then when you are ready to enjoy your rested wine, carefully decant the wine into a decanter, leaving perhaps an inch of wine in the bottom of the bottle. The shape of the bottom of most Bordeaux and many Burgundy bottles have a punt at the bottom, designed in part to help capture the sediment.
Those two steps: letting the wine rest after its bottle shock from travelling, and decanting the wine should minimize the appearance of sediment and tartrate crystals.