Uncategorized Archives - V. Sattui Winery

Climate Change & The Future of Farming

Shifting Climate, Extreme Weather, Wildfires, Demand for Housing, Water Scarcity and Drought

One of my favorite quotes about farming comes from a fellow grape farmer and good friend, Stu Smith of Smith Madrone Vineyards on Spring Mountain, nearly 2,000 feet above the valley floor.

Stu says, “Being a farmer, you have to be an eternal optimist but at the same time you have to be an eternal pessimist. So, it is these two emotions that are driving you, and in conflict within you, that you have to live with.”

 

When visiting with guests at the winery, I find myself complaining about the du jour weather-related factors affecting the crop.  Perhaps complaining about weather is part of the DNA of a farmer, and there is good reason for this, as weather plays such an important part in the growing of grapes and resulting wine quantity and quality.  The frustration that plagues farmers is that weather is out of our control, and this is mostly true, but not completely.  More about this later.  For now, let’s discuss what is happening with climate in the Napa Valley and other extreme weather and economic conditions.

The planet is getting warmer.

The last 7 years have been the warmest since record keeping and 2020 tied for the hottest year on record.  In North America, June 2020 was the hottest month on record.  Andrew Isaacs, Professor of Technology Programs, Haas School of Business, Berkeley, and former Senior Scientist at NASA, says climate is travelling at 1 km per year in the Napa Valley.

What does this mean?

It means that each year, as you drive from south to north in the Napa Valley (Napa towards Calistoga) the weather is getting slightly warmer.  It is not a perfectly linear as you move north, as individual sites vary in temperature depending on orientation and site specifics, but in general it is a good description of what is happening with the climate.  This data is important, in that specific varieties do best when matched to the ideal growing conditions, which considers mean degree days of heat.   Could this mean that one day the Carneros region, best known for cooler conditions that favor Chardonnay and Pinot, could be better suited to warmer varieties like Cabernet and Zinfandel?
Could Rutherford and St. Helena become too warm for Cabernet?  Yes. 
High-quality wine grapes are naturally adaptable to heat stress if managed correctly, as grapes like to grow in a warm, Mediterranean climate, but at extreme temperatures, heat can cause grapes to shrivel and turn to raisins.

Wildfires and resulting smoke damage to grapes and resulting wines have affected every vineyard and vintner in the Napa Valley.  Virtually no Cabernet Sauvignon will be made from Napa Valley grapes in 2020 because of smoke damage from the wildfires.  Estimated economic damage from just the 2020 wildfire season to the Napa Valley wine industry alone is estimated to be more than $2 billion.  With a warming planet, it is easy to become pessimistic regarding our predicament, as a quick fix is not possible.

I believe the biggest threat to our livelihoods as wine growers is water scarcity.

 

For the first time in my 41-year career in the industry, we ran out of water at two of our ranches in the Napa Valley and had to truck re-claimed and municipal water, at an expense approaching $250,000, just to save two-thirds of our crop. Some farmers dropped all their fruit and used the little water they had just to keep the vines alive (vines carrying a crop require more water).  Grapes  are plants and need water, especially when they are young and root systems are not established. Drought in California is nothing new and we have made excellent wine in drought years, but limited water is not the same as being out of water.

The future of farming in Napa is further endangered by state-mandated housing requirements that are spilling beyond our cities and threatening the once sacred agricultural boundary lines. McMansions, huge 10,000 square foot+ homes with large outdoor entertainment spaces, are encroaching on valuable Ag lands – reducing future vineyard plantings. Additionally, it is becoming nearly impossible to plant new vineyards on lands zoned for agriculture, as the cost and time of conducting environmental studies and obtaining the necessary state and local permits required to  plant a vineyard favors only the very wealthy.

It is becoming evident that one of the most famous and desirable locations in the world to grow world-class wine is in jeopardy of its existence.

 

What can we do?

 

1. DROUGHT TOLERANCE

❉ Vines and cover crops that are planted between the vine rows compete for water during the growing season. During drought years, we disk between the rows during the growing year to eliminate the competition, giving all the available moisture in the soil to the vines.

❉ Redeveloping our trellis systems to provide more shade for the fruit during the hot summer days.

❉ Dry-farming vineyards, that is farmed without irrigation, as was done in the early days of the Napa Valley.  Once vines are established, it is possible that some vineyard sites have water sources  down deep, and eventually the roots find these sources, as deep as 50 feet for more. Our Dry Creek, School House Old-Vine Zinfandel is completely farmed without adding irrigated water. These  old vines found an underground spring of School House Creek!

❉ When we redevelop or plant a new vineyard, we search out rootstocks that are drought-resistant, and can survive with less water.

❉ We have begun working with a partner that has developed an irrigation model through extensive research in both California and France that pinpoints the best time to water that will accelerate vine growth early in spring and push fruit to an earlier ripening that would improve fruit quality and quicken harvest by nearly 30 days, while minimizing the risk of smoke taint from wildfires that typically happen in late Fall.

2.  REDUCING OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

Anytime we reduce tractor passes in a vineyard, we reduce CO2 released into our atmosphere. Electric tractors have already made an appearance in the Napa Valley, but more work needs to be done to improve performance.  Vineyards are naturally a carbon sink, in that carbon is reduced over time by farming as compared to development and housing.

Back in 2007, we installed solar on the roof of our wine warehouse and plans are underway to install more throughout the property.

3.  FIRE MITIGATION

Here, we are making great strides. Industry groups such as Napa Valley Grapegrowers are leading the charge to help farmers with best practices to mitigate fire losses.

❉ What hurt most in the 2017 and 2020 wildfires was that we were not prepared and relied too heavily on firefighters that were stretched to nearly the breaking point, as fires raged throughout the state.

❉ We are a strong agricultural community where grapes have been grown for more than 150 years. We have survived floods, earthquakes, Prohibition, and numerous other disasters.

❉ Climate change, wildfires, economic threats, and water scarcity are all worthy adversaries, and will challenge us, but will not beat us.

We have too much at stake

to give up on the bounty and beauty of this magnificent valley. As farmers and eternal optimists, we believe next year’s harvest will be the best ever!

 

 

 

 

Tom C. Davies
President


Did you know there is an island of plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean three times the size of France?

8,000,000 metric tons of discarded plastic finds its way into the ocean EVERY YEAR. That is the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.  Plastic production rose from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448,000,000 million tons in 2015. Production is expected to double to 896,000,000 tons by 2050. Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years.  Plastic has a very long life. It contains additives which makes it unable to break down for 400 years or more. Today, landfills are overflowing with waste plastic. China is now refusing to take our unwanted plastic to its country as it did several years ago.

Plastic “trash” is killing sea life and birds and poisoning our food and water supplies. “If plastic production isn’t curbed, plastic pollution will outweigh fish pound per pound by 2050,” declares World Economic Forum Report.  THIS IS AN ALARMING PROBLEM.

Action is required. It is in this spirit I have invested in a company called Resynergi of Santa Rosa, California, which will take most discarded plastic and turn it into energy or chemicals for making new virgin plastics without harming the environment.  This process is called CMAP, Continuous Microwave Assisted Pyrolysis. Discarded plastic is collected and heat of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit is applied – in an oxygen free environment – causing the solid material to form a gas. The gas is cooled into a liquid product (fuel) or made into new plastic.

Happy 80th Birthday, Dario!

Please join us in toasting to Dario Sattui today, on his 80th Birthday!

 

Enjoy this video as Dario reflects on the start of V. Sattui Winery from its humble beginnings, his life through the decades, and his insights on what has made both he and V. Sattui Winery such a huge success.

Your generations of fans and employees thank you, Dario, for your vision and your leadership.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

 

Awards Season at V. Sattui Winery

Awards season runs strong from January through February, and each year we anxiously await the results. Every year seems to take us by surprise in one way or another. These awards would not be possible without you, and we want you to know we are grateful for your constant support.

Every day we set out to craft wines and provide memorable experiences for our loyal members, annual visitors, and newest fans — These awards are for you.

Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition

We are extremely excited to announce that we have been voted Winery of the Year for the third consecutive year in the Annual Winemaker Challenge! To our hospitality staff, Brooks Painter, and our talented winemaking and viticulture teams, bravo!

Along with Winery of the Year, we are thrilled to score over 90 points and “Best Of Class” on a few of your favorite wines.  The 2016 Gilsson Vineyard Zinfandel ($42) earned 96 points. This young, yet bold Zinfandel displays berry fruit aromas and depth. Robert Whitley calls Gilsson Vineyard one of “V. Sattui’s zin treasures” (and he is not wrong).

The 2017 Dry Gewurztraminer ($29) from Anderson Valley scored 94 points. This wine is exotic and complex, to say the least. Flavors of orange zest, pineapple, and lychee hit the palate immediately and will likely have you booking your next vacation before hitting the second glass.

Finally, scoring 92 points, we have our 2016 Napa Valley Malbec ($44). This vintage was a gorgeous one, and this wine clearly shows it. It’s decadent with notes of blackberry, blueberry, and spice and pays homage to our history through the vineyard in which its grapes are grown — our 27-acre estate Carsi Vineyard in Yountville, named after the Italian village Vittorio Sattui emigrated from.

“Sattui Scores a Hat Trick – The Napa Valley winery V. Sattui is famous for its picnic grounds, perhaps the most inviting and comfortable winery picnic grounds in all of California. It gets attention, too, for its unique marketing plan. V. Sattui wines are sold only at the winery or through its website. Then there are the wines. V. Sattui has achieved an enviable record of excellence on the wine competition circuit with an array of wines. And V. Sattui is nothing if not consistent. For the third consecutive year it has been named domestic Winery of the Year at the Winemaker Challenge, staged January 19-20 in San Diego. Not only did V. Sattui amass 36 medals from 40 wines entered, it claimed four best-of-class Directors awards with its 2017 Collina d’Oro Chardonnay, 2016 Grenache, 2016 Malbec and 2016 Gilsson Vineyard Zinfandel. Among V. Sattui’s 36 medals, three were awarded platinum and 14 gold.”  – Robert Whitley

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

We’re thrilled to have six double gold medal-winning wines in the 2019 SF Chronicle Wine Competition! One we’d love to highlight from our latest vintage is the 2017 Rosato Di Sangiovese ($29). Red cherry, ripe strawberry, and juicy watermelon hit your lips and will have you daydreaming of warmer days that are just around the corner. Pair this refreshing, crisp wine with a variety of charcuterie and cheeses from our artisan deli for an afternoon on our property.

In addition to the six double gold, 13 wines received gold medals — and these wines have something to say! We’re particularly thrilled about the 2015 Napa Valley Merlot ($40) gold medal. This dark ruby-colored, smooth Merlot is fruity and balanced with a powerful, lingering finish to it and will surely leave you wanting more. Pair it with duck breast, pork tenderloin, or braised veil for a harmonious combination.

Of course, a fan favorite for guests and our staff is the 2016 Entanglement ($40). This is a beautifully made, unique Rhône style GSM blend. All three varietals (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre) are de-stemmed and fermented together in a steel tank in order to increase color stability of the blend and marry all the characteristics into one.

If you’re in the area, we will be showcasing our top award winners at the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting – this Saturday, February 16, 2019, from 1 pm to 4 pm. The event will be at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco.  Tickets available in advance for $70 here: https://fortmason.org/box-office/?eid=30475 or at the door for $90.  Come say hello!

Over the next few months, we hope you plan a visit to Napa Valley and celebrate with us at the 2019 Winery of the Year! Because for us, there would be nothing to celebrate without our fans. We raise a glass to our team, awards season, and all of you! Cheers!

V. Sattui Gives Back

Giving back to our community is one of our greatest pleasures at V. Sattui Winery. We believe leadership is a responsibility and this gives us great purpose. We give back not only to the Napa Valley community, but also to our team members who we consider family.

Caring for the Land

Napa Valley is known for its rural and agricultural land on which world-class grapes are grown. We work tirelessly alongside the Napa County Agricultural Reserve to preserve the land of the valley because without it, Napa would lose its identity. We have protected nearly 600 acres of land through conservation easements to ensure that the land is protected from commercial and residential development. We are taking a stand for our community because we couldn’t do what we do without it. Our long-term goal is to have all of our land, totaling about 1,000 acres, to be protected for generations to come. Here is how you can help preserve the beautiful Napa Valley with us.

Children Are the Future

In 2007, we teamed up with the Napa Valley Vintners’ Adopt-A-School program. We are fortunate enough, and take great pride in, sponsoring 8th graders at Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS) Middle School. With education being one of our core values, we focus on the impact we strive to have by teaching core subjects at the winery for a day, along with introducing them to the science of winemaking. We also introduce mathematical applications in business and language arts as it applies to consumers and employees. Our mission is to shape the future of business and what that looks like to the young students of our community. It’s a privilege and rewarding to see our efforts come full circle when we hire new team members who are alumni of the St. Helena Unified School District.

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Impactful Helping Hands

If you have ever visited our picnic grounds, you probably are familiar with the picnic pack. We owe a lot to the dedicated students of the Napa Valley Unified School District Post-Secondary Project, who take the time in crafting our “Green Picnic Pack.” Our biggest desire is to support these students with pre-employment skills when transitioning from high school to work, and we are honored to call them part of our V. Sattui family. Next time you purchase a picnic pack, know you are also supporting these students which helps all of us make one overarching positive difference in the world.

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Meals on Wheels

The most recent project we are proud to take part in is the purchase of a new food delivery truck. We collaborated with our sister winery, Castello di Amorosa, to transport daily meals to the senior citizens of our community who can no longer drive, but wish to still live alone. The volunteers of the Napa Valley Meals on Wheels program deliver over 400 meals daily throughout the valley. We are giving back to those who have given so much to us as long-time residents and local business supporters in our hometown.

Giving Back is Who We Are

There are many ways we aim to give back and be a leader in our community. We will continue to do so because this is the foundation on which our business was built. Dario Sattui couldn’t have said it better: “Giving, without expectation of anything in return other than the pure enjoyment and satisfaction of helping someone or a cause, is a great feeling. Together, we can make a difference.”

 

5 Questions to ask a Sommelier

Sommeliers are an incredible asset not only for the wine industry, but for you as a consumer. A sommelier, by definition, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service, as well as wine and food pairing. Don’t be intimated, though. You should take advantage of this wine expert! But first, let’s expand on what goes into being a sommelier.

“Old World” Somms vs “New World” Somms

The wine industry is constantly evolving and so are sommeliers. Traditionally, sommeliers were viewed as highly educated wine connoisseurs in black suits with their tastevin hanging around their neck primarily recommending wines for dining guests. But today, somms have become the celebrity ambassadors of hospitality for the wine industry, with a hand in everything from the wine menu, staff trainings to collaborating with the chefs on food pairings. You can also find certified sommeliers in many urban wine bars and winery tasting rooms – including two at V. Sattui! Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a novice wine drinker, a somm will always aim to provide you an unforgettable experience.

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What it Takes to Become A Sommelier

The immediate answer to becoming a certified somm is hard work and dedication to the program and wine itself. You have to live, eat and breath all things wine. For some background, there are 249 wine professionals in the world who have the highest title of Master Sommelier, 155 of those are in the U.S., and only 25 of them are women. They have the privilege of putting “M.S” after their name.

You can start this process by taking the four courses through The Court of Master Sommeliers, along with passing each exam. Another well-known organization is the Wine and Spirits Trust, or WSET, which is an academic program out of the United Kingdom.

5 Questions to Ask a Sommelier

Whether you’re at dinner, in a wine shop or visiting V. Sattui Winery, here are 5 great questions you may ask a sommelier.

  1. What is your favorite bottle of wine under $75?
  2. We are ordering the fish, which wine do you recommend to go with it?
  3. I typically enjoy Burgundy wines. Do you have any wines from that region or a wine comparable in style?
  4. What wines are you excited about on your list at the moment?
  5. I love fruity Zinfandels. Are there any other fruity wines you recommend?

Meet the V. Sattui Winery Sommeliers

V. Sattui is lucky to have two brilliant sommeliers on staff. They are here to answer your questions and help you discover your palette at V. Sattui Winery!

Meet Marija Jovanovic

Marija has been a part of the V. Sattui family for three years. Her passion lies in the library of wines we offer and in travel tourism. Marija holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 3 Advanced Certificate and is a Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Marija is a pro at relaying her passion for wine, food, and people to our guests every day. Experience her expertise at one of our upcoming Wine & Food Pairings.

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Meet Martin Slavin

Martin (otherwise known as Marty) has been with us for more than three years and is a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers. He holds a Certified Wine Professional certification from The Culinary Institute of America. Martin discovered his love for wine and food in New York City where he worked at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel followed by the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley Hills, CA. Marty left the food business to pursue his passion for wine, and we’re lucky enough to have access to his skill set in all things wine.

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5 Questions to Ask V. Sattui’s Sommeliers on your next Visit

  1. We bought a goat cheese and an aged cheddar from the Artisan Deli for our picnic. Which V. Sattui wine do you recommend to pair with them?
  2. I love your 2016 Dry Riesling. What other white wine would you recommend for my palette?
  3. I have been exploring red blends recently. Do you have any we could taste?
  4. We plan to come for a V. Sattui BBQ on Sunday. Which wines do you recommend to go with the food?
  5. Which Cabernet Sauvignon do you recommend that is under $60?

By asking these questions, you are getting to know your palette, the sommelier, and wines you may or may not like even wines you never thought you would enjoy! So next time you V. Sattui, be sure to ask our somms any questions you may have and expand your wine knowledge along the way. Cheers!

Sattui Sonoma: Alongside Napa on the map and beyond

V. Sattui’s Sonoma County Jewels.

 

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In today’s world, anyone who attempts to rank either Napa or Sonoma County as one better than the other is seriously misinformed. At V. Sattui, we have long been aware of the jewels that Sonoma County possess and we access tons of grapes for our top, premium wines from extraordinary vineyard sites in a number of Sonoma’s distinctive sub-appellations.

It is a cooler region than Napa because of its closer proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the topography diverts, channels and segments maritime penetration in such a way that exceptional – even somewhat magical – growing sites are created in the various nooks and crannies of the Sonoma hills and mountains.  Another dimension is the wide array of soils from the Rock Pile Appellation – which is what the name suggests – to the sandy alluvial soils along the Russian River to the calcium carbonate (read chalk) found in Chalk Hill Appellation.  These phenomena combine to create a wider impact from AVA to AVA (American Viticultural Area or BATF approved Appellation) and a wider diversity of varietals suited to those micro-regions.

Growers in Sonoma County have sensed these unique conditions by planting accordingly in these micro-climates. As a result, the wines they produce have become very terroir driven and display a developed a sense of area identity. Russian River Pinot Noir, for example has an identifiable profile as does Dry Creek Zinfandel and so on.  This, of course, leads me to our Sonoma County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as a couple of our Flagship Sonoma Zinfandels.

2015 Sonoma County Chardonnay:2015-Sonoma-Chardonnay2015-Sonoma-County-Pinot-Noir The Bella Vista Vineyard lies just a few hundred yards from the Napa Line in the northern part of the Mayacamas Mountain Range. These eastern slopes are noted growing areas for Chardonnay.  This vineyard is on the crown of the mountain where there is always a lot of air movement and abundant sunshine above the fog level. The soil is clay loam with tons of gravel.  Simply put, it’s everything a Chardonnay vine would like.

2015 Sonoma County Pinot Noir:  This wine is beyond the Carneros Appellation (Sonoma side), which borders San Pablo Bay. It is literally in the Bay on Skagg’s Island (along with the Coast Guard).  Talk about bathing this varietal with the cool air it loves.  And, here’s a twist:  This vineyard belongs to Reynaldo Robledos and his family. He is the first Mexican immigrant field worker to own and operate a winery with vineyards in the U.S. (350 acres).  Not enough can be said for his dedication, passion and just plain, hard work. We have a special sensitivity toward immigrants, as we salute the Sattui Family’s journey from Italy to California with a special wine called La Merica.

2013 Gilsson Zinfandel2015-Russian-River-Zinfandel2014 Russian River Zinfandel: A prime example of what this region can produce.  A finger of fog follows the river inland, permeating and expanding over its banks long before the larger area is encompassed.  This provides nice heat during the day which Zinfandel requires as well as an extraordinary diurnal temperature range of 35° to 40° (temps between day and night).  This locks acids and flavors into the fruit which are showcased well in this wine.

2013 Gilsson Vineyard Zinfandel: Gilsson Vineyard fruit grows in the eastern reaches of the Russian River Valley; in the “elbow” of a neighboring Sonoma appellation – Chalk Hill.  From a drone’s eye, one can actually see bands of chalk striating throughout the hill. The combination of the Valley’s cool climate, quick drainage from the chalk and nutrient bound clay, causes the vine to struggle to produce its fruit. The end result is a wine with amplified notes of fruit, framed in depth and structure.

Care to sample these Sattui Sonoma jewels?

Now through August 15th, enjoy $1 Ground Shipping on all mix-or-match cases of the four Sonoma County wines listed above!  Receive 15% OFF 1 case and 20% OFF 2 or more cases.

 

Dario’s Top Four V. Sattui Wines to Stash in Your Cellar

This is the time of year we pull out those special bottles from the cellar we’ve been saving for a significant occasion.  Wine is meant to be shared with those we love!  But before you know it, the wine cellar starts looking a bit empty, and it’s time to restock.

We asked Dario Sattui, owner of V. Sattui Winery, what wines he would choose to stock in his cellar (we limited him to just four!).  Here are his top choices.

2011 Paradiso2011 Paradiso

Paradiso is our Bordeaux-style red blend, and this vintage has been praised for tasting as good as a high-end Bordeaux, but with a much more palatable price.  Included in its long list of awards is “Wine of the Year” and “Best Red Wine”, earning 97 points and a platinum medal at the Critics Challenge.  This wine is great now, but within the next 7-10 years it will get even better.

2012 Mt. Veeder Cabernet

2012 was an exceptional year for growing grapes in the Napa Valley.  Near perfect weather conditions created a rare combination of high quality fruit2012 Mt Veeder Cabernet and an abundant crop.  In addition, this wine comes from an area with rugged mountain terrain and conditions that demand handcraftsmanship at the highest level.  Brooks Painter, our Director of Winemaking, has done an excellent job with this one.

Selected as the “Wine of the Year” and the “Best Cabernet Sauvignon” with a score of 98 points at the 2015 Monterey International Wine Competition, this is definitely a Napa Valley cab you want to add to your cellar.

This wine is fabulous right now and will bring even greater rewards 10 years down the road.

2013 Morisoli Cabernet

This wine comes from Gary & Melody Morisoli’s Vineyard located in the heart of the famed “Rutherford Bench”. Gary is a third-generation farmer on this property, a special part of Napa Valley where some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley is grown.  Our 2013 vintage has not yet been released to the public, but it’s already been awarded 97 points and named “Best of Class” and “Best Red Wine” in the 2016 Monterey Wine Competition.  Look for this wine’s release in early 2017 and make some room to save it for the next 10-15 years.

2012 Reserve Merlot

The elegance and concentration of our 2012 Merlot inspired us to bottle a small barrel selection separately as a “Reserve” wine. It has a very deep ruby-purple color in the glass, and sweet, red berry fruit aromas explode in the nose. This wine shows layers of aromas and a depth of flavor seen only in great vintages, and the 2012 was definitely a vintage to remember, with near perfect weather conditions for growing grapes in the Napa Valley.

Judges at the San Diego International Wine Competition awarded this wine a Platinum medal and 94 points.  We plan to release our 2012 Reserve Merlot at our Winemaker’s Dinner in May 2017, and we suggest enjoying this wine over the next 8-10 years.

 

Elaine + Ralph + VSW = True Love!

With December around the corner and the cold weather setting in, we draw comfort and warmth looking back on one of our favorite Summer 2016 weddings. Thanks to One Love Photography for capturing these beautiful shots!

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Toast a Great Country with a Great Wine- V. Sattui Madeira

Madeira and brownie sandwich- editedRevive an old custom this July 4th and toast our stars and stripes with Madeira!

While the wine is named after the Portuguese-held island some 500 miles off the coast of Morocco, celebrating Madeira in America is a long-held tradition. Few people today associate Madeira with Colonial America when, in fact, it was a household beverage during the latter half of the 18th Century. The East Coast is mostly hot and humid and much of it has high water tables which precluded any form of cellaring table wines. Madeira is virtually indestructible; so it became the wine of choice and maintained its popularity right up to the Great Experiment – Prohibition.

When the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th 1776, members of our first Congress consumed some 50 bottles of Madeira. What a celebration that must have been! Other great occasions calling for Madeira included George Washington’s marriage to Martha, Washington’s inauguration in 1789, and the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.1200px-Declaration_independence

Madeira came to America by way of European ships that would make regular stops at the island of Madeira to “freshen” with the island’s abundance of fresh water and take on its wine as ballast. Vintners of Madeira knew their wines would not survive an Atlantic journey without a little help so they added brandy as a preservative. What they didn’t know was the heat from traveling the equator would oxidize alcohols into aldehydes, which added a marvelous nutty character to the wine. After this discovery, intentional heating of the wine was done in estufas (heated vessels) and it continues today. Vintners also adopted the Spanish solera system in which young wines go into barrels and matriculate by constant blending to the bottling barrels over many decades and even centuries. The younger wines freshen the older vintages while the older wines impart their wisdom to the newer arrivals.

V. Sattui Madeira shares this historic tapestry, as Vittorio Sattui procured a number of barrels from the island and started his own solera at his winery in San Francisco in 1887. When you enjoy V. Sattui Madeira there may be a few drops of this vintage in your very glass which connects you with history. Vittorio had to hide his decades-old solera around North Beach in San Francisco during Prohibition, as surely the Feds would have destroyed it. So, this wine has its own bit of romantic history.

colonial- holding wineFrom fortification to heating, V. Sattui Madeira continues to be made in the time honored traditions of the island, rendering a complexity of caramel, dried plum, honey, maple, vanilla combined with hazelnuts, almonds and chocolate. All of this is re-enforced with smooth, silky, and balanced sweet sensations on the palate. This is the oldest Madeira produced in the U.S. and it’s as though the wine waited all of these years and decades to come to life on your palate.

Our Madeira is compatible with so many foods. Friendships range from pumpkin pie to tiramisu. By the way, we use the Madeira to make tiramisu in our deli. It’s wonderful with nuts like a hazelnut torte and any recipe that calls for dried fruit, vanilla, and caramel (Flan). We love it as a float with our house made Vanilla Bean Gelato. Let your dessert imagination be your pairing highway.

It’s also a good cooking wine. Try this: cook your meat of choice in a pan or grill pan and remove it. Pour in our Madeira along with an equal part of Sattui Family Red. Deglaze the pan and allow a few minutes to reduce the sauce. Plate your meat, add the sauce and enjoy. REALLY enjoy!

Discovering Stefano, Raffaella, and Il Cantinone

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Stefano and Raffaella in the kitchen of their restaurant, Il Cantinone, in Madesimo, Italy.

This week we are getting ready to host our first Pop-Up Dinner with Chef Stefano Masanti and his wife, Raffaella.  Our winery president, Tom Davies, met Stefano and Raffaella a few years ago while traveling with his wife and daughter through Italy.  It was actually Tom’s daughter, Michaela, who chose the small, charming hotel in the town of Madesimo as their destination.  Little did the Davies family know that stop would include one of the most delicious and memorable meals, and would lead to a long friendship between the two families, and now, their businesses too.  

Michaela shares her version of discovering Stefano, Raffaella, and their Il Cantinone Restaurant:

I first met Stefano Masanti and Raffaella Mazzina when I was traveling in Italy with my parents. We were staying in Sesto Calende, near where my family originated, and not sure of our next move. As a fourteen year old flipping through guidebooks, my criteria for a hotel exhausted itself at ‘has a pool’. However, something about the Sport Hotel Alpina, located in the Italian Alps, stuck; I shared this with my parents and we headed there the next day.

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One of Stefano’s creative dishes served at Il Cantinone.

When we arrived, we found the hotel also had a small restaurant called Il Cantinone.  Shortly after arriving we ordered food. Lots of food. The best food I have ever had. Stefano prepared his tasting menu for us, which essentially entails course after course of creativity and the juxtaposition of wonderful flavor profiles. Raffaella, an exceptional Sommelier, carefully selected and poured each wine. While my mother and I had to bow out after a handful of courses, my father continued to taste well into the double-digits. Even as a young teenager, I considered that meal one of the most impressive experiences I have ever been part of.

Harvest Ball. I knew Stefano and Raffaella were special when they simply said “yes”. While I was undoubtedly excited for the beginning of the relationship between Stefano and Raffaella and V. Sattui, I had no idea what that would ultimately mean to me.

Each year from April to November, Stefano and Raffaella join us as our in-house special events chef and catering manager, respectively. Following my graduation from college last May, I began working alongside Stefano and Raffaella at V. Sattui. I always had a deep respect for their relationship and partnership with the Winery and my family; however, I did not expect that a year later Stefano and Raffaella would be among my dearest friends.

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Stefano at work at V. Sattui’s Harvest Ball in September, 2014.

Stefano and Raffaella share both their goodness and talent with everyone and to be honest, it is hard to say which outshines the other. Among the most humble and generous people I know, Stefano and Raffaella also boast monumental accomplishments in the world of food and hospitality.

In addition to Stefano receiving a Michelin star, their restaurant, Il Cantinone, was named the best Italian restaurant that promotes local food and farmers by Gambero Rosso, a well-respected food and wine publication. Furthermore, Il Cantinone was selected as one of the best 60 restaurants in Italy and top 10 in Lombardia by L’Espresso Guide. Stefano is also Vice President of “CHIC, Charming Italian Chef”, one of the most important chefs’ associations of this time. Finally, Stefano was awarded Italian Chef of the Year for the promotion of Italian culture at the 2014 Merano Wine Festival.

I am so happy they have become family to both me and to the Winery I was raised in, and that we now have the opportunity to share their magic and the exceptionality of their restaurant with you at the Il Cantinone Pop-Up Dinner! Trust me, you do not want to miss this one.

Making Centerpieces the Center of Attention at your Destination Wedding!

Here at V. Sattui, we love it when brides get creative with their centerpieces. The wedding meal is such an important part of the celebration, and the table decorations can really make a huge statement! These days, brides are steering clear of bland and boring flower vase designs and old school decorations like mirrors and floating candles, and instead coming up with much more unique ideas that show more of their personality. Here are some of our favorites that we’ve seen!

Forget the vase, these candelabra-based flower arrangements are way trendier! The height really elevates –pun intended—the elegance of the table, and we love having flowers and leaves trickle down from above.

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Speaking of adding height to the tables, check out these beautiful branch decorations! The hanging flowers and crystals helped make this look extra magical.

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We love how these Disney-themed and rustic-themed weddings went for a non-traditional approach by opting for centerpieces that weren’t just flowers! The silhouettes and the barrels were such creative touches.

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Auction Napa Valley- Participate With Us!

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A peek at Auction Napa Valley 2015 at Hall Winery

It’s great to be in Napa Valley any time of year, but this week is a bit more colorful, glamorous, and generous. Auction Napa Valley begins Thursday, June 2nd, and runs through Sunday, June 5th. This is one of the most celebrated charity wine events, and the benefits from it linger much longer than just four days.

Auction Napa Valley is hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) association, and with the generosity of bidders, vintners, event partners and volunteers, we are all creating a healthier community for children, families and adults. The NVV’s contributions to community health and children’s education nonprofits allow them to serve more than 100,000 clients of all ages annually.

At V. Sattui, we are proud to partner with the NVV and support these efforts to keep Napa County one of the best communities to live, work, and visit. We have created an E-Auction Lot, which allows both folks attending Auction Napa Valley, and those who cannot physically be here to participate in the event too. The E-Auction is open now and closes on Sunday, June 5th. Our lot is an Imperial sized bottle of 2012 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon. This is equal to eight regular sized (750 ml) bottles of one of our best single vineyard Napa Valley Cabernets. It has won several awards and earned numerous points, including being named “Wine of the Year” and “Best Cabernet” by the 2016 Monterey International Wine Competition.

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We hope you’ll make a bid on this E-Auction lot, and we hope you win!

 

 

Viva Moscato!

(14) MoscatoWARNING: Consumption of this product may cause uncontrollable humming, skipping and dancing.

Happy Moscato Day! Millions of folks on the northern side of the Mediterranean Sea from Portugal and Spain to Italy and Greece can’t be wrong as it is widely grown and enjoyed. For many, a sip of Moscato is like a sip of sunshine. You just have to smile.

One place on which the wine world’s spotlight shines is Asti in Northern Italy’s Piemonte Region. Here, Asti Spumante is produced, which is moscato refermented into a sparkling wine with the same effervescent pressure as a Champagne – La Spuma is “the foam” in Italian. Numerous places throughout Italy produce a sparkling wine with less effervescence (about the same as Prosecco) called Moscato Frizzante – La frizza means “the gas” in Italian.

V. Sattui Moscato is fashioned in a very Italian style and the wine is “carbonated” naturally by a second fermentation in a sealed stainless steel tank which does not allow the natural bubbles to escape; just like Spumante. Fermenting in a bottle creates a yeasty wine because of the wine’s intimate contact with yeast. Fermenting in a much larger vessel reduces yeast contact to the point where the wine’s delicate fruitiness remains essentially intact.proscuitto-wrapped-figs

Our Moscato Frizzante exudes the personality of the Muscat grape with peach, orange blossoms and melon. La Frizza creates a lovely edge in the wine which prevents the subtle sweetness from being cloying. A marvelous dessert wine on a hot summer night.

Please DO attempt this at home: cut a little pocket in a Mission fig and stuff it with a semi soft goat cheese. Wrap with prosciutto and affix it to the fig with a water soaked toothpick. Grill until the cheese runs a bit and the prosciutto becomes crisp. Place on a platter, serve V. Sattui Moscato and stand back so that you can watch your guests’ knees buckle.

V. Satttui Winery: A Slice of Italy in Napa – the Ultimate Wedding Destination!

No one can deny that Italians are passionate people, especially about art, family, food, wine and romance! Here at V. Sattui, we’re very proud of our Italian roots and the special touch they add to our weddings. That’s amore!

What could be more romantic than getting married in an Italian villa? Our stone buildings are charmingly rustic, and the rounded archways provide natural alters in our ceremony spaces.

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Italians are known for their strong family bonds, and our brides and grooms feel the same way about their families too. With multiple options for hosting your ceremony, V. Sattui can comfortably accommodate up to 250 guests, so your whole family can celebrate with you!

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When it comes to delicious food and wine, Italians definitely take the gold. Here at V. Sattui, we’re very lucky to have Michelin-star chef Stefano Masanti on hand to create incredible food that complements our fine wines. What brings people together better than a good meal and wine?

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Celebrating 40 years of Doing Business in the Napa Valley!

Today we celebrate the day V. Sattui winery opened its doors in Napa Valley, 40 years ago!

A Dream Come True

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Vittorio Sattui, founder of V. Sattui Winery and Dario Sattui’s Great Grandfather

Dario Sattui’s Great Grandfather originally started V. Sattui Winery in San Francisco in 1885.  The winery was forced to close in 1920 when Prohibition became law.  But on March 4, 1976, Dario’s dream of resurrecting the family winery in Napa Valley became a reality.  He remembers opening day well.

“I was really nervous,” says Dario.  “My wife at the time thought opening a winery was a crazy idea.  I was optimistic.  I knew I was willing to work hard, and I had dreamed of reopening my great grandfather’s winery for years.  We made $141 in 9 hours on that first day.  We collected it in a wooden box since we didn’t even have a cash register.  I started to think maybe my wife was right.”

But Dario persisted.  At the end of the first year he’d sold 1800 cases and made a small profit.  But it came at a cost.  Dario and his wife lived very frugally.  At one point he needed to store barrels of wine, and the only extra space he had was the living room of the tiny house behind the winery.  The weight of the barrels was so heavy, the floor started to sink, and eventually the foundation had to be fixed!

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Tom Davies- President of V. Sattui Winery

“You name it, we didn’t have it,” says Tom Davies, who was hired in 1980 and one of the first 10 employees at the winery.  Today, he is the President and a co-owner of V. Sattui.  “When we used the phone, we called people collect most of the time.  We used pitch forks to move our grapes into the hopper during harvest.  We didn’t have equipment for that.”

The small winery crew even corked and labeled their bottles of wine by hand.

Innovation Leads to Success

Although budgets were tight, Tom says it was a thrilling time to be at V. Sattui and in the wine industry.

“I wanted to be in the wine business, and it was exciting!  Any given day we were doing something different, and we were learning as we were doing it.  There was a lot of innovation and we were pioneers.  We had to be.”

That innovation led to V. Sattui being one of the very first wineries to start a wine club and events for members like our annual Harvest Ball.  V. Sattui was the first in Napa Valley to offer wine futures, host weddings, and create our world-famous Italian deli, expansive cheese case, and gorgeous picnic grounds.

Rick Rosenbrand, Dario Sattui
V. Sattui’s first winemaker, Rick Rosenbrand tastes a barrel sample with Dario Sattui

Success followed.  In 1983 V. Sattui won its first medal- a bronze for a Chardonnay.

“I was the winemaker, and I wasn’t a very good one,” says Dario.  “I couldn’t afford a winemaker, so I learned from my mistakes, and got help from people along the way.  I was elated when we won a bronze medal!”

The medals kept coming, and in 1990 Dario promoted Rick Rosenbrand, to winemaker, whose father was also a winemaker at Beaulieu Vineyard.  Eventually Brooks Painter was hired as winemaker and continues his reign today, making 60 different wines.  Just recently V. Sattui’s 2014 Los Carneros Chardonnay received a 92-point score from the Wine Spectator and won the Sweepstakes for White Wines at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  The SF Chronicle Competition also awarded us two “Best of Class” categories, 4 Double Gold medals, and 11 Gold medals.   We believe our winemaking skills have definitely matured with us!

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Brooks Painter, V. Sattui’s current winemaker

Future

Dario and Tom plan for V. Sattui to continue making the best wines we can, and will continue to provide a great experience when you come to visit us.  The V. Sattui staff loves to share things we love: good wine, hand-crafted foods, and gathering with friends.  We plan to keep doing that for at least the next 40 years!

Celebrate Big!

‘Tis the season to celebrate, and show friends and family how much we care about them.  We encourage you to THINK BIG!

Large format bottles are the unsung heroes of the wine industry. Not only do they make an impression at the table, they age better than their standard counterparts, making for a wise and generous investment.

Many people save the larger bottles for very special occasions such as Christmas Dinner when all of the family is gathered around the table, or New Year’s Eve to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter.  If you’ve been to V. Sattui Winery’s Harvest Ball, you know we choose that night as a great occasion to open our large format bottles of older vintages and share with our party guests.

We find the presence of a large format bottle can make any occasion a special, and successful, one – a gathering of friends, the first time meeting the parents, a weekend out-of-town.  Our Vice President of Operations, John Winkelhaus, recently hosted a dinner party for 12 people where he opened a magnum of 2007 V. Sattui Morisoli Cabernet, and a magnum of our 2012 Crow Ridge Zinfandel.

“The wines tasted beautifully, since they age so well in the larger bottles,” says John.  “It was really a memorable evening of good friends and great wine served with a prime rib dinner, and later, a great cheese course.  Opening the large format bottles made our guests feel special and added a detail that made the night extra special.”

Our large format bottles also make great gifts, especially for BIG occasions.  One of V. Sattui’s longtime wine tenders, Marty Slavin, says he purchased a magnum to commemorate his son’s birth.  He also gives them to salute marquee occasions like weddings and retirements.

“I like to buy a large bottle with the vintage year of the special occasion for a gift,” says Marty.  “It’s a nice way to memorialize the moment, and be able to remember the event by enjoying a really great wine later.”

And because they age so well, you have plenty of time to decide which occasion is the right one. Simply make sure they are stored on their side, so the cork stays wet, at cellar temperature (55°F).  Our extensive portfolio of large format wines goes back decades. Our Magnum-sized offerings are the most diverse, though we do feature Double Magnums, Imperials and Nebuchadnezzars.

One magnum contains 1.5L of wine, which is the equivalent of two standard wine bottles. When is the last time you were in excellent company, enjoying one of those deep belly laughs, and loving the wine being shared, and a second or third bottle of wine needed to be opened? Those nights are perfect for large formats.

Be sure to keep an eye out for our new limited membership Magnum Club- which will launch in 2016!

New Year’s Eve Party in a Box!

New Year’s Eve. It’s happening. And all you need to know is bubbles, bubbles, bubbles… and brandy??

We’ve put together a fool-proof celebration box to cover your New Year’s Eve celebration:

2011 Prestige Cuvée

This sparkling wine is like getting the fancy French stuff with a cool California twist. We use the traditional French methode champenoise and apply it to our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes grown right here in Napa Valley. This is a labor of love, truly, where the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle to create those lovely bubbles, bubbles, bubbles. Then, we add a little sugar (known as dosage) to bring the sweetness up to a level known as brut (1.3% residual sugar [RS]). Et voilà! Pop the cork and get ready for green apple, some toasted notes and a pleasant yeastiness.

2012 Cuvée Rouge

Made in the same methode champenoise as our Prestige Cuvée, we start off with Valdigué grapes (and a little Grenache). Valdigué is the same grape we use for our well-known and well-loved Gamay Rouge, so you know this sparkling wine will have those bright and juicy cherry and strawberry flavors. When it is time for the dosage, we add a little more sugar to this one (2.6% RS).

It’s a beautiful pink color, and perfect for those sparkling rose fans (you know who you are!).

2014 Moscato “Frizzante”

Oh, Moscato. With it’s ticklishly tiny bubbles, this one is definitely a fan favorite. We start out with its namesake – Muscat grapes. It is made a little differently than the first two, using what is known as the charmat method. This means the secondary fermentation happens right in the tank, so we can keep the wine nice and light and fruity. And it shows – orange blossom, peach, apricot and lychee burst forth from this fun wine. We keep the alcohol low, and the sugars a little higher (8.1% RS), for an effervescent experience.

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So here’s where the brandy comes in. We take that sweet and delicate Muscat grape juice (not wine, just juice) and throw in some brandy, just to step it up a bit. The result is this ambrosial liquid. It tastes like honey, toasted hazelnuts, and vanilla. Oh heaven! And it so versatile – serve warm, serve chilled; in glass or on ice cream, or you can even add it to a glass of Moscato for a crazy delicious drink! And once it’s opened, it will last for six months to a year. So if you decide to hide it away halfway through the party to save it for yourself for later… don’t worry, we won’t tell – we completely understand!

Order your New Year’s Eve wines here!

New Year’s Eve – handled! Now all you have to worry about is your outfit…

Cheers!

Help a Child- Receive a Free Tasting

It’s that time of year when we all want to “do good”.  Maybe it’s the crazy things happening in our world, maybe it’s the colder weather that forces us to be inside with each other longer, or maybe it’s because we were trained to “be good” for Santa at a very young age.

At V. Sattui Winery, we are giving you, (and us!), a very easy way to “do good”.  Bring a children’s book, help a local child, and receive a free tasting. The books will be donated to Napa County Child Start Inc.’s Raising a Reader Program, which promotes lifelong learning for children.  We’re off to a good start, having asked our employees to donate books at our recent holiday party. We’d love to get your help in collecting hundreds more to give to local kids in our community.

Your new, unwrapped children’s book (ages 0-9 years) will eventually be sent home with a child to share with their parents and families.  While Raising a Reader is targeted to preschool children, the benefits are family‐wide as reading supports parent-child interaction, enhances a child’s ability to listen, and encourages a family routine of having “special time” together.

Just hearing a loving adult read, helps children expand their vocabulary, knowledge and imagination.  It also makes them aware of the spoken and written language.  It helps children listen better (wouldn’t we all love that?).

We will collect the children’s books in our Main Tasting Room through the month of December.  We are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except December 24th when the winery closes at 3 p.m., and we are closed for business on Christmas Day.

Guests who donate a book will receive a complimentary tasting at the winery.  

Let’s give the gift of reading!  We hope to see you soon!