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ROTA’s RAMBLINGS ON WINE: Che Syrah and Petite Sirah

A terrible blight (read mold) called Powdery Odium ravaged much of France in the mid 1800’s. By the time this disease was eradicated, the vines were weakened and set up for the next scourge which was even worse. It was a root louse called Phylloxera Vastatrix which wiped out almost all of the vineyards in Europe and greatly affected the New World. Hold this thought because this will constitute a future Ramblings.

Syrah is particularly prone to mold because the grape clusters are rather tight. By the time mold is manifest, it’s too late because it grew from the inside out. This prompted specialists to find a way to better ventilate the clusters by hybridizing.


Bear in mind that genetic engineering didn’t exist back then and hybridizing was a long trial-by-trial, exhausting task. Pollen had to be collected from the stamen of the trial plant with a small painter’s brush and applied to the sticky surface of the pistil of the host plant which is located just above that blossom’s ovary. When the cluster has been pollinated, a bag is placed over it to prevent any foreign pollen from getting involved. Then the fruit development and ripening pattern have to be analyzed and ultimately, a wine had to be made, analyzed and, of course, tasted. Try going through a hundred or so trials, keeping copious notes and records. It gives me the notion that nurserymen of that period didn’t live long lives.

It was Dr. Francois Duriff who successfully hybridized Syrah with a local (Rhone Valley) darling called the Peloursin. The new varietal was named Duriff after the good doctor and it goes by that name in Australia to this day. This combination produced smaller berries which allowed for better control of various molds. Smaller berries also accelerated the juice-to-skin ratio which extracted much more color and flavor from the skins, creating dense, intense, full bodied, huge (read brooding) wines. Early on, the wines were gritty, tannic monsters (so monstrous that bottles have been known to grow fur). Vintners soon learned to pick later rather than earlier and to press the skins gently, sending aggressive pressings to the distiller.

Soon, balanced, robust, rich, age-worthy wines were on shelves throughout France. Inevitably, this grape made it to Californian shores (circa 1915) and the “old timers” (like John Parducci) would plant Petite Sirah with other varietals to make Field Blends much like the Grenache vineyards in the South of France. A field blend is picking everything from that vineyard, keeping and fermenting it together and the field becomes the wine. Ultimately, Petite Sirah thrived in the dry, Mediterranean climate of California which is similar to that of Southern France.

The Name Game:
American marketers were searching for a name that would give the wine “shelf appeal” in the self service supermarket environment. They thought Duriff could not be associated with anything, much less wine. They grappled with Peloursin and thought not a chance. Finally, one bright, young “exec” thought smaller berries; why not Petite Sirah? As a final touch in relating to but separating from Syrah, they altered the spelling.

Here is an analogy that will help you. Would you see a movie starring Marion Morrison? What if that person was John Wayne??!! How about Bernie Schwartz? I’ll bet you would pay quickly to see that person as Tony Curtiss. It’s all about marketable, friendly names that can be easily associated with and related to.

The British Empire which ruled the seas and filled them with trade vessels was masterful in naming wines with difficult market appeal. Here are a few examples.

Bordeaux: This region had hundreds of Chateaus with French names – one harder to pronounce than the next, if you were not French. They simply dubbed the wines as a category called Claret (pronounced CLA- ret). By the way, they were instrumental in creating the famous Classified Growths of Bordeaux Vineyards in 1855.

Then, there is Germany with hundreds of vineyards equally hard to pronounce, if you are not German. The Brits called these wines along the Rhein and Mosel Rivers Hock Wines named after the town of Hochheim where that signature, slender Hock bottle was designed – green for Mosel and brown for Rhein (Rhine). To demonstrate confusion there are almost 200 villages along these rivers that end in heim.

Now the tongue twister for champions which again was rescued by British marketers: It was a region in the very dry part of Andalusia in southern Spain visited by the Greeks and called Xeres or Dry Land (witness Xerox or dry process). Later, it was invaded by the Moors and they called it Sherrisch. Finally, with the help of a Crusade, the locals reclaimed the land and called it Jerez de la Frontera (pronounced hay-RETH day lah fron-TER-ah). Who could possibly relate to that? So the Brits simply called the wines of the region Sherry and sub-classified the wines as Dry Sherry, Fino, Cream Sherry, etc. “Shall we ave a spoh a sheddeh”?

And, let’s never forget that the British classified and grouped all of those non-descript, average Country Wines or table wines as PLONK, which means the carafe was simply plonked on the table without comment, much less fanfare.

And, here’s a name that involved a Brit in the New World which will jog your memory every time you are in a supermarket produce section. Sir William Thompson came to California bringing with him two mating pairs of starlings for which we have never forgiven him. He also brought along some grapes that grew in England’s “Banana Belt” around Bath called Lady de Coverly which he planted along the San Joaquin River in California’s Central Valley. A devastating flood occurred one year, as in those days the San Joaquin was a significant river. (Today, it’s merely a trickle.) Sir William was prompted to say: “Well that ends my grapegrowing.

A couple of years later, he returned to the flood scene and noticed wild grapes growing in profusion. He, naturally, tasted a berry and it was delicious WITH NO SEEDS….!!! It was a mutation initiated by the flood waters and it was called Thompson Seedless and Sir William became known as Seedless Thompson, albeit he sired 12 kids.

Back to Petite Sirah:

Here are the aroma/flavor profiles of this Rhone style varietal.

Fruit/Vegetable: Beetroot *** Blackberry *** Black Currant *** Black Raspberry
Wood: Chocolate *** Clove *** Mocha *** Toffee *** Vanilla
Other: Black Licorice *** Black Pepper


Meat: Here is a wine created for carnivores. From slow-cooked briskets, to smoked sausage to rich braises and stews. Charcoal grilled steaks or burgers. Boldly flavored meats are especially good like Mongolian barbecue, Mexican Mole or Beef Chili and Asado. Red meats with a sweet edge like Teriyaki or a barbecue sauce (in Pulled Pork) show especially well. And, don’t forget Mom’s Meatloaf.

Cheese: Surprisingly, Petite Sirah pairs with a wide range of cheeses and you can even bend the rule a bit by serving a mild blue veined cheese without causing a tannic collision with the salty cheese. The larger-than-life presentation of Petite Sirah and the perceived sweetness in its juicy fruitiness allows this marriage. So, without trepidation, serve a Camembert, Teleggio, Aged Cheddar, Liverot, Morbier or Chaumes.

Game: The assertiveness of game meats matches well with the boldness of Petite Sirah – perfect with venison, elk, boar and even moose.

Spice: Slightly spicy Asian dishes such as Garlic Beef or Tandoori Lamb Kabobs and most Southwestern fare.

Humble Foods: Burgers, hot dogs (Mustard based dishes), smoked meats, most sandwiches and just about any red meat with Ketchup on it.

Chocolate: A good wine to pair with 80% Cocoa Chocolate, if so inclined.


By itself: Like most powerhouse red wines, Petite Sirah begs to have a munchable companion. It’s no fun to drink this wine by itself or alone, for that matter.

With Fiery Hot Food: Remember alcohol only exacerbates capsaicin and/or the heat in spice. The combination could be memorable, but not in a good way.

With Delicate Food: The robust nature of this wine will simply overrun any shy flavors.

With Fish: The tannins inherent in this wine will give fish a metallic flavor.

When Old: When Petite Sirah is young it is flavor-packed and explosive. When aged, its prowess diminishes and it should be paired as one would with an older Syrah or Zinfandel.

(Once again, I owe a debt of gratitude to my favorite Sommelier Evan Goldstein and his second book Daring Pairing)

V. Sattui Petite Sirah:

This wine harkens from the fabled Rutherford Appellation as well as our certified organic Vittorio’s Vineyard adjacent to the winery.  Dark and deeply colored, it sports highly extracted flavors of blackberries and wild plums with underlying, enticing, barrel notes of vanilla, pepper and smoke.  Full bodied and muscular, the wine has abundant tannins but not those that grip your tonsils; so the wine is approachable now with a bottle promise of at least 10 years.  So lay it down with your gorgeous Cabernets with confidence.

A Thought to Embrace  

Looking forward, American marketers will always have their plates filled with foreign grape/wine names to Americanize and familiarize for a long time ahead. There are thousands of grapes and local, darling wines that are totally unknown a scant 100 miles from their source(s) and their magic is just waiting to be discovered. Consider a book just published listing Italy’s 624 local and indigenous grape varieties heretofore unknown, and you’ll get an idea of what excitement lies ahead for consumers and marketers alike. Maybe, God will grant me another 25 years of life to witness and record these new dimensions added to our wondrous world of wines. Of course, much depends on regularly (and moderately) taking my  medicines of the vine and you know I’ll be sharing my findings with you.

“A good name is like a precious ointment; it filleth all around about and will not easily away; for the aromas of ointments are more durable than flowers”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626


The headwaters for the Rhone River rise out of the snowpack in the Swiss Alps flowing west and south passing some of the highest vineyards in the world.  In fact, THE highest vineyard at 3600 feet is the Visperterminen Vineyard lying literally in the shadows of the Matterhorn. (Good trivia material.) 

The river flows through Lake Geneva and enters France in the Beaujolais Region near Lyon where it heads south to the Mediterranean Sea. With the Alps to the east and the Massif Central to the west, it neatly parts Provence from Languedoc and the Rhone Appellation begins at Vienne. 

The Rhone varietal – Syrah – has its origins in a grape growing region in the state of Fars in Persia midway between the Persian Gulf and the ruins of Persepolis about 500 miles from Tehran.  The Farsi capital and principal winegrowing region is Shiraz. This explains why the Aussies refer to this identical grape and its wine with this name. 

How it traveled some 3000 miles to France remains somewhat of a mystery.  One legend holds that a hermit monk brought it back from one of the Crusades and planted it not far from his residential cave along the Rhone River. Hence, the principal appellation of Northern Rhone memoralizes this monk with the name l’Hermitage and its surrounding area Croze Hermitage.

A more plausible theory lies with the Greeks from the sect of Phocaea on the Island of Lesbos who were known for their distant sea journeys, mapping such coast lines as Spain, the Adriatic and France.  They founded the French port city of Marseilles in 600 A.D. and most likely they brought the Shirazi grape with them.  Today, we should all be rather pleased that it emerged from Iran and, importantly, made it all way to the New World (Read California).

Meanwhile, back to the Rhone Valley which has two distinct climates.  The Northern Rhone region extends from Vienne to Montelimar a distance of approximately 70 miles.  Here, the climate is more Continental with adequate rainfall and hot summers that give way to an early fall and cold winters.  Two principal grapes are grown here along with peach trees and nuts – Viognier for white wine and Syrah for red.  As one could imagine,  the twists and turns of the river offer a variety of exposures to sun along with the river’s deposits and erosions of soils; Syrah ranges from powerful to graceful with a myriad of fruits and flavors that emanate from the terroir.  (Aromas and flavors unique to a patch of land. Called Lieux-dit – lee-yuh DEE – in this part of France)


The Southern portion of the Rhone Valley – from Montelimar south of Avignon to Cotes du Luberon some 55 miles further south – has a more Mediterranean  climate.  The weather is warmer and drier with warmer fall temperatures which guarantee consistent ripeness and lusciousness with each vintage.  Along with the olive trees and Lavender as far as the eye can see, there are some 20 grape varieties grown with appellate legality.  The signature grape in this region is the Grenache (originally from Spain where it is called Garnacha) along with Syrah and Mouvedre.  Some of the other grapes remain completely foreign even to oenophiles such as Picpoul Noir, Cinsault, Connoise and so on.

In this region, Syrah is never alone as it is ALWAYS a blend of at least two grapes and as many as 13.

Two things are common throughout the Rhone Valley.  Ferocious winds called the Mistral which blow with enough force to strip vines of leaves, shoots and even fruit.  This is why ubiquitous rows of cypress trees act as wind blocks and vines are head trained close to the ground to minimize the wind effects.  Stones, called  Gallets from the size of a fist to boulders proliferate vineyards.  The one positive effect of these two elements is the lack of mildew or any problematical rot.

This region is the oldest grape growing region in France  Some 2000 years ago, the Romans cultivated the vine here and sent wines to Rome that were superior to those grown around Cesar’s local environs.  As Rome converted to Christianity, the Faith and clergy expanded to the Roman outposts and expanded their own beacons of the faith.  All of this leads me to the most famous chateau in the Rhone Valley………………

Chateauneuf du Pape:  In 1309, Pope Clement V was installed as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.  He was born in Bordeaux which meant that he was no stranger to wine and that he was quite content to remain in and pontificate from France rather than go to Rome.  In fact, he had vineyards in Bordeaux which is known today as Chateau Pape Clemente in the region of Graves. This “arrangement” was made because The King of France and the Vatican were engaged in a nasty dispute with severely strained relations.  The Pope had another small vineyard around Avignon and he decided to settle there.

It was his successor, Pope John XXII who decided to get out of the oppressive heat of Avignon and move to the more comfortable countryside.  He knew about a castle ruins nearby and after managing the Vatican treasury and setting it in order, he amassed funds to build his NEW CASTLE; since called Chateaueuf du Pape.  The massive and ornate structure was completed in 1338 and the good Pope died just a year after he moved into this summer residence.  In 1944, the Germans returned the structure to ruins by blowing it up as they retreated from the advancing Allies.

V. Sattui Syrah is like a Northern Rhone version and the V. Sattui Entanglement is very much like a Chateauneuf du Pape, as we will see later. Meanwhile, here is an overview of Syrah.

Syrah: While history holds many mysteries and shadows which give rise to legends, here is a more modern, unromantic version which I purposely omitted from all of the charm above.  A somewhat renowned UC Davis grape geneticist – Carol Merideth –  claims that Syrah was the result of a French hybrid of two uninspiring grapes – Mondeuse Blanche (white) x Durerza (red).  Be my guest.  Go ahead and embrace any one of these historical dimensions as it’s all right with me.  More importantly, let’s embrace what we have in our glass…!!!

No longer the domain of the Wine Cognoscenti, Syrah is becoming increasingly popular because of its food friendly demeanor and its ability to pair with a wide array of popular dishes. Like Zinfandel, Syrah and the vanillan characteristics of new oak are not well suited.  In fact, many producers – especially those in France – prefer to use only seasoned (older) oak to allow the innate personality of Syrah to dictate the character of the wine.  Finally, Californian Syrah lies scrumptiously between Australian and Cote du Rhone versions.   Nice place to be.

Here is a universal flavor profile for Syrah.

Fruit & Vegetable:  Boysenberry  **  Blackberry  **  Black Current (Casis)
Black Raspberry  **  Black Plum  **  Prune  **  Fennel  **  Black Olive
Bell Pepper **  Citrus (Orange)  **  Mulberry  **  Stewed Fruit  **  Fruitcake
Floral:  Violets  **  Tea Leaf  **  Mint  **  Eucalyptus  **  Menthol
Earth:  Graphite  **  Mushroom  ** Charcoal  **  Truffle
Wood (oak):  Cinnamon  **  Clove  **  Chocolate  **  Cocoa  **  Coffee
Toast  **  Vanilla  **  Coconut  **  Smoke or Char
Other:  Peppercorn (White & Black)  **  Sausage (Roasted Meat)  **  Soy
Bacon  **  Leather  **  Animal

The implicit black pepper in syrah invites the incorporation of spices and peppers into marinades, glazes, sauces, side dishes or condiments.  Dishes with a coarse texture work well with Syrah.  Polenta, Black Beans, even a sauce made with whole grain mustard provide a nice scrape against this ample wine.  Try French Cassoulet, Greek Moussaka and even good old American Chili (Rich but not too spicy) as partners.  Bouillabaise or Ciappino and other big stews show off well.  Barbecue Sauce from any region – Texas, The Carolinas, or St Louis as well as meat off the grill are great.

Keep in mind that Syrah is rich in alcohol and it will neutralize any dish with subtle nuances.  Also, as Syrah ages, it becomes like an old Bordeaux and it should be treated and paired as such.     


  • Grilled Foods like a char-grilled steak or peppercorn-crusted tuna. 
  • Assorted vegetables like eggplant, zucchini or tomatoes. 
  • Thick winter stews or a one dish does it all
  • Pungent and wild flavors like squab or wild boar
  • Herbs – no matter – how they are added or infused match perfectly
  • Barbecue sauce and moderate spice



  • Most fish.  Flavors are thrown out of balance by the generosity of Syrah
  • Hot and fiery recipes increase the Scoville Scale because of the alcohol.  Trust me.  You’ll be reaching for a beer.
  • Sour Foods such as dishes with a vinegar base and tart vegetables like escarole or leeks
  • While Syrah pairs well with sharp cheeses like Extra aged Gouda, Dry Jack and Pavie Vecchio; avoid stinky, washed rind cheeses like Epoisses or Camembert, runny soft ripened cheeses and, at all costs, any Blue Cheese.


Once again, my favorite reference was at work here and that is Perfect Pairings by Evan Goldstein.  He’s the best and I strongly recommend getting his book which is available in our tasting room.

Here is how V. Sattui Winery Syrah fits onto the global tapestry of Syrah.  We have vineyards up and down the Napa Valley.  Vittorio Vineyard (57%), in the warmer heart of Napa Valley, yields ripeness, chocolate, sweet blueberries, loam and white pepper.  Our cooler, Carsi and Carneros Vineyards add refinement and subtlety.  In my personal evaluation, I saw lovely crimson colors, smelled violets and sweet smoke, bacon, meats on the BBQ along with that inherent black pepper and an elegant, creamy texture on the palate. It definitely represents a Napa Version of the Northern, more elegant dimension of the Rhone Valley.  Viola….!!!

Here is an expression found on a 17th Century Italian painting that said: 

Ricorda questo bene
Un barile di vino da’ quello che ha
Se e’ vino ordinario, e’ che cosa ottenete
Se si ha l’acqua, e’ cio’ che dovete attingere
Se esso viene riempito di Gloria……………..Allora!!!

Remember this well. 
The barrel of wine gives what it has
If it is ordinary wine, that is what it is
If it is water, that is what you will draw
If it is filled with glory…………………. well then.

CHE SARA’ SARA’…………..!!!

Elevate Your Tailgate Ranch House Fajitas and Gilsson Zinfandel

Whether it’s your favorite professional team, college team, or your kids’ little league team… we Americans love our football!  At V. Sattui we are really into the spirit, especially since Super Bowl 50 will be played in February just a couple of hours down the road from us.

But some of us are even more enthusiastic about the Tailgate Party before the game!  Whether you enjoy hanging out in the parking lot with your portable grills blazing, or chilling in the family room with friends, we love to fuel up on tasty fare before cheering our team on to victory.  But we encourage you to think outside of the “nacho and beer” box.  

This recipe comes from our friends at Harris Ranch Beef.  This family-owned business is located in California’s Central Valley, has been in operation since the 1930’s.  They produce some of the finest quality beef and it’s available widely on the West Coast.

These fajitas are brought to a new level of flavor when you pair them with V. Sattui’s Gilsson Zinfandel.  This wine has equal “weight” to match the beef in the fajitas, some fruit-forward flavors like ripe boysenberry and blackberry that complement the spiciness in the dish.

Try elevating your tailgate to new heights—and hopefully your team’s success will follow!

Ranch House Fajitas
From Harris Ranch Beef

2 pounds, marinated Harris Ranch skirt, flap or flank steak
2 bell peppers (red, green or yellow), sliced
1 large red onion, sliced
2 medium tomato, wedged
3 cups Harris Ranch Restaurant Marinade (recipe to follow)

Slice steak across the grain into 1/4"-1/2" strips and marinate for at least four hours, or overnight if desired. Remove meat from the marinade and discard the marinade. In a sauté pan, sauté beef, onion and bell pepper over medium heat until beef is browned and onion and bell pepper are tender. Stir in wedged tomatoes and sauté for five minutes more. Serve immediately with warm flour tortillas, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole. Serves 4-6

Harris Ranch Restaurant Marinade:
8 oz. soy sauce
16 oz. water
2 oz. brown sugar
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 dashes Tabasco
1 oz. lemon juice

Marinade Preparation:
Combine above ingredients and refrigerate.

V. Sattui Winery’s Black Sears Zinfandel- Love for the Land Shines Through

Mention V. Sattui’s Black Sears Zinfandel to any of our members who love big, bold flavors and you will see a little twinkle in their eye.  This single-vineyard Zinfandel comes from Howell Mountain, Napa County’s highest vineyard, which is also biodynamically farmed and certified organic.

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 and earthy, rich Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. 

Joyce and Jerre Sears purchased their vineyard property in 1979, and now caring for the vineyards has become a full family affair, with their daughter and son-in-law, Ashley and Chris Jambois joining the family business in 2008.  They are committed to using organic and biodynamic farming practices not only in the vineyards, but also in the acres of orchards and gardens on this gorgeous property.

Their love of the land shines through in the wine.  V. Sattui’s 2012 Black Sears Zinfandel is a beautiful dark garnet color with concentrated blackberry fruit and a scent of cracked black pepper that is a signature of this vineyard.  People love this wine because it is both restrained and loaded with flavor.  It is impeccably balanced, and is ready to drink today, but if you are patient and lay it down for the next 5 to 8 years, we believe you will be richly rewarded.

Purchase our 2012 Black Sears Zinfandel here >>


Some information in this blog has been reprinted with permission. For more information about the Black Sears vineyard please visit www.blacksears.com

Meet Jason Moravec: Another Set of Inspired Hands Helping Craft V. Sattui Wines

We’ve added a new key player to our V. Sattui team this year.  Assistant Winemaker Jason Moravec joined our V. Sattui Family in July, and we are thrilled to have a passionate winemaker who literally grew up in a local vineyard.  Jason’s family lived on a farm on the Sonoma side of the Los Carneros appellation where they grew 10 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.  From an early age Jason has been working and learning the industry from the ground up!

Q:  How was your first harvest with V. Sattui?
A:  My first harvest with V. Sattui was fast and furious! My first day on the job was just a few months before the beginning of harvest and we still had months of bottling to finish.  I hit the ground running and took the reins on bottling our 2013 red wines.  At the same time we prepped the winery for an early harvest. The 2015 vintage was a true test of how quickly I could adapt and it went amazingly. Due to the drought and other factors during bloom, 2015 will be low yielding but exceptional quality year. I can’t wait to get crafting and shaping these wines through the blending process.

Q:  You grew up helping your parents grow grapes.  When did you know you wanted to be a winemaker?  
A:  I knew I wanted to work in the industry when I was 10 years old. I saw how it brought my family together on our vineyard ranch in Sonoma. But it wasn’t until I was 16, when I started working in the tasting room at Gloria Ferrer Winery as a bus boy, that I really knew what I wanted to do. I found that the winemaker, Bob Iantosca, was this critical focal point that pulled all sides of the wine industry together. I saw that the winemaker gets to be all over the place– in the lab, in the vineyard, in the cellar, and even in the sales market. And I wanted that. I couldn’t wait to discover the intricacies of every department and to make my own wines for everyone to enjoy. 

Q:  I love pulling into our parking lot in the morning and seeing your car parked next to Vittorio's Vineyard– plugged into an outlet we have there.  When did you start driving an electric car, and what does it say about you?
A:  We only have one world, and it’s our responsibility to protect it for future generations. Since I’m always seeking out new ways for our winery and vineyards to become more sustainable, it feels only natural to live life in the same way.  I started driving an all electric car in 2013, and love that I have already gone 40,000 miles on zero gas. 

Q:  Not to be depressing– but let's pretend it's your last day on Earth.   What are you drinking?  Eating with it?  And who are you with?
A:  That’s an interesting question for me because my birthday is December 21st, and a few years back it was thought that the world would come to an end on December 21st 2012. So I threw an end of the world birthday party and invited all my friends and family to join. I vividly remember by the end if the night my grandfather “Opa” was strumming his guitar and everyone was singing along with drink and food in hand. A roasted New Zealand lamb shank in one hand, and a glass of Mount Veeder Cabernet in the other was the icing on the cake of a wonderful experience with family and friends.

Q:  What is it like to work with Brooks Painter?
A:  He is a wealth of winemaking experience and knowledge, and has been a pleasure to with. I can only hope to continue my own career in the same way. 

Q:  I know you've only been at V. Sattui for a few months.  What are your first impressions?
A:  V. Sattui is a solid family of knowledgeable and inspirational people. I am very excited to be a part it.

Q:  What are you hoping to accomplish in the future at V. Sattui?
A:  I hope to bring some new flare to the wines and culture, while respecting the solid foundation and history that V. Sattui Winery has come to represent. 


Jason and his dog, Hans

Thanksgiving—At Least One Easy Decision is in the Box!

In just a few short weeks we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving, (sheesh- where does the time go?).  This can be such a difficult holiday.  Sharing a table with family members who know how to push our buttons with opposing political, religious, and opinionated views.  Doing your best to cook the turkey to perfection, while accommodating the vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free, pro-paleo, and folks with nut allergies.  Even trying to decide what wine to serve can be daunting.  AND YOU KNOW YOU’RE GOING TO NEED WINE!

V. Sattui to the rescue!  Our Thanksgiving Box is bundled with four wines that go perfectly with a traditional holiday meal.  These wines also offer a wide variety of flavors to please all of the palates at your table.  The V. Sattui Thanksgiving Box is available for $89, and is available in our Tasting Room or online, and shipped to your door.

At the very least, everyone at the table will find a wine that makes them happy.  Maybe you better get two boxes?

2014 Gamay Rouge
The beautiful cranberry color of this wine alone sets a festive atmosphere on the table!  Add the bright and fruity flavors of strawberry, tropical fruit, and cranberry and you have a great pairing for turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes.  It’s also great with smoked salmon and cured meats, which you may have as appetizers to kick off your feast.  Gamay Rouge is a crowd-pleaser– both light, and festive!

2014 Sattui Family Chardonnay
Open this bottle and take in the beautiful aromas of vanilla, citrus, and green apples!  These fruity flavors follow through when you take a sip, followed by tart acidity and rich mouthfeel.  This lighter bodied chardonnay will make a great pairing with roast turkey, buttery mashed potatoes, and dressing doused with gravy!

2013 Sattui Family Pinot Noir
This newly released Pinot has enticing herbal and earthy aromas followed by ripe black cherry and pomegranate flavors.  It is a very versatile wine to pair with many different turkey preparations, stuffing recipes, and a spectrum of side dishes.  The gentle tannins also marry well with green vegetables such Brussels sprouts, leafy greens such as kale, chard or spinach, as well as the classic green bean casserole!

2011 Sattui Family Cabernet
A classic Napa Valley Cabernet you and your guests will give thanks for!  Our Sattui Family Cabernet is made in a soft, engaging style with earthy notes, sweet ginger, cocoa and hints of lilac.  Strong on flavor and light on tannins, this wine will pair well with your traditional Thanksgiving meal, plus longer-cooked meats like beef stews and pot roast.

Photo courtesy Tubay Yabut/GEV Magazine

V. Sattui Picnic Packs – Filled with Picnic Essentials and a Bright Future for Young Adults

If you’ve picnicked on our property most likely you’ve seen, and maybe even purchased, one of our Picnic Packs.  On the surface these Picnic Packs look like a useful convenience, especially for impromptu picnics.  But they’re so much more than that.

The people who put these Picnic Packs together for us are 18-22 year-old young adults with developmental disabilities.  They are part of the Napa Valley Unified School District’s Transitions Program.  They are amazing young people with varying disabilities who have graduated from High School, and are now learning life and job skills as they transition to a more independent chapter in their lives. This is a business partnership that was established 30 years ago, and it’s one we are very proud of.

 “We love seeing these kids come here each year and experience their enthusiasm and spirit,” says Tom Davies, President of V. Sattui Winery.  “They really light up when they see the picnic packs being used here at the winery.  The folks with the program say we do a lot of good for the students, but they do just as much good for us.”

“The students earn a paycheck for putting together the Picnic Packs,” says instructor Melodie Roche.  “Our program helps these kids learn to budget money and manage finances.  As they put the packs together, they are also learning to work as part of team and how to communicate with each other.”

Recently the class came to visit the winery, as they do each year, and we treat them to a picnic lunch and some winery souvenirs.  They learn more about V. Sattui and are able to see for themselves how the Picnic Packs are displayed and used by customers.  When V. Sattui President Tom Davies told them the Picnic Packs are so valuable to us they are “priceless”- the group cheered with glee and accomplishment.  Students say they really enjoy putting the packs together and listen to really good music as they do it.

So the next time you pick up a Picnic Pack in our deli, we just wanted you to know it’s packed with so much more than just picnic essentials.

New Boys & Girls Club in Calistoga Making Steady Progress to Reality

The children of the Boys and Girls Club of St. Helena and Calistoga with Dario Sattui and staff in 2013.

Just last week the Boys & Girls Club of St. Helena and Calistoga reached a significant milestone in its quest to build a permanent club facility in Calistoga.  Currently the organization has raised $9.01 million, with a final goal of raising $9.5 million in the next 9 months.  

This is a project near and dear to Dario Sattui’s heart.  He donated $1 million toward the project in 2013 on behalf of V. Sattui Winery and Castello di Amorosa.  In December of 2014 he pledged an additional $500,000.

“Calistoga really needs a place where young people can congregate, socialize, learn and to play sports in a healthy environment with positive role models,” said Sattui.

Draft concept of the permanent Boys & Girls Club to be built in Calistoga.

“Mr. Sattui’s vision and generosity were instrumental in starting our fundraising campaign,” says Club Executive Director Jay Templeton.  “His early donations were the rocket fuel that propelled more gifts to come forward.”

Templeton says the children of Calistoga really need this facility.  The Boys & Girls Club has been using Calistoga Elementary School as a home base since 2001 when they had a membership of just 50 kids.  Now they have 430 kids, and have completely outgrown the school.

Draft concept of the permanent Boys & Girls Club to be built in Calistoga.

The Boys & Girls Club has property for the facility secured, an architect on board, and will soon be hiring a general contractor to build the 14,000 square foot building.  They hope to break ground in June of 2016, and have the facility open for kids and the community by Labor Day of 2017.


2012 – A Vintage to Remember!

Sometimes in life, you just get lucky.  For V. Sattui Winery and many other Napa Valley wineries, 2012 is a truly exceptional vintage.

“We knew in early spring we were looking at a very good vintage,” says Brooks Painter, Head of Winemaking for V. Sattui Winery.  “As the season progressed, with phenomenal weather that allowed fruit to ripen evenly and completely, we realized that we were actually experiencing one of those ‘perfect’ vintages—long and cool, and with the best fruit we’ve seen in a long time.”

Wine writer Robert Parker agrees that both the 2012 and 2013 vintages from Napa Valley are special.  

“The biggest problem in Napa Valley (unlike Bordeaux or other areas where Cabernet Sauvignon is grown) is that Napa can have very damaging and stressful heat spikes well over 100 degrees F that can last from three days to as long as a week,” says Parker. “The negative results can cause grapes to raisin, threatening dehydration and inflicting stress on the delicate health of the vines. This never occurred in 2012 or in 2013. Grapes, much like people, mature and flourish under ideal conditions, and both vintages provided that.”

We have just released three of our five 2012 single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons.  In general, they are wines with well-structured tannins, rich concentration, and developed aromatics that define the vintage. Most of the fruit was picked at ideal ripeness before rain fell in late October, making coordination of the avalanche of grapes arriving in the winery one of the greatest challenges of the harvest.  It is a great vintage from both a growing and volume perspective; we had fantastic yields of some fantastic wines. This is truly a classic vintage.

2012 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine was named “Wine of the Year” – and “Best Cabernet” in the Monterey International Wine Competition earlier this year.

From Robert Whitley, Wine Review Online:  “V. Sattui's 2012 Mount Veeder Cabernet is a classic Napa Valley mountain red, a rich, powerful Cabernet Sauvignon with broad shoulders and impressive dimension. This vintage shows rich black fruits, chewy tannins and a generous dollop of oak that matches the heft of the wine. A panel of advanced and master sommeliers at the 7th annual Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition loved it and awarded it Platinum and a score of 94 points.”

2012 Preston Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
A Platinum Award winner and Best of Class Cabernet Sauvignon at the 2015 Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition. 

From Rich Cook, Wine Review Online:  “The juggernaut that is V. Sattui Winery continues to roll out spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon from this vineyard.  The nose is extremely deep and complex, with solid varietal character, firm tannic structure, lively acidity and a long finish that is currently emphasizing elegant red fruit and spice. This deserves five to ten years additional bottle aging to bring out all of its charms, though they are already many.”


2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vittorio's Vineyard
Platinum award winner at the 2015 Critics Challenge International Wine Competition

From Robert Whitley, Wine Review Online: “With soft, supple tannins and a juicy blackberry and blueberry core, this is a delightful Cabernet Sauvignon that can be enjoyed now while you wait for some of the more muscular Napa Valley Cabs from this outstanding vintage.


2012  Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
A Platinum Award winner at the 2015 Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition

From Rich Cook, Wine Review Online:  “A favorite vineyard source of mine, and thankfully, also a favorite of some great winemakers.  Brooks Painter and his crew always bring out all that Morisoli has to offer, and in this vintage it's lively raspberry fruit, joined perfectly by pie spice, mild dried herbs, cedar and cigar.  It's got a big structured backbone that begs further aging while providing great delight at present.  Decant, or go long?  You win either way. “

A Simple Recipe Straight from Italy- Steamed Halibut with Leeks

A few years ago, our “Ray of Sunshine” employee, Lynn Catania, had the chance to visit family in Sicily.  Lynn loves to cook and was hoping to learn some dishes from her native land.  It took four days (she was only staying with them six days!) for her Aunt to allow her into the kitchen.  But oh what a recipe they made!

“This dish was so simple, but it tastes like heaven,” says Lynn.  “The leeks melt in your mouth, and the fish is so tender.  I’ve also made it with scallops.”

Makes 4 servings

4 Halibut fillets or steaks
(you may substitute another firm white fish like cod or swordfish.  See note below for using scallops.)
4 -6 leeks
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups dry white wine
We suggest V. Sattui’s Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, or our Dry Riesling
Sea salt & pepper to taste

Season fish with salt and pepper.  Let set out at room temperature while you prepare the leeks.

In this recipe, you want to use the green part of the leeks.  Cut off the ends of the leeks, then slice through the point where white meets green.  Save the whites for another recipe.  Slice through the green portion of the leek lengthwise.  Clean the leeks under cold running water, as leeks are usually dirty. Once the leeks are free of any dirt or grit, cut each half into slices.

In a sauté pan large enough to hold the leeks in one layer (and a pan that has a lid), heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the leeks and cook for 1-2 minutes more, just to get them a little browned and let the oil get into the leeks.  Add the wine, and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer- until leeks are semi-soft, about 15 minutes.  Nestle seasoned fish into the leeks.  Cover and cook until fish is firm, and leeks are soft, about another 15 minutes.

Before serving, drizzle a little more olive oil over the fish. Serve with polenta or risotto and a glass of the wine you used in the dish. Cheers!

Note:  If you choose to use scallops in this dish, brown them in a pan first, before nestling into the cooks.  Also, shorten the cooking time to 5-10 minutes, as scallops cook faster.



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)


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


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)


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


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.

New: Tours have arrived at V. Sattui Winery

You've asked and we've heard you! We now offer two tours to satisfy all palates.

The Daily Tour

The casual encounter; for the lovers of spontaneity and the people who want to get to know us a little better but aren’t quite ready to commit (you know who you are).

Offered daily at 11am and Sunday-Friday at 2pm
45 minute tour
$30 per adult / $15 per child (6-20 years old)
Tasting voucher for our Main Tasting Room

Brief history of the winery 
Organic practices in Vittorio's Vineyard
The growing seasons of grapevines
Winemaking process

BOOK Daily Tour NOW



The InstaSomm Tour

The intimate experience; for the lovers of planning and the people who just can’t resist our charm and want to know EVERYTHING there is to know about winemaking and V. Sattui. Ready to go all in?

Offered Sundays only at noon
1.5 hour tour including tasting
$65 per member / $75 per non-member (21 and older only)
Seated tasting paired with a selection of our own house-cured meats and artisanal cheeses

Everything above plus –
The importance barrel selection
In-depth look at the vineyards and winemaking practices
What it takes to make a great vintage
…and sample directly from the tanks!

BOOK InstaSomm Tour NOW


See you soon!!


Nancy & Anthony’s Elopement

Weddings – and how each couple interprets this auspicious day – are constantly evolving to fit this modern day world, and the diverse couples formed within it. One of our favorite interpretations is in the form of elopements. The special intimacy, the raw power of the couple's bond and their private, almost secretive, exchanged glances – it just makes our hearts a-flutter with the love of love!

Elopements allow the pair to appreciate the comforts of a smaller wedding, filled with only those closest to their hearts.

Nancy and Anthony’s simple, elegant elopement wedding was the epitome of the exuberance two people in love experience on their special day, when free to have their dream ceremony, their way.

Many thanks to the talented Ken Viale, who was on hand to capture those special moments!

Nancy and Anthony on Vittorio’s Tower balcony, just moments before the ceremony.

The couple took an impromptu mid-ceremony break to have a brief video chat with their son who couldn’t be there in person, but managed to make an appearance nonetheless! 

Close family members watched in anticipation as bride and groom slid wedding rings onto each other’s intertwined hands.

Our courtyard lit up with vibrant smiles as they kissed for the first time as husband and wife! 

What is more fitting than a unity wine pour at a winery wedding; the perfect blend of two lives, and families, becoming one.

Their young son, and ringbearer, was the first to make a toast to the newlyweds – with some delicious Gamay Rouge Grape Juice! 

Congratulations, Nancy and Anthony!

Not Just Another V. Sattui Love Story – Part 2

The Road to Wedded Bliss

Our two lovebirds, Alex and Justine, have been busy planning their wedding with our V. Sattui Wedding Team! Working with our wedding coordinator, Melissa Ferentheil, they came to the Winery for a site visit. The pair are here often to pick up their Wine Club shipments, but Melissa wanted to put them in the mind frame of their wedding guests – walking them past our fountain, through the lush grounds and under our towering ancient oaks. They chose locations for their cocktail hour and the wedding ceremony, then finished in the Barrel Room where the dinner and reception would be held.

Dinner and Reception in the Barrel Room
photo: Shannon Stellmacher

Alex and Justine chose to entertain their guests on Vittorio’s Terrace for their cocktail hour, among the beautiful gardens and stone fountains. The cocktail hour can also take place in the lower courtyard or in our Cellar Club. As for the ceremony, there are so many beautiful options – the romantic tower lawn, the intimate courtyard, or the spacious Barrel Room – and the pair chose a wedding favorite: the courtyard. 

Alex and Justine's picks:

Cocktail Hour on Vittorio's Terrace       Ceremony in the Courtyard
            photo: Ken Viale

Must Love Dogs

And don't worry – no matter what places they chose on property – they're all dog-friendly! You may remember that Alex and Justine had their dog, Trixie, in tow when they got engaged at our winery – and I have a feeling Trixie will be making an appearance at the wedding. I'm excited to see what special role she might play!

Justine, Alex and Trixie

Michelin-Star Weddings

To help the couple with the sometimes overwhelming amount of decisions, we have put together an extensive list of experienced vendors that we have worked with time and again. Every little thing is covered on that list: talented photographers, videographers, hair and makeup artists, entertainment, florists, and even suggestions for accommodations and transportation.

Plus something that no other winery can offer – Stefano Masanti, our resident Michelin-starred chef from Lombardia, Italy. Stefano has a passion for fresh, local and seasonal cuisine and his wife, Raffa, is a Sommelier who can offer insight into pairing Stefano’s food with V. Sattui’s award-winning wines. He is the exclusive chef for weddings at the winery from April through October.


The Wine Tasting

On a sunny day in early May, Alex and Justine brought their parents in for a special tasting at V. Sattui to choose their wines and their menu.

Alex and Justine with their parents

With Melissa’s guidance, Alex and Justine tasted through several of our award-winning wines to decide which ones would be the perfect fit for their wedding. For cocktail hour – they decided on our refreshing 2014 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, the light and fruity 2012 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, and the cult-favorite 2012 Crow Ridge Ancient Vine Zinfandel to wet their guest’s whistles and get the party started. To pair with dinner – the rich and buttery 2012 Reserve Chardonnay and our intense, mountain-bred 2010 Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon. And a special indulgence for the head table only – our plush and earthy 2008 Vittorio’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Let me just say, they have GREAT taste.

Their wedding wine line-up


And no, they didn’t forget the sparkling – apparently Justine is a bit of a “bubbly-head,” so instead having it just served for the toast, she wants the sparkling flowing “all night long!” Prestige Cuvee for everyone! Alex laughed that we probably won’t see her without a champagne flute in her hand. 


The Menu Tasting

Alex and Justine brought their wine list with them to the V. Sattui kitchen for their menu tasting with Stefano and Raffa.

Raffa, Alex, Justine, and Stefano

Choosing from Stefano's generous menu offerings (he has pages and pages of enticing hors d’oeuvres, first, second and even third courses, desserts and cakes, like carmelized red beet, almond cheese and crispy almond tuile or rabbit galantine, red onion Italian compote and crispy parmesan), the couple had previously narrowed down the options for dinner service to several possible appetizers, salads and main courses. They were ready to see the chef perform his culinary magic as he prepared each one for them to taste and to make a final decision on the menu.

Bite after succulent bite, Stefano went back and forth between their table and the kitchen, showing them what an addition of this or that to a certain dish would do to the flavors, aware that every part of their special day should be just so. This intimate, chef’s table experience gives the wedding couple a chance to get to know Chef Stefano and his team. Raffa helped them to understand what dishes would go best with their newly-chosen wines. So check chicken, beef or fish – and be prepared to have your tastebuds amazed!


Next Steps

Now it’s time for Alex & Justine to relax and enjoy the days leading up to the big day. And when they say "I do," There are sure to be fireworks – because they will be saying their vows on July 4! I cannot wait to see the photos. Be sure to check back for the final installment on Alex and Justine’s road to wedded bliss!


Jennie & Jed’s Wedding

Fine wine, romantic vineyard views, and lush grounds entice countless visitors to V. Sattui Winery each year.  It’s easy to see why so many couples fall in love, get engaged, and get married here. Couples who marry at the winery become part of  V. Sattui’s rich history, with their milestone moments and fond memories deeply rooted in our soils.

 We recognize each couple has a unique flair, and on their wedding day, it’s important to showcase their unique taste.   We are experienced in masterfully customizing our lush landscapes and picturesque spaces into idyllic wedding scenes.   The result is a spectacular occasion to cherish for a lifetime.

We congratulate Jennie & Jed who chose V. Sattui Winery to host their beautiful May 2015 wedding – it was truly a perfect pairing! Chantel Giongco took these gorgeous images.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at their grand affair: 

The bridal party dazzled with excitement on our Vittorio’s Terrace as they prepared for the big moment.

Meanwhile, our subterranean barrel room was transformed into Jennie & Jed’s vision of elegance.

As Jennie’s brother walked her down the aisle, her smile at her future husband, Jed, was shining bright in the Napa Valley sunlight!

As Jennie & Jed performed the cake cutting ceremony as husband and wife, it marked a new beginning in their relationship – and the start to our thriving summer wedding season!

Cheers to Jennie & Jed! May your glasses always be full –perhaps with some award-winning V. Sattui wine?

Staff Feature: Mark Roomian, proud father and master BBQer

Mark Roomian
Wine Consultant


Mark Roomian and his loud shirts (I like to call him Marky Mark and the Funky Shirts) have been a fixture here at the winery for many years – since May of 1997. If you’ve ever visited the property, you’ve probably heard him. His booming voice and roaring laughter can be heard all throughout the tasting room. Working up front, I remember no matter where you were working, you could always pick Mark’s voice out of the din, ringing clearly through the tasting room.

What you might not know about Mark is that he is an avid Zin lover, master BBQer, and father to two beautiful girls, Tori and Bianca. I talked with him about the secret to great BBQ and his proudest moments as a father.


Oriana LaForte: What do you think is the most important thing people should know about V. Sattui?
Mark Roomian: That this is a privately-owned business. Still small-family owned and based on old traditions. I still remember when Dario would be here on a Saturday, and he would do the job of the stockers – taking the dirty glasses from behind the bar and washing them in the back and bringing them back out on the floor. He is like that, you know. When you see the guy you work for mopping the floor next to you at the end of the day, that's the place I want to work.

OL: What is your favorite wine?
MR: Zinfandel. I just love the variety you can have. Look you can line up 7 different Pinots and know it’s a Pinot Noir. Same thing with Cab – and dont get me wrong, I love Cab. But Zin – some Zins can be light, some heavy, you can have jammy, or earthy or fruit-forward or peppery – it is just so unique!

OL: And your favorite V. Sattui wine?
MR: Black Sears Zinfandel – that pepper aroma just reminds me of a juicy pepper-crusted ribeye coming right off the grill.

OL: And it goes great with BBQ. You do some BBQ work on the side, right?
MR: I love cooking BBQ. David [of Double D's BBQ] and I go to the Rib Cook-off [in Reno] almost every year. We should be there this year, too. Labor Day weekend.

OL: What is your favorite BBQ?
MR: Whole hog, or brisket. They take longer, but it’s worth it! I helped David do the hog for the employee picnic last year. We watched it for three or four days and man was it good.

OL: Oh yea, I remember that. That was beautiful – juicy and tender and fatty and flavorful – and you know I’m from the South! Any tips or tricks about BBQing?
MR: The rub is more important than the sauce.

OL: Tell me about your girls.
MR: Tori just graduated from Syracuse with a Bachelor’s degree – she double majored in Political Science and Anthropolgy. Bianca finished up her freshman year at Alabama and is back for the summer. Tori is actually driving back with a friend; since she graduated, she has to bring everything back home.

Bianca (right) at her high school graduation with Tori (left) and their cousin, Audrey

OL: So they’ll be able to spend Father’s Day with you! Do you guys have any special plans?
MR: I think we’ll go to my dad’s, and have a nice family dinner.

OL: A multi-generational Father’s Day celebration, I love it! So what is the best thing about fatherhood?
MR: Seeing how they have the best traits of Suzanne [their mother] and I. They love sports and they are outgoing. That’s definitely from me.

OL: They worked here at one time, right?
MR: Yeah. Tori worked in the gift department and Bianca worked the salad case [deli and marketplace]. 

OL: What would you say is your proudest moment as a father?
MR: I’ve had a lot – and you know how people always tell you how you’re going to be proud when your daughter is born, when she rides a bike for the first time, when she graduates – and you know you will – but when those moments actually happen – man, it’s better. It’s just better than anyone ever said. I think one of the proudest moments was when Tori got her acceptance letter from Syracuse. Because we didn’t really expect it to happen, but when it did – I mean, wow. That was big.