Tom Davies Archives - V. Sattui Winery

Holistic Sustainability at V. Sattui

Holistic Sustainability for Generations to Come

Spring in wine country is always a time of renewal and rebirth. A time to bask in the beauty of bud break and welcome a new vintage to the world. Wine Country is truly in bloom once again and it never felt so reassuring.  However, if the trends of the past few years have taught us anything at all, it is that this precious land and the industry that sustains it cannot be taken for granted.

At V. Sattui Winery, we are dedicated to doing our best to ensure the prosperity and sustainability of the Napa Valley for generations to come. From the soil to vine and every hand that plays a part in crafting our wines to the guests and tourists that keep our community vibrant and thriving – each plays an integral part in ensuring the wine industry remains viable for the future. For this reason, we take a holistic approach to sustainability.

V. Sattui Winery President Tom Davies is a true champion for the philosophy of holistic sustainability; constantly seeking new ways to improve the well-being of our employees, partners, vineyards, and surrounding environment.

“Sustainability goes far beyond the land. It is our livelihoods. It is about caring for employees, vendors — everyone tied to the company. Our approach in ensuring the health and vitality of the wine industry takes all of this into account. We care for the land and we care for the community.”  – V. Sattui President Tom Davies.

As a board member for both Visit Napa Valley and Napa Valley Grape Growers Association, a steering committee member for Coalition Napa Valley and even a member of the Wildfire Task Force, Tom works closely with all branches of V. Sattui Winery – from our vineyard managers and crew to our winemaking and sales teams to ensure that we preserve, protect and nurture on all fronts. With a finger on the pulse of social and environmental challenges, including the warming climate here in wine country, we strive to be part of the solution.

Sustainable Farming Practices

Some of our long-running programs include sustainable farming practices at all our estates and vineyard sources ranging from CCFO Certified Organic farming at Vittorio’s Vineyard to Fish Friendly Farming (FFF) Sustainable Certifications. Both the CCFO and FFF certification programs require rigorous qualification processes that can take up to three years – including third-party audits of all inputs and vineyard practices to ensure the use of organic-only additions as applicable (CCFO) and minimal impact to the surrounding environment and wildlife by way of strategic input application (night spraying and erosion control) as well as ongoing monitoring and recertification. Additionally, we have a robust recycling program that includes but is not limited to composting our own grape pumice and reintroducing it to our vineyards after a year, ensuring even the skins and seeds of our grapes nurture our land rather than go to waste.

To address the longer, hotter growing conditions experienced in recent years, we have tested and implemented modified (V-shaped) vertical shoot trellising at several locations to manage our vineyard canopy allowing ample airflow and preventing mildew naturally while ensuring both adequate sun for ripening as well as sufficient shade to protect our fruit from sunburn. Blocks at Vittorio’s Vineyard, Mt. Veeder and Hibbard Ranch have been converted so far with more to come.

In addition, water resources are being carefully monitored. With 2021 marking the earliest need to irrigate according to the Napa Valley Grape Growers Association, we are exploring avenues to reduce our water consumption in the future including additional dry farming and even removing cover crop early to ensure our vines can utilize every available drop of H2O.

Again, we believe our responsibility extends beyond owl boxes, organic inputs, and water management. Holistic sustainability includes a commitment to supporting our employees and surrounding community to ensure the wine industry thrives for years to come.

An initiative we are deeply committed to is our employee housing program. At present, we have three vineyard workers and their families housed between Carsi Vineyard and Hibbard Ranch as well as H-2A housing for seasonal farmworkers at our Solano property – currently housing 8-10 migrant farmworkers with H-2A Visas. Safe, ample housing for both full-time and temporary migrant farmworkers is vital to our business and we hope to expand upon this program and offer more housing in the coming years.

Napa Valley Forward

Following through on our commitment to sustainability in our community, we are proud to be a part of the pilot program for Napa Valley Forward. First launched in March of 2020, this progressive initiative seeks to reduce road congestion and CO2 emissions in Napa Valley by offering commuting alternatives for our workforce. 40% of all trips in and out of Napa Valley have been identified as commuters to wineries and wine-related businesses and in partnership with Napa Valley Forward and the other 19 businesses that have signed on for the pilot program running through 2022 – we have already saved more than 136,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere by connecting employees with alternative modes of transportation from public transit to carpooling, to biking – even telecommuting! Although the Covid-19 pandemic slowed the rollout of this unique program, as restrictions are lifting, Napa Valley Forward’s mission is moving forward once more and we are excited to see our employees take advantage of this special program which offers incredible benefits — from reward incentives and savings on gas and resources to cleaner air for the community and more room on the road for our tourists whose visitation to our wineries, restaurants, shops, and hotels keep our valley thriving.

Finally, V. Sattui Winery is thrilled to have pledged $50,000 annually to the Napa Valley Vine Trail over the next 10 years to help extend the trail from Yountville to St. Helena. This endeavor has many benefits to both the community and tourism, while also promoting a healthy lifestyle and relieving traffic congestion and pollution.  This project is near and dear to our hearts — celebrating the philosophy of holistic sustainability to a T by promoting community health; offering a free, safe, easy access trail system that can be enjoyed by bike or on foot, connecting all of Napa Valley for car-free commuting, lowering our carbon footprint, preserving nature, encouraging eco-tourism – bringing an expected $165+ million annually to Napa Valley’s economy once completed.

At V. Sattui Winery, we are devoted to being responsible stewards of the land, committed to providing resources and opportunities for our employees and dedicated caretakers of our community.  With ever-evolving challenges both socially and environmentally – holistic sustainability is the key to preserving the wine industry and Napa Valley for the future – and we are proud to be part of the solution.

Resiliency – at the Heart of V. Sattui Winery

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

So much has been taken from us this year and at times it has been outright unbearable. Nevertheless, for all that we have endured, and the list is long, we have survived because that is what we do. Resilience is part of the fabric of our great humanity. Resilience has given us the strength to fight one crisis after another. Resilience has also allowed us to see the greatness in humankind through heroic acts of kindness, compassion, and bravery. Resilience has been our guiding light; our compass as we navigate a world of uncharted waters towards hopefully a new world full of respect and kindness.

We hope you’ll take a moment to watch this heartfelt video capturing the resiliency of our V. Sattui team. From the earth to your glass, we’re in this together – for the long haul.

As the holidays near, now is the time that we take back our lives and begin focusing on restoring our sense of normalcy, reclaiming our traditions, and renewing our spirits. Disruption has been with us for too long; let us look forward and celebrate this joyous season.

RECLAIM, RESTORE, RENEW WITH V. SATTUI THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

The spirit of our Holiday Catalog is to restore and reclaim our traditions. We looked to our historic Hibbard Ranch for inspiration to reclaim our traditions. Through century-old artifacts and reclaimed wood found on our ranch, we showcase our wines through a lens that captures the spirit of a bygone era and brings it forth in a renewed way.

We may not be able to experience the holiday traditions in an exact way of years past, but we build on the past and create new traditions that can be passed on to future generations.

All of us at V. Sattui Winery are thankful that you have chosen our wines to be a part of your family traditions, old and new. We hope our wines will also help renew your spirits and bring happiness to your holiday season.

With warm regards,

 

 

Tom C. Davies,
President

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

Stefano and Raffa- black and white
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.

Round plate- cropped
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.

Stefano- 2014 Harvest Ball
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.

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

Vittorio Sattui
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!

Tom- Davies
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!

Brooks Painter
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!