COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY
Sustainability has been a core value at V. Sattui throughout all aspects of Winery and vineyard operations since it was founded in 1976. As a California Certified Sustainable winery, V. Sattui's commitment to stewardship of the land is inherent in all techniques it employs from soil and vine to the bottle.
Throughout the Winery, energy conservation is prioritized from the use of solar power to adherence to a stringent composting and glass recycling program and the selection of organic and biodegradable products to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
The viticulture team is constantly evaluating the environmental impact of its farming practices. Certified through the Fish-Friendly Farming program, V. Sattui introduces beneficial predators and organisms in the vineyards to reduce the need for use of damaging pesticides or herbicides, in line with its commitment to preserving natural wildlife habitats. This dedication extends beyond the Winery to a family of private grape growers who tend their vineyards with the same care and concern required to make the distinctive wines for which V. Sattui is known.
VITTORIO'S VINEYARD, ST. HELENA: The original Estate vineyard property of V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, adjacent to the Winery itself. It is currently planted to seven varieties, with Cabernet Sauvignon comprising well over half of the 34 acres. As of the 2012 vintage, Vittorio's Vineyard is USDA Certified Organic, and so our Vittorio's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, from that vintage, is our first estate wine that will be entitled to use the designation.
"We've always tried to take a proactive role in preserving the health of the lands we have," explains vineyard consultant Larry Bradley. "Vittorio's has actually been organic for the past five seasons, but the process of certification takes a while." What this means is that no chemicals or inorganic fertilizers are used that could leach into the groundwater. "This of course is more costly," says Larry, "but we believe we're doing the right thing and that the resulting wines will be more flavorful."
The spacing between Vittorio's vines have been planted with all organic cover crops, mostly bell beans and other legumes and grasses. "Green manures," as Larry describes them. "We want lean soils," he says, "and we supplement the weaker areas with fish emulsions and other organic composts."
BLACK-SEARS VINEYARD, HOWELL MOUNTAIN: At just over 2400 feet, it is among the highest vineyards in all of Napa Valley. The unique climate of Howell Mountain produces wines with a firm structure, intense fruit flavors, earthy spice, and round acidity. The ashy, iron-laden soils are perfectly suited for growing full-bodied, peppery Zinfandel that have inspired a dedicated following from many V. Sattui fans. The Black-Sears family is committed to caring for the land they call home, farming organically and biodynamically in the vineyard and in their orchards and gardens. Wine lovers who have enjoyed the fruit and the wines of the Black-Sears vines will testify: "there's just something special about that vineyard."
What is "biodynamic" farming?
Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms, emphasizing balancing the holistic development and interrelationship of the soil, plants, and animals as a self-nourishing system.
Regarded by many as the first modern ecological farming system, biodynamic farming has much in common with other organic approaches, such as emphasizing the use of manures and composts and excluding the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include the use of fermented herbal and mineral preparations as compost additives and field sprays (preparations 500-508), and the use of an astronomical sowing and planting calendar.
Q: "Are you guys crazy, practicing this voodoo?"
A: "Yes. But crazy people grow the best wines."
THE PEOPLE: The value of sustainability extends beyond the ecological sense of the word, and into the ethos of employee (and guest) relations at V. Sattui, where members of the staff are valued highly and treated like family. The environment at V. Sattui provides such a healthy work/life balance that it isn't uncommon for employees to stay with the winery for decades.
V. Sattui is committed to all changes resulting in the preservation of the habitat for generations to come. We're very excited about participating in preserving our vineyard land and watershed, reinforcing the idea that we not just see the vineyards for the vines, but for all the living things that share our ecosystem.
We invite you to celebrate Earth Day every day with V. Sattui Winery!
The V. Sattui Salumeria is a welcome addition to the winery, deli and marketplace, contributing house-made sausages and artisanal Italian meats to our already-vast repertoire of quality products.
So how did the Salumeria come about? Well, from the very beginning, Dario and Tom had wanted V. Sattui to be more than just a winery. Dario’s visits to Italy’s specialty cheese & meat shops long ago inspired him to start a winery with a marketplace back in 1976; his and Tom’s numerous trips to Italy sparked visions of V. Sattui trying their hand at artisanal Italian deli meats & charcuterie. At one point, Dario even tried making his own cheese. How did that turn out? “Not so well,” Tom says, chuckling at the memory, “the cheese maker was homesick and went back to Holland after only a month.” The idea for cured Italian meats had always been there, it was just a matter of finding the right people. Enter Stefano Masanti, Michelin-starred chef of Il Cantinone in Northern Italy, featured chef at our upcoming 30th annual Harvest Ball, and winner of the award for “Best Bresaola” in all of Italy! ALL. OF. ITALY. A country of 60 million people (20 million more than the state of California), known for its cuisine, with more Michelin-starred restaurants than the entire United States combined. So you could say that’s quite an award. Most of the recipes Stefano uses have been handed down from generation to generation by the old men in his village. And now he is handing them to us.
When I sat down to talk salumi with Gianfranco Ghiringhelli - known more commonly as Franco - he reached in his pocket to show me his business card: English on one side, Italian on the other, a mirror of the man himself. Among the usual fluff and knick-knacks found in one’s pockets, out came wadded up euros and Swiss francs; he and Tom are fresh back from their Italy trip where they were doing recon for our newly opened Salumeria, of which Franco is the Director. “We were on a fact-finding mission. We know for a fact: in Ascona, Switzerland there is no lakeside service for beer,” he jokes.
But it wasn’t all fun and games – he and Tom spent a week traveling Northern Italy, going from Salumeria to Salumeria, investigating how the masters make their salumi. In Parma, famed the world over for its melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto, they were able to tour a prosciutto factory under one condition – no cameras and no notes. And of course, they tasted again Stefano’s award-winning Bresaola. In fact, they brought over some of our own Salami and Bresaola and went head-to-head in a blind tasting with several of Stefano’s friends – all master butchers and salumi makers. Where did we rank? Number two – not bad for our initial attempts; the Salumeria has only been open for a few months. They were all very impressed with our selections.
Coming back from Italy with bellies full of artisan salumi and heads full of secret spice blends and other hush-hush recipe tips, Franco got down to business. He gets his pigs from Winkler Wooly Pigs in Windsor, a sustainably raised breed called Mangalitsa, known for its curly coat. Mangalitsa pigs are also known for having a high amount of lard - an uncommonly high amount of lard – which is great for our Crema di Lardo, a product that has caught the attention of celebrity chef and Michelin-star recipient Michael Mina, who is interested in purchasing some for his restaurants in San Francisco.
Franco breaks down the pig with great attention to detail and the sure strokes of a master butcher. First are the cheeks, which become guanciale, the back fat which becomes Crema di Lardo, the neck (coppa), and loin (lonzo). They save the leaf lard – it is highly coveted for making the best & flakiest pastry crust and is very hard to find - for some interested local bakers. Lastly, the hind leg is taken off in its entirety to become the prized prosciutto. Long, smooth cuts – no sawing is the secret he imparts to his protégé, Greg Quirici, as he directs him how to round off the guanciale. These meats then go through a process: fermentation, curing, aging, holding and then (my favorite) – eating.
The fermentation cabinet is a state-of-the-art Italian model that all the Italian Salumerias have and is the first of its kind here in the United States. It enables Franco to mimic the temperature and conditions of the regions in Italy, specific to the charcuterie produced there, at any time during the year. This means artisanal, cured Italian meats all year round. The curing cabinet is hung with our Vittorio Rosso & Classico Salamis, guanciale, pancetta (flat and rolled), lonzo, and of course, the one that started it all – Bresaola.
So what’s Franco’s favorite part of the whole thing? When people enjoy the finished product – and enjoy they will, with our house-made sausages coming hot off the grill at our weekend BBQ and our Salami and Bresaola sold slice by mouthwatering slice in our deli. We’re hoping to feature the other cuts – guanciale, lonzo, coppa – soon, though the prosciutto will be longer due to its minimum one year aging time.
So what’s next on the Salumeria docket? Goat leg prosciutto, called violino di capra - which literally translates to goat violin - a specialty of the Valchiavenna region in Italy, so called because the carver is to hold the leg against his shoulder and carve it toward himself, much like a violin. The only hiccup – finding the goats. Franco was in talks with a woman who has some out in Bodega Bay. She told him she was “down there trying to wrangle them when they bounded off down into a ravine” where she couldn’t follow. His response? “Smart goats.”
Stay tuned for the next chapter in goat wrangling and all things salumi!