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Oriana (Your Gal Friday)
 
October 20, 2014 | Oriana (Your Gal Friday)

The Man behind the Cheese Counter

A refreshingly unique aspect of working at V. Sattui is that it is much like being a part of a wonderful, albeit wacky, family. And one of our family members is celebrating his 30th year of working with us, through the thick and the thin, day in and day out, rain or shine. That man is Keith Idle and he is awesome. He started out behind the cheese counter and there he has remained & thrived (I mean, why would you leave, you’re literally surrounded by cheese!), a V. Sattui staple and reigning King of the creamy, the crumbly, the tangy and the slightly pungent (and sometimes the very pungent) plethora of cheeses from around the world we sell here in our marketplace.
 

For a time, Keith lived in the small, stucco house on the property that now houses the administrative offices. This is the very same house where Dario Sattui, the owner of V. Sattui, lived when he originally purchased the property that developed into all that is V. Sattui Winery. Keith lived upstairs at the time (now the home of Tom’s office), with Tom and Dario having offices downstairs. The production area for his various spreads (Artichoke Cream Cheese, Sun-dried Tomato) was housed downstairs as well and this is the house where Keith first made Keefer – that delicious spread he concocted with fresh garlic and herbs, whose addictive properties keep customers coming back for more and lamenting that they cannot get it elsewhere, nor get it past TSA security.
 

{Keith back in the day, flanked by Winery President, Tom Davies & then-Manager of our Deli and Marketplace, Kathy Knowles}

 

Being a Cheesemonger is no easy task; cheese is a living food and Keith treats it as such. After cutting into a Brie, it needs to be wrapped and put away immediately or it will die. He is constantly checking and re-checking the cheeses to make sure their quality is up to par. His dedication and attention to the sensitivity of what the cheese needs is admirable and tireless. Keith also keeps up with the cheese world by visiting cheese shows in the area. Several years back, Dario sent him to Italy and France for a few weeks with a mission to visit over 50 cheese shops to make sure V. Sattui’s marketplace was an authentic one. Keith is so steeped in cheese and its language that he has learned French simply though working with cheese. In fact, he was called Pierre so much by his fellow employees that it eventually ended up on his nametag – which he still wears to this day.
 

But Keith is not just another cheese-y face! He is an avid reader, devouring fiction and non-fiction alike (especially on the subject of cheese). Occasionally you may find him out on the green, as golf is a pastime he has indulged since childhood. His two big passions (after cheese, of course) are guitar and board games. He started playing on his sister’s guitar when he was just a boy, putting records on and trying to imitate the sounds. He loves playing bass, loves the deep, melodic rhythm of it and how it guides and unites the other instruments.  For a time he was in band (with a couple co-workers of yore) named “Binge” and has played at various weddings, as well as a couple local venues – Ana’s Cantina & the Silverado Brewing Company. Their repertoire included mostly classic rock, but Keith himself is a big fan of fusion or acid jazz and admires the likes of John Scofield and Charlie Hunter.  As for board games – he probably owns hundreds and doesn’t like to play the same game more than a few times. And we’re not talking Chutes and Ladders or Monopoly. Keith loves elaborate board games and can be found many a Thursday evening somewhere at the winery playing in-depth, highly strategic games with co-workers that can last several hours. Cheese and wine is always involved, of course! We recently sat down to a game called Domaine, a strategic game of territorial conquest, where Keith bested yours truly but lost out to another friend (& co-worker).
 

Keith’s tenure here speaks to the love and loyalty we employees have for V. Sattui, and the long-term relationships we foster here. He is an integral part of the company, and I couldn’t imagine my day without his advice on the best Blue with a creamier texture versus a crumbly one. Or the little samples he slips me when he’s slicing up cheeses for the case. If I were to liken him to a cheese, it would be our Cave Aged Gouda – aged and a little nutty, but much beloved by staff and customers alike. And yes, he is single, ladies.

 

{Keith at his 30th Anniversay celebration.
LEFT, with old pals Lynn (Cellar Club rockstar) and Ali (Direct-to-Consumer Marketing Manager).
RIGHT, with Jay (support staff and go-to guy) and Caitlin (Director of Events).}

 

Look forward to some cheese-y musings from the man himself, Keith Idle, in the coming weeks.

 

V. Sattui Winery
 
April 22, 2014 | V. Sattui Winery

V. Sattui Winery Celebrates Earth Day

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.

More on Napa Green Certified >

We invite you to celebrate Earth Day every day with V. Sattui Winery!

 

Oriana (Your Gal Friday)
 
April 16, 2014 | Oriana (Your Gal Friday)

To Salume or Not to Salume?

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!

 

Time Posted: Apr 16, 2014 at 12:23 PM
V. Sattui Winery
 
November 19, 2013 | V. Sattui Winery

Happy National Zinfandel Day

Zinfandel arrived in the United States in the 1820s and was first cultivated along the East Coast. It was brought to California in the 1850s and by the late 19th century was the state's most widely planted grape. It was very popular with home winemakers during Prohibition, but its reputation declined in the years following repeal. The grape was generally relegated to workhorse status. That began to change in the mid-to-late 1960s as winemakers and savvy drinkers began to discover the elegance and versatility that great Zinfandel could offer. Credit Ridge Vineyards of Saratoga, founded in 1962, for putting a serious face on the grape with their ground-breaking single vineyard wines.

V. Sattui’s Zinfandels were first released in 1975 with only a modest blend and a single Howell Mountain bottling. We now offer eight different vineyard-designated Zins, each distinctive and representative of its origin. SHOP NOW >>

FROM THE VIDEO ARCHIVES: Watch the Wine Guys explain the term "old Vine" Zinfandel

 

Time Posted: Nov 19, 2013 at 1:26 PM
Kyle (Resident Foodie)
 
November 18, 2013 | Kyle (Resident Foodie)

Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Soup

 

 

1 quart brown chicken stock

1 quart vegetable stock

1 turkey carcass, with meat removed

2 bay leaves

12 whole black peppercorns

2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil

2 garlic gloves, smashed and chopped

1 onion, small diced

1 carrot, small diced

1 stalk of celery, small diced

3 cups mixed vegetables

3 cups dark turkey meat, small to medium diced

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh italian parsley

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the turkey carcass and discard. Strain the stockpot contents into a container and set aside.1.  Put the stock, turkey carcass, 1 bay leaf and 6 peppercorns in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for one hour, uncovered.

In a large soup pot over medium heat add the oil and garlic. Stir until the garlic just starts to brown. Add the onion, carrot and celery and stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking for about 7 minutes, stirring often. Add the stock, remaining bay leaf and peppercorns and bring to a simmer. Add the mixed vegetables, turkey, thyme and rosemary seasoning. Bring to a simmer, cover, turn off the heat and let sit five minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste. The peppercorns will sink to the bottom. Serve in warm soup bowls.


Serves 8

V. Sattui Winery
 
November 14, 2013 | V. Sattui Winery

Consider Big Bottles…Size Matters

 

 

Size Does Matter!

When it comes to bottle sizes, the bigger the bottle, the greater potential for aging wines for the long term. Here’s why: the space between the top of the wine in the bottle and the bottom of the cork is referred to as the ullage. This space contains a very limited amount of air, which over time, oxidizes the wine very slowly. This slow, oxidative process is part of the magic that happens in a bottle of wine as it ages and it allows the wine to mellow and soften. Over time, corks also allow a minute amount of oxygen into the bottle, further accelerating the aging process.

The oxidation rate in bottled wine is a function of the ratio of air to wine in the bottle and the length of time of aging. Because big bottles contain more wine with about the same amount of ullage, these bottles can age much longer, compared with the traditional 750ml bottle, and can achieve complexities and flavors unique to their size. Large format bottles also allow us to drink older vintages long after 750ml bottlings have become old and tired. For these reasons, big bottles are preferred by collectors and wine enthusiasts.

Magnum to Nebuchadnezzar

Wine bottles range in size from the airline 187ml (quarter of a bottle) to sovereign, a bottle that holds 67 bottles or nearly six cases of wine (now that’s a party wine!) Each year, we bottle a limited number of magnums (2 bottles), double magnums (4 bottles), imperials (8 bottles) and Nebuchadnezzars (equal to 20 bottles) of our Preston and Morisoli Vineyard and Reserve Cabernets. 

We guarantee that you will be the biggest hit at your next party if you show up with one of these gargantuan bottles. The wax seal is brittle and breaks off easily with a few raps of a dinner knife handle or similar blunt object, and please be sure to use a good waiter’s corkscrew and pull slowly and straight!  How do you pour wine from a big bottle? Very carefully.

We have listed the most recent vintages in magnum and double magnum online.

Click here to shop large format wines

For older vintages and larger formats call 707-963-7774

 

Time Posted: Nov 14, 2013 at 9:47 AM
V. Sattui Winery
 
November 5, 2013 | V. Sattui Winery

Wish You Were Here!

 

 

There are few experiences greater than being in the Napa Valley in Autumn. Driving around at night when the air becomes colder and heavy, you can smell deep, profound aromas emanating from the pressed skins (called pomace) in the vineyards which literally perfume the air.

……….And the colors!! Vibrant colors bounce off a mantle of green grass brought about by fall rains. Did you ever wonder why certain vineyards become yellow and others red or both? Probably not. Well, without becoming too technical here is what you don’t see. The petiole (leaf stem) swells with the onset of colder and longer nights which does two things. It causes the Palisade layers in the leaf to collapse and chlorophyll production ceases turning the leaf yellow instead of green.

Secondly, at this time of year, all of the vine’s energy is now headed for the roots where it will be stored for bud break and initial shoot development next spring. Some vines and vineyards have contracted virus infections carried by mealy bugs or nematodes. This interferes with the movement of fluids in the vine and some of the anthocyanins (the stuff that makes tannin in wine) are trapped in the leaves turning them completely red or a mottled red. Some examples are Red Leaf Roll and Red Leaf Mosaic which effects the leaves more than the vines. The vines will wake up around mid March, as they do every year, and they will be just fine. You probably will not be able to look at a vineyard the same way again. In any event, when you are about to enjoy a glass of V. Sattui wine, just give our vineyards a little mental toast for all of the hard work they do.

Time Posted: Nov 5, 2013 at 12:00 AM
V. Sattui Winery
 
July 25, 2013 | V. Sattui Winery

Winemakers Anticipating Early Grape Harvest

Reprinted from KGO-TV/DT

If an expert were to guess the date only by looking at grapes ripening on vines, he or she would most likely say August, even based on what we're seeing in July. Grape growers say they're facing one of the earliest harvests ever.

The French word "veraison" describes when grapes turn from green to purple and signals ripening. It's happening now in the Napa Valley. According to Tom Davies, who runs V. Sattui Winery, this is the warning bell, or the start of a countdown to a harvest that may begin three weeks earlier, this year

It's all due to the weather. The dry spring kick started the grape growing season.

In reality, every wine from every season, even from the same vineyard, is different. Early wines from warmer seasons may be bolder, with more alcohol.

If the reds seem to be ripening fast, they're nothing compared with the whites. They don't change color, they just get softer and those grapes are almost ready now. Champagne grape growers say they could be picking by the first week of August.

Dario Sattui
 
June 17, 2013 | Dario Sattui

Daniel Reyes, V. Sattui Gardener Extraordinaire

A Winery for a Garden

By Dario Sattui

At V. Sattui Winery we have very little employee turnover. When a person is not doing well in an area, rather than giving up on him or her, we try to find a spot where he or she will excel. I believe everybody is good at something and only need a little guidance to find his or her niche.

Then we have some great employees who excel right from the start. We do everything we can to hold on to these rare few. Daniel Reyes has been one of these great employees right from the day he began at V. Sattui nearly thirty years ago.

A native of the small village of Yotatiro near Patzcuaro in the Mexican state of Michoacan, Daniel immigrated to the U.S. in 1979 at the age of 16 and worked at rose, chicken and mushroom farms in the Petaluma area before we met him.

When he came to V. Sattui, Daniel became our first (and only) gardener. He had never been a gardener before, so in a sense, we learned together—I, about the wine business, and he, about making our grounds beautiful. Now thirty years later, he is an accomplished veteran. Though he now has an assistant, he is still our only gardener. One needs only to come to the Winery to see how much care and expertise Daniel puts into his work. And he always has a friendly smile for everyone to go along with his soft and sweet nature.

Not only is Daniel loved by everybody at the Winery, both as a person and for the job he does, his work ethic is unsurpassed. He has been voted Employee of the Year more times than I can remember.

Over the years Daniel has become a trusted friend, a man who truly cares about his work and a great asset to our company in the Sattui family of employees. It is people like Daniel Reyes, each doing his part, that make V. Sattui Winery the great place it is.

Time Posted: Jun 17, 2013 at 3:32 PM
V. Sattui Winery
 
April 8, 2013 | V. Sattui Winery

Arts in April- Art Show at V. Sattui Winery

Come to V. Sattui Winery on April 8th-14th and meet artist Zeny Cieslikowski who will be showcasing his fine art photographs on our picnic grounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Additionally, on April 13 & 14, Fabio Sanzogni will be in the Vittorio Room displaying his original art pieces. Fabio designed our label Paradiso (Premium Bordeaux-blend). The Paradiso will be available to purchase in a special vertical for Arts in April.

Time Posted: Apr 8, 2013 at 9:55 AM
 
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