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Keith (aka Pierre the Cheesemonger)
 

Stinky Cheese- Mucking About Amongst the Monks

Imagine, if you will, that you are a monk during the Middle Ages.  Your wool cloak torments you (fabric softeners are but a gleam in some inventor’s eye).  Despite excellent acoustics, the droning chants are getting on your nerves.  Add to these drawbacks, when dinner comes, you are faced with bread, vegetables and a lump of tasteless fermented milk.  Fortunately, there is wine.  So you end up drinking away your troubles.  Perhaps it was during one of these sojourns to inebriation that a disgruntled monk decided to alter his daily cheese.

Cheese aging cellars in those days were not sanitary.  If there was greenish-grayish-bluish mold covering the walls, then God must have had some reason for placing it there.  In the course of many years (and at the possible expense of many monks), brave souls ate the cheese that had been encrusted with the same mold as found on the walls.  Indeed, if one believes in divine guidance, then it is nothing short of miraculous that in some of those monastery cellars, molds mutated with other bacteria and actually created a living substance that improved the flavor of the cheese.  Enter our tipsy monk.  He may have (for twisted reasons only known to himself) scraped the mold off the walls, mixed it with water or wine, added some salt and began to furiously rub this obnoxious mixture over the surface of innocent cheeses. 

Thus was born the category of cheeses that we call monastery cheeses.  A behavior that was formally called perverse, is now fully sanctioned by cheesemakers everywhere…washing the rind.  It seems that this washing process produces an aroma of unsurpassed distinction, and many know them as "stinky cheeses".

At V. Sattui Winery our cheese case has a number of washed rind "stinky" cheeses, with glorious aromas that tend to make great wine partners.  Try St. Nectaire, a lighter washed rind cheese with subtle earthy tones paired with V. Sattui’s 2012 Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir

Our new Dancing Egg Riesling is a great pairing with Pont L’Eveque, a funkier washed rind cheese from Normandy. 

Morbier is a firmer washed-rind cheese from the Jura mountain range in the Western Alps.  This cheese pairs well with our 2012 Napa Valley Grenache or our 2012 Napa Valley Syrah.  

Or try Epoisse, a lovely creamy, aromatic cheese with a reddish-orange rind that couples nicely with our 2012 Anderson Valley Pinot.

 

Let us know what you think of Washed Rind cheeses and any favorite wine pairings you recommend!

 

Oriana (Your Gal Friday)
 
November 25, 2014 | Oriana (Your Gal Friday)

A Winemaker's Thanksgiving

Cooler days and chillier nights are upon us. Ahhh, the holiday season. With Halloween down, bring on Turkey Day!! Thanksgiving, as you know, is a time for turkey and family and…  jalapeños?? Well, it is for V. Sattui’s Winemaker Laura Orozco!

Laura in her various incarnations as Winemaker

Laura and her family are from the state of Michoacán in Mexico, and while they have nearly fully embraced the turkey, stuffing and cranberry staples so common on our Thanksgiving tables (up until a few years ago, they had to have beans and tortillas at her dad, Francisco’s, insistence); jalapeños will always be a requirement. Chicken is another important must-have at the table – not everyone is a fan of turkey, including Laura’s dad and her husband, Felipe.



Laura and Felipe at our 30th Annual Harvest Ball
September, 2014


Of all of the holidays throughout the year, Thanksgiving is Laura’s favorite because it is the one time a year when her whole family gathers around one table and eats together. She and her husband bring their two girls, Nadia, 2, and Paola, 6, to her uncle David’s (her dad’s brother) house in the Mayacamas – the designated “Thanksgiving house.” David has been the vineyard foreman at Pride Mountain Vineyards for over two decades and lives in the old ranch house on the property there.

Twenty-five of Laura’s aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family come together and bring their children for a Thanksgiving family feast. Everyone is in charge of bringing a dish and Laura brings the chicken for the non-turkey-lovers.

Check out her delicious recipe below! 

After serving themselves buffet-style, everyone sits down to dinner and Laura’s mom, Arcelia, leads them in grace. Then, they take the time to go all the way around the table and have each person say a few words on what they are thankful for. Turkey (or chicken!) follows with much happiness and laughter interspersed and industry talk, since most of her family works in the wine industry in some capacity or another.

When dinner is done and bellies are full, everyone gathers around for a game of Lotería, a sort of Mexican-style bingo with pictures.

As crazy as Thanksgiving can get, with family coming in and out and kids to corral and food to prepare, it is wonderful to see such a pure example of the spirit of Thanksgiving: love, family and the true enjoyment of one another’s company. Because truly, that is what it’s all about.

So from our table – and Laura’s table – to yours, have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving and remember to give thanks, as Laura does, for family, health and togetherness.

Laura's dad (Francisco), Laura, her sister (Jessica), her mom (Arecelia), and her brother (Jaime) holding her daughter (Paola)

 


 

Here is Laura’s recipe for juicy roasted chicken that she makes for the non-turkey-lovers in her family. Do you have something special or different that is a must-have on your Thanksgiving table? Leave us a comment and let us know what it is!

Orange and Garlic Roasted Chicken

Marinate the chicken overnight in apple cider vinegar and season with garlic salt.

Put the chicken on a roasting rack and stuff with onion and sliced oranges. Surround with cubed potatoes, yams and onions and roast it like you would a turkey.

Enjoy!

 

Oriana (Your Gal Friday)
 
November 19, 2014 | Oriana (Your Gal Friday)

What Flavor Are You??

Riesling is for everyone and everyone should be for Riesling. It is the MOST food-friendly wine, pairing easily with foods that run the gamut, from typical table fare to more exotic cuisines and flavors.

Are you light & sweet or crisp & dry? Riesling can be made in different styles, from the bone-dry that make you think you’re quaffing a tart Sauvignon Blanc, to the sweet and rich Late Harvests made for after-dinner relaxation and everything in between.

There is even a website wholly dedicated to Rieslings, with everything you need to know about the different regions they’re grown in the world over. The URL is (go figure) www.drinkriesling.com. They also have a handy dandy sweetness scale (called the “Riesling Taste Profile”) with which to categorize your Riesling, which helps make sure everyone is on the same page when referring to a Riesling as “dry” versus “medium sweet.”

The more technical stuff
 

In order to calculate where the wine falls, you’ll need to know RS, TA and pH. RS stands for residual sugar and is the sugars left after fermentation. It is often expressed in grams per liter but can also be calculated as a percentage. TA is titratable acidity and pH is a different expression of acidity (remember – water is neutral with a pH of 7). I could geek out on you and talk and the negative logarithms of hydronium ions, but I’m sure you’ve had enough.

So when figuring out where a Riesling should be on the Taste Profile, you find the ratio of the sugars to the acid (TA) and factor in the pH. Remember when you were in school and you used to ask your teacher, “When are we ever gonna use this math and science stuff in real life?” Well now you know the answer – to figure out which Riesling to drink, of course!!

Oh, but don’t think you’ll actually have to do any calculations – I’ve done all the heavy (brain) lifting for you. Check out where our different Riesling fall on the chart below.

What Riesling are you?
 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about you. Yes, you. Who are you? Or more importantly, what Riesling are you?

 

OFF-DRY RIESLING

 

Do you like exotic foods that you order extra spicy, like Thai food or curry?

Are you the sweetest one of all of your friends (c’mon, you know you are!)?

Do you sometimes wish you could eat dessert instead of dinner?

Then curl your hands around a cold, cold glass of Off-Dry Riesling.

 

The sweeter the wine, the spicier the food you want to pair it with. The sweetest of our Riesling line-up, our Off-Dry Riesling stands up well to spicy Indian curries, spicy Mexican or spicy Thai food... are you sensing a theme, here? Think about this when you break out the sweet potato or pecan pie in a week.

                                         Spicy Indian Curries

 

DRY RIESLING      

 

Do you like to have a go-to wine to take to parties at friend's houses?

Could you eat sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Do you like sunsets and long walks on the beach?

Get this lightly-sweet, lightly-crisp Dry Riesling stat!

 

 

Our Dry Riesling is THE sushi wine - the light sweetness coupled with a delicate wash of acidity on the finish makes this perfect for the equally delicate flavors of sticky rice, roe and sushi-grade fish. It also stands up nicely to an autumn dish of pumkin ravioli with brown butter sauce and pecans. 

              Pumpkin ravioli                                    Sushi



ANDERSON VALLEY RIESLING

 

Do you like seafood, pastas with light sauces and Asian foods with just a hint spice?

Do you like wines wines with balance and finesse (I mean, who doesn’t?)?

Are you the middle child, always mediating between your older and younger sibling?

Grab a glass of our Anderson Riesling and get mediatin’!

 

This crisp and clean, well-balanced Riesling is perfect for and kind of grilled or broiled seafood dish, as well poultry - I'm thinking a beatifully brined turkey with herbed stuffing may be in this Anderson Valley Riesling's future...

Grilled Snapper

DANCING EGG RIESLING

 

Do you like crisp autumn days when the wind nips at your cheeks?

Do you like to show off great wine finds to your friends?

Is “Humpty Dumpty” your favorite nursery rhyme?

Twist the cap off the Dancing Egg and pour away!

 

 


This delicious dancer is a favorite among us here at the winery. The wonderful minerality makes it perfect for so many foods, from a plate of freshly shucked oysters to richer dishes of fish and poultry - even veal or pork. Just stay away from sweeter dishes. Our Dancing Egg Riesling would be another boon to the Thanksgiving table, pairing nicely with a side of roasted acorn squash, yams and apples with cranberry and walnuts.

 Roasted squash, yams and apples

 

 

 

 

 

V. Sattui Winery
 
November 10, 2014 | V. Sattui Winery

A Chef’s Tour Through Napa & Sonoma

You may recognize Chef Stefano Masanti from some of our memorable events at V. Sattui, like our Harvest Ball where this year he created a beautiful six-course meal for our 490 guests.  Or you may have tasted his delicious wood-fired pizza at our Crush Party in October.  Stefano has become a good friend to our Winery family, and we are thrilled that he will be joining us next year from April to October as a guest chef at the Winery!

Stefano will create food for group events, weddings, and other special occasions at V. Sattui. In his home town of Madesimo, Italy, Stefano is known for sourcing the best local ingredients to use in his restaurant, Il Cantinone.  He’s a member of the international Slow Food organization, and he has received numerous accolades, including a Michelin star, and his restaurant  was just awarded by Gambero Rosso, a well-respected food and wine magazine, as one of the best Italian restaurants that promotes local food and farmers.  Il Cantinone was also just named one of the best 60 restaurants in Italy by L’Espresso, the guide to Italian restaurants.

Stefano and his wife, Rafaella, run not only the restaurant in the ski-resort town of Madesimo, but also a small hotel called the Sport Hotel Alpina.  While Stefano is busy cooking delicious food, Rafaella, a sommelier, pairs it with great wine and makes sure all restaurant and hotel guests are comfortable.  Stefano and Rafaella are the epitome of warm, Italian hospitality. ..easygoing and funny, yet conscientious of every detail that goes into making people feel welcome.  After spending just a few hours with them, it is easy to feel as if you’ve been friends forever!

 The couple plans to continue their philosophy of cooking with local ingredients while they’re at V. Sattui.  They set out to discover the abundance of produce, fish, meats and cheeses in Napa and Sonoma counties and to meet the people who make them.  We’d like to share this journey with you.

Preservation Sanctuary & Learning Center- Calistoga
Douglas Hayes is the owner of this small farm, tucked into a hillside in Calistoga.  Hayes is devoted to preserving heritage breed chickens, hogs, and produce.  To hear him talk about the relationship among the animal, farmer and the cook is a spiritual experience.  His staunch belief is that love and respect for animals and all life results in delicious food that is good for you.  Mindful chefs in the area agree.  You will find meat and produce from Azalea Springs Farm at a few local restaurants, including the French Laundry, who purchases eggs from his chickens.

Tierra Vegetables Farm Stand- Santa Rosa
This urban 20-acre farm is a mecca for both chefs and home cooks looking for local, fresh produce throughout the year.  Tierra Vegetables grows a wide variety of vegetables, chilis, beans (fresh and dried).  They even grow and mill their own corn meal and produce popcorn!  Brother and sister Wayne and Lee James have created a ground-breaking partnership with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District to lease 17 of their acres from the county.  The result is a convenient, family-friendly farm that is accessible to the public.  Check their website for farmstand hours and special events.

Haverton Hill Creamery
This family owned and operated sheep dairy was just established in 2010.  

Joe and Missy Adiego, along with Joe’s parents, Tony and Jolene Adiego, have a passion for animals and agriculture  and a drive to produce top quality sheep’s milk and products made from the milk.  Haverton Hill sells their farm-fresh sheep’s milk at Whole Foods markets and other specialty retailers in the Bay Area.  Soon you’ll also find their creamy sheep’s milk ice cream and sheep’s milk butter too.  Not only is sheep’s milk highly nutritious, it can be consumed by people who are lactose intolerant.

Ramini Mozzarella
Pioneers Craig Ramini and Audrey Hitchcock are the animal lovers behind this small, unique farm and creamery.  It started with Craig’s dream to get back to his Italian roots and make real buffalo mozzarella cheese.  However, that requires milk from Italian water buffalo, which are not found in the U.S.  Craig fixed that problem by starting his own herd.  Currently they make fresh buffalo mozzarella and some ricotta cheese for wholesale to a few Bay Area restaurants.  But when you see it on a menu, it is worth ordering this handmade, farmstead cheese.

Double 8 Dairy
This is a newer Italian water buffalo dairy, located just a few miles from Ramini Mozzarella.  After purchasing the buffalo from the Ramini farm, Andrew Zlot started his own dairy and creamery where he uses the creamy, rich milk to make gelato.  The Double 8 Dairy gelato is available in restaurants and a few specialty markets in the Bay Area.  Look for flavors like Fior di Latte, which translates to just the flavor of the milk.  They don’t add cream, eggs or vanilla, yet the gelato is some of the creamiest you’ll find, due to the high fat content in the buffalo milk.  Also look for Raspberry (made with local fruit) and Candy Cap Mushroom!

V. Sattui Winery
 
November 3, 2014 | V. Sattui Winery

Taste fireside in our Vittorio Tower!

If you are looking for an elevated, intimate and exclusive tasting experience, look no futher. On those chilly autumn days, V. Sattui is now offering a fireside tasting located in our Vittorio's Tower. It will include our estate wines, limited releases and even some older vintages, such as our 2007 Preston Vineyard Cabernet - a bold valley floor Cabernet from the acclaimed Rutherford AVA with ripe cherry flavors, or our 2009 Mount Veeder Cabernet - a highly-awarded hillside Cabernet with rich flavors of plum, cassis and an herbal tinge.

 

 

 

 

As you cozy up by the fire, savor six of some of our best wines at a cost of $20 per person ($15 for club members). Curl your fingers around a glass and enjoy respite from the cold, blustery day outside. It's a tasting experience to share with friends and family alike as we move into the holiday season.

 

 

 

Fireside tastings are offered from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on chilly days from mid-October through March. No reservations are necessary.

Available only to guests 21 years of age and older.

Call us at 707-963-7774 for more information. See you soon!

Keith (aka Pierre the Cheesemonger)
 

The few... the proud... the Cheeses Freaks

Hi.  My name is Keith and I am a Cheeses Freak.  Now, you too can become one.  All you need to do is find a nice comfy chair, lower the lights and relax.  Now, with your eyes closed, repeat these words: “Cheese is my sole purpose for existence.  I am the cheese.  The cheese is I.”  That’s it!  You are now (imagine me with a sinister twisted grin on my face and rubbing my gnarly hands together) one of the few, the proud, The Cheeses Freaks.  


 

Cheese:  What is it and…what’s that smell?


You may be asking yourselves, as the great thinker Einstein once did, what is cheese?  Did it just, like, fall out of the sky or something?  If you believe that, you are a complete imbecile.  Babies, of course, fall out of the sky where they are caught by storks and delivered to their parents.  But cheese???  Poppycock!

First you must start with milk.  “Yeah, yeah...I know that,” you may be saying.  But, Mr./Ms. Smartyboots, cheese comes from many different animals.  Cows (whose only lot in life is to produce milk and get eaten…not the brainiest sort), sheep (who figure prominently in the social lives of New Zealanders), goats (my personal favorite…tres cute and accomplished nuzzlers), water buffaloes (less like the American Bison and more like the cow…but with prettier feet), and other, but less utilized, animals.

yak or reindeer's milk cheese, anyone??

Once the curds have turned the metaphorical cold shoulder to the whey, you more or less have cheese.  The great cheese philosophers still battle over this definition so let’s take it a bit further.  The curd may be placed in a mold and left (with Yanni music in the background) to drain off further whey or pressed (with AC/DC music in the background) to expel even more liquid.  Generally, a little salt is added or (cheeses REALLY like this) rubbed in the rind and it is left to ripen and age for a spell.After you got your basic pool o’ milk, you dump a little starter (no spark plugs or radiators) in to alter the milk’s acidity level and prepare it for its “leap towards immortality.”  This starter is sometimes different from cheese to cheese and lends its own special flavor.  Next, toss in a pinch or two of rennet.  This hastens the separation of the curds (solid chunks that look like part of tofu stew) and whey (watery liquid that looks like melted tofu stew).  These two components may be more familiar to you in the nursery rhyme, “George-y porgy sat on his tuffett eating his curds and whey, then stuck in his thumb and pulled out four and twenty blackbirds.”  Whoaaa pardner!  Let’s back up and examine that “rennet” thing again.  What’s rennet?  I wish you hadn’t asked.  It’s sorta…well…gotten from the inside of a calf’s intestine.  Eeeooouu.  You know that feeling when you did your first dissection on a frog?  Same feeling, huh?  So you may be asking why, then, we don’t just use the intestines of a frog for rennet.  Well, we can’t…that’s why.  Okay?  To make you feel a little bit better, vegetable rennet is being used quite a bit now in place of animal rennet but the vegetables aren’t too thrilled about it.

mmm... salt...

As my grandfather used to say, “Stand up straight!”  He also used to say, “There you have it.”  Cheese. Of course, each variety of cheese goes through its own special procedure.  Brie gets sprayed with a mold.  Parmesan gets aged for a longer time.  Gouda is wrapped in wax.  Velveeta is blended with…HEY!  how did you get in here Mr. Faux Fromage?  More on this offending bastard (pardon my language) of cheese later.

And now... CHEESE!!
 

Let’s round out this introduction to cheese with an introduction to one of our local creameries (sounds better than saying cheesemaking factory, huh?): Cowgirl Creamery, out of Petaluma. You HAVE to visit this place or go for a tour – locations in San Francisco and Point Reyes and they make some of the best American cheeses.
 

Mt. Tam is their flagship, an organic, triple cream, washed rind (or surface ripened) cheese. Named after Mt. Tamalpais, a Northern California landmark, this is a smooth and creamy cheese with a melt-in-your-mouth buttery flavor.

Fast Facts:

Country: USA
Region/City, State: Petaluma, CA
Milk: Cow
Texture: Soft
Rind: Bloomy
Aging: 3 weeks
 

Use this as dessert, with a nice glass of Sauternes or a Late Harvest Riesling. Pairing it with some spiced roasted walnuts will really set off the creaminess of the cheese. Optimum eating is when the cheese is oozing deliciousness over the bloomy rind. Look for the firmer center to be only slightly larger than a quarter.

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
 
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