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Oriana LaForte
 
June 26, 2015 | Oriana LaForte

Not Just Another V. Sattui Love Story - Part 2

The Road to Wedded Bliss

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



Dinner and Reception in the Barrel Room
photo: Shannon Stellmacher

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

Alex and Justine's picks:

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


Must Love Dogs

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


Justine, Alex and Trixie


Michelin-Star Weddings

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

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

 

The Wine Tasting

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


Alex and Justine with their parents

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



Their wedding wine line-up

 

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

 

The Menu Tasting

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


Raffa, Alex, Justine, and Stefano

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

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

 

Next Steps

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

 

Time Posted: Jun 26, 2015 at 4:45 PM
Oriana LaForte
 
June 18, 2015 | Oriana LaForte

Staff Feature: Mark Roomian, proud father and master BBQer

Mark Roomian
Wine Consultant

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

Time Posted: Jun 18, 2015 at 4:25 PM
Oriana LaForte
 
May 20, 2015 | Oriana LaForte

Not Just Another V. Sattui Love Story - Part 1


The impromptu proposal
 

On a beautiful Saturday in January, Alex and Justine came to V. Sattui Winery with their dog, Trixie. Alex had told Justine that he wanted to enjoy a “family day,” just the three of them.

But Alex had something up his sleeve.

With nothing planned beforehand, Alex and Justine came to the winery, did a tasting, signed up for our Wine Club and talked with everyone that walked by (because their dog is just that adorable). As Alex checked out, he asked the cashier if there was a quiet spot he could propose to his girlfriend. Well, Alex asked the right person, because it just so happened that Tom Davies, President and Co-Owner of V. Sattui, (and - shall we divulge - hopeless romantic?) was behind the cashier desk that day. 

Tom had just the spot – our private Gold Room, an intimate room where stone cubbies are filled with dusty bottles of our older vintage wines and old wooden crates holding the biggest of bottles -the Nebuchadnezzar - lay. Always one to go above and beyond for our customers, Tom went on a quick mission – grabbing a bottle of our Prestige Cuvée sparkling wine, two flutes and a chiller and candles.

By the time they entered the private Gold Room, Justine may have had an idea of what was going on…


The happy(ily engaged) couple

 

A little bit of history
 

Alex and Justine met in college in 2007 at a birthday party for a mutual friend.


The first meeting

Alex was a Cal student athlete (Go Bears!) and played for the baseball team. Justine being a huge fan of baseball, Alex certainly did not escape her notice when he walked into the room. After spending the greater part of the night in the other’s company, they kept in contact over the next few months.

That Valentine’s Day, they went out to dinner (Olive Garden - life is hard with a student's budget!) and to make the relationship official, Justine presented Alex with personalized M&Ms that read “Will you be my BF?” 

After Alex’s initial shock wore off (your first experience with personalized M&Ms is pretty incredible) he said of course- and they’ve been inseparable ever since.


Officially boyfriend and girlfriend (2008) - my, how time flies!

Seven years (and several visits to V. Sattui) later, Alex and Justine have settled in Napa. Alex works for NorCal CrossFit and is very involved in all of the CrossFit games. Justine is a 6th grade teacher at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Napa. Some of her family lives in town as well, and she and he enjoy being closer to them.

 

Next steps
 

One day after the proposal in our Gold Room, Justine called the Winery and asked that we host their wedding, too. Of course, we couldn't be more thrilled! In the next two parts of the series, join them on their wedding journey as they pick out the menu, nail down the details and finally – tie the knot! 

In the meantime, check out these beautiful photographs (and meet the adorable Trixie!) from their engagement shoot in San Francisco, shot by the truly talented husband and wife team at jcpagephotography.com





Engagement shoot photos courtesy of the talented duo at jcpagephotography.com

 

Don't you just love love?
 

Oriana LaForte
 
January 30, 2015 | Oriana LaForte

The Quantum Entanglements of Wine

Sometimes things come along that are new and exciting. And sometimes, they also happen to be decidedly, and unapologetically, delicious. Like our newly released, 2012 vintage GSM blend called “Entanglement.” (A new release, by the way, is a wine we have NEVER made before. A new vintage is the newly released year [a.k.a. vintage] of a wine we have previously made.)

 

GSM who?
 

GSM stands for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. No, it has nothing to do with MSG. And no, it is not a GMS, though you may hear the letters SGM when someone refers to a blend from Down Under, as they like Syrah-heavy blends (or “Shiraz,” as they say – same grape, different name). A GSM blend is nothing new.  It has been the happening blend in the Rhône region for years (read: over a century).  You may have heard the name of one of the most famous examples: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one of the AOCs in the Rhône well-known for its beautiful examples of GSM blends. The great thing about blends is that each grape brings its own special something to the party – and when they get down – we all win.


Party down, people, party down

 

What are you bringing to the party?
 

Grenache.   In Spanish, this grape is known as "Garnacha". When I was pouring wine in the Tasting Room, a customer once told me that the phrase “a la garnacha” in Central America means “to beat” or “violently.” He said it refers to the way the sun beats down on the grapes there, slapping the back of one hand against the palm of the other for emphasis. Grenache does love hot, dry-climate areas.
Grenache is bringing… fruit, alcohol and a hint of spice.

Syrah.   Probably the most well-known of the three grapes to the average American consumer, Syrahs are some of the darkest, fullest-bodied wines out there. I’m talking fuller than a Cab. Oh yeah, baby, pour me a Syrah any day. This big, bad grape loves a long, cold soak after being picked; this soak helps to reduce some of the harsh tannin found in the grape.
Syrah is bringing… structure and boldness with dark fruit and earth.

Mourvèdre.   It is quite possible you may not have heard of this one. It is actually referred as “estrangle-chien” in French, which translates to "dog strangler" – lovely, right? It earns this name due to its extremely high tannin content. Because of this (and its rich color) it is often used as a blending grape. If you want to try it as a single-varietal wine, look for a Monastrell from Spain (Mourvèdre & Monastrell – another case of same grape, different name).
Mourvèdre is bringing… tannins and finish.

2012 Entanglement

Right away, this bottle captured my attention. I’m always partial to the soft, sloping shoulder of the Rhône bottle shape. Plus the cartouche (pronounced car-TOOSH) of the raised logo is really – dare I say it?- snazzy. Yes, snazzy. And the name - Entanglement - is just so enticing. I can't wait to get entangled in the wine.


The cartouche on our 2012 Entanglement

And then there’s the wine in the bottle. The first sniff transports you to a briar patch in the redwoods, and the first sip will make you fall in love. Black plum, black cherry and warm rhubarb pie, topped with just the perfect touch of fresh strawberries.

Pairing suggestion: Of course, this is a great wine for a rich meal – think pepper steak, lamb, or bison. Keep it simple and pan sear them before finishing in the oven. The spice in the wine will echo the pepper on the steak and make for a great pairing.
Dark chocolate is another friend to this wine, just stay away from fruit or highly acidic foods.

Questions or comments? Leave 'em below and I'll shoot you an email back!

And always - ENJOY!

 

Time Posted: Jan 30, 2015 at 9:00 AM
Oriana LaForte
 
November 25, 2014 | Oriana LaForte

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 LaForte
 
November 19, 2014 | Oriana LaForte

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

 

 

 

 

 

Oriana LaForte
 
October 20, 2014 | Oriana LaForte

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.

 

Oriana LaForte
 
April 16, 2014 | Oriana LaForte

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
 
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