Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Monks Visit Montelena

One of the fun things about the holiday season is all the traditions that have sprung up along the way - some unique, some common, some just plain odd. These traditions bring us comfort as they are known, constant, and enduring - some just bring heartburn and make us question our better judgment.

Here at Chateau Montelena, one of the more entertaining holiday traditions is a pre-Christmas employee social gathering known as the Monk's Visit. Started some time ago, it is now an annual ritual were we all get together, snack on Dave Vella's (our vrd. mgr.) famous game sausage, pretzels, and other simple foods, exchange stories, chat about holiday plans, relax, and enjoy the presence of the monks. Never the same group of Monks, though there are always a few old favorites, some years there are few, other years many, but it is always a good time.

Hopefully your Holidays too are full of great traditions, and may Chateau Montelena or any Napa Valley wine be among them.

Cheers! Until next year,

Cameron Parry
Chateau Montelena

Oh - I almost forgot - the Monks in question are the Belgian Trappist variety, this years group is pictured above right.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Gifts Galore

Disclosure: I have no idea what's been going on in the cellar the past two weeks. :-S I saw some wine being pressed in the basket press last week, but I can only assume it was our Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon since it was the last of the fruit to come in during harvest. Our winemaker has been hard to track down lately!

What's he been up to? Let me introduce my new nephew, Matthew Alan, born on Saturday, 12/12. He's been keeping Alan & Mariela very busy lately! I overheard a friend saying to him today, "It's like harvest all over again," referring to the loss of sleep, long busy days, constant cleaning...

Matthew will be the only one not enjoying a glass of wine with my family's Christmas dinner this Thursday evening. His parents will definitely be toasting to 2010!

On other business, we have completed almost all of our holiday shipping. One part of our caves is dedicated to our shipping department, and our shipping manager is now on vacation. So my morning involved packing a few "DARE-ing Collections" for people who ordered over the phone and off our website. We'll probably get some calls tomorrow from people trying to find gifts for their friends and family -- to be sent before Christmas of course. We'll do it if they pay 2-Day Air! (Otherwise, the wine sits in a freezing warehouse all weekend, and it could possibly ruin the wine.)

Make sure you all stay warm out there!

Happy holidays,
Janet Viader
sales & marketing at VIADER

Friday, December 11, 2009

So what now?

OK, so the grapes are picked, the crush gear is clean and stored for the season, and the fermentations are finished (mostly), so what's going on in the winery now? Is everybody just sitting around staring at the barrels and biding their time until the holiday break?

Not a chance.

We're still very busy here in the winery getting the red wines through malolactic fermentation (the conversion of malic acid to lactic acid carried out by the bacterium Oenococcus oeni), waiting for a few Chardonnay and Riesling ferments to finish, and performing lots of rackings. Racking is the term we use for decanting (pumping) the clear wine off of any solids (lees) that have settled to the bottom of the tanks. These lees are largely comprised of dead yeast and bacterial cells along with some grape solids. Each of the red wines we make is normally racked 3-4 times before it goes to barrel for ageing, and each time we save those lees, so what happens to all the purple glop? Well, there is still wine mixed in with the lees, so we call in a filtration company and we have them use a Rotary Drum Vacuum filter to filter (see above pictures) out the solids and recover the wine from the lees. This recovered wine isn't of sufficient quality to be included in our products, so we sell it to other wineries or negociants that will blend it with other bulk lots to create other brands. Waste not want not, right?


Cameron Parry
Chateau Montelena Winery

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Season's Greetings

Work in the cellar was cut short this morning because all the water is frozen! The holding tanks next to the winery were not drawing any water during the night when the temperatures fell to the low 20's. All we can do is wait...

I suppose our fountain could act as an indicator of when the temperature get's back above freezing. It's 9:15am, and sunny, yet still in the 30's.

This is typical weather this time of year. Since the vines are now dormant, they are able to endure the extreme weather with no issue. Not until February will we treat the vines to some "TLC" with our pruning team. For now, they can just relax and dream of all the wonderful grapes they will produce for us next year.

Janet Viader of VIADER

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Napa Valley Vintners Toasting as Feds Approve Calistoga AVA

The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) announce that the long-awaited recognition of one of America's most historic wine places, Calistoga, an area within the Napa Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) has been approved by the Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the US Department of Treasury as the Calistoga AVA. This milestone represents years of hard work and unwavering leadership of US Representative Mike Thompson (D-St Helena).

"We could not have achieved this incredible victory for wine consumers and the wine industry had it not been for Representative Mike Thompson. He has worked tirelessly to ensure truth-in-wine-labeling for consumers and intimately understands the need for forthright protection of wine's place of origin," said NVV Executive Director Linda Reiff.

Learn more at the Napa Valley Vintners website.
Read Rep. Thompson's statement.
Read today's statement from the TTB.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Congrats to Clos Pegase! Winner of the ‘Best of Wine Tourism' Art & Culture Award

Last night the Napa Valley Vintners and community members gathered at Clos Pegase to celebrate the winery's recent receipt of the Great Wine Capitals 'Best of Wine Tourism' Art & Culture award.

Chosen from a combined 56 regional winners from each city of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network, the award recognizes owners Jan and Mitsuko's commitment to make Clos Pegase a temple of art and wine, sharing not only their wine, but their personal art collection with their customers.

A visit to Clos Pegase is an enlightening and enjoyable experience, with figures from Greek and Roman mythology – from Pegasus to Bacchus and Gaia – making continual appearances in the art and architecture of the winery, and the cave theatre.

“The integration of art and culture with the creation of outstanding wines is a lifelong passion for the owners of Clos Pegase,” said Bill Dodd, Napa County Supervisor and chair of the regional GWC committee. “Their contribution to what makes Napa Valley legendary is highly regarded.”

Visit Clos Pegase's website to learn more about the winery and art collection.