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September 2016

News Highlights

 2013 Nobile: new release of our Cab-Syrah blend from an outstanding vintage.
 Tuscany Cooking Class: Our final cooking class of the year on November 6.
 Earthquake Recipe: Bucatini Amatriciana pays tribute to a devastated Italian hill town.
 Corporate Gifts: Need a tasteful gift for clients or colleagues? We can help.
 From Lise: Steve Jobs' unconventional lessons about the wine business

Italians say “expect nothing, appreciate everything." As our harvest season gets into high gear in northern California, we’re trying to moderate our expectations, although 2016 is shaping up to be another great vintage. The backroads of Healdsburg are filled with lumbering grape trucks and the air is filled with the enchanting smell of fermenting grapes. The anticipation and excitement of harvest never gets old, even as we head into our 15th vintage!

Here at Montemaggiore we haven’t actually picked any grapes yet—although we’ll probably start later this week. The cooler temperatures of our high elevation delays ripening, and our primary varietals (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon) are late-season ripeners regardless of where they are planted. Barring rain, unseasonably scorching temperatures, or any other disaster, we expect to have a fairly steady harvest over the next 3 weeks, with near average yields, and above average quality.

2013 Nobile Release:  an outstanding Vintage

Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy the latest vintage of our popular Cabernet-Syrah blend called Nobile.  With 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Syrah, the blend combines cabernet's strengths of structure, ageability, and depth, with with syrah's strengths of broad fruit flavors and soft tannins—resulting in a wine that's easy to drink young or aged with a lot of complexity to keep you sipping.

The 2013 Nobile features enticing aromas of brambly blackberry, black cherry and espresso along with hints of cocoa and dried herbs. On the palate, the wine had a wonderful weight, balancing power and elegance, with luscious finish.  2013 was an outstanding vintage for Montemaggiore wines, one of our top three vintages over our first twelve years. Only 225 cases produced.

Shop for Nobile

Note that with the onset of cooler weather, we are starting to ship wine after a summer hiatus. We continue to check local temperatures, but if you ordered wine over the summer you should soon see a shipping notice in your inbox, and wine on your doorstep. 

November Class focused on foods of Tuscany

On Sunday, November 6th we’ll host the last of our 2016 Italian Cooking Classes.  With the cooler weather, our regional focus will shift to the north, and Chef Gloria has selected a fabulous menu including Wild Boar Ragú, fresh Chestnut Pasta and Torta della Nonna, a wonderful Tuscan delight of pastry cream and pine nuts in a flaky crust

If you’ve never attended one of our classes, you should know that both accomplished cooks and those who prefer the sidelines will have fun. First we’ll sit down to enjoy antipasti while Gloria explains the special ingredients and techniques of the region. Then everyone will break off into groups to prepare our feast. Finally, we’ll sit down again to enjoy the fruits of our labor—along with perfectly paired Montemaggiore wines. This promises to be a fun-filled, leisurely afternoon of food, wine, and new friends.

Reserve Tickets

Earthquake Tribute Recipe: Bucatini Amatriciana

The August earthquake that rocked central Italy hit the small hill town of Amatrice (population: 1,046) especially hard. Living in California, we not only have empathy for the people affected, but were also concerned about our family in Siena—about 100 miles away from the epicenter. While most of Vincent’s family hails from Montemaggiore in Sicily, one branch has called Tuscany their home for several generations (hence we chose Tuscan varietals for our olive grove). Vincent was relieved to hear that although the Ciolinos in Siena felt tremors, they were not seriously affected.

The plight of Amatrice and its neighbors inspired many around the world to “fight back” with food, specifically by raising money at Italian restaurants through orders of Pasta Amatriciana, the signature dish of the town. Some consider this town to be the birthplace of the best cooks in Italy, many of whom have been chefs to the Popes. This revered dish is made with guanciale (cured pork cheek), whose rich flavors are balanced by caramelized onions, pecorino cheese, and a little hot pepper.  We hope you’ll try this Bucatini Amatriciana recipe paired with Montemaggiore’s Paolo’s Vineyard Syrah, and donate money to the relief effort. If your source for specialty meats doesn’t carry guanciale, try substituting pancetta or unsmoked bacon.

Corporate Gifts of Wine & Olive Oil

Looking for a tasteful way to say "Thank You for Your Business", "Congratulations” or "Happy Holidays"? Need wine for a special event? We can help, especially with:

Just give us a call at 707.433.9499 or email Vincent.  We’re happy to help!

From Lise: Steve Jobs taught me everything I know... 

Upon learning that I once worked for Steve Jobs, people often ask “What was he like to work for?” Typically I give a brutally honest answer describing the rollercoaster ride: with Steve, one moment you were a hero, and the next moment you were a sh**head. But that answer is too shallow and doesn’t reflect the fact that almost everyone who worked with Steve was significantly and positively affected by him. I am where I am today because of that experience and looking back, I realize that Steve Jobs taught me everything I know about the wine business.

First a little background: winemaking is a second career for me. My first career of 15 years utilized my university degrees in applied mathematics and software engineering.  Early in my first career, I went to work for Steve Jobs at NeXT, the company he founded during his “sabbatical” from Apple. Perhaps I was especially young and impressionable at this time, but he was definitely a force-of-nature! I learned everything from Steve about the wine business, or at least the wine business as I know and practice it.  (And I don’t think he even drank wine...).

Lesson #1: Compromise is not an option

To most people, compromise is necessary; it’s a way of life, a way of getting along.  Steve never believed in compromise. Of course, this made him very challenging to work with—but on the positive side, he made sure that we never compromised on quality when it came to the product. Everything was sacrificed for quality (including some peoples’ mental health).

Today, much to my current business partner’s consternation (remember, he’s also my husband), there are certain things I just will never compromise on. For example, during crush, when I’ve been doing physically-demanding work for many days and nights on end—he sees how hard I’m working and periodically suggests that maybe, just the once, I could slack off a bit and the grapes wouldn’t even notice. But I can’t. This the most important time period during the winemaking cycle. I just can’t compromise on something that may affect the wine’s quality. I would never feel good about settling for less (even though it might be better for my own mental and physical health). When it comes to quality of the product, compromise is not an option.

Lesson #2: No detail is too small

Steve was notorious for paying attention to the pickiest little detail in the product, making sure it was perfect. He believed that users of the computer would consciously or subconsciously notice tiny details—or at least the engineers could take pride in those details—and he was right. Whether it was the design of the cardboard box the computer came in, the polish of a surface internal to the computer, or the font in the documentation—he insisted that every detail be perfect.

I take pride in the details regarding my “product”. Details that wine consumers wouldn’t notice—but even if you don’t see it, I gain satisfaction from knowing that I did everything “right”. Whether it’s sorting the grapes at harvest both before and after destemming, the font on our website, or the topmost edge on our label—every little detail adds up to a whole. Did you know that that the topmost edge on our label mimics the exact mountain ridge as seen from our vineyard? Probably not, but I do know that, and I take pride in the fact that this adds a “sense of place” to our wines. Every detail is important.

Lesson #3: You must believe

No one was just an employee at NeXT, everyone was a 100% believer—and the moment you stopped believing was the moment you left the company. I joined NeXT in 1990 when it was in the business of producing a $10,000 computer for the higher education market! What? How many schools could pay that much for a single personal computer?! Certainly no other computer company was silly enough to consider that a viable market. But the NeXT machine, both in hardware and in software, was a revolutionary product created by very talented people who achieved the unimaginable—all because we believed. And lest you think it was all for naught, NeXT lives on today in the Apple iPhone and many other companies' products.

I believe in Syrah. I believe in mountain-grown, biodynamically-farmed, estate Syrah. Conventional wisdom would dictate that Vincent and I purchase most of our grapes (to mitigate risk), produce Cabernet or Pinot Noir (the popular and trendy varietals), and farm in the most expedient manner (using chemicals, on flat ground). But Syrah is my lifelong passion, I believe the best wines are made from mountainsides, growing grapes satisfies my soul, and I want to leave our little 55-acre property in better shape then when I moved here. That’s the business I want to be in. It’s not an easy road, but I am determined to make it work. I believe... and I believe that in some small way, Montemaggiore wine can make a difference in your life—enhancing celebrations, enriching friendships, improving great meals, or simply slowing you down to enjoy the moment.

So thank you Steve, for teaching me a lot about myself, winemaking, and the business I want to be in.

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Final Note to Wine Club members: You should receive an email regarding our Fall Club Selection in the next few weeks, and we hope local members will be able to join us on October 22nd for Vendemmia.  Based on your voting, paella will be the main dish at our harvest party and we're looking forward to seeing you soon!

We hope you experience (and appreciate) a wonderful Fall season,