19 2012on January
at 4:28 pm
Landscape Designer Daniel Townsend shares the reward and satisfaction of composting at Far Niente.
We are deep into our frigid winter with mid- to low-20s, cold for the Napa Valley. I see a plume of steam on our compost pile. I investigate and find that our pressure cooker beneath the mound is a comfortable 82 degrees Fahrenheit, nearing the end of the cook cycle.
We compost most everything from our gardens and winery, using all of the leaf litter from the woodland gardens, grass clippings, wood chips, and grape harvest materials, such as seeds and stems, must or pumice, and grape vine cuttings. We make about 150 yards of compost a year here in the Far Niente gardens. It is very rewarding to sink your hands into this black gold and to be able to introduce this back into the gardens, coming full circle again and again.
12 2012on January
at 1:58 pm
Winemakers are scientists at heart, as Winemaker Nicole Marchesi reveals in our latest blog post.
I have a secret to share about winemakers. We’re really not as cool as you think we are. Deep down we’re just a bunch of geeks. Ok, so maybe we’re a bunch of geeks who have the really cool job of making wine.
Tasting wine and making blends is not the only thing that excites us. Graphs and charts and statistical analysis get us going too. A perfectly straight standard curve can be almost as alluring that first sip of Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon. Our Chardonnay looks almost as tempting in an Erlenmeyer flask as it does in a broad Burgundy wine glass. Almost. While the science behind winemaking is not quite as pleasing as enjoying the finished product, it is still allows our inner geeks to have a lot of fun!
Allow me to elaborate. Recently, my fellow winemaker, Greg, and I were in the lab with our enologist huddled around her computer screen. We were discussing the standard curve calibration for an enzymatic assay to measure malic acid (read: words, words, science, words, math, more science, etc.). One of us made a comment about the concentration of one of the standards, and all three of us burst out laughing. (It was funny, I swear!) A member of our hospitality team happened to walk by the lab and asked what was so funny. He looked at the computer screen and said, “Oh…numbers.” Yep, we’re geeks.
Tags: Nicole Marchesi
At a time when resolutions are all around us, we’re keeping to the same resolution we’ve made for years: to continue making great wine—and to have fun doing it!
What do we have planned for 2012? Beyond tending the vineyards, keeping busy in the cellar, maintaining the historic stone winery and greeting the guests that visit us each day, we have a year full of great events planned. First up: the much-anticipated annual Cabernet release day on Saturday, February 4. (Click here for details.)
For those of you who haven’t joined us for Cab Release Day in the past, the event marks the official release of our newest, 2009 vintage. It’s also a spectacular showcase of our Cave Collection Cabernets. You are greeted with a glass of Far Niente Chardonnay before you enter the barrel-lined caves. Tucked along the passages you’ll find stations where Cave Collection vintages and, of course, our new release, are served. Winemaker Nicole Marchesi is also on hand to pour tastes of the vintage currently aging in barrel—we’re looking forward to seeing how the 2010 Far Niente Cab is developing! And be sure to say hello to Proprietress Beth Nickel and President and CEO Larry Maguire who will be mingling at the event.
Throughout your journey through the caves, Chef Trevor Eliason and his team will bring delicious bites from the kitchen. Your experience is capped with Dolce and an array of sweets as well as the opportunity to purchase your favorite wines. No matter the weather, the elegance of the caves, the warm atmosphere and wonderful wines make for a beautiful day.
We hope you are having a great start to the year and that we will see you soon!
20 2011on December
at 2:06 pm
In our last blog post of 2011, Larry Maguire, President and CEO, pays tribute to a friendship that has stood the test of time.
Two weeks ago at our annual holiday party one of our staff members snapped this picture of Dirk and me. I couldn’t help but think back on the nearly 30 years that Dirk and I have been working together.
When I arrived on Valentine’s Day 1983, to be the sales and marketing director for Gil and Beth, Dirk was the assistant winemaker. At that time, Gil maintained the title of winemaker, and we had a consultant winemaker who guided them both.
It would have been impossible for me to have envisioned the picture above. Since the first holiday party where Dirk and I celebrated, our company has grown from six employees with one winery to 120 employees, four wineries and a vineyard company. Of course, none of this could have happened without the incredible employees with whom we celebrated that day.
In this photo you can see the smile between two great friends who have been working together virtually their entire adult lives. Perhaps you can also see the glint in the eyes that suggest someone is just getting ready to jab the other with a one-liner. So it goes. I’m sure you can imagine that back in 1983, Dirk and I had significantly more hair. It’s probably not necessary to point out that what I still have is black!
Our latest post contains a couple of tasty recipes from Director of Winemaking Dirk Hampson–just in time for the holidays!
Harvest is in the barn and the holidays have arrived. I love the lights on the olive trees at Far Niente and make a point to drive by them after dark. They are magical, but you should pay attention to the trees opposite the olives.
On the other side of the driveway, all the leaves have dropped from the four persimmon trees that flank the winery. The orange persimmons look like beautiful ornaments and are one of my favorite displays this time of year.
Last week I picked some persimmons. If you haven't done it, they tend to be as hard as baseballs. You have to put them in a paper bag with a banana or an apple to ripen. It has something to do with ethylene gas…
My family likes to make persimmon pudding with foamy brandy sauce. If you haven't had persimmon pudding, it’s a foamy brandy sauce delivery system… And, for the holidays, foamy brandy sauce is the best! Actually, foamy brandy sauce can make anything taste good. We don't remember where this recipe came from as it has been in our clipping file so long that it is browned, covered with grease spots and dog eared. I assume it was lifted from some magazine.
Beware, foamy brandy sauce is the heroine of the sauce world. Even if it isn't addictive, it has enough butter to clog unsuspecting arteries and is worth it!
Since this is a wine blog, I might recommend Dolce with this.
2 large ripe, unpeeled persimmons, halved and seeded
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup milk
Cut the persimmons into pieces and place in a food processor (or blender) fitted with the steel blade and purée. This should yield about one cup.
In a large bowl combine purée, sugar, egg and two tablespoons unsalted butter and beat the mixture until smooth. Into the bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Add milk and thoroughly combine with the batter.
Turn the batter into a well-buttered, 1-quart steam pudding mold and cover tightly with the lid or a double layer of foil secured with kitchen string. Set the mold on a rack in a kettle with a tight fitting lid. Add enough hot water to the kettle to reach two-thirds of the way up the sides of the mold. Cover the kettle with the lid and steam the pudding over moderate heat for 2 hours. Cool the mold on a rack, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Place a serving plate over the mold and invert the pudding onto the plate. Serve the pudding warm with foamy brandy sauce.
Foamy Brandy Sauce
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, beaten lightly
2 large egg whites
Pinch Cream of Tartar
1 Tablespoon brandy
In the top of a double boiler, cream butter and sugar, adding a little sugar at a time. Beat the mixture until smooth. Stir in egg yolks and cook the sauce over simmering water, stirring, until it is thickened. Remove the pan from heat.
In a bowl, beat the egg whites with cream of Tartar and salt until they hold stiff peaks.
Stir brandy into the yolk mixture and fold in the whites gently but thoroughly. Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl.
Makes about 2 cups
A behind-the-scenes peek at Far Niente and the fine Cabernet and Chardonnay we produce here in Oakville.
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- Dolce Napa Valley (16)
- Far Niente Cabernet (46)
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- Far Niente Gardens (17)
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