If you have been lucky enough to explore our Grand Barrel Room on a tour and tasting recently at the Castello, you may have noticed a few new additions to the stunning 12,000 square foot room. Right next to where our guests have the chance to taste wine straight from the barrel, there sit several large, concrete, egg-shaped containers. These are fermentation tanks, and they are used to ferment a special selection of the Castello’s award-winning wines.
Concrete? You might ask. What can concrete do for wine? Well as it turns out, concrete is a fantastic alternative to oak or stainless steel in winemaking. Without the “oaky” impact on a wine from barrel aging, the concrete allows the wine to retain its fruity characteristics and the inherent characteristics of the grapes are allowed to shine, making it an especially useful fermentation method for showcasing the terroir of single vineyard wines.
Concrete eggs are an interesting mix of ancient and ultra-modern winemaking techniques, since the first wines were actually fermented in pottery jars called amphorae. The egg shape is a newer modification, which allows the wines inside to have a natural convection current as the carbon dioxide released during fermentation helps to naturally stir the wine and mix in the sediment, or lees.
“Graeco-Italic” Wine Amphora, 2nd century B.C.
We originally had two concrete eggs in our Grand Barrel Room, and focused on several single vineyard wines, including our Ferrington Vineyard Dry Gewürztraminer and Tyla’s Point Pinot Bianco. These aromatic varietals work especially well with this fermentation method, because the concrete enhances the floral aromas and even increases the mineral characteristics in these wines. The elegant complexity of these wines from their fermentation in the eggs has led to them both winning high praise from tasting panels and our guests.
Our 2011 Ferrington Dry Gewurztraminer
This past year we have also produced a limited amount of Chardonnay, called “La Rocca” or “the fortress.” Our Associate Winemaker, Peter Velleno, explains that “the reason for the Chardonnay is that the use of concrete (or more specifically the lack of oak barrels) allows the flavor of the vineyard to be the star. Chardonnay needs to have a rich mouthfeel, so it makes sense to try it in concrete, where there will be no oak flavors or aroma, but still the benefits of aging on the lees.” Aging wine on the lees, or the yeast and sediment that settles to the bottom of the barrel during fermentation, imparts a creaminess and complexity that can’t be found in stainless steel. This year we are excited to be fermenting some of the Chardonnay fruit from the Bien Nacido vineyard in one of our eggs.
So keep an eye out the next time you visit the Castello, and if you take a tour down into the Grand Barrel Room you’ll be able to check out this unique fermentation technique that helps to make our Italian-style wines even more incredible!
The turn of the twentieth century was indeed a dark (and dry) time in American history. Organizations like The Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which promoted Prohibition, believed alcohol to be the cause of most social ills. On January 16th, 1919, Congress passed the 18th Amendment, outlawing alcohol thereby putting an end to drunkenness, crime, mental illness, and poverty. (Ahem!)
Ironically, during Prohibition, America's thirst increased. Organized crime rose to replace formerly legal methods of alcohol production and distribution. Ultimately, respect for the law diminished and drunkenness, crime and resentment of the federal government prevailed. Over the course of the next thirteen years, support for Prohibition waned as the nation awoke to the widespread problems Prohibition caused. The number of repeal organizations increased, and in 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for President on a platform that included the repeal of Prohibition. He won that race and on December 5th, 1933, Pennsylvania and Utah, the final states needed for a three quarters majority, ratified the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition and restoring our right to a celebratory drink. The 18th amendment remains the only amendment to our Constitution to ever be repealed.
On December 5th we celebrate Repeal because it marks a return to the rich traditions and enjoyment of alcohol as a sacred and protected social custom. Conveniently located between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Repeal presents the perfect occasion to gather with friends and celebrate! Unlike St. Patrick's Day or Halloween Repeal is a day we can all share in observing; it's written in our Constitution.There are no outfits to buy, costumes to rent, or gifts to wrap. Simply celebrate the day by sharing a glass of wine with a loved one.
Raise a glass!
The 18th Amendment
Ratified January 16, 1919
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
The 21st Amendment
Ratified December 5, 1933
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
The suggested pairing for your celebration!
For millions ‘Black Friday’ means time to do serious Christmas shopping --even before the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone- shopping routes are planned and parking strategies formulated. The Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the major shopping days of the year. Dating back to the start of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial- official start to a bustling and prosperous shopping season.
The term ‘Black Friday’ was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season referring to stores moving from the ‘red’ to the ‘black’. Of course, this was when accounting records were kept by hand; red ink indicated a loss and black ink showed a profit. Retailers began to realize they could draw big crowds by discounting prices and ‘Black Friday’ became the day to shop bringing with it even better deals than last minute Christmas sales. Many retailers now open at 5 am or earlier(!!!) to hoards of people waiting anxiously outside.
However, more and more consumers are choosing to shop online, not wanting to wait outside in the early morning chill with the crush of other shoppers or a battle over the last most-wanted item. Online shopping is easy, dependable and with the many shipping specials and pricing incentives—the deals are hard to beat. Now this is where the red comes in…pour a big glass and let the bargains begin! It's the only way to shop!
Castello di Amorosa's Black Friday special!
“Our vision is to build community around the art of visual story-telling, with the viewing of films and discussions with filmmakers fueling lively conversation amongst old and new friends … and those conversations being enriched with the world-class food and wine of legendary Napa Valley.”
We at the Castello always look forward to the festival, and this year we were able to participate as a shooting location for one of the short films in the SONY 4K FILM CHALLENGE! Five teams given the latest SONY tech were given a 60-hour challenge to create a short film based on randomly-assigned topics. Director Paul Martin chose Castello di Amorosa as one of the settings for his short film, “Valentimes Day.”
We had a blast with Paul and his crew filming scenes in the Great Hall and our Torture Chamber! Check out some of our behind-the-scenes photos from their shoot:
Actress Kai getting used to wearing one of our knights’ helmets
Paul showing her how it’s done!
Paul showing his crew around the very latest Sony 4K technology
Actor Cameron Mark Lewis on the rack! Don’t try this at home!!
The next day of filming was on the Napa Valley Wine Train. We tagged along for the ride and got to capture more of the action!
Filming in the Wine Train’s beautiful Gourmet Car
Our 2010 Sangiovese was featured in the film!
You can view the entire short film below:
Thank you again to Paul and team for letting us be a part of your fantastic production!
WEEK TWENTY-SIX WINNER
We've reached our final week of our "Create the Castle" Instagram contest, and we are thrilled with how many fantastic photos we have received from all of our fans! Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos of your times here at the Castello and enjoying our wines with your friends and family at home. Keep on sharing your great shots with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter by tagging us with #castellodiamorosa; we love sharing them with our fans on social media!
Our Week 26 winner is @jaymessong, who captured the beautiful fall colors around the Castello from our South Tower. Congratulations, and thank you for visiting and sharing such a great photo with us!
Check out our fantastic runners up from this past week! Thank you again for sharing your great photos with us, and cheers from all of us at the Castello! #castellodiamorosa
WEEK TWENTY-FIVE WINNER
We're in the home stretch of our "Create the Castle" Instagram contest! We've received over 8,000 photos tagged with #castellodiamorosa, and we've been loving the creative ways you show how much you love the Castello and our wines! This week's winning photo is from @jed_pilgrim128, who captured the gorgeous clouds above the Castello this past week. Congratulations, and thank you for sharing such a beautiful photo!
We may just have one week left in the contest, but we still can't get enough of your fantsatic photos! Thank you for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa and for sharing your photos on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! Here are a few more favorites from this past week!
I was at a dinner party a couple of weeks ago and the subject of Napa Valley wine came up – I realize this is not shocking nor in itself blog-worthy! However, at this dinner we were specifically discussing Chardonnay. Maybe it was the time year as Chardonnay was the grape harvest du jour. Maybe it was the company I was in; long time Napa locals and wine makers. Maybe it was the wine I brought for the occasion.
This was mildly ironic as not more than 8 years prior I attended an ABC dinner, an entire night of Anything But Chardonnay. Admittedly, I was a reluctant participant but I attended *sigh* and took part in the grape bashing. “Too oaky!” claimed one reveler. “Manipulated and contrived” cried another! My favorite denial of this classic varietal was “Chardonnay does not pair well with ANY food!”
Wow--quite a statement! However, to put it bluntly; they were wrong.
It is now a number of years later and we are approaching Veteran’s Day. In America, this day is reserved as a time to reflect and celebrate past heroes and champions. Perhaps wine lovers should follow suit and pay respect to one of America’s wine heroes. After all, it was a California Chardonnay that won the 1976 Paris tasting and brought recognition and eventually fame to a small farming community; Napa Valley.
Chardonnay is the second most planted white wine varietal in France and remains the most planted white wine grape on the planet. Additionally, Chardonnay styles differ dramatically and can reflect the artistry of wine making; buttery and oaky, crisp and fruity, austere with minerality. Combined with the diversity of soil and climatic zones, Chardonnay exhibits varied complexities and offers ageble wines with broad appeal. Plus, in the last 20 years wine makers have found malolactic fermentation and oak ageing are winemaking tools, but don’t have to be used fully, or at all, with every Chardonnay.
I regret my brief slide into the ABC movement. While our preferences may change as we explore different growing regions, varietals, and styles of winemaking; it is important to stay open-minded and savor new discoveries. And sometimes, we just have to stick to our guns and defend tried and true veterans that brought victory to the field and eventually… to our glass!
Chardonnay is primarily fermented in oak and is aged sur lie or on the lees. Lees refers to deposits of residual yeast and other particles occurring during fermentation. Ageing sur lie softens the taste of Chardonnay, especially on the finish. Oak provides oils and resins which not only add to the overall flavor and character of the wine but make Chardonnay a white wine which can benefit from bottle ageing.
The 2007 Napa Valley Chardonnay has become ripe and juicy with golden apple, comice pear and lightly toasted brulee. If you have any of this Castello beauty hiding in the corner bring it out this Thanksgiving! Enjoy with a hearty harvest salad garnished with candied pecans and crumbled Feta
The 2008 Castello di Amorosa Bien Nacido Chardonnay knocked my proverbial wine-socks off! At five years from vintage this was visually beautiful and simply stunning in the glass. Vanilla and spice were the words repeated again and again, however, the 2008 Bien Nacido retained its fruit and was vivid on the palate.
Chardonnay may not be the traditional go-to for Ahi salad, but, a bit of ageing leveled off the acidity and the velvety texture of the avocado played off the creamy notes of the Chardonnay. This was a delicious and luxurious pairing.
Ahi and Avocado Salad with Ponzu
½ cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
1 thinly sliced green onion
1 ½ tsp. lime juice w/ zest to taste
Mix well and pour over cubed Ahi and Avocado
WEEK TWENTY-FOUR WINNER
We had a fantastic time this past weekend at our Pagan Ball, and were thrilled to see so many wonderful costumes! Our "Create the Castle" winner for this week is @alexaolavarria, who shared this great photo collage showing off some of the fantastic costumes at the party! Thank you for sharing such great shots! We hope to see you back at the Castello for next year's Pagan Ball!
Here are a few more of our favorite photos from this past week! Thank you for tagging your fantastic photos with #castellodiamorosa and sharing them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
WEEK TWENTY-THREE WINNER
This week's winning photo is from @dlupynos, who shared this mysterious shot in front of our large format reserve room beneath the Castello. Thank you for sharing such a creative photo, and for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa!
With just three weeks left for our photo contest, we've been receiving so many great photos of your visits to the Castello and how much you're enjoying our wines! This week alone we received roughly 300 photos from you! Keep sharing your great pictures, and tagging us at #castellodiamorosa on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! Here are a few more of our favorites from this past week:
WEEK TWENTY-TWO WINNER
This week's "Create the Castle" contest winner is @cathybauer0105, who took this beautiful and creative shot of the chandeliers above the Great Hall. Thank you for sharing this wonderful photo, and for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa!
Check out these other fantastic photos from our fans this past week! We love to see the ways you enjoy visits to the Castello and our wines! Keep on sharing your great photos with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
WEEK TWENTY-ONE WINNER
This week's winning photo comes from @jdmedina, who took this great photo of the Castello. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful photo of the Castello and Primitivo vineyard!
Here are a few more of our favorite fan photos from this past week. Thank you all for sharing your great pictures of the Castello and how you enjoy Castello wines, and for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
WEEK TWENTY WINNER
Congratulations to @khaniasjournal, our Week 20 winner of our "Create the Castle" Instagram contest! Thank you for sharing this beautiful photo of your wine tasting with cheese and charcuterie in our Il Passito Room, and for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa!
We've received over 7,000 photos from our guests and fans who have tagged us with #castellodiamorosa on Instagram! Here are a few more favorite photos from this past week:
WEEK NINETEEN WINNER
This week's "Create the Castle" winner is @studiobrooke, who took this beautiful shot of the clouds above the Castello from the South Tower. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful photo, and for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa!
Check out our other fantastic runners-up from this past week! Thank you all for sharing your great photos of the Castello and enjoying your Castello wines with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! Keep up the fantastic photography!
WEEK EIGHTEEN WINNER
Congratulations to @raquelfsantos, this week's "Create the Castle" Instagram contest winner! Thank you for sharing such a creative shot in our covered loggia above the courtyard, and for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa!
Check out our fantastic runners up from this past week! Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos of the Castello and our wines, and we're looking forward to seeing even more great photos from you on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!
WEEK SEVENTEEN WINNER
This week's winner is @williamjsaunders, who took this beautiful photo of our Primitivo vineyard in front of the Castello. Thank you for sharing such a great picture with us on Instagram, and for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa! We can't wait to harvest those grapes!
Check out the other great photos from our fans this past week! Thank you for sharing your pictures of the Castello and our wines on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
WEEK SIXTEEN WINNER
Our winning photo this week was taken by @amandamelissa91, who shared this great shot "admiring the architecture" of the Castello. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful photo of your visit, and for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa on Instagram!
More great photos from our fans from this past week! Thank you all for sharing your great photos of the Castello and how much you love Castello wines!
WEEK FIFTEEN WINNER
This week's winning photo comes from @rachelloser, who compiled this beautiful collage of panoramic scenes from around the Castello. Thank you for sharing such a great photo, and for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa on Instagram!
Here are a few more of the fantastic photos we received from you this past week! Thank you for sharing such great shots of the Castello and how you enjoy our wines on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
WEEK FOURTEEN WINNER
Our "Create the Castle" contest winner for this week is @yurisinata, who shared this wonderfully creative shot of her and her fiance in our tasting room. Thank you so much for sharing such a fantastic photo!
So many wonderful photos keep pouring in from all of our fans! Thank you for sharing your visits to the Castello and how you enjoy our wines at home, and tagging us with #castellodiamorosa! Here are a few more of our favorites from this past week:
WEEK THIRTEEN WINNER
This week's "Create the Castle" winner is @squirrelgirl84, who took this stunning photo of the Castello during her visit this past week. Congratulations, and thank you for sharing such a beautiful photo on Instagram!
We've been getting so many fantastic pictures from all of our fans! Thank you all for sharing your photos of your times at the Castello and enjoying our Castello wines, and for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa. We can't wait to see more of your great pictures! Here are a few more of our favorites from this past week:
WEEK TWELVE WINNER
Congratulations to @maybememories, this week's "Create the Castle" contest winner! She and her boyfriend got engaged at the Castello in our North Tower! Thank you for sharing such a special day with us!
We are loving all of the photos we are receiving from you when you tag us at #castellodiamorosa on Instagram, and share them on Facebook and Twitter! Keep taking great photos of your visits to the Castello and how you enjoy our Castello wines at home or out and about with friends! Here are a few more of our favorites from this past week:
WEEK ELEVEN WINNER
This week's winner is @ccarmona9, who shared this beautiful photo of our sunflowers in front of the South Tower. Thank you so much for posting such a great picture!
Here are a few more of our favorites from this past week. Thank you for taking such wonderful photos of your visits to the Castello and the ways you enjoy your Castello wines, tagging us at #castellodiamorosa, and sharing them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!
WEEK TEN WINNER
Congratulations to @ivancng, this week's winner of our Create the Castle contest! Great sillhouette shot from the upper loggia above our courtyard. Thank you for posting such a creative photo and sharing it with us by tagging us at #castellodiamorosa!
Here are a few more fantastic photos from this past week. Thank you all for tagging us and sharing them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! We're looking forward to seeing even more great photos next week!
WEEK NINE WINNER
This week's winner is @anacuartero, who posted this great picture of her recent visit to the Castello with her friends. Thank you for sharing such a fun picture, and congratulations!
We had some fantastic photos to choose from this week! Thank you for tagging your photos with #castellodiamorosa on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and we're looking forward to seeing more of the ways you create the castle! Here are some of our favorites from this past week:
WEEK EIGHT WINNER
Congratulations to @tarapaleg, this week's winner of our "Create the Castle" contest! Thank you for sharing such a cute photo of your visit to the Castello!
We have been receiving so many fantastic pictures from all of you of your visits to the Castello and enjoying our wines! Thank you for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa and sharing your photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! Here are a few more favorites from this past week:
WEEK SEVEN WINNER
This week's winner is @jenifercohn, who shared this creative shot of her glass from her recent visit to the Castello. Thank you so much for posting such great photos, and we hope to see you back at the Castello soon!
Here are a few more of our favorites from this past week (and it was hard to pick just a few!). Thank you to everyone who is sharing photos of your visits and how much you love our Castello wines to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and tagging us at #castellodiamorosa! We're looking forward to seeing even more great photos next week!
WEEK SIX WINNER
This week's winner is @shitiatetoday, who took this beautiful photo of our wine and chocolate pairing in our tasting room. Thank you so much for sharing such a great picture with us, and congratulations!
Even more fantastic photos have been coming in daily from you of your visits to the Castello and how you enjoy your Castello wines at home. Thank you all for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa and sharing your photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! Here are a few more of our favorites from this past week:
WEEK FIVE WINNER
Congratulations to @casey_myvice, this week's "Create the Castle" contest winner! Creative and classy shot of you two sitting in the thrones in our Great Hall! Thank you for sharing such a great picture with us!
We received so many great photos from our guests and fans over this past week; thank you all for tagging us at #castellodiamorosa, posting on Instagram, and sharing on Twitter and Facebook! Here are a few more favorites from this past week:
WEEK FOUR WINNER
This week's winning photo comes from @rcees, who shared this great compilation of shots of our 2009 Anderson Valley "Dry" Gewürztraminer. Thank you for posting such a fantastic shot, and we hope you enjoyed your wine! Cheers!
We have already received over 600 photos from you in the first four weeks of our contest! Thank you all for sharing such great photos of how you enjoy the Castello and our wines, and tagging us at #castellodiamorosa. We're looking forward to seeing even more pictures! Here are a few of our favorites from this past week's entries:
WEEK THREE WINNER
This week's winner deserves an extra special congratulations! @trulovee_25 recently got engaged here at the Castello! Beautiful way to capture such a special moment! Thank you for sharing such a memorable day with us!
Here are a few more of our favorite photos from this past week! Keep on sharing your great shots of the Castello, our vineyards, and your favorite ways to enjoy our wines!
WEEK TWO WINNER
We would like to announce this week's "Create the Castle" contest winner: @edwardmetropolitan! Congratulations, and thank you for sharing such a beautiful photo of the Castello!
Here are a few of the fantastic runner-ups from this week! Keep up the great photos, and thank you all for sharing how much you enjoy the Castello and our wonderful wines!
WEEK ONE WINNER
Congratulations to our first "Create the Castle" contest winner: @_mymy1908_! We're so glad you could visit us on Mother's Day! Thank you for sharing your photo with us on Instagram!
Here are a few of the other fantastic photos we've received over the past week. Thank you all for sharing, and we're looking forward to seeing more of the ways that you Create the Castle!
Be sure to look for next week's winners right here, and keep on sharing your great pictures on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! #castellodiamorosa
In all honesty, Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I don’t have a sweet tooth, I never liked to dress in costumes and fright movies terrify me. With three older brothers I was often the victim of pranks and shenanigans and I am quite certain my irrational fear of monkeys and primates can be traced to the mischief my brothers concocted which turned grade school trips to the zoo into angst ridden rituals. The only aspect of Halloween I truly warmed to was the fact that traditionally Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season. Fall and winter vegetables replace summer fruits and the conspicuous cornucopia of harvest prevails. Bring out the blankets and smell the spices wafting in the chilled autumn air.
I know, I know… its Halloween and fright-night festivities may be on the agenda; perhaps not a trick-or-treat outing but maybe a cozy dinner party with a few friends followed by a few favorite movies. And just because it’s a holiday spotlighting pumpkins and candy corn does not mean we should throw thoughts of food and wine pairing to the jack-o-lantern! Take a cue from one of the most ominous and frightening movie monsters in history, move over Freddy and Jason—Hannibal Lecter gets my vote for Halloween’s classic scary movie poster- boy! Hannibal is creepy, petrifying and unnervingly disturbing and yet even while shackled in chains and full facial restraint he maintained a pompous arrogance. This notorious villain has one quality I can’t fault; he certainly cared about pairing his meals with the correct wine! *ahem* Plus, he obviously loves vino Italiano which makes Hannibal Lecter Castello di Amorosa’s gruesomely detestable official “Fright Knight’.
Savor this Halloween with a delicious and super easy comforting classic -- replete with fava beans and a nice Chianti…. (Sangiovese, of course!) Pop in a DVD and enjoy.....
Silence of the Lamb Shanks!
Easy Crock Pot Lamb Shanks
Brown Lamb Shanks in grape seed oil in large pan
Season generously with Salt and Pepper
Place browned shanks into crock pot and top with the following:
1/2 C red wine
1/2 C beef stock
1 can (14 oz) Italian style diced tomatoes
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
8-10 cloves of diced garlic
4 large sliced mushrooms
1 TBSP Worcestershire
1 sweet onion cut into large slices
Place crock pot on low 6 -8 hours, remove shanks and plate with sauce and vegetables
Mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, broth and red wine create a delicious sauce.
Sangiovese, the primary grape grown in the Chianti region of Tuscany, is a very important varietal at Castello di Amorosa. Sangiovese also provides a spine of bright red cherry in blends like il Brigante and la Castellana.
The silence of the lamb shanks; fava beans and a nice 'Chianti' in true Castello style!
During the Harvest season, there are always exciting things going on around the Castello, and today on the Crush Pad was no exception. Today, for the first time at the Castello, our winemaking team reserved a small lot of our Don Thomas Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon for fermentation directly in French Oak Barrels.
Traditionally, the fermentation process takes place in stainless steel tanks, where the must (skins and seeds of the grapes) are cold soaked with the juice before yeast is added. The cap, or layer of skins and seeds that get pushed to the top of the tanks from the activity taking place during fermentation, is broken up by either the punch-down or pump-over method, both of which ensure an even distribution of the color and flavors we wish to impart into our red wines. After five to eight days in these fermentation tanks, the juice is pressed from the skins and seeds and pumped into French Oak barrels for aging in the Castello’s extensive underground cave and cellar system.
Barrel fermentation means that the freshly destemmed grapes and their juices are pumped directly into French Oak barrels whose heads have been removed. Dry ice is added to cool the berries before the barrel heads are secured to seal in the must. The barrels are then laid on a rack that allows them to be rolled back and forth daily to ensure the cap stays moist and the oak is evenly introduced to the fermenting must and juice. Typically, two full barrels of must and juice will amount to one barrel of wine. The process of fermenting the juice in oak barrels helps to impart an added silkiness to the tannins and a rounder, more lush mouthfeel, especially to Bordeaux varietals. This extremely labor-intensive method of fermentation is typically reserved for only the most exclusive of wines, and the highly-acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon from the Don Thomas Vineyard is an exceptional example of the quality of grapes deserving of such treatment.
The Don Thomas Cabernet Sauvinon clusters are conveyed into the berry sorter/ destemmer as a lucky tour group watches
The new French Oak barrels are filled directly from the destemmer
Our Cellar Supervisor, Chema, overseeing the juice and must being pumped into a special French Oak barrel that has a door in place to make filling and emptying easier
The deconstructed barrel waiting to be resealed with the juice and must inside
Dry ice is added to the must before the barrels are resealed to help cool off the berries
Resealing the barrel heads before they are sent into the cellars to begin the fermentation process
The barrels are stored in a special temperature-controlled room in the Castello's cellars during the fermentation process.
For the last 19 months, I have been on a journey of more healthful eating. This has included only small quantities of lean meats with most animal proteins in the family of fish and fowl. Most of my daily caloric intake comes from fiber via fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. I thought I was doing great; losing pounds, gaining stamina….I felt renewed…invigorated... healthy. However, while a high-fat, high-calorie diet increases the risk of gallstones, apparently a very low fat weight loss plan can also cause issues. While a low fat diet allows you to lose weight, with smaller quantities of fat and oil to break down, the gallbladder does not contract or empty as frequently, and, as a result, this may produce a build-up of bile and possibly an increased risk of gallstones.
With my gallbladder permanently out of the equation, I've taken time in the last few weeks for a little research…. along with a little lab work (i.e. cooking in the kitchen) in an effort to repair my relationship with fats and oils.
Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature. Although oils are not a food group, they provide essential nutrients and are therefore included in USDA recommendations of what to eat. Most fats should be polyunsaturated (PUFA) or monounsaturated (MUFA) fats. Oils are the major source of MUFAs and PUFAs in the diet.
My research eventually took me to an article published by Bon Appétit. Who better than the good eating experts to help guide me in my search for healthy and tasty oil? “Some fat is actually good for you,” the article quotes Alice H. Lichtenstein, director of the cardiovascular nutrition laboratory at Tufts University. “But, to get the most from fats, you need to go beyond olive oil. Open your cupboard to new flavors, cooking temperatures–and health benefits–by diversifying your oils.” In the number one position of most healthful oil on Bon Appétit's list—grape seed oil! High in polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E, grape seed oil has a high smoke point, which makes it a good substitute for olive or vegetable oils for a sauté or stir-fry, and because it has light and clean flavors on the palate, it lets top-notch ingredients stand out.
I remain diligent when it comes to healthy eating and food choices. However, as a discerning skeptic my cynical tendencies combined with my resistance to change has always played second string to the great equalizer; taste! Donning a lab coat for this foray instead of an apron, I must experiment. I made a few fairly standard favorites where I traditionally used olive oil and substituted grape seed oil.
The results were en-lightening!
The process begins on the conveyor for these yummy clusters. Ready to go into the hopper where the stems will be separated and then composted.
Although we are a world of organic goals, long term sustainability is realistic and achievable now. The stems are separated from the clusters and prepared for composting and provide vital nutrients in the vineyard.
After fermentation and a final press of the skins, the pumace is taken and the seeds will be separated and dried.
After several months, the dried grape seeds are ready to be pressed and oil is extracted from the seeds. The oil is obtained through pressing and grinding seeds with the use of stainless steel presses. Since grape seeds are discarded as part of the wine making process, the extraction of the oil is an efficient and sustainable use of a byproduct.
The best oils are cold pressed. Although pressing and grinding produces heat through friction, the temperature must not rise above 120°F for any oil to be considered cold pressed. Cold pressed oils retain their flavor, aroma, and nutritional value. Sample cold pressed grape seed oils at Castello di Amorosa on the Royal Food and Wine Pairing tour.
Since grape seed oil is lighter than olive oil, I was having a problem with a pool of oil accumulating at the bottom of the salad bowl. Problem solved; when making salads, I now add the seasonings and toss it which coats the lettuce with the seasoning giving the oil something to adhere to. Light, healthy and the lettuce retained its crispness.
I drizzled a little Sauvignon Blanc grape seed oil and basil on the bruschetta bites—delicious!
Stir fry and sautés are my favorite use of grape seed oil. Since grape seed oil has a higher smoking point than olive oil, veggies and meat are added to a hotter pan. Plus, the grape seed oil gives off very little flavor in a sauté and this really lets the ingredients shine.