Vintner's Press Report
Love is a spell that binds the past to the present; that lays open the future … “an infinity of presents.” *
We want to share the magic we feel this time of year, when the vineyards are so cold you can feel the electricity of it, with hills of leaves blown haphazardly along the rows of vines and down the quiet streets of our chilly, little town. We want to share the magic we feel when we awake to a bright orange sun rising over a landscape of barren trees and wonder how the past can feel so heartbreakingly near.
This holiday season we are so thrilled to share with you a very limited selection from our cellar – the Cabernet Collection – a small gift box containing one bottle each of the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville, Rutherford, and our essential blend of the two in Crosby’s Reserve. This $270 package is being offered for $200, shipping included. Or upgrade your order to Magnums, $400 (extremely limited) or to six bottles in the original wood case ($400). We only have a very small number of these gift packs remaining, and they will sell out quickly. Please order below by Monday December 11.
As Thanksgiving is approaching, we find ourselves in a contemplative and particularly grateful kind of mood, so while we usually illustrate news and goings on around our valley in the world of wine, like our recent posts on harvest and the wine country fires, this month we thought we would step out of that mold and discuss some other topics. We were inspired in this endeavor by a particularly fun blog post from Sam Sifton at the New York Times.
Naturally Thanksgiving affords us a time to reflect, and to count our blessings. As the holiday falls right around the birth of our daughters, we are naturally thankful for them, for the myriad ways they’ve changed our lives for the better, for the ineffable joy they give us. We are also in eternal gratitude for the bounty of new experiences we share together and for the journey our life is taking together. It’s hard work, all of it, but these moments together to stop, reflect, share a meal and a good bottle of wine, make it all worth it, no matter where we are.
As Audrey would put it, “I realize that only two months ago my home, Sonoma, was in flames. I also realize how lucky I am to have such amazing family to go to when this happened, and to be with, and snuggle with every day of those fires. I am so grateful to be able to spend that time with them, and also be able to go back to an unharmed home.”
We are also posting our Thanksgiving recipes for this year – not the traditional roast turkey with dressings, but, seeing as how we are going to be overseas for the holiday and want to tone down the kitchen time – something a little bit more relaxed and easier to cook. You can find the recipe for our Turkey Pot Pie, below.
And seeing as how each of us is going to be lazing on the beach this Thanksgiving weekend, we want to share our beach reading for the weekend. Audrey and Scarlett are newly obsessed with the Rick Riordan series … it’s something about a boy who finds out he’s the demigod offspring of Poseidon – here is the link to Amazon to find The Lightning Thief. Juliana is suggesting a trio of books, including Anything is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout, and Sean, as usual, is bumbling through Plato’s Complete Works, although no one, including him, can figure out why.
Finally, we wanted to share our harvest mix tape with you … it’s a bit of mishmash this year, including some new and some old from all our recent favorites. You can email us to request a free copy of the CD, if you’re a trilobite like Sean, or download the Spotify tracklist here.
Wishing you and your families the best this Thanksgiving season!
With love from Napa Valley,
Audrey & Scarlett & Juliana & Sean
Turkey Pot Pie
Adapted from our kitchen staple (the book that sits out on the kitchen counter more than any other) Bride & Groom, First and Forever Cookbook, by Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford.
- Some olive oil, a tablespoon of unsalted butter
- A yellow onion, chopped kind of finely
- Some garlic, chopped
- A carrot, chopped into half inch squares
- Some fresh thyme, or dried thyme
- Some salt and pepper
- A little white wine (optional, or not)
- A dash of flour (also optional)
- 1 jar Alfredo sauce, like Classico
- About three cups a purchased roast chicken, shredded
- A package of frozen peas
- Frozen pie crust, defrosted
- An egg yolk, beaten
Saute the onion, garlic, and carrot in olive oil and butter. Season with salt and a dash of pepper, add the thyme. Add the white wine and scoop up the brown bits on the pan. Add the flour, and blend. Set aside and let this cool briefly. This whole process takes about 10 minutes.
Add the Alfredo sauce to the mixture, and mix in the shredded chicken and frozen peas. Blend this all together, and crack a bit of pepper into it. Scoop the mixture into four 1½-cup ramekins (French onion bowls also work well, if you have those but no ramekins).
Roll out the pie crust and put a ramekin on it. Cut a wide circle around the ramekin – this is the size of the pie crust topping that you need for each bowl, so repeat four times. Cover the ramekins with the pie crust and pinch down the edges.
At this point, you’re pretty much all set, but here’s the really fun part, especially for kids – take the remaining pie crust and cut out the first initial of your guests’s names. This initial should be gently placed on top of each ramekin. Use a pastry brush to coat the pie crust with beaten egg yolk and glue the initials down.
Place the pot pies on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes; they should be golden brown, if not, keep baking!
We are deeply grateful for all of your support in the past month and incredibly indebted to the thousands of first responders that fought the blazes surrounding our little towns. While we escaped the worst of the damage, it was a harrowing two weeks. We are so happy to be back at the winery and returning to a normal routine.
The Final Days of Harvest
Now that we reflect on the halcyon final days of harvest, we want to mention first and foremost that all of our fruit was harvested and processed before the fires. All of it. We picked our final lot of Pinot Noir from the old vine block at Filigreen Farm in Anderson Valley on Saturday morning, September 30. We harvested Cabernet Sauvignon from Calistoga on the evening of October 4; Oak Knoll District Cabernet Sauvignon at dawn the morning of Saturday, October 7th, and the following day, Sunday the 8th, we harvested Harmony School Vineyard. See here for a round up on our Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Merlot.
The half-ton block of Cabernet Sauvignon from Calistoga, we crushed and destemmed into open top barrels for fermentation. This small lot will yield about just one barrel of finished wine. The Oak Knoll District fruit was crushed and destemmed to stainless steel; Harmony School into new French oak barrels. Both lots will ferment and macerate until the beginning-to-middle of December.
We left the winery that last Sunday night of harvest on October 8th in a joyous mood. We went home with bags of In-N-Out burgers and aged bottles of Bordeaux. We toasted to another wonderful growing season, with long Spring storms, late budbreak, steady ripening through the end of the summer. We recounted the first weekend of September when the temperature reached 110F for nearly 36 daylight hours. The flavors this year have been some of the most complex in our experience – a mixed bag of dark cocoa and coffee, black pepper and prune. We were elated.
The fires erupted later that night.
Which brings us to the second thing worth mentioning — the truly best thing you could do to show your support now is to return to Napa Valley! We miss you! It is in fact a perfect time to visit. As these late Indian summer days give way to ever cooler nights, with crisp stars twinkling above the valley and the restaurants open for business, nothing could be more fun than toasting to the survival and resilience of wine country. Drive up from San Francisco, drive in from Sacramento, drive down from Portland … fly in from around the world. The winery is open! Schedule an appointment here!
Shipping News & Memberships
For those of you who purchased wines over the summer, your shipments will arrive next week. Tracking information will follow separately, or has already arrived. Member shipments will be charged and shipped in the following two weeks. Our holiday selection this year is the 2012 Crosby’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. You can purchase this wine here.
Crosby’s Reserve is a barrel selection of Cabernet Sauvignon (90%) and Merlot (10%) aged for thirty months in all new French oak. The wine displays a depth of complexity, purity of fruit and concentration, with wholly absorbing and intriguing flavors of boysenberry, vanilla, milk chocolate, and cherry cola, with sweet tannins that finish on notes of ripe raspberry and a touch of heat. 104 cases produced.
With love and gratitude from Napa Valley –
Juliana & Sean
In the past few weeks harvest has gotten crazy! We began picking in August this year (see the blog post), and by today’s writing (September 13th), we have brought in Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir, Napa Valley Pinot Noir, Calistoga dry-farmed Merlot, and within the next 4 days we’ll be bringing in Pinot Noir from Filigreen Farm in Anderson Valley, and our favorite Chardonnay from the Loma Blanca Vineyard in Carneros. To say we’ve been busy wouldn’t really begin to explain….early morning picks, entire days de-stemming and racking into barrels or tanks, whole days hand-pressing in the basket press, twice-daily pump overs (on the Merlot), and daily lab work. And of course, tastings!
Gremlin Vineyard Pinot Noir was pressed by hand in two lots this week after spending 17 days in the concrete egg. We’re jazzed with how good this tastes already – it feels to us like a blend of our 2013 and 2014 Pinot Noirs … it has beautiful round fruit reminiscent of the 2013, but also a really welcome kick of acidity, like the 2014. It’s now going to rest in a selection of new and neutral French oak barrels for about a year. We also produced about 100 cases of some kick-ass Rosé from this vineyard for next summer, instead of our typical 25 or 30 cases.
Pressed the day it came in, the Sauvignon Blanc from Rutherford is tasting delicious already. We fermented it in some new and some used French and American oak barrels, and it’s been resting in a selection of 33% new and 64% neutral French oak since the completion of priumary. It will continue to mature for the next 8 months. Read more about that here.
Our Napa Valley Pinot Noir from the Kim Giles Vineyard came in on September 2nd, and after partially de-stemming the fruit, we racked to barrels for fermentation. The wine is now dry, and we’ll be pressing this tomorrow (!) If you’ve been in the winery recently, we’ve lifted the heads off these barrels for you to smell, or even punch down….the aromas are savory – rosemary, thyme, and gamey – intensely delicious.
And, our Calistoga dry-farmed Merlot…oh my goodness. While this one surprised us immensely with how quickly it ripened and developed on the vine, the way it’s tasting in tank….soft, velvety, smooth…just wow. It’ll stay in tank for another good month, before pressing.
Filigreen Farm’s biodymanic Pinot Noir comes in on Friday, and our Loma Blanc vineyard Carneros Chardonnay on Sunday, along with the dry-farmed Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon! For those picks we’ll have lots of friends and family to help and we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you in advance…
After that we’ll be waiting on two remaining Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards to come in, and of course lots of fermentations to watch and fret over. Thankfully temperatures have leveled off a bit from the blistering 3-digits we were seeing…it’ll give the grapes some more time to fully develop those mature and complete flavors we love in our signature wine.
We hope everyone’s autumn is starting out well. If you live in any of the areas affected by the natural disasters that mother nature has thrown our way, our hearts and thoughts are with you. We are raising our glasses to you and your spirits.
Member shipments will be going out by early October, so there’s still time to sign upif you’d like an early gift to yourself this year.
Juliana & Sean
There is a saying in France that when the growing season starts early, harvest will be late, and when it starts late, harvest will be early. This year here in Napa/Sonoma it has certainly come true! It is not yet September, and instead of taking the next two weeks to start to think about bringing fruit in and what kinds of wines we are going to make (should be shepherd them this way or that?) we’ve already brought in grapes from two vineyards, with a third coming in this Friday, September 1st.
It is the earliest harvest on record for us. It started on Saturday August 26th, with Pinot Noir from Gremlin Vineyard in Sonoma. This is our second year working with Steve and Laura Busch on Hyde Road and we’re very exicted to be building a long term program from this vineyard. The maturity and flavor of the grapes surprised us when we took our first sample in the middle of the month, so we pulled the trigger on picking as soon as we could. At 5am on Saturday our whole family was up and by 6 we were all warmly dressed in the vineyard — Audrey and Scarlett performing the difficult tasks of “Chief Grape Tester” — Sean picking leaves from bins and Juliana helping with harvest. By nine that night we had crushed the fruit into our concrete tank.
Today, August 30th our Sauvignon Blanc came in from Rutherford. After whole cluster pressing, the wine will ferment and age in one-third new wood, one-third used, and the rest in stainless steel … these magic proportions are how we fermented and aged our 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, which tastes so amazing even now we are still pouring it in the tasting room to rave reviews.
We are in such a different place this year than last. After the winter rains and cool spring and lazy start to the growing season, the clusters of fruit coming in are heavier, rounder, with better acidity and balance — which is exactly what we were hoping for. While we may ultimately have slightly less concentration in these wines, we will have much better balance and complexity of flavor. It reminds us of wines we tasted from 2005 and 2007, and looks very similar to 2012 — our last big harvest after a wet winter.
The temperature is expected to rise in the next two weeks, with triple digits on thew way. This means it’s all going to be coming in faster than ever! The next vineyard up is Kim Giles Pinot Noir from the San Pablo Bay side of southern Napa Valley.
So much seems to be going on in the world, it’s hard to keep our eyes on the details sometimes, but keeping our elbows buried in the fermenting musts and delicious aromas of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc helps keep us grounded. Our hearts go out to everyone in Texas and Louisiana — we promise to hold on to some of this delicious wine for when you’re ready to toast to the new season. We’ll continue to update you on our progress with Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon as harvest rolls on. We are so excited about what we are doing this year — about the vineyards and growers we are working with — about the new tanks and toys we have in the winery — and some big changes at the winery that we will be telling you more about soon! Stop by anytime for a tour and tasting: to make an appointment, go here. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you might even get the chance to punch down some Pinot!
Juliana & Sean
How did it get to be the middle of June already? Although the days are heating up, and the kids are out of school, it never truly feels like summer until we hit the 4th of July. Which, unbelievably, is just around the corner. And nothing says “summer and 4th of July” like a cool, deliciously refreshing bottle of Rosé pulled directly from the ice chest.
Every year we make just one barrel of this quintessentially “Summer BBQ” wine. Our Rosé is a Saignée of our Oak Knoll District Merlot. Therefore the color is a little darker…more patriotic perhaps. The flavors, while still floral, hit you with a pleasing stone fruit note on the mid palette, and the finish is dry, never sweet, and always crisp.
We only have two cases left of our 2015 Napa Valley Rosé left at the winery. We’d suggest ordering before June 21st to ensure delivery for your July 4th celebrations.
And because we believe firmly in the marriage of food and wine, we thought we’d share two of our favorite and super easy summer recipes below. Our daughter Audrey actually created the first recipe (by herself!). The second could not pair better with both the Rosé and the salad. We like to add fresh grilled corn to the mix below and voilà! Instant happiness.
Happy summer and happy birthday America!
Juliana & Sean
Audrey’s Watermelon Salad:
+ 1 small watermelon, halved and scooped out
+ 2 crisp apples
+ 1 fresh lemon
+ fresh dill
This can all be done by your children: Cube the watermelon that has been carefully scooped out of the watermelon rind. Set in a glass mixing bowl. Peel and cube the two apples (we like Fuji’s) and add to the mixing bowl. Squeeze the juice of half to one whole lemon on top of the fruit. Add a healthy amount of chopped fresh dill (about 1 and a half tablespoons) to the bowl and toss. Empty the tossed salad back into the watermelon “bowl” and serve.
Sean’s Grilled Chicken:
+ 3 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs seasoned with our homemade BBQ rub:
+ 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
+ 1 tablespoon brown sugar
+ 1 tablespoon Cayenne pepper
+ 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian Paprika
Prepare the rub above in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Generously rub both sides of the chicken thighs with the prepared seasoning. Get the clean grill nice and hot and cook the chicken starting with the skin side down about 6-8 minutes, then flip and generously coat with your choice of BBQ sauce and continue to grill another 6-8 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F. We use Sweet Baby Ray’s Authentic Original BBQ sauce for dipping — “The Sauce Is the Boss!”
Friends: for the last nine months we’ve been secretly and quietly working on a new project with my brother Eric Arvai to help showcase who we are and what we do in a new way. I’m sure if you asked Eric, he would say it was like birthing a new baby. The time, the love, the attention that he and his partner Adriel Olmos put into this project was beyond normal work hours and done as a labor of love on evenings and weekends. The result is the first of a series of videos … which we’re delighted to share with you now.
This beautiful video is hours and hours of footage condensed into one short story that sort of came together without us meaning for it to do, as can happen sometimes when the camera starts rolling and the right questions are asked. We started at Harvest last year, we rolled through fermentations, bottlings, and special event tastings. What I think we’ve encompassed is the beauty, the heart, and the relational experience that wine brings to any table, but most especially to ours. Wine is truly alive, and we are meant to celebrate that.
The inspiration for this kind of documentary style footage comes from a series we love on Netflix called “Chef’s Table,” and we think Eric & Adriel have created something really special here that does for Crosby Roamann and wine, what that series did for food. We are so proud of this and so very happy to be able to finally share it with you. Please watch and share yourselves — And after you’ve seen the video, please read on below to find our “Manly Men Drink Merlot” campaign for Father’s Day, and some up-coming events at the winery!
Father’s Day is just around the corner on Sunday, June 18th. Together with two small family wineries in our own Crusher District of Napa Valley, we’re hosting a progressive tasting and meal, with food pairings created by a local Napa chef. It’s on Saturday June 17th, and there are only 12 seats available, with transportation provided between our three wineries. What a perfect start for Father’s Day- RSVP link and menu details here. Sign up while seats are still available.
And if you are still looking for a gift for Dad, we have a saying we’ve been tossing out, a little tongue in cheek….“Manly Men Drink Merlot”. It’s time we put that myth to bed that Merlot is in any way an inferior grape variety. After all, some of the most expensive and famous wines in the world are made from Merlot. We’re pretty excited about our 2012 Oak Knoll District Merlot, hailing from the Jaeger Family vineyard off Big Ranch Road, one of the most unheralded but decidedly most beautiful spots in the Napa Valley. This Merlot is rich, yet balanced by sweet blackberry flavors and a tart raspberry sweetness that lingers on the finish. It would make a really nice gift for that strong confident man in your life.
Juliana & Sean
“The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls–woman’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.” ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “Gift from the Sea”
I find myself returning to Anne Morrow Lindberg’s Gift from the Sea again and again, especially since I became a mother a little over nine years ago. Every time I dip into it, a chapter here or there, I’m startled with new revelations. What most resonates with me these days is the idea of balance, and how we always seem to be striving for it, elusive as it may feel at times.
The idea of balance is central not only to my personal sphere, but is also at the very core of Crosby Roamann’s raison d’etre. The whole idea behind our move to California was to create a work/life balance. The very heart of our winemaking style seeks to achieve a balance in each of the wines we create. A balance of ripeness and acidity, alcohol and tannin, striving to rest on that fulcrum of what’s been grown in these soils, in this climate, each year. It feels the same in parenting, as we try to balance a myriad of day to day and month to month factors.
But I digress. It’s easy to do when taking on the difficult task of talking about motherhood, to get effusive in talking about the very principle behind our winery.
This year for Mother’s day, I had an opportunity to collaborate with a very good friend who runs a pretty incredible non-profit in New York called Start Small, Think Big. I was looking for a gift that I myself would want to receive for Mother’s day; that I thought would be the perfect gift for all the amazing women who balance so much, in my own life. This dear friend introduced me to one of her clients, who owns a business called Home & Loft.
Our Mother’s Day gift includes a bottle of our deliciously balanced and sustainably produced 2013 Carneros Chardonnay, and a beautiful and truly handmade scarf from New York’s Home & Loft.
The Chardonnay comes from the south-facing hillside Fire Tree Vineyard, a gorgeous location overlooking San Pablo Bay, just north of Highway 121. The fruit was sorted once in the vineyard, and again at the winery for the choicest clusters. The wine was then fermented and aged in an assortment of new and neutral American, French, and Hungarian oak barrels for 20 months; only 120 cases were produced. The resulting wine is both tropical and fresh, with deliciously round lemon meringue notes and perfect acidity.
The scarf is a beautiful and truly handmade 100% cotton Turkish blue checkered scarf with hand-tied tassels from Home & Loft, a NYC-based woman-owned small business. The scarves were hand loomed and hand spun by a women’s foundation in the South of Turkey. The organization teaches women skills like this and gives them a salary and retirement benefits. Home & Loft is one of many small businesses that has received assistance from Start Small Think Big, a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs, particularly women, start and grow successful small businesses.
Order by May 6 to ensure delivery by May 12. $90, shipping included. Handwritten cards possible by request.
I’ll be tossing my beautiful scarf over my shoulder and raising my glass to you in recognition of your excellent taste, and in gratitude for all that you do. Your favorite matriarchs will be too.
Here in Northern California, the trees have started flowering and we’ve had more rain than we’ve seen in years. The sun is brilliant, the sky an eggshell blue and the Kelly-green rolling hills look filtered they’re so bright, especially against the mustard and wildflowers that grow between the vines. You guys, there are baby lambs….EVERYWHERE. A deep feeling of happiness sits in the base of my being, along with a lightness in my head, a giddiness in my limbs. While we are still technically in winter until March 21, it really truly feels like Spring.
We must celebrate. We must take advantage of everything there is on offer at our local markets to eat. We must take a few moments each day to feel the sun on our skin and let the warmth penetrate.
And because it’s Spring, we’re going to throw a dinner party in its honor. Here at the winery, with the amazing Sarah Pinkin. Thursday, March 23rd 5:30pm. Let us know if you want to join. It’s going to be a Spring-themed menu of course, paired with some old and new wines, and a few surprises, as always.
And of course we want to offer you a taste of Spring to have all on your very own. Just in case it rains (or snows) again and you want to remember that warmth on your skin. Or if you just need desperately for Spring to arrive ASAP. It’s Spring in a bottle.
This wine is not available in our store for sale, and will only be available here for a short time. It has been sort of a special wine that we’ve served in the tasting room, or to our members. And like most of our wines, we made less than a hundred cases of it. It tastes incredible….there is citrus, there is apricot, there is a minerality and acidity to hold it all up. It is Sauvignon Blanc from St. Helena, but a special fruit selection. The grapes were just a little bit riper, but not too sweet. After all, we’re not talking summer (yet).
The first time we made Pinot Noir in 2013 was on a dare. It turned out so well, we couldn’t resist the urge to make it again; it has since become something of an obsession. As in 2016 when we offered our Pinot Noir for the first time over Valentine’s Day, we are now releasing our 2014 just in time for that most lovable of holidays, which means that, once again, it’s time to add a little Crosby Roamance to your life.
This Valentine’s Day, receive two bottles of Pinot Noir, a two-chocolate truffle box from Kollar Chocolates, and a blank, handcrafted valentine for your special someone. Order by February 4. Shipping included. Valentine’s Day Special: Price: $90.00
The 2014 Pinot Noir is a single vineyard wine from Carneros, on gently sloping hills in southern Napa Valley overlooking San Pablo Bay. Fermented on indigenous yeasts and aged twenty months in one-quarter new French oak barrels, the rest one and two years old. Light and elegant in structure, with tangy notes of orange blossoms, cloves, and brine. This wine is very tactile on the palate, earthy … the overall impression is of cranberry-lime and gingersnap cookies, with a surprisingly long and tactile finish. Four barrels produced, just 100 cases.
Members of the inner circle receive special pricing ($80.00) and can add their Valentine’s Day Special by contacting Juliana@crosbyroamann.com.