Vintner's Press Report
Book your seats now for The Triple Crown — An Urban and Intimate Wine & Food Tasting Experience in the Napa Crusher District — this Sunday August 13, 2017. Two seats left!
I first went to Italy in the middle of my awakening as a young adult, not so completely sure of myself anymore and not so insecure either. A little rebellious at that time. It was a road trip with my Hungarian cousins, whom I spent time with every summer of my childhood, and who I knew as intimately in many ways as my own family outside Chicago, where I grew-up. Never having left land-locked Hungary before, they were nervous about meeting people who they couldn’t communicate with, and about exploring a new city, like Florence, and about being tasked by my father with keeping me safe. One of the things I remember most about that trip was when I walked into the ocean with them on the Adriatic Coast for their very first time. That first night in Tuscany, we camped out at the top of the hill of Poggio Magherini overlooking the medieval city of Florence. I fell in love immediately with this place, with the history, the art, the river, the green rolling hills, and the open friendly Italian faces.
In college, I chose to study Italian and ended up double majoring in it, and spending my junior year abroad at the University of Bologna. This was a transformative and challenging year … I learned a lot of humility in the way everyone who learns a new language must. I learned how to cook. I learned really how to cohabit. I learned how to acclimate to a new culture, and eventually to immerse myself in it. I learned that I could not drive a moped, but was more than happy to be a passenger. It was a year of sensory exploration, and along the way I learned a little about the marriage of food, wine, and experience. When the year ended, I didn’t want to go home.
Now, these many years later, I am in Italy again, together with my husband and children here for the first time. We are renting a small villa in a breathtakingly beautiful area outside the town of Greve-in-Chianti, overlooking a little valley surrounded by small vineyards and olive orchards. My Italian is coming back slowly. I wake up each morning feeling deeply happy — who couldn’t with this view of rolling vineyards and olive orchards interspersed among villas and forest — and we set out to explore Italy again; for me, this time from a much different perspective and place in my life.
The Tuscan Experience—
Tuscany is a world of bright golden hues and deep forest green. The scent of lavender floats in the air. It is hill country, and here and there the forest has been cleared from the hillsides to grow vines – predominantly Sangiovese in Tuscany – and groves of olive trees. We’re reminded of the fact that almost all of the wineries here produce olive oil in addition to wine, and they also tend to produce a number of different wines – from everyday whites and reds for those afternoon meals, to hearty red wines.
For me, being here almost feels like a religious experience. It starts with the long journey from Rome, the slim roads and crazy drivers (yes, Italians drive insane!) the perfectly rounded hills flanked by the more austere Appennine Mountains and the cypress trees that dot the landscape. Then there is the warmth and openness of the Italian people you meet … and of course the wines, the olives and cheese, the late sunsets and warm nights … but the experience that makes the strongest impression on me is the light. The quality of light here in the summer is uniquely Tuscan. It’s a golden light that makes every green hillside, every stucco villa seem to glow deeper and richer in hue.
Here’s a sensory memory that will stay with me: as we’re driving from Greve-in-Chianti around the countryside outside Siena, and near Montalcino, there are fields and fields of sunflowers that are blooming all over the valley floor, and only in bloom this one month. Our driver for the day explains that the sunflowers are harvested for their oil, in which the locally grown, stuffed zucchini flowers that we love so much are fried. All these huge sunflowers turning to face the morning sun — literally translated, “girasole.” … this is an image that will live with me even after I return home.
In every town we visit, from San Gimignano, to Siena, to Montalcino, Greve, Radda-in-Chianti; there are wonderful little wine shops. We particularly enjoy the little shop in the main piazza of Greve-in-Chianti — La Bottega del Chianti Classico — and in San Gimignano we pick up a couple bottles at Enoteca Antica Latteria. Of the white wines, Vernaccia from San Gimignano is our favorite so far this trip. It has a floral aroma and a ripe stone fruited quality on the palate but is delightfully balanced with notes of lemon meringue. We also particularly enjoy a Rose from the historied producer Biondi Santi in Montalcino, purchased from the Enoteca in Greve. These shops have an extensive collection of local wines in every price point and many vintages, with decent pricing (additionally they offer reasonable shipping to the states.)
But we also choose a day to go wine tasting. The majority of the red wines in Tuscany, from Montalcino to Florence, are produced from the Sangiovese grape varietal. These best of these are produced from the hillsides surrounding Montalcino, and are designated Brunello di Montalcino. The Brunello is a medium to medium-heavy bodied red wine with rich, round, and full tannins. A reserve Brunello is typically aged in French oak barrels and can have a distinctly plummy character. Many wineries also produce a Rosso di Montalcino, which tends to be lighter in body and style, as the aging process is much shorter. The Rosso wines are meant to be fresh and come to market sooner. There is also a large and growing segment of the market here that produces Indicazione Geografica Tipica wines, or “IGT” wines, from grapes like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Syrah, and in fact, at each of the producers we visit they offer at least one IGT wine. Here are our favorites …
Casanova di Neri—After a brief tour of the property surrounding the tasting room and crush pad, our experience ended with a seated tasting through a secret door off a bookcase in the main tasting lobby, in a gorgeous room with five wines. The tasting was accompanied by a plate of bread, olive oil from the estate, and the cheese of the region, Pecorino, along with a delicious fig jam. 100 euros/person. Our favorites of these wines are the 2015 Rosso and the 2012 “Tenuta Nuova” Brunello di Montalcino. The IGT designate 2015 PietradOnice IGT Toscana from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was also delightful.
Podere Le Ripi—Our tour started at the tasting room, and included a walk through the vineyards and then down to the winery. We had a lovely, young host. The winery building is a honeycomb shaped round building that leads underground. The wines are produced in a modern fashion while adhering to traditional requirements. We had a small “light” lunch at the tasting room (which consisted of essentially three courses) while we tasted through the four wines poured for us. The Brunellos were our favorite wines. 40 euros/person included the lunch and wines.
Uccelleria—Our tour began outside with short description of the history of the property, then inside to the fermentation room. Down to barrel room for a long barrel tasting, from both 2015 and 2016 from French oak as well as Slovenian oak tanks. I tasted a lot of iodine and black-cherry, strong wet beef notes, blood, plum, and leather. This experience was quite special. Ucceliera is innovative. We tasted a wine produced in a French oak barrel from Sylvain that was completely un-toasted, allowing for a very true expression of the wine. It was a group experience, with two other couples, but very engaging and informative. 15 euros/person for tour and tasting, which included olive oil produced from the estate.
Colle Beretto—A thoroughly engaging and lasting tasting with the winemaker, Bernardo Bianchi. It’s a beautiful winery newly renovated by the owner Roberto Cavalli. We recommend a trip to taste with Mr. Bianchi if at all possible. In addition to the Chianti Classicos produced, the estate grows Merlot and Pinot Noir as well. The Pinot was actually one of our favorite wines. Our tour and tasting included a small plate of pecorino cheeses, with olive oil from the estate.
What We Learned—
Take wine less seriously. As wine truly becomes the alcoholic beverage of choice for most Americans, having wine on the table becomes more of what is has been for Italians for centuries. That is to say, a part of the meal, and more a part of everyday experience. Sometimes people in the US feel intimidated by wine, like they might not have the right descriptors, or be qualified to talk about what they like or don’t like. There is none of that in Italy. People just pick what they like and leave a lot of the wine-talk out if the experience. Often this is about price and favoring local producers, or putting the Rosso on the table every day, and saving the Brunello for Sunday. For us as small producers who can sometimes take what we do a little too seriously, we’re embracing this approach. Explore wine; find what you like. At the end of the day, that’s what matters to us as well.
We had a variety of different tasting experiences during our travels. We’ve written about a few, but the one that most resonated with us was not the fanciest or most expensive winery. It was the smallest winery we visited, the one that took the time to taste in their cellars with us, to taste out of barrels and tanks, that was open and friendly, rather than intimidating. The winery that was honest, as well as innovative. And that winery was for both of us one called Uccelliera. When someone truly takes the time get to know you, to really talk about the winery, the history, the styles of wines they produce and why — in an open and almost familial way – those are the experiences that are going to stay with you and make you a fond and loyal customer for years to come.
And this is very much the experience we hope and strive to provide at Crosby Roamann. We’ve tried to bring back a little of that Tuscan magic to Napa Valley. We hope you’ll take the time to come share it with us!
Arrivederci. A la prossima! Enjoy the rest of the summer.
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.
We had a pretty amazing Saturday night at the winery at our Spring Fever dinner. The food by chef Sarah Pinkin was outstanding, and really highlighted the best produce, meat, and fish of the season. Along with the fantastic food we served a wide variety of wines including a a 2010 Chardonnay from magnum — which may have been the wine of the night — the now out of stock 2013 Pinot Noir alongside the current release 2014, the library 2010 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon in magnum (Juliana’s favorite Cab we’ve ever produced) and the 2011 Crosby’s Reserve. Sprinkled throughout were a few favorites from other producers who have influenced us over the years. These dinner events are a lot of fun, and we hope you’ll consider joining us at one in the future. If you’re interested in purchasing any of the library wines, please email Juliana for availability and pricing. Thank you so much for everyone who joined us!
We’ve been fortunate to have had a few good press hits in the past couple of months, and we’ve got a few more things cooking for the future. Up next are those March member wine shipments! And look out for our Mother’s Day announcement in the next couple of weeks.
Juliana & Sean
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.
It’s been a wonderful year. While we are still settling into the routine of life and work at our new facility in the Crusher Wine District, the wines we are producing this year are probably the best we have ever made. I think they are the purest wines we have ever made … Especially the small lots of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, made with the most dedication and skill.
We completed the final phase of the warehouse renovation, and while that has been a benchmark it’s left us feeling a little like it’s not the end – “There will always be something….” But we’re very excited with our slightly new look. If you thought it looked cool before, you’ll love the improvements we’ve made.
We want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone that has visited the winery. Having you all come and enjoy the wines with us is ultimately the reason we do this. Which is also why we are throwing one more little shin-dig this weekend.
Holiday Party: Saturday 3 – 6 A Family Friendly Event
Come join us this Saturday for our last event of the year! We are partnering with CHEVOO and featuring their one-of-a-kind artisan goat cheese – a unique combination of hand-blended chèvre immersed in an olive oil infusion. Bring the kids: we’ll have the grill going too, or don’t: You can stop by for a glass of wine and then head to dinner with that special someone! RSVP here.
Membership for 2017
We know people say this all the time. We know you’re used to hearing it. And it is perhaps the only time of the year we’ll say this to you. But if you were ever going to do it, this would be the time. Joining as a Member now locks in 2016 pricing. We will also continue to honor pricing for Members who joined prior to 2016.
Our shipping schedule will also be changing in 2017. California residents and collectors will continue to receive wines upon release, every other month. Everyone else will receive two shipments per year, in the spring and the fall.
New year. New wines *
2014 Sauvignon Blanc
2014 Pinot Noir
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
2012 Crosby’s Reserve
With love and best wishes for the holidays,
Juliana & Sean
* Schedule subject to change. Includes optional one-month Member’s pick or library wine substitute. Shipping and two tastings included, plus the annual Member’s gift.
81 days since the first day of harvest 2016! The madness of it! 81 days! So much has happened and so much has changed in just so short a period of time and such a long one. It’s funny how it can seem like forever ago and always seem like no time has passed at all.
A brief recap on harvest – Our 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Reserve Blanc are racked and topped. The Chardonnay is still very slowly percolating through secondary fermentation, and we are stirring it occasionally. The Beck Vineyard field-blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and our four lots of Pinot Noir – Napa, Sonoma, and two lots of Anderson Valley — are slowly completing malolactic fermentation as well, and the small lot of Harmony School Cabernet that fermented in bin and barrel is just starting.
And, we have just completed the tasting room renovation. The lights and ceiling were replaced and we will be open for tastings again following Thanksgiving break. It’s a project that we have been planning for a while … When we first bought our warehouse in 2014, it was a shell, just four concrete walls and a plywood roof: no insulation, no ceiling, no lighting or electricity and no plumbing. The first phase of renovation involved finishing the space and occupying it. During phase two we applied for, received and installed the winery permit and plumbing. Phase three, which we have just completed, involved renovating the tasting room, and it looks amazing. Please come see it – Schedule a winery tour and tasting here!
It’s been ten years that we’ve been slowly building this thing called Crosby Roamann. Ten years! What more is there to say? It still feels as fresh and new, as exciting and different as it ever did, and yet it’s also starting to feel like something different, like something we have grown into, like something we have become: No longer a mask, but a reflection … And not a reflection, because this thing, this winery, these wines, this life, it isn’t a reflection at all, but a choice, a continuing affirmation, a continuing struggle, a cycle, an art. A portrait, and each time we return to it, each time we re-engage, we bring something new to the table, something from our other lives, something from our night-selves, something from our dreams.
We are not only the person we are, the child we were, the person we have become, but the person we desire to be. We are not only the reflection in the mirror, the physical, the actual, but also the potential, the imaginary. We must hold these two thoughts in our mind: Not only the possible, but also the impossible.
The castles of our future are paved with the bricks of our dreams.
Join us for our Holiday Wine Celebration (and dance party for those who stay late) — Saturday, December 17, 2016. Details still to come, but we will have good food, great wines (as always) and dance music on the turntable. RSVP here and save the date!
We are closing out this year’s Inner Circle shipments with a blast-from-the-past: 2011 Crosby’s Reserve. This wine, a rich and succulent blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot aged in all new French oak for 22 months, has never tasted better. It has shed its youthful exuberance and grown into a sophisticated and stylish wine. Don’t miss it!
More news! Our Inner Circle membership shipping schedule will be changing in the new year. California residents and collectors (6-bottles+) can continue to receive wines upon release, every other month. Everyone else will receive two shipments per year, in the spring and the fall. Joining as a member now locks in your discounted pricing for the year. New pricing effective end of the year. Join now.
Happy Harvest and a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving to our friends and family.
With love from Napa Valley,
Juliana & Sean