Monday, September 18, 2017

Tips on Pairing Wine and Cheese

Whether you need the perfect appetizer to serve at your get together, or you just LOVE wine and cheese (who doesn't?!) you shouldn't just put any wines with any cheeses. Certain cheeses enhance the flavor of certain wines and vice versa and it's important to know what to put with what. Here are some tips:

Keep the intensity of the wine and cheese on the same level
Don't put a delicate cheese, such as Gruyère with an intense wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. The bold taste of the wine will overpower the cheese. A good rule to follow to know what wines are what intensity is anything over 14.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) are more intense and anything under 12% ABV are less intense.

Aged cheese goes well with bold, red wines
Cheese becomes richer in flavor as it ages due to the increased fat content it develops as it looses water content. For this reason, aged cheese counteracts the high tannins found in bold, red wines which creates a delicious combination. Cheeses that have been aged at least one year, such as Manchego, Gouda, or Provolone pair well with bold, red wines like Merlot or Cabernet Franc.

Sweet wines and stinky cheeses are perfect together
Cheeses like Limburger, Livarot Munster, or Robiola Lombardia pair perfectly with sweet wines such as Moscato, Port, or Dessert wines because the sweetness in the wine makes the cheese taste creamy by balancing the funky taste. 

Cheese and wine from the same region should be kept together
Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese, both from Loire Valley, France; Chardonnay and Époisses de Bourgogne, both from Burgundy, France; and Garnacha and Manchego, both from Spain, are all great examples of wine and cheese that pair well together. Sometimes it's wise to just trust the local traditions.

A firm, nutty cheese is a good go-to when you're just not sure
With the right amount of fat to counterbalance tannin in red wine, and still the right amount of delicacy to compliment delicate whites, firm, nutty cheeses are a popular choice to pair with almost all wines. These cheeses include Swiss, Comté Extra, and Gouda.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Featured Wineries

Featured Wineries...

Our Featured Wineries are not only exquisite and beautiful places to visit, but we have additional pictures and information available on our Winery Profile pages. Click one of our Featured Wineries and read all about them!

Leslie and Joseph set out to create a complete guide for visiting wine country focusing on Napa and Sonoma wineries. H. Montanile™ is the wine lovers choice. From winery reviews, wine education and selection, places to stay, fun things to do and sample itineraries. H. Montanile™ brings you the complete wine country experience in one living site. We at H. Montanile™ can fulfill all of your wine country, gourmet food and fine wine needs.

Happy Tastings,
Leslie & Joseph Montanile

Keep checking our website for updated featured wineries!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Wine Crush & Harvest Festivals 2017 - Sonoma County

One of the best times to visit wine country is during the harvest and this year will be no different! During the sorting, stemming, crushing, and fermentation processes of the grapes, a lot of wineries encourage visitors to engage in the harvest and experience the fun first hand. Here are some of the activities planned for this year's harvest:

"Sonoma Valley Crush (Sept. 8 to 10, 2017)
Experience harvest, hands-on, as you enjoy a one-of-a-kind, behind-the-scenes look at every aspect from picking grapes, to crush, to fermentation. Interactive fun at more than a dozen wineries across Kenwood and Glen Ellen includes grape sampling in the vineyards, crush pad tours, and tasting fresh pressed juices like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. One exciting extra is tasting how a wine evolves while it's fermenting. Cost for a Crush Wine Tasting Pass is $35 ($45 at the door), bringing full access to harvest activities and wine tastings from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sonoma County Wine Auction (September 16, 2017)
Held at the beautiful new La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard in Russian River Valley, the fundraising gala features fine foods from chef Thomas Schmidt of John Ash & Co., and executive chef Justin Wangler of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens. And it’s for a great cause: the Auction has raised $24 million for local Sonoma County charitable partners over the years. Mark your calendars for Sept. 15, too, as the auction kicks off with vintner dinners at top wineries across Sonoma County.

Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival (September 22-24, 2017)
It’s the 120th Anniversary of this party at the Sonoma Plaza. The festivities kick off on Friday, September 22 with a marvelous costume gala with tasting great wines and delicious food followed by dancing under the stars to live music. The fun keeps going throughout the weekend with Sip & Shop – wine tasting and artists showcase of more than 80 artists, a grape stomp competition, fire fighter demonstrations, “Get Your Glow On” Night Parade, live music and a Kids Zone.

Details: 453 1st Street E, Sonoma, 707-996-2109, www.valleyofthemoonvintagefestival.com. Tickets for the gala are $90-$125. 

Harvest Dinner at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards (September 23, 2017)
 Go behind-the-scenes on a tour with Mike Crumly, VP of Production, including a food and wine pairing featuring a very special library selection served in the grapevine covered arbor. Then, tuck into a seasonal harvest-inspired and wine paired supper, with live music.

Details: 23555 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, 707-996-7256, www.gloriaferrer.com. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; $150.

Harvest Dinner at Lambert Bridge Winery (September 30, 2017)
The winery is Architectural Digest beautiful, with the tasting room looking through a long wall of wood-framed glass into a barrel room glimmering with votive candles and glowing candlestick chandeliers. For the Harvest Party, guests get to go inside the barrel room, and also check out the crush pad, before sitting down to a lavish supper at communal tables on the lawn. It’s posh, with such delights as oyster tasting stations, but also relaxed, sometimes attended to by the very well behaved winery dogs.

Details: 4085 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-4675, www.lambertbridge.com. 5 to 9 p.m.; $175. 

43rd Annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair (October 6-8, 2017)
This annual event brings so much more than just showcasing award-wining wine and beautiful food. Attractions include educational demonstrations, a cooking competition, expanded interactive tastings, and a focus on local and artisanal products. The highlight remains the Grand Tasting, with three days of sampling from 100+ wineries, including the opportunity to purchase bottles at a Fair-direct discount. Don’t miss the marketplace tasting seminars where you can learn about farming wine grapes, winemaking, and wine appreciation, directly from the winery owners and winemakers. Another don’t miss: the World Championship Grape Stomp for messy fun and great prizes like cold, hard cash.

Details: Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, www.harvestfair.org. Prices vary per event. 

Landmark Vineyards Harvest Festival And Winemaker Seminar (October 7, 2017)
One of the delights of this lovely 20-acre estate in the foothills of the Mayacamas mountains is the tours that give you a sneak peek into the wine process. The strolls last about 15 minutes, passing right past the crush pad, with your guide narrating all along the way and explaining everything from the estate grape varieties, to trellising to winemaking. For this event, you can be the first to try new wine club releases, enjoy delicious food from local vendors, play a game of bocce ball, groove to live music, or just kick back and smell the rosés. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; $45. Start the day early, though, at 10:30 a.m., with an exclusive wine and cheese pairing seminar led by Landmark winemaker Greg Stach and cheese expert Sophie Boban-Doering. Learn about rare cheeses from around the world, and how match Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and library selections. 10:30 a.m. to noon; $60.

Details: 101 Adobe Canyon Rd., Kenwood, 707-833-0053, www.landmarkwine.com

D'Argenzio Winery and Tasting Room 22nd Annual Italian Country Harvest Party (October 7, 2017)
It’s a taste of Italy in downtown Santa Rosa, as the D'Argenzio family celebrates friends, new and old. The fun includes an Italian feast, a grape stomp, bocce, live music, dancing, and tastings. On tap: many newly released wines, and limited edition wines. Lots of wine, actually - last year, the winery opened 28 different types, yowza! Event time: 4 to 8 p.m.; $45.

Details: 1301 Cleveland Avenue, Suite A, Santa Rosa, 707-546-2466, www.dargenziowine.com

Dutton-Goldfield Harvest Party (October 21, 2017)
The celebration features new wine releases, food pairings, and an exclusive show by a local jewelry artist. Tastings are $25, or complimentary with a 3-bottle purchase.

Details: 3100 Gravenstein Hwy. North, Sebastopol, 707-823-3887, www.duttongoldfield.com. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Celebrate Labor Day With the Perfect Wine!

Labor Day is one week away and with it comes barbecues, pool parties, and other fun celebrations! A celebration isn't really a celebration without wine though, is it? So, make sure you know the perfect wine to bring or serve next weekend at your holiday party.

Most Labor Day celebrations include delicious foods on the grill. Chicken, burgers, and steaks are always better when cooked on the grill and they deserve to have the perfect companion.

Here are some amazing pairings:

Chicken, seafood, and veggies - pair with a Pinot Noir Rose which is flavorful and refreshing.

Steaks and burgers - pair with a Classic Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sausage - pair with a Riesling to compliment the intense flavors.

Another wonderful part of Labor Day weekend is swimming! If your celebration is poolside then a Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice. If you're a red wine drinker, you should go with a Pinot Nior while dipping your toes in the water.

Sparkling wines are also a great choice for poolside fun. They are refreshing, bright, and delicious. They pair well with fruit and cheese, or a simple sandwich.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The History of Napa Valley

According to The Wine Cellar Insider, "The first vines were planted in California as far back as the late 1700′s." The wine produced from these grapes were intended for religious purposes, as they were planted by Father Junipero Serra and his missionaries. Not long afterwards, in the mid 1800s, the commercial start to the wine industry took place. Abraham Lincoln was president when a small group of European Immigrants initiated it!

In the 1850s, a man named Joseph Osborne planted vines on "Oak Knoll" which was an 1,800 acre tract of land. That land has since been split over and over throughout time and has created some of the best bench land vineyards in Napa Valley. However, in Northern California in the 1930s, George Calvert Yount planted vineyards on land that the Mexican Government had granted him (California was still part of Mexico since it had not yet been awarded statehood at this time). Yountville is named after him and many credit him with the birth of Napa Valley. Not long afterwards, Calistoga was founded by Samuel Brannan who planted over 100 acres of vines and called it Agua Caliete Ranch.

But the real credit for creating vineyards in Napa Valley goes to John Patchett who, in the 1950s received the first official review of his wine, which is the first official review of any California wine. The positive review was published in the “California Farmer Magazine," and was composed by Robert Parker. Since wine country was so young at this point, most used an old cider press since they didn't even have grape presses yet.

For a full history of Napa Valley, visit The Wine Cellar Insider's article "Complete Napa Valley California Wine History from Early 1800s to Today"

Monday, August 14, 2017

Napa Valley Weddings

Napa Valley is a beautiful place for vacations. It has amazing views, an array of activities, and an abundance of wineries. These qualities make it the perfect location for the most important day of your life... Your wedding!

Your wedding day is one day you will remember forever so why not celebrate in one of the most beautiful places on earth? Napa Valley offers a setting with rolling vineyards that are sure to make the most amazing backdrops for your photos. You can then celebrate the wonderful day in a grand ballroom! Stay and enjoy a relaxing honeymoon after you say "I do!"

Wedding Venues

"Elegance meets history in the heart of Napa Valley. Your wedding will be simply breathtaking on our legendary estate, dating back to 1861. One of only five Napa wineries that can host weddings, our wedding package includes use of our historic Carriage House, with its renovated ballroom and dining room, soaring cathedral ceiling, stunning period chandeliers, and arched doorways overlooking our Great Lawn."

"For memories that last a lifetime, distinguish your perfect day and set the stage for the wedding event of your dreams at the Vintage Estate which includes both the Villagio Inn & Spa and the Vintage Inn, Northern California's preferred, Four Diamond luxury destination. From ceremony through reception and on into the evening, the lush gardens of the Inn and the adjacent Vintage Estate create a dramatic Wine Country-inspired backdrop for rehearsal dinners, ceremonies and wedding receptions of up to 1,000 guests."

"From simple elopements to vow renewals, the Napa Valley Wine Train is one of the most distinctive Wine Country wedding destinations available. Not only are we an incredibly unique venue, but we hold the customers experience as one of our highest priorities, understanding that this is a day that can never be repeated."

"Churchill Manor's owners, Joanna and Brian, have been carrying on the inn's 90 year old tradition of hosting weddings and receptions. Since purchasing the inn 12 years ago, they have hosted over 700 events and take great pride in developing a reputation of exceptional excellence."

"Our on-site event coordinator loves creating unique events for our guests and handling all of the details so that you can relax with friends and family. Choose from all-inclusive packaged themes such as dessert & wine pairings, lobster feasts, and wedding brunches or let us customize the rehearsal dinner of your dreams! Our corporate entertaining packages make your job easier by letting us do all of the work. Your friends & colleagues will be amazed with your party-planning skills! Our combination of indoor and outdoor event spaces can accommodate up to 250 guests – or choose one our smaller spaces for more intimate gatherings."

Wedding Planners

"Life is a series of stories. Some make us laugh. Some give us pause. And others, the truly special ones, deserve to be celebrated. At A Savvy Event, we live for those milestone moments. Whatever your story may be, a wedding, an anniversary, a corporate affair, or even a shoot that needs styling, our goal is always the same: to seamlessly execute (and beautifully style) a fabulous soirée."

"Your wedding is the most memorable day of your life. There are many details that go into it, beginning with the proposal to the first dance as man and wife. Napa Valley Custom Events offers services based on your needs. That may be full assistance or coordination the day of the wedding. Let the memories of detailing your special day also be joyful and stress-free."


"Kopol Bonick Photography offers professional photographic services for weddings, events, commercial assignments and portraits. We are located in the Napa Valley and photograph throughout wine country and the Bay Area. We also are available for destination weddings and national commercial opportunities."

"We are Laura and Donna, proud owners of L&D Photography. Let us use our artistic talent and sound photography skills to tell your story. We would be honored to design a personal, customized photography experience to fit your personality and your needs."

"When you wake up on your wedding day, your only thoughts should be about celebrating your marriage with your friends, family, and love of your life."

For more information on weddings in Napa Valley click here

Monday, August 7, 2017

How Long an Opened Bottle of Wine Stays Good

A very common question people have is "Does wine go bad?" but the answer is not as simple as the question. It is dependent on what kind of wine it is and how it is stored. Fortified wines have about a months lifespan once open, whereas table wines last only about 3-5 days. On a positive note, an old wine doesn't harm you, it just doesn't taste as good.

Why does wine go bad? In short, acetic acid bacteria starts to consume the wine's alcohol then metabolizes which causes a vinegar like smell. Also, the alcohol can oxidize, which takes away the wine's freshness and gives it a nutty taste. Both of these chemical reactions can be slowed down by keeping the wine at a lower temperature.

Sparkling wine, like soda, loses it's carbonation quiet fast once opened. A wine stopper will help, but only prolongs the quality of the wine for 1-3 days when in the fridge. Because they have more bubbles, traditional sparkling wines such as Champagne, will last a little longer.

Sweet white and rose wines will get about 5-7 days in the fridge with a cork. The longer it's opened the less vibrant the fruit flavor and character of the wine will be. If the white wine is full-bodied, like a Chardonnay, it's life drops to about 3-5 days because they tend to oxidize faster due to being exposed to more oxygen during the aging process before bottling.

If a red wine is higher in tannin and acidity, it tends to last longer after opening than a red wine that has little tannin like a Pinot Noir. Reds should be stored in a dark, cool location like a chiller once opened, but if that's not available to you the refrigerator is the next best place. Red wines will last about 3-5 days with a cork.

Port, Sherry, and Marsala, along with other fortified wines, will last about a month with a cork if kept in a cool, dark place. The addition of Brandy to these wines gives them a longer life. A good fact to keep in mind is the sweeter the dessert wine, the longer life it has.

If you like to keep a box of wine the fridge you can count on it's life to be about 2-3 weeks for either red or white. This is because the bag inside of the box is an airless environment which keeps the wine longer. However, make sure to check the expiration date on the box because there are regulations on foods that are stored in plastic.