Golf Classic to Benefit The Culinary Institute of America
Thomas Keller’s culinary career is an inspiration to all culinary students. Thomas's passion for food and mentorship is matched only by his enthusiasm for golf. The CIA created the Thomas Keller Golf Classic to Benefit The Culinary Institute of America, a fun-filled event in the Napa Valley to raise scholarship funds for CIA students.
The one-day event kicks off on Monday morning with the golf outing at Silverado Resort and Spa, in a scramble format with a shotgun start, followed by dinner reservations at The Grove at The CIA at Copia. Last year’s event was a tremendous success. Festive and fun—with a healthy dose of friendly competition thrown in—the two days raised over $500,000 in student scholarships!
This year the tournament was moved to November 9th due to Covid. It was a beautiful fall day, sunny and warm. When we caught up with the golfers everyone was in great spirits, lots of laughs all around.
Chef Thomas Keller with Caspar Estate's new gift box and Deborah Evans. Inside our Caspar Estate gift box is our Caspar Estate 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, Olive Oil and Honey, a perfect gift for all occasions. Want to see inside this Caspar Estate gift box?
This is the 3rd year that Caspar Estate has partnered with Thomas Keller and Silverado Resort. We are proud to give this gift to the golf players as they are raising money and supporting the students at the CIA.
Deborah, Gingy and Dr. Ryan from the Culinary Institute of America, Austin. Richard Phoenix and Byron of Cultivar Wine and Caspar Estate were among the players.
Dianne Jones and Deborah Evans went out on the course after the golfers came in. Clearly a good time was had by all!
We are looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving this year. As we think about this year we are reflecting on years past and how we can make it special.
We like to serve our Thanksgiving meal around 3pm especially when we celebrate as a big family in the Napa Valley at Caspar Estate. We seem to skip lunch and just nibble on our cheese and charcuterie board. Katie of @CatchingRadiance made this cheese and charcuterie board - including drizzling Caspar Estate wildflower honey on the burrata. We walk the dogs through the vineyard once the turkey is in the oven.
To keep the meal slightly healthy we make a salad with pomegranate and persimmon - both of which we grow at Caspar Estate. We love this recipe from Half Baked Harvest and it has avacodo and candied walnuts. This salad just look amazing with all the flavors of the season.
With all that is going on this year, many of us are having to rethink our travel plans and then of course our Thanksgiving menu as well. More than ever, comfort food is what we're looking for, whether it comes from traditional family recipes or a modern twist on an old favorite.
Nothing is more traditional than a turkey dinner. Our family method was to put garlic, basil, lemon zest and other fresh herbs under the skin of the turkey. We used to use butter, but then with food allergies, we switched to using Caspar Olive Oil in the blender instead. Years ago, I read the Anthony Blue cookbook about Thanksgiving and I love cooking the bird upside down for the 1st 2/3 of cooking so the moisture stays in the breast. Turning over the hot bird is a challenge when you cook a big turkey and requires 2 people. Need to defrost a turkey - this is the fastest way to do it.
Thinking of going smaller? You can just get a turkey breast - and still prepare it the same way. The advantage is that you get all the flavor and less time cooking! My other tried and true trick is to put chicken broth and Cultivar Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay in the base of the pan. I use it to baste the bird and it keeps the meat very moist. Serve that Cultivar Sauvignon Blanc or Oak Knoll Chardonnay you used to baste your turkey, but don't be afraid to pair red wines with this rich bird, such as our Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir.
Another option is to roast a chicken. You can use the same rub (or brine, if you like that method) and then place a cut lemon inside the chicken to keep it moist.
Brussel Sprouts are another favorite. We typically roast them in the oven but if the turkey is taking up too much space, we quickly sautee them using our Caspar Estate olive oil and Malden salt. The briney quality of Brussel Sprouts (especially with bacon!) pairs perfectly with our Cabernet Franc. Give it a try!
A classic comfort food that is perfect for Thanksgiving is mac & cheese. We like to start with a roux using the 4/4/2 method: 4 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons flour and two cups milk. Then just go crazy with the cheese. Gruyere and Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel are family favorites, but this is where you bring the "comfort" to your comfort food. Regardless of how you make it, we think that nothing cuts through the rich gooeyness of cheese quite like our 2019 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.
No matter where you celebrate, what you eat or who you celebrate with, we hope you're able to give thanks for the love, peace and happiness in your life. At Cultivar Wine, we are certainly thankful for the trust you've put in us, and for the honor of including our wine at your family table!
This is the first Merlot we've created since the 2012 vintage, but we felt that the fruit was so gorgeous this vintage that we couldn't pass it up. Merlot, one of the six Noble Grapes and one of the five Bordeaux varietals, is known for it's lucious character of red fruits, its easy tannins and soft finish. At Cultivar, we think these "easy drinking" qualities make Merlot one of the best wines to pair with a wide variety of dishes.
So, we caught up with our own Chef David and Nick Barker of Cultivar SF to ask them about the dishes they think our Merlot would compliment the best.
You may not think at first that an Autumn Salad would pair with Merlot, but we love the combination. Featuring spinach, Granny Smith apples, Bosc pears, Cultivar bacon, pepitas, dried cranberries, and golden balsamic dressing, it's a perfect combination of sweet and savory.
Our Ricotta Dip is another suprising choice: Caspar Estate Vegetables, peccorino romano, and melted mozzarella & ricotta give this dish a gooey decadence that punctuates the bright acids in our merlot. Chef David comments that the earthiness of the chanterelle mushrooms and the spinach pair make it a natural for Merlot. Nick loves this hearty, warm, winter dish and that it balances the medium body of merlot with a touch of fruit.
Chicken Mole? Yes, please! Chicken, homemade mole, polenta, cilantro cream, micro oregano and cotija cheese create an explosion of flavors. Our Napa Valley Merlot refreshes the pallate and brings alll the incredible flavors to the fore. Chef David particularly likes the spices of the mole with the Napa Valley Merlot.
Come in to Cultivar SF on Sunday, November 15th to celebrate the public release of the Napa Valley Merlot and taste these pairings for yourself. When you order a glass of our 2017 Merlot you will receive a surprise paired bite.
The Holidays are right around the corner! If you're like us, you love this time of year, but it always manages to sneak up on you somehow. That's why we've prepared a wide selection of gifts to make Holiday shopping for the wine lovers on your list quick and convenient.
Choose from our Caspar Estate olive oil and honey box, our Cultivar Wine two-packs, our elegant Caspar Estate Cabernet gifts or even Gift Certificates to Cultivar San Francisco. There's something for everyone!
We've matched up our best-selling wines into two-bottle sets to pair with the tastes of your favorite wine lovers. The Cultivar Wine Sampler features our 2019 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc with our 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, providing a sample of Napa's wide-ranging style and terroir. The Pinot Pair, which will delight any lover of Pinot Noir, includes our 2018 Sonoma Coast and 2018 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noirs. And if your list includes someone who truly appreciates fine Napa Valley Cabernet, we offer Napa Valley's Finest, a collection of our limited edition 2016 Leaky Lake Cabernet Sauvignon alongside our acclaimed 2018 St. Helena Cabernet. Each two-pack is delivered in our beautiful Cultivar Gift Box.
Need gifts for teachers, co-workers or the other essential people in your life? Caspar Estate Honey or Caspar Estate Olive Oil is perfect for everyone. We feature sets with wine and without wine. Another great idea is to purchase a case of honey jars so that you always have a simple elegant gift ready to hand out.
Here's a great idea for our local San Francisco friends with teenage kids (or nieces & nephews): give them a Gift Certificate to Cultivar SF, our restaurant in the Marina District. Let them go with a friend and have the grilled cheese and tomato soup or the sliders and fries. You'll be supporting local businesses, too!
Our Caspar Estate Wine Collection is sure to impress clients, employees and the loved ones on your list who enjoy the finest that Napa Valley has to offer. This year, we've done something very special: we've opened up our Caspar cellar for a limited time to the public. This season only, you don't have to be a Club Member to give and enjoy our highly-acclaimed Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.
Planning a special Holiday meal? Why not make it fun by featuring a large format bottle. We have a wide selection of vintages and varietals, from Magnums of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc to Methuselahs of 2012 Howell Mountain Cabernet - that's half a case of wine in one bottle. Now that's the way to make an impression!
We are a small company and we are thrilled when we see the orders come in. On any given day Deborah, Dianne, Richard, or Jody might be in the warehouse packing up your gifts. So please let us know if we can help you with all of your shopping or gift giving. We can ship to multiple locations simultaneously and work within your budget. Drop us an email and let us know how we can help. We make Holiday shopping fun and easy. We can help you stay organized with our Shopping List - Download it here.
Fall has to be one of our most favorite seasons here at Cultivar Wine. Not only does the Fall mean that harvest is coming, but that the Holidays are just around the corner...and with them, new wines created specifically to pair with food.
This Fall is no exception, as we have recently released two wines that are not only begging to be paired with your favorite dishes, but come from regions known to be home to some of the best wines on Earth. We specifically picked these areas to source wines for our Fall wine releases, knowing that we'd be able to create something really special.
The 2018 Cultivar Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa Valley, is something special indeed. One glance at the deep red wine in your glass and you know you’re sipping the very best Napa has to offer. Bold tones of tobacco, mocha, black currant jam, and cardamom hit the nose, while the palate explodes with layers of new oak, peat, salted caramel, cedar, nutmeg and juicy purple fruits. Complexity rules the finish here, with simultaneous waves of cappuccino, Lemon rind and leather carried on waves of youthful tannins. This wine begs you to order a lamb burger with blue cheese or rib eye Philadelphia Style if you’ve got the nerve. We paired it here with mission figs, we grow fig trees at Caspar Estate and they have always been a favorite for us, add goat cheese, and enjoy! Photo credit Eric Zepeda Studio.
St. Helena is a smaller - and quite varried - sub-appellation in Napa Valley. Its vineyards stretch from the valley floor up to the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, providing for growing conditions that can encompass warm and cool regions simultaneously. The soil is a mixture of extremes: ancient riverbed and volcanic rock, a uniqueness that's apparent in every wine that comes from this northern Napa Valley gem. We hand-crafted less than 75 cases of our St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, and after our Wine Club received their allocation, only a few dozen cases remain.
Our second release for Fall 2020 is one of our most exciting: the 2019 Cultivar Wine Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands. Our first-ever pinot from the cool, Burgundy-like slopes of the Santa Lucia Highlands is a beauty and a wonder. With notes of plums, black licorice, fennel and hints of earthiness, one quickly discovers this will be a rich, lush, creamy pinot noir. Dark fruit layers give way to tomato pureé and vegetal tones with a playful herbaceous quality. On the finish, the pure balance gives clues to a subtle oak treatment, revealing caramel, root beer and the promise of even more complexity with age. Grab a bottle along with some herbed goat cheese, fig crostini and blueberries. A very versatile wine, pair it with meats with tomatoes and potatoes cooked in a Finex cast iron skillet. We even love a delicate pinot like this to accompany Thanksgiving turkey.
The Santa Lucia Highlands wine growing region in western Monterey County achieved formal American Viticulture Appellation recognition in 1991. Since then, it has emerged as one of the premiere cool-climate growing regions for pinto noir on the west coast. The small but mighty appellation is home to multi-generation farmers and revered winemakers who craft award-wining and highly-acclaimed wines.
Want to try our new releases? Click here and see for yourself why terroir makes all the difference in Cultivar Wine.
There's something magical about Caspar Estate. Maybe it's the location: nestled high above Rutherford in the Mayacamous Mountain Range, the vineyards over look the Napa Valley, on autumn days when the mountain peaks pierce the early morning cloud layer. On clear, fall mornings, like the one pictured here, you can see the hot air balloons as they rise over Yountville to get a peak of this special place - a place unlike any other in the world.
Or maybe the magic comes from the fruit? Our estate comprises ten acres of vineyard land tucked into rocky, volcanic crags, where sunlight graces the hillsides while cold, moist fog and gentle rains sweep by. The result is a natural terroir perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and more.
On September 23rd, 2020, we harvested our Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in the early morning hours. All our fruit is hand-picked by our experienced vineyard crew, supervised by our winemaker, Julien Fayard. We picked a total of several tons of Cabernet Sauvignon, which was then rushed over to our winemaking facility on the south end of Napa Valley, where Julien oversaw the sorting of the fruit as it went to the crush pad.
"Understanding when to pick the fruit is part science, part instinct and part art," says Fayard. "We want the Cabernet to reach a certain brix before we pick, because that sugar content is critical. But there are other factors at play as well, like weather conditions, moisture levels and more."
Late summer in Napa saw a strange mix of both heat waves and unexpected rain, followed by a series of wildfires. "Mother Nature will always throw a few curve balls at you," Fayard says. "That's where you have to rely on your instincts on when it's best to pick fruit."
A mid-September heat spike lead to an earlier-than-usual harvest, with slightly lower yields than the previous year, but no sign of smoke taint. The net result may be a lower alcohol content than previous Caspar Estate vintages, but that's to be seen.
"Every harvest is different in Napa," says Fayard. "So, even though I may have winemaking techniques I have honed through experience that I will use on every wine we produce, I have to approach each vintage with a different mindset - one that is focused on maximizing the quality of the fruit from each harvest."
So, what is it that makes Caspar Estate so magical? Is it our location above Rutherford, the unique terroir, the beauty of our fruit? We like to think it's the people that make it magic. From our family, to the workers in the vineyards who tend to the grapes daily, to the winemaker who creates delicious, balanced and refined wines vintage after vintage. The magic is in the people who create and nurture the art, science and beauty of wine.
And especially in the people who drink it! Want to be one of them? Sign up for the Allocation Waitlist.
Photo credit @bobmc
Harvest came to our gorgeous sauvignon blanc vineyard at Caspar Estate on August 21st, 2020. As is usual, the fruit was hand-picked in the cool, early-morning hours, then quickly transported to Fayard Winemaking on the south end of Napa Valley, where our delicate fruit continued a journey that started nearly a hundred and forty years ago.
It was back in the 1880's when Charles Wetmore, founder of Cresta Blanca Winery, brought the first Sauvignon Blanc vines to California from the Sauternes vineyards of Château d'Yquem. Though they were initially planted in the Livermore Valley, the new vintners of Napa quickly got their hands on the new vines, knowing that the soil and climate in their valley closely matched the conditions in Bordeaux, France. The Sauvignon Blanc vines at Caspar Estate - distant relatives of these first immigrants - have their "roots" in this Old World tradition.
Another way that we pay homage to the Old World ways is the method we use when our grapes first arrive at our winemaking facility. Under the supervision of winemaker Julien Fayard - himself a first-generation French immigrant - the grapes are sorted in whole clusters and sent directly to the press. This year, we picked 4.9 tons of grapes: a small number indeed, since we only plant one acre of sauvignon blanc on our estate.
The press only holds room for about four tons of grapes, so we fill the press, do a quick run, then fit the remaining grapes into the press. This extra "press" also extracts just the right amount of tannin from the skins - not enough to become part of the flavor profile, but enough to give the acid just a little kick, making the Caspar Estate Sauvignon Blanc an excellent complement to shellfish and light pastas.
"This wine practically makes itself," says Fayard. "By closely tending to the vines throughout the growing season, we know that the fruit is going to be gorgeous when we harvest it. Beautiful wines depend on beautiful fruit."
Originally from Provence, Julien Fayard is one of Napa Valley’s most respected winemakers, with a knack for producing California varietals with French finesse. Formerly of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, he brings two decades of winemaking expertise Caspar Estate's Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fayard believes that the character of our Sauvignon Blanc, like the fruit grown in Bordeaux, is a result of terroir. "The citrus qualities come from the unique soils of our Estate, from its position above the Rutherford Bench. You cannot manufacture this. This is pure fruit expression."
Once the juice is pressed, it's placed in stainless steel tanks for its primary fermentation. Later, the wine will be transferred to French oak barrels, which gives the wine even more complex flavors. "We use oak to draw flavors out of the wine, not to draw flavors out of the oak," says Fayard. More than anything, our oak treatment is designed to give the wine a round, balanced mouthfeel and a lush but clean finish.
2020 is shaping up to be another excellent vintage in Napa, with a cooler than normal summer despite the heat wave that hit right before the harvest. Our 2019 Caspar Estate Sauvignon Blanc - only our second bottling of this limited-availability wine - was released this month to rave reviews. If you'd like to be among the few who are allocated the 2020 vintage in early spring of next year, sign up on our Allocation List and we'll let you know how.
For pinot noir, bottling is the last step in a nearly two-year process that takes grapes from the vine and puts wine on your table. If you've ever seen a wine bottling, you may think it looks like a lot like manufacturing, and not nearly as romantic as winemaking sounds. The truth is, every step of the process is absolutely essential to ensure that you not only pour a quality wine from that bottle, but that the wine can beautifully and gracefully age in the that bottle.
Let's take a look at how bottling works. Earlier this month, we bottled our two, newest pinot noirs: the 2019 Russian River Pinot Noir and the 2019 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. We're especially excited about the Santa Lucia Highlands release, as it is our first bottling of pinot noir from this unique and gorgeous appellation.
Bring In The Bottling Truck
It all starts with a big truck that looks like this:
It's not a food truck - it's better. It's a Moble Bottling Truck, which contains all the necessary equipment to clean, fill, cork and label a wine bottle. Trucks like this can set up quickly directly outside a crush pad or warehouse and bottle tens of thousands of gallons of wine per day.
First, the wine is poured from barrels (or stainless steel tanks, if those were used for fermentation) into large tanks like this one. Notice the tubing that leads to a regulator that can start or stop the wine from reaching the bottling truck.
The bottling crew then takes cases of pre-sanitized wine bottles and empties them onto a conveyor belt that guides them onto the first mechanism, a machine that blasts nitrogen into the bottle to not only clear out any remaining dust particles, but to eliminate oxygen from the bottle. The bottle is then transfered from this machine to the one that dispenses a perfect 750 ml of wine into the bottle. In this video, you can see the first process on the right, and the second one on the left.
The bottles are then corked. A machine pops a burst of nitrogen into the top of the bottle to push out the tiny bit of oxygen remaining, then a cork is inserted to the bottle. This ensures that the least amount of oxygen remains in the bottle, so that the wine inside will age without oxydation.
The bottles then move along the conveyer to where they'll be labeled. The labels are printed on giant rolls, which unwind as the bottle goes by. A roller affixes both the front and back labels.
Finally, the bottles are placed in cases, where they are sealed by hand and placed on pallets for warehousing. At this point, the wine is in "Bottle Shock," a phenominon that occurs when wine has been shaken or disturbed more than normal. Bottle Shock can result in a wine tasting disjointed or imbalanced, so it's recommended that recently-bottled wines are allowed to settle for at least a few days. We typically extend that period to 60 days, just to be sure. (Pro Tip: Bottle Shock can even occur after the shipping process, so it's recommended that wine you purchase by mail be allowed to rest a couple of days before being consumed).
We'll be celebrating Pinot Noir Day on August 28th, and if the 2019s are ready for their debut by then, they'll be making their debut. Sign up for our Newsletter to keep informed about our plans for Pinot Noir Day events all that week!
If Memorial Day is Summer's Official Kickoff, July 4th is Summer's All-Star Game. Time to get together with family & friends and celebrate the best that summer - and our country - has to offer. Time to show off those finely-honed BBQ skills, create the best recipes, and uncork your favorite wines.
Like all of us in this great country, the vines that create the wines we love so much are immigrants, too. When winemaking started in the U.S., early winemakers quickly discovered that there were only two varietals native to America that produced drinkable wine: Cynthiana and Catawba. In fact, one of the first commercial wineries in America was founded in Ohio in the early 1800s, and exclusively produced a sparkling Catawba that was said to "rival the most exquisite champagnes of France." Otherwise, the Cabernet, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and other popular varietals that adorn our 4th of July picnic tables all come from a European import, Vitis Vinifera, which arrived in California in 1779.
Of course, much has changed since those early days: it was over 60 years later that John Pratchett and his winemaker, Charles Krug, began producing wine in the Napa Valley. It’d be over a hundred years after that until American wine earned their rightful reputation alongside the best bottlings from Europe, following “The Judgment of Paris.”
And what makes that Napa wine so great? How come American wines can stand not only side-by-side but head-and-shoulders above their European counterparts? It's the terroir. It's the sixteen different appellations of the Napa Valley, each with their distinctive soil and microclimates, that give the grapes their unique characteristics. At Cultivar Wine, we've always been enamored with those differences: the way the ancient riverbed of Oak Knoll gives our Chardonnay its minerality; the way the Rutherford dust creates bold fruit flavors in our Cabernet. These are the appellations our family grew up in, the places our heart called home. We hope that you can taste not only the unique qualities of those appellations in the wine we make, but the love our family puts into it.
So, this July 4th, let’s raise a toast to family, to friends and to wine - The Great American Beverage! To celebrate, Cultivar Wine is offering two special wine packages, one red and one white, depending on your tastes:
One bottle each of our 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, 2018 Napa Valley Rosé and 2018 Oak Knoll Chardonnay for $70.00, plus a complimentary upgrade to 3-Day Cold Pack Shipping. CLICK HERE.
One bottle each of our 2018 Napa County Cabernet Sauvignon, 2017 Oak Knoll Cabernet Franc and 2018 Russian River Pinot Noir for $115.00, plus a complimentary upgrade to 3-Day Cold Pack Shipping. CLICK HERE.
Have a safe and Happy July 4th Weekend!
What's an even better pairing than wine and food? Wine and friends! But these days, it has been challenging to get together with friends over a bottle of wine. The emergence of online Happy Hours has been one solution, but for wine lovers across the world, the Virtual Wine Tasting has become the event of choice.
Think of it as a visit to the Tasting Room without the Tasting Room. The events are set up in advance, so participants can choose the time that works for the best for them. Just like a live tasting, the wines are pre-selected for each event, then sent to the participants' home, where they can taste them along with the event's host and the other participants.
Cultivar Wine launched its Virtual Wine Tasting Program on June 10th, and plans on having an event every Wednesday through July 1st. Depending on the popularity of the events, we could extend the events through the summer. And if the first event was any indicator, it's going to be a long, fun summer!
Participants in the June 10th event were treated to our 2019 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and our 2015 Leaky Lake Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Hosted by Deborah, Cultivar's Hospitality Director, we went through each wine and talked about how the amazing terroir of Napa Valley gave the wines their unique characteristics. Guests shared their own thoughts about the wines, while club members Jim and Laura even shared their dinner recipe that paired with the Leaky Lake Cabernet!
"I think Virtual Wine Tastings have opened the door to an entirely new approach to wine tasting," says Gingy Harris Gable, Co-Founder of Cultivar Wine. "People have come to see these events as an opportunity to get together with friends from across the country to share an experience they love so much - wine tasting. It's a way to bring Napa wine country to Colorado or Iowa or anywhere in the world."
It's also a great chance to meet your fellow wine lovers. Though usually limited to 10 participants, you never know which part of the country - or the world - the other attendees come from.
"What's so fun about Cultivar's Virtual Wine Tastings is that you not only learn about the wine you're drinking, but it's also like a party," says John Taylor, Cultivar's Marketing Manager. "You can have three or four guests at your home enjoying the event, and find ten other groups online enjoying the event in the same way."
Best of all, Cultivar Wine has started a program of Private Virtual Wine Tastings. Get together with your friends and family, choose the wines you want to try, and we'll conduct a customized tasting online for you. To learn more, or book a reservation, Click Here.