A Great Way to Support Public Schools

SONY DSCLast weekend we had the chance to host what has become tradition for Amici, the 3rd annual Amici/Las Lomitas Education Foundation fundraiser.  As anyone who lives in California knows, our public schools in this state need all the help they can get these days, and  this fundraiser has been a great way to raise funds for the public school district in Menlo Park and Atherton area.  Parents and wine lovers at the event were the first to get to try all three 2011 single vineyard barrel samples side by side.  Also in the line-up was the pre-release 2010 Amici Reserve Napa Valley Cab , as well as all of our new spring releases.  It was a great line-up of wines, a fun evening and, best of all, with 25% of all proceeds going straight to the school foundation, thousand of dollars were raised for public school programs.  Sounds like a win-win-win to us!

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Exploring the Terroir of Napa Valley Sub-Appellations

Last week we had the pleasure in taking part in an exploratory “terroir” tasting of Cabernets from six of the 16 appellations in the Napa Valley.  While the concept of terroir comes to us from France, arguably there is no better place to explore it and taste it in the glass than here in the Napa Valley.

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Terroir is an imprecise concept of how the geography, geology and climate of a specific grape-growing location can affect the resulting wine.  The relatively tiny Napa Valley, just 1/8 the size of Bordeaux and only 30 miles long by 5 miles wide, offers winegrowers a dizzying array of elements that create vastly different terroir from one appellation, and even one vineyard, to the next.

Our tiny valley has 100 different soil variations and fully half of the world’s soil orders. With five mountains surrounding the valley and volcanic knolls throughout, as well as the Pacific Ocean sitting 30 miles to the west, the valley contains micro-climates of valley and hillside vineyards facing all different directions, some cooled by ocean fog sneaking in, some much warmer.  Vineyard soils can be alluvial, volcanic, clay, loam or other.  Add the winemaker’s influence into that mix, and what you have is a concoction of almost infinite variables influencing a wine’s terroir.

Tasting Cabernet Sauvignons from various Napa appellations side by side is an entertaining, always-educational exercise that I highly recommend for anyone interested in wine.  The six wines we tasted last week, every one of them an exceptional and delicious wine, spanned a wide variety of flavors and profiles:  some showed red perfumey fruit, others deeper black fruits, some tannins were gripping and powerful, others were velvety.

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At Amici in addition to our Napa Valley blends, we love to create vineyard-specific wines that allow people to explore in-depth the characteristics of the sub-appellations of Napa Valley.  From Spring Mountain to Rutherford Bench to Oakville, we have an exciting array of vineyard-specific wines in the bottle and in the barrel now.  Each one has its own distinct personality, an expression of its terroir, waiting to be expressed when the cork is pulled.

Special thanks to those involved in this tasting: it was organized by the Concierge Alliance of Napa Valley and Sonoma (CANVAS), led by the Napa Valley Wine Academy, and hosted at the beautiful Alpha Omega Winery.  

A Debut for Palisades View

Those of you who follow this blog know that for several months we’ve been hard at work finishing up the event space at our guest house, and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. We’re calling it “Palisades View,” and now that it’s done we’re happy to spread the word about what a stunning location this is for wine country events. Surrounded by breathtaking views of the Palisades Mountain range, and studded with mature oak and olive trees, Palisades View is truly a one-of-a-kind space. We took some recent photos from the last week or two and dropped them into a video slideshow to show guests what they can expect when they visit.

Click below for a video slideshow:

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A Great Night with Total Wine & More

This week 55 managers from Total Wine & More stores from around the country made their annual pilgrimage to Napa and Sonoma to meet winery principals, tour vineyards and taste new releases. For several years it’s been our pleasure to host the group for an afternoon of tasting Amici wines, and we always enjoy our time with this consistently fun and gracious group of people. This year, when we heard that Total Wine & More was giving us a coveted slot on Wednesday night to host the group for dinner, we were delighted.

The temperature in Calistoga topped out at 96 degrees on Wednesday afternoon, so as the buses groaned up our steep driveway and the store managers filed out, they couldn’t wait to get inside the cool winery, where we tasted and discussed current and upcoming releases. We finished off our tastings with a side-by-side exploration of barrel and stainless fermented Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet which everyone found fun and educational.

The party really started when we walked down from the winery to the guest house grounds and were greeted by course after course of magnificent food from Chef Lars Kronmark (Senior Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America) and Chef John Fink (chef-owner of The Whole Beast). The Palisades Mountain range lit up in fiery oranges and purples at sunset, and the balmy evening was so pleasant that no one wanted the gathering to end. We said our goodbyes to our friends new and old as they got on their buses en route to their hotel, and are hoping for a repeat of this great night next year.

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Guests are greeted with a glass of the 2011 Amici Sauvignon Blanc

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Discussing current and upcoming Amici wines.

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Samples of barrel-fermented and stainless-fermented Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet await tasting.

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Chef John Fink and Chef Lars Kronmark discuss the evening’s menu.

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Everyone enjoyed the views of the mountains at sunset.

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Chef Fink serves his delicious fresh-caught roasted salmon

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Relaxing and enjoying the balmy evening.

 

Auction Napa Valley 2012

The gray clouds and rain moved in at just the right time on Monday morning, as out of town attendees for this year’s Auction Napa Valley were loading their bags into cars destined for the airport, and vintners were getting little extra sleep after another successful auction. The weather had been warm and beautiful during the weekend festivities, and everyone’s spirits around the valley are bouyed by the fact that the total auction proceeds this year are a whopping $8.1 million, up from last year’s $7.3 million.

At Amici we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly over this annual weekend of fun, wine and friends. At Friday’s barrel auction, Joel poured his 2010 Amici Cellars Gary Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This single-vineyard wine from the famed Morisoli Vineyard on Napa’s Rutherford Bench was a huge hit with attendees and bidding on case lots from the barrel was active. The ten lucky top bidders will be receiving their cases next summer after the wine is bottled.

Bidding was also heated for our e-auction lot, featuring a weekend stay at the Amici guest house for three couples, private vineyard tour and barrel tasting, gourmet wine-pairing lunch prepared by our chef, and two cases of Amici single-vineyard reserve wines. The e-auction bidding was open for seven days, and reached its peak just before close on Sunday night as several bidders competed for the lot. We’re excited to host the winning bidders soon, and show them the time of their lives!

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Fun was had by all at the barrel auction on Friday, held this year in the beautiful caves at Jarvis Winery.

Raising Funds for Public Schools through Wine

We were thrilled to host the 2nd annual fundraiser for the Las Lomitas Education Foundation, a Bay Area public school district, last weekend. Over 150 people joined us to taste Amici’s latest releases, try barrel samples of the 2010 single-vineyard Cabernets and support their public schools. 25% of all wine sales from the event were donated directly to the school foundation, and we’re pleased to say that thousands of dollars were raised for the school district that evening. It’s a great event that supports a cause near and dear to us – the state of our public schools. If you would like to host a similar fundraiser for your local school, please contact us.

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