Chris Corley
 
March 30, 2013 | Chris Corley

Reflections ...

Posted By : Chris Corley

The Napa wine industry is a pretty charitable group. Most of the industry people we are familiar with are generous with their time and resources, and are eager to help those who may be in need of help. There are all sorts of ways that wineries and wine professionals donate their time, services, resources and wine to help a multitude of worthy and important causes throughout our valley, and even beyond.

Winning Bidder Andrew Drilling Down On His Personal Blend

Today we spent a wonderful morning with a group that had the winning bid on one of our charitable auction lots. Their winning bid entitled them to a winemaker-led blending seminar in our Reserve Room, and a beautiful white tablecloth lunch in our Jefferson House Dining Room, prepared by one of our favorite local restaurants, Hurley's. In addition, the winning bidder will take home four cases of the blend they came up with this morning.

Events like this make everyone feel good. The winning bidder is excited to spend a wonderful day at Monticello with his family and friends, and will have 48 bottles of wonderful wine to enjoy that they have created themselves from our barrel lots. The auction is excited to have created a winning platform which brings together bidders and wineries in uniques ways such as todays session. We are excited as a winery to have our guests enjoy our facilities, and get a taste of what happens behind the scenes in putting together a winning wine. Everybody involoved is deeply satisfied knowing that all of our efforts have resulted in a good sum of money being raised for local health services.

We at Monticello would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter and hopefully we can all take a moment this weekend to reflect on what truly matters to all of us. For me, the health and love of family is the core. Everything else emanates from that center. Happy Easter!

Chris Corley
 
December 28, 2012 | Chris Corley

In Memoriam : Mark Heinemann

"Posted By : Chris Corley

Recently we lost a good man, friend and member of our industry, Mark Heinemann. His smile and good cheer will be sorely missed by all those that knew him.

Mark was a little older than me, but I can remember Mark all the way back to our elementary school fifth grade camp trip to Occidental. Mark was a counselor the year that we went.

In recent years, I would enjoy talking with Mark about new barrels for the year or joining him and the team at Demptos for one of their events. The vibe was always warm and welcome.

Mark was a good man, whose life was cut short far too soon. We'll keep Mark and his family in our thoughts and send them all the positive energy we can to help them through this difficult time."

Chris Corley
 
January 26, 2012 | Chris Corley

Monticello Vineyards experiments with wine flavored cheese

"Guest Blog : Posted on January 26, 2012 by Ray

This is a guest blog post by Vintage Wine Taster and good friend Ray Conti. Ray and his wife recently took a trip to the Monticello winery on Big Ranch Road in the Napa Valley. They escorted two friends who own a dairy near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Their two Santa Fe friends, Ed & Michael Lobaugh, own The Old Windmill Dairy® just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. They make a wonderful variety of artisan goat and cow cheeses. At a Wine & Cheese festival in Carlsbad, Monticello Vineyard's Stephen Corley approached them and indicated the winery might be interested in combining the Monticello wines with their Gouda cheeses. Monticello sent a case of their wines containing three varietals: Estate grown Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

About Monticello Winery

Monticello is a small winery by Napa standards (15,000 cases), but their quality makes up for the small quantity. Jay Corley founded the winery in 1970 and today sons Kevin, Stephen and Chris Corey are operating the winery. Kevin oversees the operation, Stephen is in charge of sales, and Chris is the winemaker. The winery lies just above the town of Napa. It is on Big Ranch Road that can be accessed from Oak Knoll Road. They have three lines of wine: Corley Reserve, Corley Family wines, and Monticello Reserve wines. Their specialties are Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay. The friendly tasting room is opposite a 1/3 scale replica of Jefferson's Monticello; a tribute to America's first serious wine collector. This is a fun place to start a wine tour of the Napa Valley

Monticello Vineyards

About the Cheese Project

This is the process used to infuse the Monticello wines into the Gouda cheese. After the initial stages to develop the curd from the cow's milk, the mixture is pressed into wheels. After 12 hours the cheese hardens sufficiently it is removed from wheels and is transferred to a vat brine mixture of wine, salt and purified softened water. After several days the cheese is then removed and dried on a rack at room temperature. All these steps are done by hand and the length of time is determined by how the cheese feels to the touch and how it tastes and smells. Once the cheese develops an oily dark surface, it is hand waxed with a clear wax and than a dark red wax. After the wax is dry, the cheese is transferred to an underground cellar and aged at a temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit. The Monticello cheeses were aged for 60 days. The flavor results in a moister, creamier yet mild flavored Gouda. When aged for approximately 5 months, the cheese will develop a more robust flavor. Each of the Monticello wines will create a very different flavor in the Gouda cheese.

This is an ongoing project with much experimentation to get the perfect wine-flavored Gouda cheese. Ed & Michael Lobaugh are eagerly waiting to see what the Corley family thinks of this young batch of Gouda. The hope is that the project will result in cheeses the Corely family will want to feature in their tasting room and possibly sell to Napa Valley restaurants. We will be sure to get back to you when the results are in and indeed if this Gouda is available for sale.

Kevin Corley - Monticello Vineyards

"

Time Posted: Jan 26, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Chris Corley
 
January 21, 2012 | Chris Corley

1981-2011 : On The Field and In The Field

"Posted By : Chris Corley
On January 10, 1982, Dwight Clark made The Catch. It was immediately the defining moment and iconic image of the rising star of the 49ers. At this same time, the inaugural 1981 vintage of Monticello Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon was residing in small french oak barrels in Napa Valley. Ultimately, the 49ers won their first Super Bowl, and our 1981 vintage ended up being labeled in red and gold. For both the 49ers and Monticello Cellars, the 1981 season was the culmination of perseverance, execution and a dose of good fortune. For both the 49ers and Monticello Cellars, the 1981 season marked the beginning of a wonderful run for the red and gold ...

 

Our dad, Jay Corley, was a colleague of Lou Spadia, when Lou was the president of the 49ers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. While Jay was busy getting Monticello Vineyards started in Napa Valley, Lou was working on making the 49ers be the best they could be, having been with the team since 1946 before rising to become president. Jay would attend games at Kezar Stadium as a guest of Lou's, and when the 49ers were gearing up to move to Candlestick Park, my dad mentioned to Lou his interest in procuring season tickets. Lou asked where he wanted to sit, and our dad said, ""On the fifty yard line and in the sun."" Done. The Corley Family has been cheering the 49ers from LE Section 31, Row 23, Seats 9-10 since the 49ers moved into Candlestick Park.

 

There are some correlations between football and winemaking that are not immediately apparent. We talk about both in terms of seasons or vintages. We celebrate the 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1994 (and hopefully 2011) seasons of the 49ers for the exciting Super Bowl victories. In the same way, we celebrate the best of our winemaking vintages ... in Napa Valley, for example, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. In between the celebrated vintages are seasons that may be less exciting or even sometimes disappointing. We've certainly sat through some difficult seasons at Candlestick, but we've always kept the faith with the team and cheered them on regardless of the circumstances. I imagine we have some long time Monticello fans that get more fired up about the celebrated vintages than others. Thats okay, and its the nature of both wine and football. The important thing is, in the long run, they are still Monticello Faithful and are still excited about what we do.

In a way, this 2011 49ers season reminds me of the 2005 vintage in Napa Valley. We were excited to have Jim Harbaugh at the helm. Our dads a Stanford grad, so we follow the Cardinal, their last few seasons with Harbaugh and Luck have been as exciting as any recently. We used to go to the games at the old Stanfor Stadium when John Elway was tossing balls to a very acrobatic Kenny Margerum. My mom recently dug out those old rusty Cardinal seatbacks for those old wooden Stanford benches. Now we use them to watch my son Jackson play for the Napa Saints.

 

Anyway, I digress. With Harbaugh on board, my personal forecast for 2011 was that the 49ers might go 9-7 and hopefully get into the playoffs. As each game was played, it just kept working out, and the Saints-49ers divisional matchup was the most exciting 49ers game I've watched in the last 15+ years. The season just kept developing and the 49ers kept figuring out ways to win, with great team play. The 2005 vintage in Napa Valley was similar. The season started out with good expectations, but nothing that foreshadowed greatness. As the cool season continued, and we kept sampling and tasting the fruit, we began to realize that we really had something special developing. The fruit kept hanging and improving, and by the time we picked, we knew we had a great vintage on our hands. Things sometime just work out both on the field and in the field in ways that are not foreseen.

Today, I'm a little reflective thinking about the parallels of the last 30 years of 49ers football and Monticello Vineyards winemaking. Tomorrow, my brother Stephen and I will be at the NFC Championship game. Look for us on the TV. We'll be the two guys in red and gold cheering loudly. We just might need to dig out a dusty bottle of 1981 Monticello Cabernet Sauvignon next week and celebrate this season, regardless of tomorrows outcome. Somehow that seems appropriate ...

For now, Lets Go Niners!

"

Time Posted: Jan 21, 2012 at 1:54 PM
Chris Corley
 
November 10, 2011 | Chris Corley

Live In The Vineyard!

Posted By : Chris Corley

This past weekend, we had the pleasure of hosting the VIP guests of the 'Live In The Vineyard' event that congregated in Napa for a long weekend of Music, Wine and Food. What a great time. Billed as 'An Intimate Pairing of Music, Wine and Food', 'Live in the Vineyard' is the brainchild of the ebullient pair of friends Claire Parr and Bobbii Hach-Jacobs. Its a unique semi-annual event that brings fans from across the country out to Napa Valley for a weekend of live music, winery visits and food & wine presentations. Check out the official website at www.liveinthevineyard.com .

We have had the pleasure of hosting two events this year at Monticello. In April, we had our guests come out to Monticello for a livefire barbeque, live winemaking demonstrations and live music. It was a wonderful experience. The smiles and enthusiasm of the guests, many who had not been to Napa Valley before was infectious and a thrill for us as hosts. The weekends concerts in April at The Uptown were also fantastic, as we got to see Lenny Kravitz, Michael Franti and Colbie Caillat among others.

The Fairchilds Warming Up in The Jefferson House at Monticello

This past weekend, we hosted a wonderful group of people as well, VIP winners of the radio contest that brough people from afar. Chef Lisa presented seasonal 'superfood' recipes in our winery cellar oriented towards awareness of 'City of Hope' www.cityofhope.org , which is an NCI-recognized cancer research and treatment organization. In addition to our wine presentation on the crush pad, we enjoyed a live concert in the cellar from 'The Fairchilds' www.thefairchildsmusic.com , headed by Cyril Niccolai www.cyrilniccolai.com . The music sounded really great in the cellar, and it was a nice exclamation point towards the end of harvest to have a concert in the cellar. This past weekends concerts at The Uptown included Daughtry, Christina Perri and Safety Suit.

We've been presented with two Fender Squier guitars signed by all the artists from the last two LITV events ... Lenny Kravitz, Colbie Caillat, Michael Franti, Hanson, Default, Parachute, Cyril Niccolai just to name a handful. What a totally cool and unexpected treat for us at Monticello!

Ruby Corley, Future Wine Rock Goddess

It was lot of fun to have all the guests in from out of town. Their enthusiasm spread and was a reminder to us how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful place, which was brightened even more by all the smiles and laughter over the weekend.

Chris Corley
 
April 18, 2011 | Chris Corley

Pulling the plug on a wine in Brooklyn

"We were in Brooklyn a few weeks ago visiting our wine broker and spending a few days with my wife Julianna's sister, Joy, and her husband, Noureddine. Depending what airline we fly, we either check our wine (Southwest - bags fly free) or we send it ahead (all others). This time, we shipped several cases ahead (it cost the same to ship as it would to check, so may as well let the shipper lug it around!). It's nice to have wine ready for you upon arrival, and we were looking forward to some great bottles during our trip. Approximately a third of the wines we took to taste with our broker, but we also had plenty of nice wines for drinking, including plenty from other producers (we don't just drink our own stuff all the time!)

On our first night there, I was craving a big fat glass of red wine after a long day of family travel, and was almost salivating on the way from the airport, just thinking about popping a cork. We pulled out our first wine, and to my great disappointment, the wine was corked. It wasn't terrible, but it definitely had that familiar wet cardboard, aquarium gravel kind of smell that I just can't get out of my head once I smell it.

Cork taint is a topic that we as an industry pay close attention to. It can arise from the combination of wood product, moisture and chlorine. The offending molecule that raises the stink is called trichloroanisole (TCA). A lot of corks (wood) used to be sanitized (moisture) in chlorine based washes (chlorine), an malevolant olfactory trifecta. A winery could have a systemic problem with TCA. Many older wineries were stick-built (wood), are humidified (moisture) and historically used chlorinated tri-sodium phosphate (chlorine) as a sanitizer. Most wineries and cork producers have moved on from chlorine to other forms of sanitizers. We stopped using chlorine-based cleaners years ago, and keep our cellar relatively dry to avoid having too much moisture creating mold in our cellar.

Back in Brooklyn, we had plenty of other bottles to open, so we did, and we moved on, but it kept bugging me, and we had a fair bit of conversation about the corked bottle. I remembered reading something somewhere about using cling wrap to help remove the cork taint from an afflicted wine. I'd never tried it, but why not? It was the perfect opportunity, we'd be tossing the wine out otherwise. We wadded up a ball of cling wrap and tossed it into the decanter and swirled it around and let it soak for a few minutes, then fished it out. Interestingly, our anecdotal conclusion was that it did seem to have an impact on reducing the impact of the TCA in the wine. Not a major difference, but something noticeable and positive, and what harm is done? You've got a bottle that you've put aside anyway due to the TCA, you may as well play around with it. I'll add that this 'highly scientific' test was conducted while drinking a fair amount of other wines. While traveling, we try to complement all of our activities with copious amounts of wine, including our 'scientific' tests on the road!

Cork taint is a big topic in the wine biz, and I'm just keeping it light and anecdotal this evening on The Corley Blog. For the curious, you can read a little more about TCA at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cork_taint ."

Chris Corley
 
February 27, 2011 | Chris Corley

Premiere Napa Valley - The Other Side of the Table

Posted By : Chris Corley

These last few days have been busy and also a lot of fun. Monticello participated in four appellation tastings and a trade-only tasting hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners, Premiere Napa Valley (PNV), at the Culinary Institute - Greystone, in St. Helena.

We have five vineyards spanning the valley floor that we either farm ourselves or are in control of -

Monticello Home Ranch Vineyard in Oak Knoll District (Big Ranch Road)
Knollwood Vineyard - Oak Knoll District (Big Ranch Road)
State Lane Vineyard - Yountville (State Lane)
Tietjen Vineyard - Rutherford (Niebaum Lane)
Yewell Vineyard - St. Helena (Ehlers Lane)


This year, our unique auction offering was monikered 'The Five Boroughs of Monticello', and is a Cabernet Sauvignon based blend incoprorating all five vineyard sites. The wine is rich in texture with dark fruits, smoky oak accents and a long finish. I'm really happy with this blend.

The Premiere Napa Valley event is always a pleasure to attend, and it gives us a chance to visit with all the incoming trade (distributors, restarateurs, retailers) that are in Napa for the week. Its a great opportunity for us to introduce our wines to new trade and also to visit with friends and existing reps. The resulting auction also raises a lot of money for the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), an organization that our family has dedicated a lot of effort to support. Our father, Jay Corley, is a past President of the NVV. Stephen Corley is currently in his second year as Vice-President, and Kevin Corley has spearheaded the volunteering of time and leadership of the Beverage Committee at Auction Napa Valley for the last couple of years.

Most of the winewriters and bloggers are in attendance for the Premiere event and the appellation tastings preceding it. Over the last few days, I've spent roughly 12 hours standing on the other side of the table pouring our Monticello wines for various tradespeople and winewriters. This year I was struck by the differences in approach of different writers and tasters. At PNV, there are 200 wines that are being poured. I know of only one writer that commits himself and maintains the discipline to go through all 200 wines and keep organized notes of each wine. From my side of the table, Alder Yarrow, of Vinography (www.vinography.com), with his tasting notes going directly into his iPad, clearly is the writer that walks away with the most comprehensive view of this tasting. My apologies to any other writers that are attempting to put together comprehensive reviews of these tastings, but from my side of the table, Alder seems to me be in a league of his own in his approach to tasting at these types of large scale events.

The bidders are typically pretty organized in their approach, as they are determining what lots they are going to invest their auction budget into. These bids are based on wine quality, but also a large part based on brand. As with most auctions, you pretty much know which ones are going to be the big bids going into the day. While our 5 case donation does not generate the stratospheric prices of some of these top lots, we're very proud of the time and energy that we've put into the NVV, related organizations and our community over the last 40 years.

A lot of the money raised by the Napa Vintners goes to a lot of great causes around Napa that eventually helps lots of people in our community. From our side of the table, we are proud to be a part of a community that cares for and puts so much energy into the others that need help in the community.
 

Chris Corley
 
October 31, 2010 | Chris Corley

Trick or Treat

Posted By : Chris Corley

Our kids, at 6 and 5, are right in a sweet spot for trick-or-treating. In the last year or so, Halloween has become a lot of fun again with that exciting kind of dump-your-candybag-on-the-table-and-tally-your-loot kind of anticipation. It's so much fun to watch the kids running from house to house in their costumes yelling out 'trick or treat' and loading up their bags and little plastic pumpkins. We're going to gang up with some friends that live near us and hit the neighborhood tonight en masse. I'm really looking forward to the evening.

It occured to me this morning as I came into the winery to check on our fermenters (we still have a lot of grapes fermenting in tanks and bins) that it's kind of 'Trick or Treat' in the winery for us winemakers too. Although we're not wearing costumes, we go from tank to tank knocking on doors, pulling samples and tasting ferments to gauge what kind of treat we've got. Just like the neighborhood kids, the expectation is that we'll get a treat and won't have to perform tricks. The anticipation lays in whether we're going to a tasty bag of candy or some pretzels. When we were kids, we knew the right houses to go to for the best treats, and the ones to avoid where the crabby old people handed out peanuts or simply didn't answer the door. In the same way, as a winemaker, we also know which tanks are going to give us the best treats as we make our rounds.

Still, I have the same giddy anticipation at the end of harvest as my kids will have tonight, when I spread my seasonal loot out on the blending table and organize all my wines into different categories of what I like best, and what's medium and what I want to trade. This year so far, it looks like a pretty nice bag of enological loot!

Happy Halloween!

Chris Corley
 
July 16, 2010 | Chris Corley

Pairing Wines

Posted By : Chris Corley

There are lots of ways to pair wines. Most wine drinkers are familiar with matching up wines with different foods. Matching up a rich Cabernet Sauvignon with juicy grilled ribeye, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc with some Thai food, or even enjoying a glass of sparkling wine with a morning brunch are all pleasures for the palate and the soul. Over the last few years, there have been magazines that have promoted the idea of pairing wine with music and websites that pair wine with art. On the surface, these may seem like gimmicky ideas, but I say ‘Why not?’. Food, music, art, conversation all appeal to our senses and if a bottle of wine enhances that experience, then its a good match in my book.

We enjoyed the fireworks show on Shelter Island, NY over the 4th of July holiday with family and friends. We laid out blankets on the beach and got all the kids organized with snacks and drinks. We opened up a bottle of 2000 CORLEY RESERVE Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with the opening fireworks. The wine started off slowly, but after it opened up a bit in the glass it exploded with bright aromas and flavors. The tannins were smooth and dusty and there was a hint of gunpowder on the finish. The wine was a nice complementary match with the show. We also had a bottle of 1999 MONTICELLO Jefferson Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon as we dug our toes into the warm night sand for the big finale. This wine is tasting fantastic right now, after 10 years in the bottle, probably the best its ever been. From head to sandy toe, the wine was warm and rich, smooth in texture, exciting in flavor and had a great finish to go with the fireworks finale.

I ordered a glass of Long Island wine every chance I got and was pleased with the quality of the white wines in the region. There were some very nice renditions of Chardonnays, Viogniers, and Sauvignon Blancs. Given the humid heat and the propensity for summer rain, I can imagine that growing winegrapes could be a little challenging in that area, but I enjoyed most every wine I tried. Over the course of the week, we enjoyed New England clam chowders at every opportunity. One of our restaurant favorites was at Claudio’s in Greenport. On our last day, we were treated to a homemade chowder with herbs from the house garden and freshly dug clams. This chowder eclipsed all that came before it, and it was doubly enjoyable because we knew that the clams had just been dug up by our friends. We pulled out a bottle of 2005 CORLEY RESERVE Chardonnay, and it was a perfect fit. Rich, lush textures with a streak of acidity and long creamy finish. Man, I could live on that wine and chowder.

Throughout the week we enjoyed fresh caught crabs with various wines, which was a real treat for my wife, Julianna. Julianna grew up in southern Maryland and spreading fresh caught crabs out on a newspaper covered table for an afternoon of crab-cracking, cold drinks and conversation is one of her great life pleasures. I thought she was going to shed a tear when our daughter Ruby showed great interest in learning how to crack the crabs!

Of all the wine pairings we shared over the course of our trip to New York, I think the most important, meaningful and lasting were the wines we had while spending time with our family and friends there. We owe a special thanks to Joy and ‘Uncle Oredine’, Gil, Kerry, Fisher, Miles and ‘Uncle Matt’ and everyone else we were fortunate enough to spend time with back on Shelter Island and in NYC. We’ll raise a glass to all of you tonight. Another great wine pairing with all of you in our thoughts.

- See more at: http://www.corleyfamilynapavalley.com/blog/category/about-us/page/2/#sthash.lu6BYaFD.dpuf

Chris Corley
 
February 11, 2010 | Chris Corley

The Culture of Wine

"This past weekend, we flew out to College Station, TX to host a series of wine events at the George H.W. Presidential Library and Museum. Mark Burns, a family friend and wine broker for Monticello, has recently put together a fantastic wine exhibit which is on display at the library. It's called ""The Culture of Wine"", and represents the California / Napa Valley wine industry in the 1980s, shortly after the famous 1976 Paris Tasting that put California, and specifically Napa Valley, on the global stage in terms of winemaking excellence.

""The Culture of Wine"" - The Original Monticello Lab (1981-2009)

We donated a lot of equipment to the exhibit, which Mark painstakingly refurbished to be put on display. The press in the exhibit is the actual Bucher RPM250 that we used at Monticello from 1981 until 2006, when we replaced it with a current model. I've spent the better part of 15-16 years crawling around in that press, pulling seeds and grapeskins out of my beard and hair. I hardly recognized it after Mark had spent so much time preparing it for the show. The lab equipment, the pumps, and even some of the grapevines in the show are the real deal from Monticello. We're very proud of what Mark Burns accomplished with this exhibit and are proud to have been able to contribute to his efforts. You can see more of the exhibit, including video and photos at www.thecultureofwine.com.

""The Culture of Wine"" - The Original Monticello Press (1981-2006)

We had a couple of opportunities to host seminars as well. On Thursday evening, I had the wonderful experience of addressing a group in the auditorium at the Library. In addition to the general audience in attendance, we had faculty and students from Texas A&M University that joined us for the evening. I particularly enjoyed speaking to and with the staff and students from the Viticulture/Enology and Mechanical Engineering departments. As I never really went to college, the irony of me speaking to a 'degreed' group of teachers and students was not lost on me.

On Friday morning, we had a really great experience in visiting President George H.W. Bush in his private offices in Houston. After checking in with the Secret Service (they didn't even make me check my beard at the door!) we toured his private offices and visited with his staff and then visited with the President for about a half-hour in his private office. It was an absolute honor to spend personal time with the President. He even gave us a Presidential seal of approval on the wine that we had blended specifically for his Library and Museum foundation - the 2006 Monticello Vineyards Presidential Red Wine - Bush Library Designation. The 2006 PresRed is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc and was tasting great throughout the weekend in my unbiased opinion.

Chris Corley and President George H.W. Bush (left to right)

Saturday evening was a lot of fun as well. My brother Stephen and I led a wine-tasting seminar of 8 of our 2006 vintage Monticello wines at the Library and then wrapped up the evening with a tasty dinner in the rotunda of the museum. It was a treat for us to honor two past Presidents at the dinner we hosted - Thomas Jefferson and George H.W. Bush. And I personally was very excited to see the Saints win the following afternoon!"

 
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