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Chris Corley
September 29, 2023 | Chris Corley

Dueling Pianos at Monticello!

MONTICELLO | Napa Valley
S54 E9 | Dueling Pianos! 
Friday, October 6 | 6:00pm
We still have some tickets left for this Friday's show at MONTICELLO! This the third and final show of the season!
Are you looking for an extraordinary night of entertainment that combines music, laughter, and the magic of Napa Valley? Look no further than CellarPass' Dueling Pianos at Monticello Napa Valley! We still have some tickets available for this one-of-a-kind event, which promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you with cherished memories for a lifetime!
The Dueling Pianos Experience!
Dueling pianos are not your ordinary concert. They create a lively and interactive atmosphere, inviting the audience to become part of the show. Talented pianists engage in a friendly musical battle, taking song requests from the crowd, playing everything from classic hits to modern favorites. With spontaneous sing-alongs and a high level of audience participation, you'll feel like you're a part of something truly special.
The Scenic Monticello Napa Valley Venue!
The setting for this spectacular event couldn't be more perfect- surrounded by vineyards and under the stars! Nestled in the heart of Napa Valley, Monticello Vineyards is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and award-winning wines. Imagine enjoying the stunning views of the vineyards, the picturesque landscape, and the enchanting sunset while tapping your feet to the rhythm of the pianos. This unique combination of delightful music and stunning scenery creates an ambiance that is simply unparalleled.
Unforgettable Memories with Friends and Loved Ones!
Attending CellarPass' Dueling Pianos at Monticello Napa Valley is an ideal way to create beautiful memories with your friends, family, or loved ones. The joy of singing along to favorite tunes, dancing to the beat, and laughing together as the pianists entertain is a bonding experience like no other. Whether it's a special celebration or just a night out with loved ones, this event will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on all who attend.
CellarPass' Dueling Pianos at Monticello!
Napa Valley promises an evening of music, fun, wine, and camaraderie in a setting that is second to none. From the magical atmosphere of dueling pianos to the breathtaking beauty of Monticello Vineyards, this event is truly one for the books. Don't miss out on this chance to create lasting memories with your loved ones while supporting a worthwhile cause. Purchase your tickets now and get ready for an evening that will be etched in your heart forever!
Time Posted: Sep 29, 2023 at 5:51 AM Permalink to Dueling Pianos at Monticello! Permalink
Chris Corley
September 25, 2023 | Chris Corley

Winemaker Journal | Chardonnay

MONTICELLO | Napa Valley
S54 E9 | Chardonnay
Today we picked all of our Chardonnay from the MONTICELLO Vineyard in Oak Knoll District!
The fruit tastes great, and we had a nice balanced cropload. We're thrilled!
We have two primary sections of Estate Grown Chardonnay ... Block 1, Clone 96 & Block 3, Clone 95. Each section has a distinct personality that we'll nuance and celebrate through different fermentation and aging methods.
We whole cluster press about 2/3 of our Chardonnay, meaning we just take the grape clusters straight off the vine, and throw them into the press to squeeze the juice out.
Whole Cluster Pressed Juice tends to be cleaner, with less solids and more purity of fruit character.
I also like crushing about 1/3 of our Chardonnay so I can soak the juice on the skins for 5-6 hours before pressing. This is a throwback to how I first learned to make Chardonnay in the early 1990s when we still had the 'old school' conical dejuicing tanks that were state of the art at the time.
Crushed & Soaked Juice tends to have more suspended solids, but also deeper texture, more weight on the palate, and deeper aromatic complexity.
In the end, I usually blend them, but I love creating and expressing the layers of complexity with this varietal! 
Time Posted: Sep 25, 2023 at 4:59 PM Permalink to Winemaker Journal | Chardonnay Permalink
Chris Corley
September 22, 2023 | Chris Corley

Winemaker Journal | D54 E9 | The Blend

The Art of the Blend. There are many 'best' moments in a life of winemaking. I started working in our family's winery cellar in 1987 as a teenager, and was so stricken with the winemaking bug at such a young age, I've had the unbelievable honor and immense pleasure of spending the last 36 years working intimately with our estate grown grapes and wines in this same cellar. Over these 36 vintages, I've experienced so many joys of winemaking, it's hard to say which is my favorite, but blending is certainly towards the top of my list.


The Relationship. My relationship with our estate grown wines at the blending table really begins in the vineyard, when the vines are planted. We nurture them, we develop them, we guide them to grow to their best potential. The growing season is a dialogue between the winemaker and the vines, a silent and thoughtful communication from budbreak to harvest. We celebrate together, and work through issues together. We work through the rigors of fermentation together, and enjoy the bliss of aging together. It's a dynamic relationship like no other. By the time the wines are on the blending table, I know them intimately. We've spent years together already. Working with the wines to help them find their best expressions of themselves, and of our vineyards and terroir is wonderfully enjoyable.

Synesthesia. The magic of blending is when we can distort the laws of mathematics, and make 1 + 1 = 3. This is satisfying on a tangible level, when I can taste the beautiful textural dance on the palate between the tannins, mouthfeel, and acidity ... or the ethereal interplay of flavors and aromas swirling in the  blend. It's also intellectually compelling, as numbers like TA, pH, Oak %, and Tannin whirl around in my mind's palate. The emotional interaction with the wine is most intriguing to me, when I close my eyes, and I can hear the wine like music in my mind ... with subtle pianissimo notes on the front of the palate, building crescendos and a fortissimo finale!

The Wine. One of the best represenatations of 'The Art of the Blend' at MONTICELLO is our 'Corley' Proprietary Red Wine. We made the first vintage of this wine with the 1999 vintage, and over the last 24 vintages the wine has been an absolute joy for me to blend. I love the freedom of working with the different varietals, and the ability to create a wine that has a distinct and diverse personality of its own, that doesn't really fit into a specific varietal characteristic. Our current vintage is 2018, it's an expressive blend of Estate Grown grapes from our southern Oak Knoll District vineyards. 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc. It's displays a wonderful juxtaposition of dark berry aromas and lighter fragrant spice tones on the nose. On the palate, the wine has spicy attack from the Cabernet Franc, a round midpalate mouthfeel from the Merlot, and a long, robust finish from the Cabernet Sauvignon. I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy this wine as much as I enjoyed making it!

LINK >>    MONTICELLO 'Corley' Proprietary Red Wine | Vintage 2018

Chris Corley | Monticello
Winemaker 2000-        
Assistant Winemaker 1997-1999
Cellar Master 1994-1996
Cellar Journeyman 1992-1993
Cellar Apprentice 1990-1991
Cellar Rat 1987-1989

Time Posted: Sep 22, 2023 at 7:43 AM Permalink to Winemaker Journal | D54 E9 | The Blend Permalink
Chris Corley
September 10, 2023 | Chris Corley

Winemakers Journal | S54 E9 | Harvest 2023


S54 E9 | Harvest 2023

We're very excited for Harvest 2023! We can feel the energy in the air! Most of our grapes are through veraison ... when the grapes begin to soften, change colors and make the transition from berry growth to berry ripening. We typically begin our field-sampling of the grapesonce veraison is complete. 

The first of our still wine grapes to come in is almost always Pinot Noir, and it looks like 2023 will not be an exception. Our Pinot Noir is currently sampling around 23 brix ... even more importantly, the grapes are still plump with softening skins, nice fresh bright berry flavors, and are displaying a great balance of acidity and sweetness when I'm chewing on them. The seeds are all brown, and we've got nicely liginified canes. These are all tangible indicators of ripeness which I pay close attention to. 

In the last few years, we've been intentionally leaving a little more fruit on the vines in order to delay the sugar accumulation, and allow for more time for ripening. When it comes to managing sugar accumulation and ripening on a grapevine, you can imagine the leaves as the gas pedal and the grape clusters as brakes. More leaves, less grapes can result in faster sugar accumulation, and less time for true ripening. Increasing the crop load on the vine, makes more work and can slow down the sugar acuumulation in the grape, allowing more time for ripening, and hopefully picking more fully ripened grapes at a lower brix, which will in turn result in lower alcohol. Winegrape ripening is an extraordinarily complex process, and this description greatly oversimplifies it, but I hope it helps to provide a glimpse of some of the considerations that I think through leading up to harvest. The 2023 winemaking program started with the first pruning cut back in March, and we're very excited to start making the transition from the field to the winery with these first upcoming picks of Pinot Noir!

Stay Tuned!

Time Posted: Sep 10, 2023 at 5:12 PM Permalink to Winemakers Journal | S54 E9 | Harvest 2023 Permalink

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