Wineries of the Month

Valle Reale

Valle Reale
Valle Reale was founded in 2000 with the goal of producing world-class wines. Working primarily with the Montepulciano varietal, the Pizzolo family strives to make wines that highlight the grape’s intrinsic qualities: strength, exuberance, vitality, color, elegance, balance and depth. The process begins with the careful selection of clones that are best suited to Valle Reale’s soil and climate, and therefore best express the distinct characteristics of the varietal. Their success is evident in the young, vibrant DOC base wine, and even more so in the cru, a new benchmark for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Cantina Valle Tritana
The aim of Cantina Valle Tritana, the firm behind the brand Capostrano, is to select and market products both of quality and favorable price, and it starts out with the Montepulciano wine from the Abruzzo region in Italy. The name chosen for the winery was not a coincidence, the Tritana Valley is located right in the heart of the Abruzzo region, in the foothills of the Gran Sasso Mountains. The surrounding area of the Tritana Valley has a special microclimate with warm days and cold nights.The Montepulciano varietal has been cultivated in this area since ancient times and it still is an important part of the regional agricultural economy.

Cataldi Madonna
Founded in 1920, Cataldi Madonna has been carried forward by three generations of the family. Consisting of just over 65 acres, the estate is home to Abruzzo’s native varietal range and has been bottling its own wines since 1975. Balance lies at the heart of Cataldi Madonna’s vineyard and winery philosophy. The focus in the vineyard is to achieve equilibrium in the vine in order to best express the characteristics of the territory, rather than achieving a specific yield. This approach is continued in the winery, where all techniques are oriented to preserve the grit, freshness and distinct flavors of the grapes, as they naturally occur. Sitting at an elevation well over 1,000 feet, Cataldi Madonna’s location is a unique intersection of natural gifts which causes significant fluctuation in day and night temperatures, critical to the development of the grapes.



Winery of the Month

Ideology Cellars

Ideology Cellars
Ideology Cellars began the new millennium following the infatuation with discovering wonderful small production wines by purchasing a home in Napa Valley. Late in 2005, a realtor friend presented the opportunity to purchase the former Koves-Newlan Winery located in Napa Valley’s Oak Knoll District appellation. Building custom single-family homes requires starting over every couple of years, but we craved a business that we could grow and mature with while continuing to learn and evolve. By the 2006 harvest, we had created a winery that excelled in helping several small artisan wineries produce their fine wines. In 2007 we built a tasting room providing visitors the opportunity to taste and purchase some fabulous small production wines made at our facility.

Karah Estate Vineyard
Karah Estate was planted by Michael Karah in 1995. The vineyard began as a passion project–Michael had been fascinated by agriculture since his childhood thanks to the sprawling vineyards that surrounded him during his adolescence in the outskirts of Tripoli, Libya. Now, with the opportunity to build his own verdant oasis in the golden hills of the Petaluma Gap, he has shifted his focus from the more traditional agricultural crops of wheat and alfalfa to Pinot Noir.

The estate vineyard lies on 144 acres in the rolling hills that separate Petaluma and Cotati. We have 35 acres planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Petaluma Gap sub-region of the Sonoma Coast.

Bracey Vineyards
The Bracey Vineyards family motto translates, “Often in difficulty, never in fear.” Our 300 year agricultural tradition in America, our 1,000 year ancestral roots in Normandy, and our kinship in Burgundy provide a cultural and historical substratum upon which our wines grow and evolve.

Our heritage reflects a courageous commitment to harnessing the dynamic forces of weather, soil, and oak in order to produce artisan wines of vigor, purity, and endurance. Our limited production wines invoke the traditions of art and myth to poetically express the terroir of premiere vineyards we select with patience and love.


ITALIAN Wines of the Month



Passerina Terre di Chieti IGT
Grape Variety: 100% Passerina
Alcohol: 12.5%
The Passerina Terre Di Chieti IGT is straw yellow color with greenish reflections. It has an intense nose of ripe tropical fruits, yellow flowers and hints of spice. On the palate it is pleasantly dry, well- balanced, with a good structure, a nice minerality and a long elegant flowery finish.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC
Grape Variety: 100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo
Alcohol: 13%
The Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC is deep ruby red in color. The bouquet on the nose is intense, clean and pleasant with fresh aromas of black cherry, black berry, plum and violet followed by more complex notes of walnut-husk and some spices. On the palate it is well- balanced with agreeable tannins, good body and intense flavors.


Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC
Grape Variety: 100% Trebbiano
Alcohol: 12.5%
Valle Reale Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC 2014 is concentrated and elegant. This wine combines bright fruit with delicate aromas of white flowers and flint.

Valle Reale Vigneto di Popoli Montepulciano di’Abruzzo DOC 2010
Grape Variety: 100% Montepulciano
Alcohol: 13%
The Valle Reale Vigneto di Popoli Montepulciano di’ Abruzzo 2010 is ruby red in color and surprisingly concentrated. With silky tannins and layers of dark berry fruit and spices, this is a rich aromatic Montepulciano di’ Abruzzo. It is full-bodied and firm, yet supple.

Cataldi Madonna Malandrino Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Grape Variety: 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Alcohol: 13.5%
The Cataldi Madonna Malandrino Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is deep ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, with little transparency. The bouquet on the nose is intense, clean and pleasing, with aromas of black cherry, blueberry, plum, carob and violet followed by pleasing aromas of walnut-husk. On the palate it is balanced, with agreeable tannins, good body and intense flavors; persistent finish with flavors of black cherry and plum.


Cataldi Madonna Toni Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC
Grape Variety: 100% Montepulcianod’Abruzzo
Alcohol: 14%
The Cataldi Madonna Toni Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is bright ruby red color. The bouquet on the nose is a rich, textured expression of dark fruit with balanced oak and smoky notes. On the palate it is dry and warm with elegant tannins and medium body. The mature fruit notes accompanied by pleasant acidity give this wine a fresh full character and a very refined and long finish.

Valle Reale San Calisto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2009
Grape Variety: 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Alcohol: 13.7%
The 2009 Valle Reale San Calisto Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo is deep, ruby red in color. This wine offers layered aromas of ripe blackberries and crushed black cherries, followed by spicy notes of chassis, leather, and Mediterranean wildflowers. On the palate, its firm structure is elegantly softened by its silky, rich mouthfeel.

ITALIAN Region of the Month


Abruzzo has its fair share of art and architecture throughout its hill towns and mountain villages, but the Apennine Mountains dominate the region. The vast Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo is one of Europe’s most important nature preserves. Descendants of various hill tribes, who settled the region in the Bronze Age, were difficult to unite, although the Greeks, Romans, Swabians, Aragonese, and Bourbons all tried. After the 12th Century, the Abruzzesi were ruled by a succession of dynasties based in Naples. As a result, their diet, speech, and customs are similar to their southern neighbors. The hills in the region are highly favorable for grapevines. The two classified wines are Trebbiano and Montepulciano, not to be confused with the town of that name in Toscana, where Vino Nobile is made. When grown on the lower hills, Montepulciano has an irresistible character, full bodied and smooth with the capacity to age. In the higher areas, the vines produce a lighter version, Cerasuolo, which is a sturdy, cherry-colored Rosé. At its best, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo develops a Burgundy-like complexity after four or five years of aging.


CALIFORNIAN Wines of the Month


2015 Ideology Estate Rosé Oak Knoll Napa Valley California
Grape Variety: 100% Saignée of Cabernet
Alcohol: 14.3%
This wine is the color of a pink sky at sunset with beautiful bright aromas of strawberries and stone fruit, with subtle hints of spice. On the palate, the Rosé of Cabernet is well-balanced, mouth filling, and rich with juicy red berry fruit. It finishes with a kiss of ripe peach. This charming wine is very approachable from start to finish.

2012 Karah Estate Pino Noir Reserve Sonoma Coast California
Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 14.7%
The 2012 Karah Estate Pinot Noir Reserve is both woody and herbal. This full-bodied robust wine is approachably thick and round, with distinct characteristics of forest floor, mushroom and finishes with strong flavors of black tea.


2014 Ideology Reserve Chardonnay Napa Valley California
Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 14.3%
This 2014 Ideology Reserve displays aromas of ripe citrus and tropical fruits with confectionary and warm baking spice tones on the palate. This well-balanced wine finishes strong with balanced minerality and lush texture.

2007 Bracey Howell Mountain Beatty Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel
Grape Variety: 100% Zinfandel
Alcohol: 15.2%
This wine is spiced and is also very herbal in cedar and sandalwood. In addition to black licorice, it is also thick and spicy with enough acidity to brighten denser pockets of blackberry and black cherry. It shows plenty of structure for long-term enjoyment.

2013 Ideology Money Road Vineyard Syrah Oakville Napa Valley California
Grape Variety: 100% Syrah
Alcohol: 14.2%
This 2013 Syrah is a full bodied, expressive wine that is rich in texture with ripe black fruit, a lovely violet hue, aromas of black and blue fruit, and hints of smoke and cedar. The palate is treated to boysenberry, blueberry, blackberry and barrel spice.


2014 Ideology Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Oak Knoll Napa Valley California
Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol: 14.2%
The 2014 Ideology estate Cabernet Sauvignon is an intense dark garnet color opens the door to a nose filled with dark berry fruit and soft spice. Richly layered with black cherry, mocha, leather and spice with integrated tannins make this a very balanced and structured wine

2009 Bracey Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol: 15.37%
The 2009 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is intense, supple and graceful, with a potent beam of mineral-laced dried berry, currant, cedar and tobacco flavors, fulfilling its focus and promising a long life ahead. It also delivers a tight beam of rich, complex flavors of black licorice and loamy earth that expand on the finish. The tannins are firm, yet approachable.

CALIFORNIAN Region of the Month


Napa Valley is the heart of California’s wine industry, its vine-covered valley floor and rolling hills the destination for millions of visitors each year. The Valley is home to 43,000 acres of vines, over 400 wineries, and many renowned restaurants. George Calvert Yount, arriving in 1831, planted the first grapes. Notable early but still existing stone wineries, developed between 1859 and 1882, including Charles Krug, Christian Brothers, Beringer, Chateau Montelena, and Beaulieu. Formerly a sanatorium, Inglenook winery began production in1880. San Franciscans provided a huge market for Napa wines, which were easily transported across the San Francisco Bay. But Prohibition, enacted in 1920, closed most of them, except the few that provided sacramental wine for churches. The Valley didn’t begin recovery until Robert Mondavi built his large winery in 1966. Today, the Napa Valley has 16 American Viticultural Areas. The umbrella appellation Napa Valley, specializes in Bordeaux grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Cooler Los Carneros, stretching into Sonoma County, is ideal for the grapes of Burgundy, including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But other grape varieties, such as Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Italian Sangiovese are planted in Napa County.



By Tanya Belt

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant

1 (1 1/2 pound) eggplant,
halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
2 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1 cup mozzarella cheese, divided
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Brush cut sides of eggplant with olive oil and place, cut-side up onto a baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven for 30 minutes, then remove and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, brown the Italian sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat; drain off the grease. Place into a mixing bowl, and season with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Stir in bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, and the beaten egg; mix well. Once the roasted eggplant has cooled enough to handle, scoop out the flesh to within 1/2- inch of the skin to create a shell. Roughly chop the eggplant meat, and fold into the sausage mixture. Divide evenly among the two eggplant shells, and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake in preheated oven until the filling has set, and the cheese is bubbly and golden-brown, about 30 minutes. While the eggplant is baking, warm the remaining spaghetti sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat to serve with the eggplant.

“A local winery/restaurant serves a stuffed eggplant appetizer that is so delicious. While trying to duplicate it at home, I found this to be one of our favorite eggplant dinners. Be sure to select an eggplant that is smooth, blemish- free and kind of heavy for it’s size.”