Napa natives Frank and Karen Altamura established their winery in 1985 and, to this day, it remains the only winery in Wooden Valley (where Karen’s family originally settled in 1855). Frank began his professional winemaking career at Sterling Vineyards, then went on to Caymus. He says one of his most important discoveries during the learning process was not to have preconceived expectations from a vineyard, but to discover the flavors the vineyard offered instead.
Following much research of soil types on their 400-acre property, then matching them with varietals that would thrive in its many microclimates, Frank and Karen planted 65 acres of wine grapes: mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with some Sangiovese (5 acres planted in 1986) and a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc and Nebbiolo in the mix. Their 2004 Napa Valley offering is made with 100 percent Sangiovese. The result is a Brunello-like, deep red wine with multifaceted characteristics of cocoa, ripe dark fruit and a bright acidity. It’s paired here with Frank’s mushroom polenta.
Frank’s Fabulous Mushroom Polenta in the Oven
*In a Corningware casserole dish with cover:
3 cups water
1 cup polenta
1 teaspoon salt
Handful of chopped Italian (flatleaf) parsley
Handful of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 cups sautéed portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Handful of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Your choice of pasta sauce
Stir everything (except the Parmigiano-Reggiano, Teleme and sauce) together and make sure there are no lumps. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and stir in the handful of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Place back in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven, stir, then spoon into a bowl and cover with Teleme cheese, then with sauce.
*Frank says he usually doubles the ingredients for each meal.
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