Want to bring something fun, colorful, and different to your dessert table this year? We have the perfect recipe for you…a french macaron with a holiday twist! The inspiration behind our gingerbread macarons is our recently awarded 92-point Mille Baci Late Harvest Pinot Grigio. This specialty wine is produced from naturally botrytized grapes grown at our estate vineyard in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. The extra time on the vine creates a beautifully nuanced wine with delicate acidity and soft hints of caramel. We thought we’d combine and enhance these flavors in a classic French pastry, the macaron. You’ll surely be a crowd pleaser at this year’s cookie swap!
Gingerbread Macaron with Caramel Mascarpone Filling
3 egg whites, room temperature
pinch of salt
1/4 cup white sugar
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup almond flour
1 tsp dried ground ginger
1 tsp dried ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp dried ground cloves
1/4 tsp dried ground nutmeg
cinnamon for decor (optional)
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
4 oz mascarpone cheese
1/3 c powdered sugar
3 tbsp of caramel sauce
Begin by adding your almond meal and powdered sugar to a food processor. Pulse for 10 to 15 seconds, until the two are combined well. Pour the mixture through a flour sifter to break up any clumps and catch any unwanted scraps from the almond meal; set aside.
In a large stainless steel bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk your egg whites on high speed until they lose their yellow tint and become extremely frothy.
Gradually add the white sugar in and continue mixing on high speed. Continue whisking until the egg whites have obtained stiff peaks. Keep checking egg whites during process to avoid overmixing them. The egg whites should still have a slightly glossy appearance but remain stiff when bowl is held at slight angle.
Add the dry ingredients into the egg whites little by little. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites. This will help loosen up the batter. The batter is ready when it falls off the spatula slowly and evenly, dropping into the bowl in a ribbon-like manner.
Line a baking sheet with a macaron-stenciled silicone mat, or a piece of parchment paper. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with your macaron batter. Pipe 1 inch wide blots of batter; after 15 seconds, the batter should smooth out and become closer to 1 ½ - inch wide rounds. Space the macarons about 3/4” apart. If you’re using a macaron-specific mat, then simply fill in the stenciled circles just until you’ve almost filled the entire circle, leaving room for them to even out.
Give the baking mat a gentle tap or two to pop any air bubbles. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Then, let the macarons rest on the mat for about 15 minutes or so, until they’ve slightly dried in appearance. Then, very gently drop a tiny pinch of cinnamon in the center of half of the macaron shells. Let the macarons rest for another 5 minutes, then place in the oven to bake at 325°F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 285°F and continue baking for another 7 minutes.
Let the macarons cool on the sheet. While the macarons cool, create your filling. Beat the butter and mascarpone on medium speed until they’re combined and creamy. Add in the powdered sugar and caramel sauce and mix until combined.
Once the macarons are cool, fill a pastry bag with the filling. Pipe the filling onto the bottoms of the macaron shells. Take a macaron shell that matches in size and gently press down onto the filling to create a sandwich. Place in airtight container and refrigerate overnight for best results.
Virginie Boone, Contributing Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, recently awarded our 2015 Mille Baci Late Harvest Pinot Grigio with 92 points. She says, “Lovely golden color highlights a balanced, floral and pretty late-harvest expression of apricot jam in this nuanced wine, which is relatively low in alcohol with 12.3% residual sugar. It offers viscosity that doesn’t overpower, making it ideal for pairing with hard pungent cheeses or vanilla ice cream.” From Wine Enthusiast’s Best of Year issue.
Luna Vineyards is extending a big thank you to all of our guests who joined us this past Sunday at our Wine Country Benefit in partnership with Free Flow Wines. Through ticket proceeds, silent auction bidding, and wine bottle purchases we have raised nearly $8,000 for the Northern California Wildfire Relief Effort! These proceeds will be donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to supporting those who have lost homes, wineries, businesses, and livelihoods in the Napa and Sonoma County fires.
We certainly had a great time eating, drinking, and being merry for this wonderful cause. Luna Estate Chef Mercedes Stahlberger prepared a seasonal menu of wine-paired appetizers including truffle butter popcorn, goat cheese ratatouille tarts, and curried lamb meatballs. The party was serenaded by acoustic guitarist, Justin Brown, and guests had fun with playful holiday photo props.
Excitedly, Luna released our Howell Mountain wine series to the public during the event. Our 2014 Howell Mountain Merlot is now featured in our Reserve Tasting and our 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon remains a special allotment to our wine club members.
Help Luna Vineyards get to a $10,000 donation by shopping our wines. 10% of each bottle sale will continue to be donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation through the end of the year.
Enjoy some of our photos from this joyous fundraising event. For the complete photo gallery visit our Facebook page.
The highly anticipated debut of Luna’s newest vintage of Howell Mountain wines is finally here. We’re introducing our 2014 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and the inaugural vintage of our Howell Mountain Merlot.
Recognized as one of Napa Valley’s most acclaimed wine growing regions, Howell Mountain is famous for producing age-worthy red wines with deep color and extraordinary intensity and structure. Soaring over 2,000 feet in elevation, Luna’s Howell Mountain vineyards enjoy the best views of Napa Valley. The extreme heights of these vineyards provides an environment where grapes ripen slowly yet are drenched in long hours of sunlight each day. Sitting above the fog line, a morning walk through the sloping Howell Mountain vineyards is like walking on clouds. While only 30 miles away from Luna’s Estate on the Silverado Trail, these mountainside vineyards feel like world’s away…tranquil, breathtaking, and invigorating for the soul.
Visit the Luna Estate this Sunday, December 3 for our Wine Country Benefit where we will be releasing these highly acclaimed wines to the public for the first time. Can’t make it to Napa but want a bottle of your own? You can secure your allotment of our new limited release series by visiting our online wine shop.
2014 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Rugged & Majestic
Planted in 1990, Luna’s Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard is certified farmed organic and is dry farmed specifically for low yields to produce incredible tannins. To encourage further complexity, we bottle aged this mountain-grown wine one year longer than our other wines prior to release.
Recently recognized by Wine Enthusiast Magazine for its age-worthiness and cellaring potential, the 2014 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect addition to any wine collection. Approachable now, and will continue to soften for years to come.
2014 Howell Mountain Merlot
Elevated & Intentional
This is a powerful testament to what is possible for one of the great, but often underrated, grapes of the wine world. You will be floored with the intensity and boldness of this 100% varietal wine. While Merlot is often an afterthought in Napa Valley, this bottle is certainly intentional.
“Lots of seductive sanguine and hot stone notes show in this finely textured style. Offers plenty of tannins, with flavors of dried cherry and berry. Smoky accents linger on the rich, cedary finish. Best from 2018 through 2021.” – Wine Spectator
Who said candy was just for kids? We’ve come up with a list of playful pairings that combine Luna wines with your favorite Halloween treats.
You’re invited to visit Luna Vineyards from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 28 and Sunday, October 29 to try out these fun pairings for yourself! Tastings are $30 per person. No reservations are needed for groups less than seven people.
2015 Estate Dijon Chardonnay & Snickers
The gooey caramel and crunchy peanuts in Snickers bars brings out the toasted almond nuttiness of our Chardonnay.
2016 Minuet Sangiovese Rosé & Twizzlers
The strawberry flavor of Twizzlers enhance the berry, watermelon, and pomegranate nuances of our Sangiovese Rosé.
2015 Sangiovese Classico & Kit-Kat
The crispy, flaky wafers in Kit-Kats pairs perfectly with the vanilla and toffee characteristics of our newest release, Sangiovese Classico.
2014 Winemaker’s Red Blend & Hershey’s Chocolate
The milk chocolate and vanilla notes of this predominately Merlot and Syrah blend, perfectly compliments smooth Hershey’s Chocolate bars.
2015 Estate Mille Baci & Starbursts
The perfect end to any tasting, our Late Harvest Pinot Grigio – the sweet flavors of guava and mango are a fun pairing to the tropical fruit flavors of Starburst candy.
Rising before the sun is the daily life of our vineyard workers during harvest season. In Napa Valley, harvest runs from mid August to late October. It’s a busy time for all wineries but it’s also the most rewarding time. Winemakers and cellar masters go into action as soon as the grapes line up in 1 ton bins on the crash pad. A year of hard work is realized as they crush the clusters, receiving the “juice” of their labor.
The grapes that become our Sangiovese Riserva are sourced from Game Farm Vineyard along the valley floor in Oakville. This is one of our winemaker’s favorite locations for many reasons. It is a place that holds fond memories for her and her family. Her young daughter, once strapped onto Shawna’s chest during vineyard walks, now helps collect grape samples with her mom.
The Game Farm Vineyard is also cherished for its extraordinary fruit quality. It was selected for its Brunello clone and shallow, rocky soil. In these soils, the stressed vines produce the superior quality Sangiovese we pick.
This harvest, we picked the Sangiovese in mid-September during the cool, fog-covered hours of the morning. The crew works fast, very fast. Acres of vines can be covered in just a couple hours as the men and women use their sharp, crescent-shaped knives to remove only the finest clusters. It’s truly a skill that is memorizing to see firsthand.
Once the berries are collected and filled to the brim, buckets weighing about 40 pounds are carried overhead to the tractor-pulling bin. All at once, the berries are flung into flight, landing perfectly on the bed of purple fruit.
All we can say, is thank you to these hard workers who make each glass of wine possible.
Luna Vineyards partied like Gatsby last weekend, pouring our wine in a Gilded Age oceanside mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. The Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival has become an iconic event in the Ocean State. Now, in it’s 12th year, many argue it is the most sophisticated and anticipated event on the East Coast. The weekend-long program featured two grand tastings, educational seminars, a kickoff gala, wine dinners, and a Sunday brunch.
Luna poured five of our Napa Valley wines at the Saturday and Sunday Grand Tastings, located on the lawn at Marble House. The two days were full of wine tastings, culinary demonstrations, shopping, and eating, drawing a crowd of nearly 5,000 people.
All proceeds from the 12th Annual Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival went to historical preservation in Newport, Rhode Island – a great cause for such an historical and special town.
This was the perfect start to the Fall season! See you next year, Newport.
Photo taken by Geoffry Hansen
The Luna Pinot Grigio Vineyards are in a very special location. Their proximity to the San Francisco Bay and the Napa Valley River provide morning fog, creating ideal growing conditions to make a fully botrytized late harvest wine.
These grapes are left on the vine until 30 brix. At this time, naturally occurring botrytis sets in the grape clusters, also known as Noble Rot in classic Sauternes production. But what is Noble Rot? According to Wine Folly…
‘Noble Rot’ (aka Botrytis cinerea) is a type of Ascomycota within the Funghi kingdom. Other ascomycetes include the antibiotic penicillin, Stilton blue cheese and the fungus responsible for athelete’s foot. Botrytis cinerea can occur on fruits, vegetables and flowers –imagine a moldy strawberry. However with wine, it’s considered a good thing. Wines such as Sauternes from Bordeaux; Tokaji Aszu from Hungary, and Spätlese level German Riesling all are made from ‘Noble Rot’ grapes.
The botrytis intensifies the sweetness of the grapes naturally, creating uniquely concentrated dessert wines. For us, it produces luscious honey notes and mouthfeel which perfectly complements the grapefruit and delicate floral aromas of our Pinot Grigio.
Want to taste botyrytized Pinot Grigio in action? Uncork a bottle of our Mille Baci. Only 200 cases of this rare wine are produced yearly, making it a hard find in Napa Valley. See why it’s the perfect pairing for hard cheeses, strawberries, and blue cheese and honey.
Luna’s nightlife has been very active lately. Harvest season is in full swing which means our crew has been working long hours, day and night, to bring in this year’s fruit. All of our grapes are harvested by hand at night or early morning. We do this to take advantage of cool temperatures. Not only are the temperatures more tolerable for the workers, but they benefit the grapes as well. Picking in 50°, as opposed to 90°+, ensures the grapes are firmer, making them easier to work.
This photo gallery showcases our unsung heroes of harvest as they pick Pinot Grigio at 3:00 a.m. from our Estate Vineyard in Napa, California.