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Seasons of the Vineyard: A Year of Celebrations and Recipes from the Robert Mondavi Winery

Seasons of the Vineyard: A Year of Celebrations and Recipes from the Robert Mondavi Winery

by Robert Mondavi, Margrit Biever Mondavi, Carolyn Dille, Margrit Biever Mondavi

Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world visit the Robert Mondavi Winery in California's Napa Valley for tours, tastings, concerts, festivals, and other culinary and cultural events. In Seasons of the Vineyard. Robert and Margrit Biever Mondavi invite you to share the bounty of their table with more than 100 glorious dishes from


Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world visit the Robert Mondavi Winery in California's Napa Valley for tours, tastings, concerts, festivals, and other culinary and cultural events. In Seasons of the Vineyard. Robert and Margrit Biever Mondavi invite you to share the bounty of their table with more than 100 glorious dishes from the Mondavi family, the Vineyard Room chefs, and the great culinary talents who have cooked at the winery.

The Mondavis live the time-honored traditions that value family and community, with food and wine as partners that contribute to well-being and happiness. Their pleasure and their mission have been to deepen their own understanding of the food arts and to share their knowledge with as many people as possible.

The menus and more than 100 recipes in this book, beautifully illustrated by more than 75 photographs, are arranged according to season and use ingredients at the peak of their flavor. Any of the recipes in the book can be combined to create meals that suit you best, with the best ingredients that are available to you.

Whether you enjoy the lively Seared Sea Scallops with Citrus-Ginger Vinaigrette or homey Apple Tart with Almond Custard in the autumn, deeply flavorful Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and White Beans in the winter, spicy Hot Pineapple Curry and Yellow Rice in the spring, or the elegantly simple Fusilli with Vinegar-Marinated Zucchini in the summer, the food is sophisticated and utterly delicious.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In prose that echoes publicist's copy, Mondavi and Biever, his wife, aided by cookbook writer Dille, plug the Napa Valley and its wineries, particularly the gigantic Robert Mondavi Winery. Each of four sections-Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer-opens with a third-person, personal, somewhat self-congratulatory essay ("Robert's and Margrit's early lives fostered an inclusive view of the relationships that make family"). Once they get by such flapdoodle, readers will find some tantalizing recipes, many of which-e.g., Moulard Duck Breast with Cabernet Thyme Sauce; Grilled Leg of Lamb with Pinot Noir Sauce; and Pine Nut and Basil-Crusted Salmon with Chardonnay Sauce-call, unsurprisingly, for wine. Scattered throughout are full menus. Classical Concert Lunch includes Dungeness Crab Cakes with Jalapeo Mayonnaise and Filet of Beef with Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce and Arugula Butter. Although tips for matching wines with food are helpful and individual recipes stand out, this volume seems aimed more at promoting a Mondavi-country gestalt than at extolling the foods that go with it. Author tour. (May)
Library Journal
Vintner Mondavi believes in the "the good life," which to him encompasses the arts and literature, good food and wine, and, of course, family and friends. With his wife, Margrit Biever, and coauthor Carolyn Dille, he shares a year at his California winery, starting with the harvest season and the annual Blessing of the Grapes Lunch, moving on to Holiday Baking with the Children and then to an Art Reception at Wappo Hill and Lunch from the Farmer's Market. For each season, there are three complete menus, followed by additional recipes arranged by course: some are elegant, upscale dishes from the winery's chefs and visiting master chefs, others are simpler family dishes, including many from Mondavi's mother, Rosa, a memorable cook. The book is beautifully illustrated with color and black-and-white photographs of the vineyard, the recipes, and the Mondavi family. The good life indeed-but, in this case, hard to resist. Recommended.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 10.58(h) x 0.86(d)

Read an Excerpt



Other seasons have their excitements, their rhythms of work and rest, but in the Napa Valley autumn is the season of great anticipation. Vineyard owners, grape pickers, and all those who work to make wine from grapes are watching the sky and waiting for the grapes to reach their full potential. For winemakers this is the time of crucial decision: when to pick each variety of grape. It is a decision that has to be made anew every autumn, as it has been from ancient times, and most winemakers agree that it is as much art as experience. As the grapes ripen, they are tested for sugars, yeasts, and pH. They are tasted and tasted again, daily, and sometimes even hourly.

I or even if winemakers study winemaking in the world's finest wine-growing regions, and use the best scientific analytic tests as the Mondavis do, the vintners' primary job is to know the character of their grapes well. As Tim Mondavi says, "We have worked on evolving methods and techniques to let the grapes express themselves as wine, to do as little as possible with the wines and let them make themselves."

While the drama of the harvest is unfolding and the roads are full of gondolas loaded with grapes, the tomatoes are reaching their most flavorful state. Gardens and farmers' markets are full of sweet and hot peppers, eggplants, squash, melons, basil, marjoram, oregano, marigolds, zinnias, and sunflowers. Pumpkins and winter squash are swelling for later harvest. Meals tend to be simple, centered around flesh produce and often the grill. As long as the weather is warm, refreshing wines such as Fumé Blanc, Johannisberg Riesling, and light styles of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel are served.

From mid-October to early November the nights begin to chill, and sometimes the days as well. Local apples, pears, and table grapes appear on tables and in dishes, taking the place of summer's berries. Farmers bring spinach, chard, and radicchio from the cool coast a few miles away. People turn to heartier foods, and use the oven more than the grill. More robust wines, such as Reserve Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon, are served. Winemakers have largely finished with harvest decisions and concentrate on tasting the juice from tanks and fermenters to decide when to press. The pace slows with the shortening days, as it has done for thousands of years wherever grapes have been cultivated and turned into wine.

The tradition of blessing each year's harvest has been honored since the winery opened; no other ceremony so exemplifies the Mondavis' philosophy of the particular blend of agriculture and art that is winemaking. Tim Mondavi says, "Someone above watches and allows us to do our best with these fruits of the earth."

The Carmelite Monastery is a neighbor of the winery's, situated on the hill behind the vineyards. Father Edward and Brother Charles of the monastery say the simple and heartfelt words of the blessing: "The earth has yielded its fruit. Our Lord God has blessed us. Bless the fruits of our labor. May our hands work holy works in our lives." In his brief ecumenical remarks, Father Edward notes that some form of grape blessing has existed for thousands of years, and cites the Jewish tradition of blessing grapes and wine. He repeats the truth that all those who grow plants know: Mother Earth supports and sustains all life; humans are stewards of the bounty that comes from water and soil.

The ceremonies include the family's thanks to the women and men who harvest the grapes, those who work at the winery, and the other vineyard owners who provide a part of the winery's grapes. At the conclusion, Father Edwards blesses the gondolas of grapes, and everyone present. Tim signals the excitement about the harvest's possibilities by saying, "I believe this is going to be a great vintage," and tosses bunches of sun-warmed, sweet-tart Chardonnay grapes to the guests.

The Annie Roberts menu for the lunch following the blessing pays tribute to the Mexican heritage of many who work to bring in and process the harvest. It also shows that spicy food and wine can be good partners. To accompany the guacamole and chips, Annie made a sangria with Zinfandel and citrus fruit, showing how complementary grapes and citrus can be. With the refreshing, mildly spicy shrimp and jicama salad, a White Zinfandel brings out the slight sweetness and crispness of the jicama. Many people who like both wine and chilies find Chardonnay is the best match for the fire in the chilies. Pinot Noir fans are not neglected, with a glass of their favorite wine to enjoy with the mesquite-grilled chicken, beans, and rice with chilies and spices. The cinnamon ice cream and fruit, served with Moscato d'Oro, ends the warm autumn day's lunch with a light, silky treat for the palate.

Makes about 1 quart

When you're serving a large party, you can easily double or triple the recipe. This sangria relies on the natural sugars in the wine and fruit for its sweetness; some palates may prefer to add a little sugar.

1 bottle (750 ml) Zinfandel or other full-bodied red wine
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
1/2 orange, sliced very thin
1/2 lime, sliced very thin
1/2 lemon, sliced very thin

Pour the wine into a pitcher or serving bowl. Stir in the orange and lemon juice. Chill the sangria for at least an hour before serving. When ready to serve, float the orange, lime, and lemon slices on top.

Annie's Guacamole
Makes about 4 cups

This pure and simple, rather mild guacamole is one Annie makes every year because everyone who has tasted it clamors for it again. The flavor is well balanced and goes well with sangria (preceding recipe) and simple warm-weather wines such as White Zinfandel.

6 green onions, with 3 or 4 inches of green, sliced thin
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced fine
About 8 ounces ripe tomatoes, cored and diced fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
About 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
4 or 5 Hass avocados, about 2 1/2 pounds
About 1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Combine the green onions, jalalpeños, tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro in a bowl. Peel, seed, and dice the avocados and add to the bowl. Mash the avocados slightly and mix well with the other ingredients. Stir in the lime juice and salt. Cover the guacamole and let it stand for 10 or 15 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with lime juice and/or salt and serve.

Shrimp and Jicama Salad
Serves 4 to 8

To make a casual summer dinner, serve the salad as an accompaniment to Grilled Chicken with Mexican Spices (recipe follows), along with some warm tortillas, guacamole, and corn chips. The vinaigrette and salad may be prepared ahead before grilling the shrimp. It takes about 5 minutes to grill the shrimp and dress the salad.

Marinade and Shrimp

2 teaspoons minced lemon zest
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced fine
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

Mix the lemon zest, garlic, jalapeños, cilantro, and olive oil together in a bowl. Add the shrimp and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally.

Vinaigrette and Salad

1/2 red onion, about 4 ounces, cut in small dice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 head romaine lettuce, about 12 ounces
About 6 ounces ripe tomatoes, preferably plum, diced small
About 8 ounces jicama, peeled and julienned

Combine the onion, cilantro, vinegar, and lime juice in a bowl.

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