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The Danger of Eating Winery Food

WARNING: if you have a delicate stomach, do not read this post. If you've got a reasonable amount of mettle, and you don't have a sandwich in your hand at the moment, feel free to continue.

I've long been suspicious of wineries that in addition to offering you tastings of wine, also try and sell you food and other "marketplace" items. Not that there's anything wrong with it, mind you, but why not just concentrate on making great wine? Perhaps with the exception of full blown restaurants like the dining room at Domaine Chandon, I will never be eating at a winery again, least of all V. Sattui winery in St. Helena.

It seems that some recent visitors sat down with a few sandwiches prepared at that winery. Husband tucked in to his sandwich greedily and a few bites in, the wife happened to notice the head, tail, and other parts of a rat in between the pieces of bread.

Yeah. Totally gross. My guess? Disgruntled kitchen staff, tired of dealing with Napa tourists. Someone was done with that job and manufactured their own departure while taking it out on the clientele. (The winery claims that the rat parts were part of the spring lettuce mix they purchase from elsewhere).

The real question is why didn't the husband notice the crunchy bits of the sandwich? Maybe there was some really good aoli on that sucker. Anyhow, all of this is going to end up in court soon, and I need to stop thinking about it before I ruin my lunch. Next time you're in Napa, brownbag it.

Comments (14)

jerry jeff wrote:
02.15.05 at 11:44 AM

Yeah that's gross. Keep in mind Dean and Deluca is directly across the street from V. Sattui.

Why do wineries sell food instead of just great wines? If they sell food, people stay longer (chance of buying more wine), actually drink some of that wine and perhaps (if there is no rat in the food) get a more positive impression of the winery. Making money.

Ravenswood has a BBQ during the prime months on weekends, which is not aiming too high on the food spectrum and you can watch your food being cooked.

Geoff Smith wrote:
02.15.05 at 12:06 PM

This is amazing! I work across the street from V. Sattui at the St Helena Wine Merchants, and this is the first I've heard of it. Definitely off-putting.

Another strange aspect of this story: During my Peace Corps days in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), my lunch was often "cuisse d'agouti" or leg of agouti. To get a better idea of this delicious West African specialty, check out: http://allafrica.com/photoessay/makola_market/photo12.html



Alder wrote:
02.15.05 at 1:05 PM

Wow Geoff. How did that smoked Rock Hyrax taste ?

Geoff Smith wrote:
02.15.05 at 3:50 PM

Undoubtedly superior to the Napa species, for sure!

HugeJ wrote:
02.16.05 at 9:06 AM

Apparently, it wasn't a rat. It was "only" a mouse. Oh, that's a load off my mind!

"'Rats are a whole lot worse than a field mouse,' said V. Sattui Owner Daryl Sattui."


Alder wrote:
02.16.05 at 10:04 AM

HA !! I love it. Thanks for the tip on the follow up. Nothing better than a dessicated mouse sandwich.

"A meeting with the deli manager produced the mouse sandwich from the anonymous complainant and a second sandwich from a second customer, both of which appeared to have shriveled, desiccated mice in them," the report said. "One of the mice appeared to be cut in half with part of its torso missing. Both sandwiches were collected for possible sampling."

This is a quote from the investigation that is currently underway. I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to imagine this whole thing as quite possibly the most interesting crime incident those poor St. Helena cops have seen in a long time, on the scale of the Great Littering Caper memorialized in Arlo Guthrie's song, "Alice's Restaurant."

I'll pay good money to anyone who can get me some of the twenty-seven, 8x10 color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one. Why hasn't anyone been arrested !!?

Geoff Smith wrote:
02.16.05 at 10:49 AM

I wonder what wine the gentleman was enjoying with his mousewich?

In Cote d'Ivoire, we frequently enjoyed a hearty red wine with our agouti. These were French 'export' wines, typically from Languedoc or North Africa. I think the peppery (perhaps Syrah dominated) quality of these rustic reds complimented the agouti (called 'grasscutter' in Ghana). It makes sense as Syrahs (such as Hermitage) are frequently considered to be the best match for game, what we called "viande de brousse."



Dave R wrote:
02.16.05 at 8:42 PM

Seems unfair to assume all winery food service is tainted because of one nutjob with a rodent. Say is that the frugal gourmet?

Alder wrote:
02.16.05 at 9:41 PM

Indeed. Its fun to be reactionary sometimes, though.

Tracy S. wrote:
02.17.05 at 6:07 PM

Obviously the mice didn't crawl in and make themselves at home between the focaccia (their poor litle dehydrated selves would've probably headed for a more moist offering like fruit salad) so I'm willing to bet it was either a peeved-off 'sandwichier' or the diners themselves trying to pull a fast one. I'm not so fond of rodent, whether in sandwich or salad form, but $15k is an awful lot to ask for considering you eat that stuff (and worse) almost every day unwittingly (the FDA even approves it!)
This happens in every type of dining establishment, whether winery, diner, mom & pop, etc. To focus on boycotting a winery is pretty narrow.

Alder wrote:
02.18.05 at 10:53 AM

Yeah, I don't recommend anyone boycott V. Sattui. Just think twice before getting a sandwich!

Greg P. wrote:
02.18.05 at 12:22 PM

Hmm... Interesting thread, indeed.

So, no one has seen Victor Victoria, the movie? This whole thing sounds to me like someone looking for a nice and quick payoff, I can't imagine how one takes 5 BITES out of a sandwich before noticing a rodent. Call me a cynic, but...

Winery employess are not that stupid, its a small community and I can't imagine someone "paying back" Sattui knowing up front that they will never get a job in the industry again.

Its in Sattui's best interest to go along and assume responsibility and getting through with it ASAP instead of facing the nightmare of even worse public relations and exposure, so they are going along with the "OK, we're guilty" theme at this point. I would.

Disclaimer: I am not in any way associated with the winery, my views are just that, mine.


Ps1l0cyb1n wrote:
07.07.05 at 3:44 PM

Since this happened we have seen a couple get arrested for planting a finger in a Wendy's bowl of chili to get money...maybe this is the same scam

Anonymous wrote:
07.07.05 at 3:45 PM

Jerry wrote:

"Yeah that's gross. Keep in mind Dean and Deluca is directly across the street from V. Sattui."

...and keep in mind, Dean & Deluca oened there only because of the spilloer business from V. Sattui. Ask yourself, who was there first?

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