Summary: Chateau Montelena is a Napa Valley winery with historical and architectural importance. Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay ranked number one for its 1973 Chardonnay in the 1976 Judgment of Paris. Portions of “Bottle Shock” the movie were filmed here.
Visitors to Chateau Montelena park below the Chateau Montelena stone facility. Wine enthusiasts and travelers will be impressed by this aged building that looks like a castle from several centuries ago. Alfred L. Tubbs began building the chateau structure in 1882 and completed it in 1886. The Chateau was named Montelena for Mount Saint Helena. The end of commercial winemaking occurred at the time of Prohibition. Chateau Montelena was in three generations of the Tubbs family.
In 1958, Yort and Jeanie Frank purchased the property and lived in the chateau. Jade Lake is due to Yort who had the lake excavated and landscaped to be similar to gardens in China. From the parking area visitors will walk past Jade Lake. Enjoy the foliage and views of two pagoda-style gazebos at the lake. A bridge connects to the gazebos. During a spring visit, green foliage enhances the views of the lake and gazebos.
Wine enthusiasts walk up many stone steps before reaching the facility and walking past an old wood two-basket press. A delightful waterfall with koi adds to the ambiance of the visit. Additional steps lead to the tasting room at the top of the “castle.”
Jim Barrett wanted to make red wine and discovered Chateau Montelena. With partners he was able to purchase it and produced his first Chateau Montelena wines from the 1972 production. In 1976 Chateau Montelena placed first for its 1973 Chardonnay at the1976 Judgment of Paris. The year 2012 is the 40th anniversary of Barrett’s ownership of Chateau Montelena.
Currently the vineyard with 100 acres are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot and Petite Sirah. Chardonnay grapes are sourced.
On entering the tasting room, you notice a long honey wood tasting counter with the stone of the castle in the background. A medievalish painting hangs on the wall behind the tasting counter. Chateau Montelena is central in the picture’s background. Walking through a hall, one can get a sense of Chateau Montelena’s history. One of the displays is a bottle labeled with the 1976 Judgment of Paris Chateau Montelena’s winning Chardonnay.
Continuing on through the hallway brings you to a special room with a tasting counter for the club members. This room provides a more intimate tasting experience. The room with its long wood table is also used for small events. An oak barrel signed by members of the cast of “Bottle Shock” is located here. During our visit it was noted that a room where some scenes from Bottle Shock was filmed has been renovated, it no longer looks like the scene in the movie.
We tasted several wines in the first tasting room. Sauvignon Blanc 2010 was a light straw color with grapefruit notes. The finish was crisp and bright. This is an anytime wine. Chardonnay Napa Valley, Oak Knoll District from Hanna Family growers was a straw color with apple and pear notes. The finish was crisp with very faint tannins.
Zinfandel 2009, produced with estate fruit was ruby. The aroma and taste had red berry and some spice nuances. The finish was crisp with fruit and tannins. This wine can pair with many foods. Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 had some Merlot and Cabernet Franc blended with it. The dark red wine had a dark pink rim. The aroma and taste were of blackberries. The finish was bold with tannins and was chewy. Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, a ruby wine, had blackberry notes on the nose and taste. The finish had lots of fruit and was chewy with very bold tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 was a dark ruby. Dark fruit notes were on the aroma and taste. The finish was fruity with bold tannins.
Wine enthusiasts will enjoy visiting Chateau Montelena with its historical aspects and its quality wines. When visiting save enough time to enjoy the beautiful lake and the architecture.
Chateau Montelena offers four different wine clubs for wine enthusiasts. Wine clubs are differentiated primarily by the number of bottles in the shipments per year.
Enjoy a visit to Chateau Montelena and be sure to plan enough time to meander the landscaped grounds surrounding the chateau.
Chateau Montelena Winery
1429 Tubbs Lane
Calistoga, California 94515
GPS: 38º 36.225’ W122º 35.929’
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