Chateau Montelena’s history is one of the deepest and most storied in the Napa Valley and California. Founded just north of Calistoga by a senator and San Francisco entrepreneur in 1882 at the turn of the century, it was one of the largest wineries in the state. Prohibition put an end to Montelena’s winemaking, and the next major era began in 1968, when Jim Barrett purchased the estate. Jim fell in love with this exceptional property, blessed with a complex mix of soils, slopes and biodiversity of wildlife and fauna. He had a dream of creating wine at the level of the great First Growths of Bordeaux, and set about replanting the vineyard, outfitting the winery with modern equipment, and studying the processes necessary for farming and winemaking at the highest quality level.
In 1976 Chateau Montelena put California at the forefront of the wine world. That year a who’s-who of the French wine and food establishment gathered for a grand tasting at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Paris. Four white Burgundies were tasted against six California Chardonnays. When the scores were tallied, the French Judges were convinced that the top-ranking white wine was one of their own. In fact, it was Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay, rated above all other wines. This seminal event has been memorialized in the book “”The Judgment of Paris,”” by George Taber, as well as in the 2008 feature film Bottle Shock.
Today Chateau Montelena’s distinct 19th century stone structure stands as a quality icon in Napa Valley, consistently producing some of the finest wines in California. Master Winemaker Bo Barrett, Jim’s son, now runs the estate with the help of Winemaker Matt Crafton and Vineyard Manager Dave Vella.
Napa Valley, California
The Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is Chateau Montelena’s flagship wine and a quality icon of Napa Valley. The winemaking team works obsessively and passionately with each vintage to capture the best expression of their historic terroir. This is a show-stopper that reveals the perfect blend of flavors, aromas and textures to reach the pinnacle of balance.
Napa Valley, California
The Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon embodies the balance of Montelena, classic “old-world” structure with ripe California fruit. It is crafted from fruit coming from the Montelena vineyard and several prime neighboring vineyards, all in the Calistoga AVA. The Montelena Napa Cabernet is a wine that delivers immediate pleasure upon release, but in Montelena style, while age and develop beautifully.
Napa Valley, California
A true icon. The Napa Valley Chardonnay is the wine that put Chateau Montelena and Napa Valley at the forefront of the wine world in 1976, in what is now memorialized as “The Judgment of Paris.” To great disbelief, the Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay was the top-ranking wine against four white Burgundies and five other California Chardonnays. And as they say, the rest is history.
Napa Valley, California
Produced from grapes grown on the Montelena Estate vineyard, the Zinfandel is a classically-structured, subtle and refined wine. More than anything, it hearkens back to the way that Zinfandel was made in the 1960s and 1970s, with completely distinctive, rich and spicy California berry fruit, but a balance that made them no heavier than their Cabernet counterparts.
Vinous - “A total knock-out, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate captures all the potential of this great site. Powerful, voluptuous and structured, yet very much within the context of classicism that has defined these wines for several decades. Dark red cherry, stone fruits, smoke, licorice and scorched earth, along with beams of tannin, wrap around the palate. Deep, virile and explosive, the 2014 is a must have. Don’t miss it!”
Well-respected Houston Chronicle wine columnist Dale Robertson highlights Chateau Montelena Calistoga Zinfandel ($39) in his weekly column, among other zingy and robust reds, awarding is an 8.9 out of 10 for quality and 9 out of 10 for value!
He adds that it received "a unanimous recommendation with three scores of at least 9.1." Elaborating that it boasts “Monster blackberry fruit with a touch of smoky oak. Equal parts fruity and spicy. Elegant for a zin.”
You can read his entire column and more details about the vintage and winemaker Matt Crafton here![caption id="attachment_1584" align="alignnone" width="300"] The estate at Chateau Montelena[/caption]
Vinous - “…2015 Chardonnay is shaping up to be a gorgeous wine. The warmer vintage has resulted in a slightly richer style of Chardonnay, although the house style built on energy and tension is still very much in evidence. Candied lemon, white flowers and mint are nicely textured. Soft, enveloping and gracious, the 2015 will drink well with minimal cellaring.”
Vinous - “Montelena’s 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is gorgeous. Pliant and supple, the 2015 offers notable density and raciness in an up-front style that will drink well upon release. Succulent red/purplish fruit, spice, new leather and licorice are front and center. A wine of total allure, the 2015 hits all the right spots...It is one of the best values readers will find in Napa Valley Cabernet. Don’t miss it.”
More on Chateau Montelena
July 24, 2018 - Bo Barrett, the CEO of Chateau Montelena, put together a retrospective of the winery’s primarily Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from the 1970s to the present. It was meant as a testimony…
July 24, 2018 - Roger Morris of The Drinks Business joined the Chateau Montelena "Dream" Tasting in NYC on June 27th. Bo Barrett took a room full of eager guests through 5 decades of…
August 15, 2018 - Well-respected Houston Chronicle wine columnist Dale Robertson highlights Chateau Montelena Calistoga Zinfandel ($39) in his weekly column, among other zingy and robust reds, awarding is an 8.9 out of 10…
July 24, 2018 - Ray Isle of Food & Wine highlights Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2015 in his article “40 Wines That Changed the Way We Drink.” In it, he states, “Cabernet wasn’t California’s only…
Since 1972, Bo has been involved in every vintage at Chateau Montelena. Bo’s career in the wine industry began that summer, right after he graduated from high school, when his family purchased Chateau Montelena. He spent the first summer pulling star thistle in the old vineyard and picking up rocks in preparation for replanting. In 1976 Bo transferred to Fresno State University, where he was an honors student in Viticulture and Enology.
As 1981 drew to a close, Chateau Montelena's Winemaker left and the winery’s Managing General Partner, Jim Barrett, offered his son the role. Bo accepted the opportunity, based on the understanding that his father would allow him to have the freedom and professional respect he had shown previous winemakers.
His intimate knowledge of the Estate vineyard, gained over more than 45 years, provides him with a wealth of experience that allows him, year after year, to "bring the vintage and the vineyard to your table in a wine that is elegant, balanced and enjoyable.” When not making wine, Bo enjoys flying, scuba diving, skiing, and spending time with his wife, Heidi, and his three children.
Named Winemaker in 2014, Matt joined Chateau Montelena in 2008 as Assistant Winemaker after graduating from UC Davis and, armed with an Economics degree from the University of Virginia, brings a splash of finance to farming and fermentation. Having worked in cellars and vineyards up and down the north coast and back east since 2003, Matt brings a diverse skillset and a fresh set of eyes to an iconic winemaking team.
Shortly after joining the winery and following the completion of a new 220KW solar array, Matt spearheaded Chateau Montelena's sustainability program. Focusing on responsible conservation, industry best practices, and practical economics, Chateau Montelena was certified as a Bay Area Green Business and Napa Green Winery in 2010. Fish Friendly Farming and Napa Green Vineyard certifications were earned in 2013.
Spec Sheet | PDF
Added October 2, 2018 -
July 24, 2018 - Check out this great video of Chateau Montelena’s new winemaker Matt Crafton explaining their work with Fish Friendly Farming to improve their stretch of the Napa River.