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Category Archives: Bottle Shock

American Dream

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We have a new face on the blog! Lynn Pedone will be working in the vineyard, with Dave Vella and his crew, as she pursues her studies in Viticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College. A little background on Lynn: she’s a recent East Coast transplant, has lived all over the world growing up in a military family and has previously worked in the world of business and finance. She’s now hoping to settle into her “last career stop until retirement” in the wine industry and is looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about vineyard maintenance with Dave.  Lynn will be writing a weekly blog post about her experiences working in the Chateau Montelena vineyards.  Read her latest post below:

Placido Garcia Hernandez, Montelena’s vineyard foreman, tells the quintessential story of the American dream.  I sat down with this integral member of the Chateau Montelena team to learn more about his life and work in the vineyards.  Placido, whose birthday is on July 4th, came to California from Mexico in 1961.  As a teenager, he worked hard picking tomatoes, melons, pears and peaches in the fields and orchards of Sacramento, eventually working his way west to his first grape harvest in the Napa Valley.  He has been with Chateau Montelena for 37 years, since 1974.  When I asked Placido what the best thing is about working at Montelena, he replied without even thinking about it – “every day.”  Every day he is happy to be here, and thanks God he still has the energy to work.  He explained that Montelena is a very special place, a “nice place to work,” where there is good communication and support, and where it feels like family.  Most of all, Placido told me, Montelena is what enabled him to realize his American dream: that of buying a home and sending his children to school.  He is proud that he has been able to share his dream with his wife Maria and their family of four girls (including a set of twins) and a boy, all grown now with children of their own – his six grandchildren.  He is also very proud of the fact that he has been a part of the many changes that have taken place here since he started.  He told me how different Montelena looked back then (fewer vines) and also how different Calistoga was – he can remember when you could buy a pitcher of “cerveza” for one dollar!  I was curious to get his take on the Paris tasting and what happened in 1976; Placido remembers that it was a “big deal” – but not just for Chateau Montelena.  That event put Napa on the virtual world wine map, and everyone who made wine in the Napa Valley was forever inspired to strive to make the best wine they possibly could.  Placido admits he doesn’t really know much about making wine or even describing wine – he “can only say if it’s good” – but he does know about grapes and vines.  I’ve admired his expertise and have been fortunate to have his guidance and support this summer.   It would be hard to imagine Chateau Montelena without Placido!

Placido in the Vineyard

Three Generations of Montelena Winemakers

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We had a special guest here yesterday.  Jerry Luper stopped by to say hello after many years of living in Europe, and just about 30 years after turning Chateau Montelena Winemaker responsibilities over to Bo Barrett, now our Master Winemaker.  So it was fun to get them together with current Winemaker Cameron Parry for a group photo.  What strikes me, other than the idea of the shared history represented here, are the smiles on their faces.  It’s fun here at the old Chateau…and it’s the people who make it so.

May 24: Judgement Day

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No, not referring to “The Rapture,” nor am I referring to The Governator’s Hollywood glory days; I’m talking about the famous day in Paris, 35 years ago today, when a few “kids from the sticks” beat the French at their own game.  A tasting set up by Steven Spurrier, in Paris at the Intercontinental Hotel,  made history when George Taber, a journalist for Time Magazine, documented this tasting.  A group of judges, all French, and in esteemed professions in the food and wine industry, blindly picked the 1973 Chardonnay over the pack, including some top flight white Burgundies.

Not saying the French don’t make good wines. On the contrary, they are truly world class.  What I am saying, and what this tasting showed, was that they’re not the only ones anymore!

Join me in a toast tonight, as we honor an important milestone in American history, with a glass of Chardonnay; and make it California…

Jim Barrett and George Taber – 35 Years Later at Montelena’s Movable Feast

#Chardonnay Day

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Mark your calendars for a grand, online celebration on May 26, 2011!  It’s that time of year again – the day that we celebrate all things #Chardonnay (and it’s just 2 days after the 35th anniversary of the 1976 Paris Tasting).  You can participate in the online conversation by Facebooking, Tweeting, blogging, tumbling or using any other form of social media with the hashtag #Chardonnay.  Share fun facts about your favorite Chardonnay, taste virtually with your online friends or ask questions to learn more about this wonderful wine.

And if you happen to be in our neck of the woods, be sure to check-in to the winery on Foursquare, Yelp or Facebook to redeem special offers for winetastings.

Chateau Montelena Chardonnay

Bo Barrett on Talk Radio Radio Europe

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Bo was recently featured on Talk Radio Europe discussing the movie Bottle Shock, the history of the winery, the modern-day Chateau Montelena Winery and the California wine industry.

(c) Susana Blavarg

Take a listen for yourself.

Winter in the Wineries 2010-2011

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*Updated 1/14/11: Passports are no longer available for purchase.

Last winter, if you were in Calistoga you may have enjoyed the bounty of our small town during Winter in the Wineries Passport weekends.  This year, the event is back with special offerings from local wineries (including tastings at Chateau Montelena), some of Calistoga’s finest restaurants, hotels, bed & breakfasts and inns.  You may purchase your passport by visiting the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce website.  Passports are available for $50 and may be used anytime, during normal business hours, at any of the participating locations from December 4, 2010 through February 6, 2010.

Chateau Montelena Passport

1973 Chardonnay – Sold!

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Chateau Montelena Chardonnay

(c) Susana Blavarg

We are pleased to announce that the bottle of 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay has been auctioned off for charity.  The winning bid?  $11,325 will be donated to Friends of the Orphans – Haiti Initiative.  We’d like to thank all of the auction participants for contributing to a great cause.  We will also be donating a horizontal of our 2006 Montelena Estate Cabernet that Friends of the Orphans charity may use for in their future fundraising endeavors.

Win A Bottle of 1973 Chardonnay

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1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay

Have you ever dreamed of owning your very own bottle of the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay?

Well, we have some very exciting news to share.  We will be offering you an extremely rare opportunity to own a bottle of the wine that won the 1976 Paris Tasting.  All you need to do is be the winning bidder in our charity auction.

Auction Details

How:  Online Live Auction
Auction Opens:  Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time
Auction Closes:  Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Where to Bid:  Visit Spectrum Wine Auctions to register and place your bid on
Lot #1973
Beneficiary:  100% of proceeds go to Friends of the Orphans – Haiti Initiative

Chateau Montelena Auction Box

Montelena in the Movies

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Bottle Shock & Chardonnay Experience

Learn about and taste the wine that made Chateau Montelena famous, see the location where the movie was filmed, discuss fact vs. fiction and take home a souvenir from your visit.

Offered by appointment on Thursdays and Sundays at 9:45 a.m.

Click here to make your Bottle Shock & Chardonnay Experience reservation today.

Can’t make it to the winery?  You can watch Bottle Shock on DVD!

Bottle Shock

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About Our Authors

George Blanckensee

An expert event planner and an avid basketball and sports fan, George can tell you about all the best off-the-beaten path eateries.

Kali Clark

A Napa Valley native, Kali returned to the area after a stint on the East Coast and can be found documenting the latest happenings at the Chateau. When not behind the camera, she likes to experiment in the kitchen, travel, and enjoy the outdoors