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Category Archives: Winery News

Receiving Your Favorite Wine Directly May Be A Thing of the Past Unless..

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There is another House of Representatives bill, being submitted (HR1161) , that will affect the direct shipping of your wine regardless of whether you are in a wine club, have a wine allocation or just occasionally order wine.  This act was sponsored by the wholesalers and will bring us back about two decades on wine shipping. Read more here.

According to Free the, this is what this bill will do if it is passed:

  • Establish that State Laws Override Federal Laws: Shifts the burden of proof from state to challenger in all cases that deal with the validity of any state law regarding the regulation of matters involving alcohol beverages and makes such state laws presumably valid over any federal law that is inconsistent with its provisions.
  • Render Commerce Clause Ineffective: Establishes federal law that makes the Dormant Commerce Clause not applicable to any state law that deals with alcohol beverage sale or distribution unless they are demonstrated to “facially discriminate, without justification”.

This is a disagreement between beer wholesalers and beer producers. U.S. House Resolution 1161 was introduced March 17 at the request of the National Beer Wholesalers of America with the support of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America. But, because of its broad scope, HR 1161 is a direct threat to wine direct shipping by exempting anti-competitive and discriminatory state alcohol beverage laws from most federal review.  It will reverse the federal decision brought about from Heald vs. Granholm which was instrumental to increasing the number of states that allow legal, regulated winery-to-consumer shipments, making it essentially difficult to buy wine directly from your favorite wineries.

Please reach out to your representatives, as well as your senators, to let them know that this is not okay.   Free the has a template that you may use to to send an email or fax directly to your representatives.

Here Comes The Sun

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In the famous words of one of the greatest bands of our time, thank God it’s here!  I won’t talk much about the weather, as that’s been beaten down in blogs and articles everywhere; so if you’re wondering what it means to vintage 2011, ask us in the Fall. It’s still too early.

What I can say, however, is my tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash may have a chance after all.  Without warmth and sun, they were showing signs of doom.

I can put away the jackets I had already stashed in April, just to dust them off for May and June.

Vacation in Montana looks promising.

A day at the beach may be a reality now.

Farmer’s markets can start showing off some real Summer fruit.

After all man has done in modern technology, we’re all still at the mercy of Mother Nature in so many ways.  I love California!

Looking Forward to Summer

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Well, after a week of February weather capped off with a couple of inches of rain over the weekend, the sun is finally coming out!  Maybe, just maybe, summer is on its way?  We can only hope….

5 Day Forecast

Here come the sun...finally!

Louisiana Saturday Night…

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  Well, you get down the fiddle and you get down the bow,
Kick off your shoes and you throw ‘em on the floor.
Dance in the kitchen ’til the morning light:
Louisiana Saturday night…….

Montelena’s Estate Zinfandel truly is a versatile wine!

Thanks to my sister Hannah for sending me this picture!

What Are Your Plans for Memorial Day?

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Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching.   Besides flying our flag in rememberance of our fallen soldiers and those who continue to protect us, I plan to spend time with my family and friends.  What weekend celebrations do you have planned?

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

Movable Feast 2011

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We closed the winery down on Saturday the 21st, as we do every year on the third Saturday in May, for our annual party to end all parties – the Movable Feast.  This party allows us an opportunity to celebrate our CellarMaster members, enjoy fantastic food and pull some of our older bottles out of the cellar to enjoy with friends old and new.  We hosted one of our largest groups in recent history – over 260 party attendees came to eat, drink, and be merry at Movable Feast 2011.  With Cajun-themed food (think gumbo),  music courtesy of the talented Louisiana-based band L’Angelus and an impromptu conga line, it was a very memorable afternoon.  To make a special occasion even more so, Author George Taber (formerly a writer for TIME magazine and the only journalist present at the 1976 Paris Tasting) was able to join in the festivities to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the 1976 Paris Tasting that put Chateau Montelena on the world wine map.  It’ll be a tough one to beat, but we’re ambitious enough to try to make Movable Feast 2012 even better.

The scene is set

The Movable part of the Feast

Lunch is served

The conga line snakes around the tent


Hope to see you here next year!

Baby grapes in the oven….

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….or, more accurately, on the vine. 

These pictures of Montelena’s ‘A’ block of Cabernet Sauvignon, planted in 1973, were taken this afternoon, Sunday, May 22.  Note the baby grape bunches on the vine.  In a couple of more weeks, these bunches will flower.  Compare these pictures to the pictures of the same block during bud break (see my blog from April 4th) to see how fast the vineyards have changed in the last six weeks.

The Gloomy Days of May

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Ok, so who said Summer is around the corner clearly is not living in Northern California!  Wet, cold, and snow in Tahoe still?  Just when you thought it was time to hang up the snowboards and break out the Cargo shorts, hold on there.

So the question is, will this affect 2011 harvest?  I asked the experts (our dynamic  duo of winemaker Cam Parry and his assistant, Matt Crafton), who gave me the assessment that bloom hasn’t happened yet, so we’re still good.  Check back in two weeks…

We can all take a collective sigh of relief for now, and appreciate the respite from one of the worst hay fever seasons in years as the rain washes down some of those nasty nose irritants.

Have you gotten your ticket yet?

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Well…have you?  Who wouldn’t want to come up to wine country for one of the hottest parties of the year?  To everyone down in San Francisco and all the Bay Area, get up here….just for the fun of it.  Check out the event website at to get your tickets and more information.  Why not?

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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

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