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Category Archives: Winery News

Wooden You Know?

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Here’s a wood rendition of our Chateau.  It’s one of those collector’s items.  Very creative little sculpture, if you ask us, fun to look at.  It also got us thinking about our Re-Imagine the Chateau Contest and the inspired entries we have received so far (no sculptures, hint, hint).  Why enter?  Because you could win two free passes to our Franc&Blanc  event here at the Chateau on June 25.  We’re going to have fun – just for the fun of it.  Of course you can buy tickets now, but if you are feeling extra creative enter the contest and if you win, bring two extra friends.  Either way, we hope to see you here on June 25.

Chateau Montelena, Franc and Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon

Wood Carved Chateau Montelena

New Connecticut Distributor

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We’re pleased to announce that Slocum & Sons is now distributing our wines in Connecticut!

John Slocum and Bo Barrett

John Slocum and Bo Barrett

For more information, visit our distributors page.

Napa’s Best Secret: The Calistoga AVA

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Any true wine geeks out there?  OK it’s a little long for our blog, but it’s one of the best summaries of what makes the Calistoga area (an official American Viticultural Area, or AVA) such a great place to grow wine grapes.  This was written for a local journalist by winemaker Cameron Parry, and provides a link to the actual petition – authored by Bo Barrett – that led to government approval of the AVA.  Here goes, hope you like it:

The Calistoga AVA has a lot of great sloping/hillside and higher elevation vineyards and the well recognized concentration that they bring, along with a relatively small amount of “flat” valley floor land.   That valley floor land has a lot of alluvial influence, so even though it is flat, it is not that heavy – lots of stony, well drained soils.   There are 3 different soil origins, and numerous classified soil types, which bring in a great complexity as well.  But, it’s not just the dirt!   One of the most defining features of the Calistoga AVA is the influence of Mt. St. Helena, which acts like an air pump: drawing air up (pulling cooler air in from the Knights Valley gap) during the day as the mountain warms, and sending cool air sliding down slope at night.   This near constant air movement helps keep temperatures in check and reduces the mildew pressure.  It also contributes to a large diurnal swing (as much as 40 degrees a day on a regular basis), which (without getting into too much grape physiology) helps preserve the natural acidity in the grapes resulting in wines with great balance, complexity, and longevity.   Many people think that Calistoga is the hottest of the AVA’s in Napa, but in reality the hottest part of the valley is just north of St. Helena.   The other often overlooked aspect of the Calistoga AVA is the orientation of the valley.   Most of the Napa valley runs about 340°, but right around Larkmead Lane, the valley turns West by about 20-25°, running about 305°.   The result is that the Calistoga AVA has a very different solar exposure than the rest of the valley.   The result, here at Chateau Montelena, is that we see earlier ripening/earlier harvest dates than many other locations, which often means that all of our fruit is in before the fall rains.  Somehow we also seem to have better solar capture even in the “difficult” years, meaning that we always get ripe fruit.

Much of this is outlined in the TTB petition that Bo wrote back in 2003, so that would be a great reference as well.

Calistoga AVA

Bud break is here…

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…the growing season has begun!  After a rainy, wet March, the last week has been beautiful.  The vines just couldn’t wait to bud.  Below is a picture of a new bud on one of the Cabernet Sauvignon vines from block A, planted in 1972.  This picture was taken Thursday afternoon.  By next week, the whole vineyard will be sprouting with green shoots.  This is my favorite time of year!

In a few weeks the vines will be cloaked in green shoots. It all happens so fast.

Montelena Family Hard at Work

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BEFORE: Daisy eager to start her tasting assignment.

Sometimes it can be quite exhausting tasting the new releases.  Why in fact, take a look at Daisy here.  She is completely worn out after trying the recent release of the Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.




(Thank you, Daisy, for allowing us to take these photos of you with these props).

2010 Riesling; Killer

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Have you ever tried our Riesling?  If so, hopefully you can back up my blog. If not, you’re missing something special. When we do have it in stock (only about 1600 cases made; sold out in December), we have it in our tasting room lineup for tasting.  A lot of people see our flight, and say, “you know, let’s just skip the Riesling.”  After insisting they try, 9 out of 10 are amazingly surprised!  It’s not the sweet, boring wine that gave Riesling a bad rap over the past 30 years.   Germany, France, Austria, and even Australia have been making some wonderful off-dry Rieslings the rest of the world has appreciated far more than us Americans.

Well, mark your calendars!  We release the 2010 Riesling in May, and after previewing it, this stuff is gonna fly out of our tasting room. The good news: we made more. The bad news: only 300 cases.

You can get the Riesling: at the Chateau, if you’re a club member, from some of our select restaurant and hotel accounts, or at our tasting room at the St. Francis in San Francisco.  Perfect Summer wine (assuming we have a “normal” warm Summer here!); don’t let the initial press on 2010 as a vintage fool you.  More on that next week.

Sneak Peak: Franc&Blanc

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We’re really looking forward to our upcoming #Franc&Blanc party, here at the winery, on June 25th.  What’s not to love about delicious wine, fantastic food, great music and plenty of entertaining games?!  We can barely contain our excitement.  We’re encouraging guests to wear red (franc) or white (blanc) to declare their wine preference, but we’re also encouraging guests to dress up with fun props, let loose and have fun in our photobooth.  The event is still a few months away, but Nyk is already getting ready for his close-up:

What’s your favorite part of a party?  The food?  The drinks?  The games?  Tell us what makes an awesome party.


Here comes the sun…finally…

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…for the next few days at least.

It’s been a wet few weeks here in Calistoga, but the trend changes tomorrow. 

What’s the weather like in your area?  Comment and let us know.

5-day forecast

The sun will finally shine this week after about 3 weeks of rain.

Meet the Cellar Crew – Eddie Salomon

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Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be highlighting our cellar crew.  These highly skilled behind-the-scenes workaholics keep production moving along, and make it look effortless.  Most of their time is spent doing work in the caves and the warehouse.  I thought it was overdue getting them some face time.  Keep up the good work fellas!

Eddie Salomon from Chateau Montelena

This is Eddie “El Gato” Salomon.  First off, congratulations Eddie on your new beautiful baby girl Victoria Salomon!  Mr. Salomon has been with Montelena since 2007, and is the jack-of-all-trades guy in the cellar.  Eddie’s nickname is “The Cat” – he demonstrates this every harvest when he crawls around preparing the equipment for crush.  What nickname do you go by?

Chateau Montelena at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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Just this past Monday I had an opportunity to visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  Specifically to see the How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine exhibit.   I was quite pleased to see the information on Judgment of Paris and of course a bottle of the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay in the exhibit.   Have you seen it?   If you haven’t and are in the Bay Area I highly recommend stopping by and catching this before it goes.

Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco

The entrance to the exhibit. Judgment of Paris is the first thing you see as you walk in.

A bottle of the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and the original Judgment of Paris Article.

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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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