Greetings. Now that the harvest is over I thought it would be a good time to remind folks that our Vineyard Tour will continue (weather allowing) throughout the year. The Vineyard Tour offers a nice opportunity to see the Estate Vineyard from the “stretch” Club Car which holds 8 people including the driver. The tour is currently offered on Monday and Wednesday @ 10:30 AM (on a first come first served basis) and focuses on the viticultural aspect of making wine and a chance to view the vineyard at various stages throughout the year. If you are curious about the various procedures involved to vineyard maintenance–growing, pruning, irrigation (or lack thereof), frost control, fertilization, etc. then you might want to check out the Vineyard Tour. In terms of soil, climate, and topography, the Chateau Montelena Estate Vineyard is truly one of a kind!
Two weekends ago, we hosted this event, which was a day and a half affair. It started with a welcome reception at Judy Barrett’s home. She is one of the owners of Chateau Montelena Winery. We were truly appreciative to have this opportunity and our UltraMont members were over the moon. Judy was a very gracious hostess and was seen often helping out in the kitchen.
Our event continued with an educational component where our members learned what types of wood are used to make a barrel, how to make one as well as how the different woods can affect the taste of the wine. The day portion ended with a lunch and then our members had ample time to relax and enjoy the Valley on their own.
The event culminated with our first ever formal dinner. The Harvest Moon Dinner Dance was offered in a tented space at the winery. All of the members, including the staff, dressed for the occasion. We even had our own paparazzi and red carpet. Fantastic food from one of our own CellarMaster members, Tony Spleen. And rockin’ music from the band, The Special Guests. A good time was had by all!!!
We look forward to seeing our UltraMont members again next year. Who knows…this might be a tradition!
San Francisco! A beautiful multicultural metropolis located between the Pacific Ocean and the ever-changing bay of the same name. In many ways “The City” as many of us affectionately refer to it, could be considered the gateway to the California wine country. These days a 25 minute drive from SFO in almost any direction will land you on the door step of a plethora of places that will proudly serve you anything from a small sample to a full glass of the life-blood that has given rise to a truly global industry. While wine has permeated all four corners of the globe and is now produced in all 50 of the United States, few people realize that up until 107 years ago, San Francisco was among the major hubs of wine production in California and the US. You see, starting with the gold rush of 1849 and the proliferation of grapes being planted in northern California by many of the immigrant gold seekers, California enjoyed a quick growth in wine production. However, in order to stay close to points of distribution, which in those days was still mainly by ship and rail, wineries were mostly located in the city of San Francisco, as it was a major port and hub for trains and ships.
Fast forward to 1906; San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area was rocked by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake. Among the destruction were many of the wine making facilities located closer to the bay. During the recovery process and encouraged by growing technology for transportation, many winery owners decided to build or rebuild closer to where grapes were grown in the surrounding valleys, joining others, like our founder Alfred Tubbs and Chateau Montelena, who had smartly made this decision in the first place.
Today, the Bay Area wine industry has come full circle and once again wine is being made closer to and in the city-by-the-bay. Beginning 5 years ago, Chateau Montelena became part of this growing trend when we opened our first San Francisco tasting counter at Press Club in September of 2008. After much success there, we relocated our tasting room to the historic Westin St. Francis hotel in Union Square and opened full time 2 years ago. By partnering our two historic brands, we continue the growing trend of bringing wines out of the valleys and back to the people in San Francisco.
Often times we’ve heard from people about how limited their time is when visiting the city, and despite being only 60 miles away, Napa Valley often is just out of reach. For us specifically, we recognize that being at the very top of the valley makes it difficult for some people to make it to see us, even when already in Napa.
So we took a page from history and have brought our wines to where the people are! We offer the same tasting room experience as if you were visiting the winery with the convenience of being able to stay in San Francisco. We offer a tasting flight, bottle purchases, the ability to have your wine selections shipped home for you and a variety of winery souvenirs. We’re open from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm Wednesday through Saturday and our tasting room is staffed with a knowledgeable winery representative who is happy to take you through our flight and offer a variety of insight into the world of wine and Chateau Montelena’s place in it.
We also love to see our wine club members who might be visiting San Francisco as well as any of you who live in or around the city. All of your member benefits apply in our San Francisco tasting room just as they would up at the winery itself. If you’re not yet a member, come by either tasting room to find out all of the benefits our Cellar Master club has to offer.
The next time you find yourself in San Francisco and are craving a sip of something from Montelena, please stop by and see us. We’re located just off of the lobby in the Westin St. Francis Hotel: 335 Powell St. San Francisco, 94102.
It happens every year…this time, the 41st time matter of fact. Yet, every time, we’re like kids waking up on Christmas morning. Yes, harvest is upon us. Chardonnay coming in fast and furious. Time for us to break open new equipment, dust the old ones. We all gather around as if it’s something new to us. There’s an excitement in the air. It’s what makes me realize, again, that we’re really just farmers. Every time I crack open a bottle, swirl, sip, slurp and enjoy wines in a formal setting, it really comes down to the fact it’s grapes. Grapes; enjoyed for centuries; loved by kids as raisiny snacks, a can of sweet juice in their lunch bag, Waldorf salads,… Ok, these are much more than Thompson Seedless, I know.
Harvest is early. Nice, warm Summer days, cool nights; setting up for a potentially great season. What also excites the team; we can be done by mid October. Nice after several years of late harvests. Not only does it hamper personal holiday plans, it stressed everyone out that it didn’t rain or freeze over.
Anyways, the magic is just beginning. Come see for yourselves.
Here we are in the middle of the dog days of summer and I am feeling very subtle hints of fall creeping into my subconscious. The days are getting ever so slightly shorter; there is a crispness in the air when I get up in the mornings and a softness to the light in the evenings that make me think of changing leaves and – THANKSGIVING! It has been 10 years since I had my family come to my house for Thanksgiving and I have decided that it is my turn again. I need to start extending the invitations now, before everyone has already made other plans. After I get all the invitations out it will be time to join the doggies in the hammock, sip some Riesling and start making plans. Not a bad way to spend time as summer comes to a close and fall begins.
My name is Amy Biege. I am the Club Ambassador at Chateau Montelena. It is an honor to host our CellarMaster Family on the weekends in our private tastings. I always enjoy getting to know our members and learn about their different walks of life as they enjoy savoring Chateau Montelena wines matched with cheeses made in heaven… Ossau-Iraty paired with our John Muir Hanna Chardonnay always receives a shout of praise mid-sentence as I talk about our unique story. Everyone has a story. When speaking about Chateau Montelena’s, our club family always has a memory or two to share around the table too… funny ones, sentimental ones, inspiring ones, and occasionally one that brings us all to a tear. The inspiration behind the stories told always star Chateau Montelena wines, provoking memories of sips past and enjoyable moments of sips present. Life is best enjoyed with Chateau Montelena wines from the testimonies I hear!
One of my favorite questions to ask our club family is, “where were you born and raised?” Guests love to answer this question and tell a little bit about themselves opening up conversation around the table. I love to share that Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is “born and raised” right here on the property, this is where we are rooted… and our roots, after all, are a very important beginning. As our lovely wines travel the world, coming to rest in your wine glasses and getting to know you, Chateau Montelena always remembers where it comes from!
The wines do most of the talking in the tasting, as I support and encourage what members are experiencing in their glass… it is kind of similar to how we use a minimal amount of new French Oak in our wines to allow the beautiful fruit from the vineyard to shine! As the tasting comes to a grand finale, thankfulness roots in my thoughts as I raise a glass of Chateau Montelena wine and say, “To All That Is Good In Life!”
Williams-Sonoma lovers: have you received your catalogs yet?
Did you notice the Chateau Montelena feature in their Wine Club?
Our famous, classically styled Napa Valley Chardonnay is highlighted in their Wine Club catalogue, and paired with a delicious roasted chicken, lemon and herb recipe. We are excited about the new partnership – especially given that the Williams-Sonoma Wine Club team evaluates nearly 10,000 wines and only select about 3% to include in their shipments.
In addition to our Chardonnay’s debut in the Williams-Sonoma catalogue, we were a part of their fall Wine Country spotlight.
Earlier this summer, a team of Williams-Sonoma experts came up to our Estate for a two-day photo shoot in our Chateau for a special feature on Wine Country. They drove a U-Haul up from headquarters in San Francisco packed with all sorts of fabulous products. The team unloaded and took over the Private Residence area inside our Chateau. Bo Barrett, our CEO and Master Winemaker, was also featured on the Williams-Sonoma blog in a fun, candid interview.
We always hear about pairing wine with food but how about pairing your favorite art form such as music, painting or sculpture with a complementary wine as well?
For mid-century art forms such as modern jazz and classical music, abstract paintings or sculpture, I prefer the Chateau Montelena “Napa Valley” wines with their clean and delicate complexities. I Like Chardonnay with Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, or interesting classical composers like Ravel. The Cabernet with Coltrane definitely works and is also excellent for events where rock is on the menu. Paintings by Klee, Miro, and Picasso will also pair well with our “Napa” wines.
For the “heavier” stuff a contrast is sometimes the way to go. Potter Valley Reisling, fragrant and fruity, with Mahler, often dark and brooding. The fact that they are both German in origin plays well for this type of pairing. I also like Reisling with Mozart (depending on the piece) and some of the other classics as well. Also nice for events where “easy listening” is the musical order of the day.
Renaissance painting, big band jazz, classical composers–Montelena Estate Cabernet.
Medieval chants, English lute music, traditional Scottish and Irish melodies, “folk” art–Montelena Estate Zinfandel with it’s lighter “claret” (the English word for table wines imported from France prior to 1700 and still in use today) style.
Just like pairing the right wine with the right food, pairing the right wine with the right artist can bring out the best in both. Something to think about the next time you play a recording or thumb through a book of fine art and open a bottle of vino.
Hope to see you soon,
Harvest is just about here! One of my favorites times to be in Wine Country. Just something about all the sights and smells going around the winery that makes this time of year particularly miraculous. Taking these luscious little grapes and turning them into a beautiful bottle of wine is no easy task. From all the extra help of those picking, and sorting. The cellar crew works vigorously going through the fermentation processes and non-stop pump overs. It’s lengthy and exhausting, but a magnificent journey! If you have never been out to the area to witness this incredible time of year, then I would highly recommend that you book the trip at some point. And for the first time ever, I’m going to make an attempt at making wine myself. I have helped pick grapes, worked in the cellar, and been on the bottling line, but never before have I actually tried to make my own wine. Here goes… everything! Wish me luck and I hope to see you all out here for a harvest!