It Begins in the Vineyard

From the very beginning, we knew we had a unique piece of land for winegrowing.

The Three Soils

James L. Barrett

November 8, 1926 – March 14, 2013

Jim Barrett came to the Napa Valley in 1972 with one thing in mind, to start a world-class winery. He didn't mind telling visitors, “I wanted to do something to make people happy.

After being discharged from the Navy at the end of World War II, Jim returned to school to complete his education. Five years later he had earned a Law Degree from Loyola University in Southern California. It wasn't long before he had a thriving legal practice, and was Senior Partner of his firm for over 20 years.

An incurable romantic, he discovered the empty stone chateau and the dilapidated vineyards at the northern end of Napa Valley, and decided that Chateau Montelena was the perfect place to realize his dreams. Jim restored most of the original vineyards and completely refurbished the winery, completing the "rebirth" of the winery.

The first few years he still lived and worked in Southern California, so he "commuted" to the winery on a regular basis in his own airplane. After finally being able to make the move to Napa Valley, he actively supported many organizations:

Napa Valley Vintners' Association Director - 1984/85/86 President - 1986

Family Winemakers of California Director - 1992

Thomas Aquinas College Board of Governors - 1993 to March 2013

N.P.H.I. - Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos International Board of Directors - 1993 to March 2013

Irish Order of the Wine Geese Member - 1999 to March 2013

When not at the winery, Jim enjoyed spending his time playing tennis, fly fishing, bird hunting, and skiing.