One of our goals at Chateau Montelena: “To bring the vineyard and the vintage to your table.” The flavors in the wine represent the fruit of the vineyard and vary from vintage to vintage, depending on the weather conditions during the year. Rather than making a “manufactured” wine that tastes exactly the same each year, we allow the wine to express that with which Mother Nature has blessed us. We believe this adds to the sense of discovery each time a bottle is opened.
Weather Summaries by Year
1972 Cool Variable. but almost too bizarre to categorize. Insufficient winter rains. Bad spring frosts. Record heat in July caused considerable damage. Rainfall at crush. One of the worst years in memory. All Cabernet Sauvignon was declassified.
1973 Cool Variable. Normal winter, warm spring. Long, cool growing season. Record crop. Excellent maturity. Clean fruit.
1974 Temperate Consistent. Cool spring with a touch of frost. Long, cool summer. Ideal ripening conditions during crush. Excellent, well-balanced fruit. A memorable vintage.
1975 Cool Variable. Very cool growing season. Some rains at harvest, but not enough to cause much trouble. Late harvest. Fruit had great balance. Wines notable for elegance and finesse.
1976 Warm. First drought year. Fruit had high sugars, low acids. Vineyards stressed. Early August – September crush.
1977 Warm. Second drought year. A little bit cooler than 1976. Growers more prepared for low water. Vines still somewhat stressed, but the fruit had good balance and concentration. Long, cool, crush.
1978 Temperate Consistent. Good winter rains. Long and warm growing season. Late heat led to a somewhat compressed harvest. High extract and body with well-balanced fruit.
1979 Cool. Early spring heat waves caused uneven set. Cool growing season, followed by rains at harvest. Early picking resulted in well-balanced, clean fruit.
1980 Warm. Coolest growing season on record, but heat wave at crush ripened grapes nicely. Intense, well-balanced fruit. Great potential on these wines.
1981 Cool Variable. Dry year. Extreme heat waves in June but cooler in late summer. One of the shortest growing seasons on record. Low yields, very concentrated wine.
1982 Cool. Wet winter, cool spring. Record crop, thinned 5 times to lower the yield. Mid-September rains caused some problems, but we finished picking before major storms in October. Big wines, clean, fat and juicy berries.
1983 Cool Variable. Record winter rains. Crop down 20% from 1982. Cool spring gave way to a heat spell in mid-July that caused damage. Early crush with a moderate sized crop. Good maturity, clean, balanced fruit.
1984 Warm. Very heavy late fall-early winter rains, but no late winter rains resulted in warm soils and early bud break. Hot spring and summer, shortest growing season on record. Fruit very clean, big, with surprisingly good balance.
1985 Cool Variable. No late winter rains resulted in early bud break with a long, moderate growing season. Dry, cool fall weather during crush, long harvest. Excellent fruit and balance.
1986 Temperate Consistent. Heavy winter rains in February and March followed by a warm spring led to early bud break. Growing season even longer than 1985. Wines rounder, softer than 1985; a few late season rains posed no major problems.
1987 Warm. Drier than normal winter and a hot spring resulted in significant shatter. Late summer heat led to early crush. Yield was light, wine is very concentrated.
1988 Warm. Relatively dry winter, warm spring, early bud break. Rainy weather at bloom reduced crop size. Hot summer and a long crush. Like ’87, low production and concentrated wines.
1989 Cool Variable. Low rainfall and a cool spring, but warm weather late. Crop thinning insured even ripening. The wine is highly extracted with significant body and structure.
1990 Temperate Consistent. Low rainfall, droughty conditions, then heavy rain during bloom reduced yield by 50%. Remaining year was routine with good ripening and good fruit development. Complex and concentrated wine.
1991 Cool. Light winter rains but good March precipitation helped soil moisture through to harvest. Cool growing season with warming right at harvest, so everything got nice and ripe. Fairly big crop with very good maturity and concentration of flavors.
1992 Temperate Consistent. Low rainfall, with classic warm days and cool nights throughout the season. Harvest started a little earlier than normal. Cooling trend after Labor Day allowed for more hang time and strong flavor development.
1993 Cool. Average rainfall with some rain every month through June. Cool spring and cool weather at harvest, good fruit maturation. Crop size average, excellent flavor development.
1994 Temperate Consistent. Low rainfall, with classic warm days and cool nights all season long. Overcast mornings and warm afternoons all the way from veraison through harvest. Grapes ripened steadily and harvest was very orderly. Crop size above average, with excellent maturation and flavors.
1995 Cool. Well above average rainfall. Bloom, veraison and harvest all later than normal. Great ripening weather for 6 weeks.
1996 Warm. Average rainfall. Mild winter, untimely spring rains and intense summer heat resulted in low vineyard yields. Ripening weather in September-October was excellent. Lightest crop size since 1988, very high extraction and very concentrated juice.
1997 Temperate Consistent. Average rainfall, warm winter and spring, mild summer. Slow ripening and wonderful weather during harvest, warm days and cool mornings. Large crop, the wine is very dense and extremely flavorful.
1998 Cool. Well above average rainfall, cold and rainy throughout the early to middle growing season. Warm and dry July and August, cool September and wonderful ripening weather in October. Average crop size, great flavors and ripeness, extremely well-balanced. [...]
1999 Temperate Consistent. Average rainfall, cool spring and summer, excellent October weather. Below average crop size, the fruit attained full ripeness and flavors. Very good fruit chemistry.
2000 Cool. Average rainfall. Growing season dominated by cool weather and spikes of intense heat. Cluster loss from windy heat in June kept yield low. The light crop allowed full ripening and harvesting before the onset of wet weather. The wine is very refined, high quality.
2001 Temperate Consistent. Well below average rainfall. Frost damage followed by high heat in May that caused some shatter kept yields low. Remainder of season was mild and grapes attained full maturity before picking. Started night picking to increase fruit integrity. Wines are very rich, well-balanced, and full.
2002 Cool Variable. Rainfall was right at average for the season, but most came in November-December. A challenging vintage with a generally cool growing season, lack of spring rain and excessive heat at harvest. Vine stress and very small berry size led to a very low yield crop, especially in Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are concentrated with good flavor and balance.
2003 Temperate Consistent. Early bud break, followed by late rains and cool weather in April. Excellent growing conditions all summer. A few days of heat in September brought the first wave of Harvest, followed by temperate weather through October. With the dual conditions during Harvest, wines show a distinctive blend of cool and hot vintage characteristics.
2004 Temperate Consistent. Well above average rainfall for the year, most of which fell November through February. March was dry and warm, causing early bud break. Moderate temperatures extended bloom, resulting in much shatter and a lighter crop. September began hot but moderated through harvest. The wines show concentrated fruit with fine, ripe tannins.
2005 Temperate Consistent. After a cool and wet spring, a very mild and overall good weather pattern prevailed for the remaining season, providing ideal conditions for flavor and fruit chemistry development. Wines show similarities to 1986, where we enjoyed delicious, fully mature fruit without excess sugar, and with good acidity.
2006 Cool. Higher than average early rainfall in a season dominated by cool weather delayed bud break, ripening, and ultimately harvest timing. August and September ushered in ideal ripening conditions with no rainfall. The long growing season and extended hang time for the fruit ensured full, complex flavor development and produced an exciting and complex wine.
2007 Temperate Consistent. A winter dry spell was broken by a sufficient amount of rainfall in February and then continued into a dry spring. The dry months allowed us time to finish pruning and tying before an early bud break in March. A moderate summer provided ideal ripening weather. The rising temperatures at the end of August pushed us into harvest and eventually cooled in September so that we ended up with a wine with firm acidity and fine grained tannins.
2008 Cool Variable. Cold, dry winter conditions set us up for risk of freezing at bud break and required that we implement frost protection on many mornings in April. Rising temperatures, combined with wind in May, resulted in some shatter and lower crop yields than previous years. The summer months were good to us and we saw excellent flavor development in the grapes. The hot days and cool nights resulted in a complex and concentrated wine.
2009 Cool Variable. After a typical spring, the remainder of 2009 was relatively cool until September when we had excellent warm weather. May through August was a repetition of warm periods, followed by cool periods for an extended time which gave a delayed start to vintage expectation. However, excellent warm to hot weather in September moved the start of harvest up a bit. There were no severe high-heat drying wind events, which was a relief, and that contributed to another very successful vintage. The overall harvest operation was smooth and steady.
2010 Cool Variable. Cool weather persisted throughout the growing season. This led to extended time on the vine which finally achieved full ripening during a late season heatwave. As we had kept our canopies in place, this helped achieve ideal ripening prior to a later than usual harvest.
2011 Cool. Warm weather teased us for much of the season but never permanently settled in. By April, we had an inkling that a late harvest was on the horizon. July arrived and a cautious sense of optimism materialized along with some sorely missed sunshine; however, the cold nights continued to persist, the fog lingered, and the heat from the Nevada desert stayed far, far away. With harvest approaching, we recognized the textbook Bordelaise flavor profile in the developing fruit and embraced the bright acid profile and soft textures that would come to be hallmarks of this vintage.
2012 Temperate Consistent. Our porous alluvial soils and craggy volcanics soaked up the late spring rains, which, coupled with copious sunshine and moderate temperatures, set the stage for an ideal growing season. By August, as most of the Valley dealt with triple digit highs, reliable northerly breezes materialized by mid-afternoon as the substantial heat inland drew in ocean air from the Pacific, which thundered down Mt. St. Helena to cool our Estate. In short, the fruit from this vintage experienced the best of what this vineyard can offer, allowing us to craft a wine of elegance, structure, and finesse.
2013 Warm. Early winter rains and dry spring weather combined to induce just enough early stress in our vines to stimulate the development of rich texture and body, characteristic of our Estate Cabernet. The long, warm summer that followed, coupled with good yields, brought each block into balance quite quickly requiring little intervention and encouraging uniform ripening. The result is an age-worthy wine that showcases the classic balance of Old World structure and New World ripeness.
2014 Warm. Budbreak did not arrive abnormally early despite the relatively warm winter and widespread concern over low rainfall. Mild weather, coupled with plenty of cool nights extended the growing season. In general, harvest was steady with no major rain events. Conditions were ideal.
2015 Warm. A relatively warm winter set the stage for another year of drought in California. Budbreak occurred early in Calistoga, increasing the risk for vine-damaging frost, but our concerns were allayed as spring proved to be mild and uneventful. As June and July arrived, the weather remained temperate providing additional hang-time for flavor maturity and color development in the fruit. As is usually the case, the light crop turned out to be of excellent quality.
2016 Temperate Consistent. Late winter rains primed the soil for early vine growth in the spring, with bright summer days unfolding in textbook fashion. There was plenty of warmth, cool afternoon breezes, and a few hot days through July. During the critical month of August, as the vines enter the final period of ripening, temperatures remained moderate and predictable, allowing us to slowly and methodically harvest with flavors and textures at their peak.
2017 Warm. A very wet, cool winter followed by a moderate spring seemed to portend another temperate, classic vintage. However, the summer had other ideas as the weather pattern peppered intense heat, dry winds, and very little marine layer amidst already warm conditions. An intricate understanding of ripening along with a deft hand in the vineyard were required to take advantage of anomalously short picking windows to achieve exemplary fruit flavors and aromas. It was an exciting and worthy challenge for our veteran crew.
Built to barrel age wine, previously done in the Chateau's cellar, this extensive tunnel system covers 25,000 square feet of area and provides ample room for 4,000 barrels.
Fish Friendly Farming® provides for voluntary, self-directed compliance with the rigorous standards of state and federal water quality laws, the Federal Endangered Species Act, and state pesticide laws as well as local regulations.
Napa Green Certified Winery is a Napa-specific set of sustainable and green business practices developed for wineries.
Determined to conserve and protect the environment in all aspects of winery operations, we completed the installation of our 220 KW solar power electric system in 2007 to sustain our energy needs.