Chateau Montelena's history is one of the deepest and most storied in the Napa Valley and California. Founded just north of Calistoga in 1882, it was one of the largest wineries in the state. Prohibition put an end to Montelena's winemaking, and the next major era began in 1968, when Jim Barrett purchased the estate. Jim fell in love with this exceptional property, blessed with a complex mix of soils, slopes and biodiversity of wildlife and fauna. He had a dream of creating wine at the level of the great First Growths of Bordeaux, and set about replanting the vineyard, outfitting the winery with modern equipment, and studying the processes necessary for farming and winemaking at the highest quality level.
Zinfandel is California's heritage grape, and as anyone who has tasted long-lived examples from the 1970s knows, it can produce wines of tremendous quality, both immediate pleasure and age-worthiness, and all in a rich and spicy berry profile. Like every wine they produce, Montelena looks first and foremost to take the tremendous fruit they work with and transmit it in a complex, balanced package.
The decades old Zinfandel, planted in craggy volcanic soil, combined with 10-year-old vines in cobbly alluvial soil, produces a wine with complex character. Farming: Chateau Montelena remains committed to sustainable farming and produces wine in their solar powered winery.
The 2015 vintage will be remembered as a warm growing season overall. The effects of the drought induced vine stress early in the spring and high temperatures persisted throughout summer. These conditions forged incredible ripeness of flavor and really let the old vine character show.