Chateau Montelena is one of Napa Valley’s oldest estate vineyards, having been purchased in 1882 by a San Francisco entrepreneur who built an impressive, European-looking chateau and hired a French winemaker. Nearly a century later, in 1969, an attorney named Jim Barrett led a group of investors who bought the winery with the notion of replanting vineyards that had been allowed to go fallow. In 1976 the winery won international fame when its 1973 Chardonnay took first place in the blind tasting in Paris that has since inspired books and movies. The winery is now owned by the Barrett family, with son Bo Barrett working as master winemaker. Chateau Montelena today makes renowned Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Chardonnay and limited amounts of Zinfandel and Riesling. The estate includes 125 acres of vineyards and produces about 40,000 cases of wine annually.
Napa Valley AVA is the most famous winemaking region in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. With nearly 43,000 acres of vineyards and more than 300 wineries, it is the heart of fine wine production in the United States. Winemaking started in Napa in 1838 when George C. Yount planted grapes and began producing wine commercially. Other winemaking pioneers followed in the late 19th century, including the founders of Charles Krug, Schramsberg, Inglenook and Beaulieu Vineyards. An infestation of phylloxera, an insect that attacks vine roots, and the onset of Prohibition nearly wiped out the nascent Napa wine industry in the early 20th century. But by the late 1950s and early 1960s Robert Mondavi and other visionaries were producing quality wines easily distinguishable from the mass-produced jug wines made in California’s Central Valley. Napa Valley’s AVA was established in 1983, and today there are 16 sub-appellations within the Napa Valley AVA. Many grapes grow well in Napa’s Mediterranean climate, but the region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay is also very successfully cultivated, and about 30% of the AVA’s acreage is planted to white grapes, with the majority of those grapes being Chardonnay,
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.