Chateau Montelena Winery Completes Fourth Decade of 50 Year Plan

Historic Napa Valley Winery Showcases Estate and Cellar Enhancements

Sep 12, 2011, 08:00 ET from Chateau Montelena

CALISTOGA, Calif., Sept. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Chateau Montelena, the historic Napa Valley winery, today announced the completion of a series of upgrades to the winery's property and cellar. Since the 1972 purchase of the old-world Chateau the Barrett family has been committed to improving and perfecting every aspect of the estate.  In the last decade, Chateau Montelena has excavated new hillside tunnels to barrel age wine, remodeled and updated the Chateau's enchanting private residence, installed a new estate-wide solar power system, developed an estate vineyard replanting program, gained historical recognition, rebuilt the famous Chinese pavilions on Jade Lake and completed a cellar retrofit and seismic upgrade.  These enhancements, spearheaded by the Barrett family, represent their long-term commitment as stewards of the iconic estate.

"Our 50 year plan is based on my dad's vision for the place," said Bo Barrett, Master Winemaker at Chateau Montelena Winery. "Since he brought it back to life, and for the last 40 vintages, we've been fully committed to creating fine wines and offering the best wine country experience possible.  We feel our success over the last 40 years gives us a wonderful foundation for the future.  We will maintain the long tradition and history at Chateau Montelena, and will continue to lead by example as we move into the next decade of winemaking and winery and vineyard management."

Enhancements to the estate include:

Cellar Retrofit with Seismic Upgrade – 2011

The cellar improvement project, which began over a year ago, was completed on August 24. The winery, now in its 40th vintage under Jim Barrett's leadership, continues its dedication to producing world-class wines, to which this project attests.  A seismic upgrade of the stone Chateau was coupled with installation of an ultra-modern high efficiency chiller package, sophisticated must delivery system, advanced lighting and tank controls.  Of note is the inclusion of numerous small fermentation tanks for emphasis on precision winemaking, complementing the winery's precision viticultural practices. The cellar will be open to the public on select Chateau Montelena tours, and will accommodate special winery events.  Also planned is a new display of historical artifacts, including a bottle of the famed 1973 Chardonnay, which won first place in the 1976 "Judgment of Paris" wine competition.

Vineyard Replant and Historical Status – 2011

Equally critical to the future of Chateau Montelena's superior wines is its commitment to the vines, the land and the winery itself.  A carefully planned multi-year replanting program of the estate's 100 acres continues to provide the very best grapes this land is capable of producing.  Recognition of the iconic Chateau in the National Register of Historic Places happened in tandem with the most recent phase of vineyard replant.  The Federal documents recognized ca. 1888 as the first period of significance in its history, being one of the oldest wineries in California.  This was followed by a second period of historical significance, ca. 1968, when winemaking resumed in the Chateau –leading up to 1976, when Chateau Montelena's Chardonnay placed first in the Paris wine competition.

Chinese Pavilion Rebuild – 2010

Considered one of Napa Valley's most beautiful sanctuaries, Jade Lake and the Chinese Gardens at Chateau Montelena are home to a variety of fish and wildlife, and are surrounded by weeping willows, native fauna and the lavish Pavilions.  They were created by Yort and Jeanie Frank, a Chinese couple who owned and lived in the Chateau with their children during the mid-20th Century.   To enhance to the beauty of the sanctuary and maintain the authenticity of their vision, the winery completely rebuilt the pavilions, featuring stunningly beautiful roof tiles imported directly from China.

Solar Installation – 2007

Determined to conserve and protect the environment in all aspects of the winery's operations, Chateau Montelena installed a full 220 kilowatt electric solar system, providing up to 100% of the winery's annual energy needs. "According to Galileo, wine is light held together by water," noted Bo Barrett. "Thanks to this new solar system, the same light that nourishes our grapes will power the machinery that helps us make our wine. So in a very real sense, there's sunlight in every bottle we produce.  And it's pleasing to our bottom line.  We like that too."

Private Residence Remodel – 2006

While the stately Chateau was completed in the late 1800's as a winery facility, it served as a family home for Yort and Jeanie Frank.  After Jim Barrett purchased the winery in 1972, a portion of the top floor was preserved and called the Private Residence. Though no one lives there, the space is used for special occasions. The modern remodel retains the historic feel while adding touches of whimsy and elegance.

Wine Ageing Caves  – 2000 and 2010  

Built to barrel age wine, previously done in the Chateau's cellar, this initial 16 month project created a tunnel system that stretches 1,300 linear feet (19,000 square feet of area), and provides ample room for 2,000 barrels to rest at a constant 61F and 70-80% humidity.  As part of extensive winery improvements in 2010-2011, Chateau Montelena expanded the caves with an additional 5,000 square feet dedicated to Chardonnay. As an important secondary benefit of this project, nearly half of the cellar surface area was freed up by the removal of the barrels, making feasible its complete retrofit and seismic upgrade with no interruption to the winemaking program.

Chateau Montelena Winery invites visitors to experience award winning hospitality and internationally acclaimed wines including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Riesling.  Its celebrated tasting room is located on the top floor of the Chateau and offers current release tastings daily from 9:30 a.m.4:00 p.m. Wine club members enjoy complimentary tastings, invitations to special events, rare and future bottlings, and access to the private islands on Jade Lake.

About Chateau Montelena Winery

Established in 1882, Calistoga-based Chateau Montelena is credited for helping California wine earn worldwide recognition. In 1976, Chateau Montelena was one of two Napa Valley wineries to come out on top in a blind tasting held for a who's-who of the French wine and food establishment gathered at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Paris. Chateau Montelena produces Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Riesling varieties. The winery has been owned and operated by the Barrett Family since 1972.

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Contact: Kristen Horan
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SOURCE Chateau Montelena