Napa Valley: Chateau Montelena

After I saw the movie “Bottle Shock” a few years ago I promised myself I will visit Chateau Montelena next time I get the chance to go to Napa Valley. I was able to go last summer and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

As much as I love wine and appreciate the art of wine-making, I have remained unfamiliar with American wines. I have travelled quite a bit and I have my favorites. They are comprised of Italian Barolos, New Zealand Blancs , Australian Pinots and South African Merlots. And that’s about it, my preferences stop there. (I blame that on my lack of exploration and you-stick-with-what-you-know attitude)

But, California wines ? it’s a shame because I really don’t know much about them.  I always purse my lips with a clueless head tilt whenever my non-American friends ask me about California wines.

So, since I’m building a very small wine cellar ( a long overdue project), I thought I’ll do a double-duty and immerse myself in Napa wine country too.

Short History on Chateau Montelena: In 1968, Lee and Helen Paschich bought the property, and brought in as partners lawyer James L. Barrett and property developer Earnest Hahn. Barrett replanted the vineyard and installed winemaking equipment in the historic buildings and it began producing wines again in 1972, with Mike Grgich employed as winemaker. Four years later, the Chateau Montelena 1973 Alexander Valley Chardonnay won first place among the chardonnays and white Burgundies entered in the “Judgment of Paris” wine competition. (via  Wikipedia).

French wines vs. American wines. Oh. That’s effin’ war. Très spectaculaire!

The “Judgement of Paris” in 1976  was an incredible event that changed many lives. Chateau Montelena changed the landscape of wine-making in America and the rest of the world. You can just imagine, the French hate the Americans even more. C’est terrible!

I’ll spare you the details, just watch the movie.

Yes. I am pre-ordering a case of Cabernets. Love your own, right?

Next time you are in San Francisco, get on a car (or a limo) and drive  to this beautiful and historic winery in Calistoga, Napa Valley.

For more background and history visit

Happy Travels!


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