“Always carry a corkscrew and the wine shall provide itself.”

~Basil Bunting

Chateau Montelena Winery

Front of the Chateau entrance

Two miles north of Calistoga, Chateau Montelena Winery sits on 254 acres of rugged terrain at the base of Mount Saint Helena. Built in 1882 it became the seventh largest winery in the Napa Valley. Winemaking halted during the Prohibition and the winery was sold to Yort and Jeanie Frank, who was looking for a place to retire. The Franks, inspired by the Chateau, found a perfect area to excavate a lake and landscaped it to reflect the Chinese gardens of his homeland. It was called Jade Lake and consists of two islands, not open to the general public but available to their wine club members. You can, however, stand next to the entrances to the footbridges that connects to the islands and feed the fish and waterfowl. Marveling at the way the footbridges were built crooked, I found out that, according to Chinese legend, evil spirits can only travel over water in straight lines.

I found it very interesting that the Chateau was like a mini-castle and the gardens and lake was of Chinese architecture complete with weeping willows and native fauna. But somehow it works. According to their brochures, it is considered to be one of the most peaceful and beautiful sanctuaries in Napa Valley. It was indeed very enchanting.

A little more interesting history here…

Back in 1976, the Chateau Montelena Winery entered their 1973 Chardonnay in a ‘blind taste testing’ International Wine Tasting competition in Paris, France and their 1973 Chardonnay won, beating out the French and Italian wines. This, supposedly, is what put California on the map for winemaking. Here at the Chateau, the movie, Bottleshock, was filmed about the historic event and you can even take a special ‘Bottleshock’ tour. We didn’t take the tour, but when we got home, we rented the movie and really enjoyed it. It was fun watching the movie and saying, “Hey, we were there…and there…”

Jade Lake

Small waterfall in front of the Chateau

Different sizes of wine bottles

To be continued…


This entry was posted on Sunday, October 24th, 2010 at 2:39 pm and is filed under Food, Traveling, Wine. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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