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“Beautiful Grounds, Lovely Wines, Pricey Tasting Fee”
Review of Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena
Ranked #7 of 73 things to do in Calistoga
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: This old winery has a castle-like main building.
Reviewed 17 March 2009

We did a tasting at this winery this past Fri. while on our way to the Healdsburg area to spend the night at the Inn @ the Plaza. The grounds are just beautiful with the lake and the castle-like building. The tasting room here is very pretty. We did the regular tasting of 4 wines and found the $20 tasting fee to be a bit steep. The wines were all of the highest quality and we enjoyed everything we sampled. They do not waive your tasting fee here with a purchase of wine, either.

If you are looking for a beautiful winery in a pretty setting, don't miss this place, just be prepared for a pricey tasting fee. I believe for $5 more you can do a tour with your tasting which sounds like a better deal if you have the time. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable about the wines.

3  Thank syrahgirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 15 March 2009

Chateau Montelena is a wonderful winery with a great castle-like building and nice grounds. The lake behind the building has wonderful chinese buildings that are idea for a picnic or lunch.

The wines themselves are alone worth the trip. Don't miss the Cabernet. Known mostly for their Chardonnay's (ie Judgement of California and the movie Bottle Shock) the higher end Cabs are just wonderful.

2  Thank RomanNole
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 April 2008

We booked the Library Tasting Tour to get our taste buds on some of the finer, aged wines. We were not disappointed as we went through many wines and although we did not care for the extreme "jamminess" of Chateau Montelena wines the tour was fun. For me to give a 5.0 to a winery would require an amazing experience as well as amazing wines. The guide was more than willing to bring out a few extra wines to try as well.

Chateau Montelena, like more and more of the wineries are doing, pushes a "futures" purchase of wine. It can feel slightly like a time-share pitch but is really much more low key. They also go over their standard Wine Club levels which I have never opted for. Most wines can be purchased cheaper on-line now and even the hardest to obtain can be had... for the right price of course (which is still less than joining the club).

The grounds are quite beautiful with a lake behind the winery. The winery is near the far northern part of the valley (which I prefer anyway). Watch carefully for the sign on Tubbs road as it sneaks up on you.

3  Thank medicaster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 August 2007

I'd give this 3-1/2 stars if I could... we had a nice tour, but I didn't like the way our day started and I'm not sure the wines were worth the $25 tour and tasting fee. My husband knew of this winery from many years ago and decided to treat us to the comprehensive tour and wine tasting – we made reservations on line weeks before our trip.

We got picnic provisions at Oakville Grocery (what a mob scene that was!) and expected to be able to find somewhere to picnic on the grounds before our tour. We were rather brusquely turned away and was told there was nowhere to do that (we saw plenty of spots that would have worked later). We traveled down the road a bit to the Summers Winery that welcomed us warmly and we enjoyed a bottle of great chardonnay. We were in a better mood when we returned for our tour.

The table in the main hall was set for our tour group, but we were delayed for around 20 minutes waiting for a limo full of bachelorettes to arrive (they never did). Other members of the group were mistakenly told to arrive earlier for another tour, so they tagged along for just the first part. A group of twenty eventually whittled down to four, so we did get a very personal tour from a very vivacious and entertaining guide named Ann. She was a hoot and had a lot of knowledge of the industry and the history of the chateau.

We saw a little video, then got an explanation of the soils and the areas where the grapes are planted. We then spent about 30 minutes touring the grounds, but in the oppressive heat of the afternoon, we were glad to return inside. The faux castle is a little kitschy, but it kind of works in the milieu. The estate shows Asian influences from the owners in the 60s with its oriental pavilion in the middle of the lake, graced by a swan and other birds. It’s a pleasant enough spot, with lovely views of the surrounding hills and vineyards.

We returned to the hall for our tasting. Chateau Montelena helped put California wine on the map in a big way, and reds are their claim to fame. We tasted mostly zins and cabs, including one that retails for over $100 a bottle. I expected to be blown away by a wine like that, but I found it to be not much different than the lesser priced cabs we were served, all very nice but nothing I found compelling enough to spend the money on. Maybe my palate isn't refined enough, ruined by all those years of $10 wines!

It was an OK experience for the money, something that first time visitors might enjoy more than we did having visited many wineries over the years. I think they could have been more welcoming to visitors paying for the tour. The wines were fine, but the bottom line is we didn't buy any.

5  Thank Shaken_Bake
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 19 July 2007

We started our day in Napa Valley with Chateau Montelena, as it's at the very North end of the valley, in Calistoga. It turned out to be our favorite. It's in a beautiful castle-like building on a hill, with lovely grounds and a pond with walkways over it. They put out little containers of bread so you can feed the ducks and fish. It's really picturesque. But the best part was the quality of their wine and the friendly staff in the tasting room. We loved almost every wine we tasted. They charge for tasting as most of the more popular wineries in Napa now do, but we got our money's worth, including a nice pour of a $105 reserve cabernet that was fantastic. It's a much better value than the over-hyped and over-priced Rubicon.

3  Thank brianhh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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