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“Taking the High Priced Tour and Tasting”
Review of Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena
Ranked #7 of 70 things to do in Calistoga
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: This old winery has a castle-like main building.
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
Reviewed 17 July 2007

This is one of the wineries that brought Napa Valley to world reknown status. It won at a blind tasting in France and brought wines to world reknown status. They have regular tastings as well as library and tour and tastings. We booked their tour and tasting and found it wonderful. First, a nice glass of wine is poured and you enjoy it while watching a good short movie on the winery. Afterwards you go tour the grounds (beautiful pond area), and the winery. The tour guide was very knowledegable and was very receptive to many many questions. We then came back for generous pourings of their wines - all very good. We had a most enjoyable time and would recommend it to put it on the list of wineries of "Must Visit" while going to Napa Valley. It is a few minutes drive north of Calisota on Tubbs (Tubbs was the original owner of the winery)

7  Thank mini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 November 2006

If you're visiting Wine Country, this is an absolute must-see. When you first arrive (if you can find it) you drive up a beautifully wooded and winding path until you reach the parking lot. On foot, you approach an incredible piece of architecture, the building that appears on all their wine bottles. Aside from the serene and floral scenery, you will enjoy (I promise) some of the best wine you will ever taste. Whether you prefer whites or reds, every wine is deliciously balanced and uniquely complex; you may never want to buy a bottle elsewhere ever again. Every time you taste their Cabernet, you will remember the beauty of this magnificent destination.

10  Thank dmerkel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 4 weeks ago
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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