Tucked ever so gently in the deeply wooded hillside in the fertile Napa Valley, lies the stately Chateau Montelena Winery. The 254 acre estate was established in 1882 by San Franciscan entrepreneur Alfred Tubbs. Tubbs was convinced that the loose, stoney soil at the base of Mount Saint Helena near Calistoga was ideal for growing grapes.
A French wine maker was brought to the estate and Tubbs’ dream soon became a reality. The château was built soon thereafter and was aptly named Chateau Montelena, which is actually a contraction of the name “Mount Saint Helena”, the nearby noble peak.
Chateau Montelena Winery prospered until the Prohibition Days. In post-Prohibition days, Tubbs continued to grow and sell grapes to local family winemakers. However, the vineyards fell into disrepair over the following years and the property was sold in 1958.
Chateau Montelena’s new owners were Yort and Jeanie Frank, who were merely seeking a quiet place to retire. As a tribute to Frank’s homeland of China and to his wife Jeanie, the beautiful Jade Lake was created. Today, Chateau Montelena‘s Jade Lake is known as one of Napa Valley’s prettiest lakes, a wildlife refuge which is also available for private winery events.
In the early 1970’s, the estate was purchased by Jim Barrett, who replanted the vineyards and started the California wine industry as we know it today, showcasing California wines, specifically Napa Valley wines. [Read more…]