Chateau Montelena Winery, originally called A.L. Tubbs winery after its founder Alfred Tubbs, was constructed in 1888 and intended as a barrel-aging facility. The Chateau was unique in materials, plan, size, and style for its era. In nineteenth-century Napa Valley, the majority of wineries were constructed of wood. Instead, the Chateau is made of stone with walls three to twelve feet thick, which provides natural insulation against outside heat or cold. Similarly, the structure built into a hillside, to further regulate temperature – something necessary for producing quality wines but uncommon at the time. Also rare among Napa Valley wineries, the Chateau resembles an English Gothic castle gatehouse complete with rusticated stone walls, battlement with crenels and merlons, narrow arched windows, large arched door in the place of a portcullis, and bartizans with faux arrow slits.
Accounts of the stone winery’s designer, masons and source of materials vary. The design has been attributed to Hamden McIntyre, the well-known local winery designer; however, McIntyre relocated to Vina in 1887 where he took charge of the vineyard and winery of Leland Stanford. The building is unlike McIntyre’s other wineries, none of which were designed in a Gothic style. Some sources also suggest that while in Europe, Tubbs hired a French architect to draw plans for the building, brought back French masons to build it, and imported European stone for the walls. Other accounts suggest the design was inspired by the Cellar of Chateau Lafite in France.
Originally, the interior was one large space with a second-story crushing floor, but in 1960, a second-floor apartment was inserted so the Chateau could be used as a home. The space was then converted into our current Tasting room though parts of the private residence remain and are used on occasion today for family guests and private events.
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Estate Zinfandel 2012 (USA)
This Zinfandel shows a bright, garnet red colour with medium density. The nose is loaded with rich layers of spice, coconut, and brown sugar along with big fruit notes of plum, boysenberry, and hints of dried fruit as well. The palate opens smoothly with soft round tannins rolling across the tongue and a firm acid core, both working in harmony to establish the balance and structure of this wine. Ripe blackberry and bright strawberry flavours fill the mid-palate, all beautifully complemented by the nutty under layer, and rounded out by the smoked meat notes on the finish. Limited production.