The Vibe: 

Chateau Montelena is, quite literally, a chateau-- the winery is set in a stone castle carved into a hillside that overlooks a Chinese-style garden, a swan-dotted man-made lake, and vineyards reaching out to the base of Mt. St. Helena.  This well-known winery first became famous in 1976, for putting Napa Valley wines on the map by beating out a number of established French wineries for top honors in an international Chardonnay blind tasting competition, as shown in the film "Bottle Shock."

Between the castle's several tasting rooms, visitors can choose from a variety of daily tastings.  Offerings include a basic "Current Release" tasting for $20, which includes a variety of the wineries' current releases, and is held on a drop-in basis on the chateau's top floor between 9:30am and 4pm daily.  With advance booking, visitors can opt for the more extensive 45-minute "Library" tasting, which is set in the winery's intimate library room, includes numerous options from the vineyard's cellars, and is limited to groups of 6 or less.

Montelena wine club members have exclusive access to two picnic islands on the winery's scenic Jade Lake, as well as receiving discounted bottle prices, and complimentary tasting priviledges.

The winery is run with eco-conscious methods, including cutting-edge water management practices.  Since 2007, the estate has been 100% solar-powered.

Note: the tasting room can become quite crowded, so visitors seeking a peaceful experience would do well to opt for a Library tasting or plan to arrive at an off-peak time of the day or week.

Known For: 
chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon
Not good for: 
  • Budget travel
  • Food pairings or dining
  • Weddings or private events
  • Particularly good if you are seeking: 
  • Scenic views and setting
  • Drop-in tasting
  • High-end wines
  • Eco-friendly estate