Chateau Montelena was established in 1888 as A.L. Tubbs Winery and has a wealth of stories surrounding its construction. The only thing that is certain is that the winery itself was originally one very large space built into the side of the hill with stonework in order to create the perfect environment for aging wine. All other accounts vary so much in detail that we would simply have to hope for the resurrection of A.L. Tubbs himself to learn the truth. However, no matter the true story, the chateau is certainly a place of beauty that was quite unique to the area in the late 1900’s.
Over time an additional floor was added to the chateau in order to create a home environment, which has since been converted into the tasting room and private rooms for family guests during events. The beauty of the landscape paired with the enchanting air surrounding the chateau seems to draw you into a much older world filled with beauty, love, and great wine, which perfectly suits the estate considering the amazing wines they produce even today.
The first hurdle in the history of this lovely estate came in the form of Prohibition, which shut down the winery in its entirety until its repeal in the 1930’s. During this time the vineyard was still harvested and tended, though the grapes were sold to other wineries and home winemakers in the area rather than risk seizure of the estate. After the end of Prohibition, the winery began to produce wines again, though it continued to sell grapes to other wineries as well. This continued until the 1940’s when the winery was closed due to the death of Chapin Tubbs, A.L. Tubbs grandson who had continued to run the vineyards and winery.
Sadly, the estate languished for nearly two decades, becoming overgrown and unmaintained until 1954 when it was purchased by the Frank family who had a vision for the estate that would change its appearance and renew its life. Japanese Gardens were created by Yort Frank in the design of his beloved gardens in Hong Kong and Jade Lake still exists on the property, well-maintained and serene. It is counted as one of Napa Valley’s most beautiful sanctuaries for fish and wildlife and is filled with both.
In the 1970’s the winery was reestablished and by 1978 the winery had its first renowned wine, which is still talked about today. That vintage reached across the world to tell everyone that Napa Valley was a region to be watched, just as A.L. Tubbs had hoped for in his own days of managing the estate. We know he would be proud of where the winery stands today and the loving care the Franks showed to restoring the property and the chateau, which are both a joy to visit.
Make sure to take a tour of Chateau Montelena Winery if you get the chance. They offer a nice selection of visiting options and the tasting room is well-appointed. They even have a tasting room in San Francisco if you are in the area, so you might at least try their wines. We suggest the vineyard tour, as it really gives you a deeper insight into the vines and how the grapes are selected.
Don’t forget to stop back here and let us know about your experience. We love hearing from our readers and your comments just might be the inspiration for our next feature post! In the meantime, from all of us here at West Palm Beach Brewery and Wine Vault in South Florida, happy tasting!
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