Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monticello Vineyards

Monticello Vineyards is a small friendly family owned and operated  (Corley Family) winery on Big Ranch Road in north Napa.  They have a reserved picnic grove with tasting and group tastings up to 30. Their administration building is a one third size replica of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.  The Corley family originally settled in Virginia where Monticello is located, and Jefferson was well known for his interest and sophistication in wine. 

Jay Corley came to Napa Valley in 1969 and purchased land in the Oak Knoll district in 1970.  In 1982 they moved to their current winery where they now produce about 15,000 cases a year under the labels of Monticello Vineyards, Corley Reserve and Corley.  They have five vineyards, two in Oak Knoll, one in Yountville, one in Rutherford and another in St. Helena.  Jay Corley's three sons are now deeply involved with the winery.  Kevin Corley is the winegrower and president, Chris Corley is the winemaker and Stephen Corley is the Director of Wine Sales, making this a very authentic family owned and operated winery rather than one that is a "family" winery in name only.

At the time of our visit Monticello Vineyards offered a four wine regular tasting for $15, or one could arrange in advance for various special tastings, including a reserve tasting in the Jefferson house, a single vineyard Cab tasting in the Jefferson house, a wine and cheese paring, etc. Group visits of 17 to 30 people are offered in the garden or wine cellar.  You may also reserve a tasting in the picnic grove.  Call or check their web page for current options and prices.

We found Monticello Vineyards to be a very relaxed, informal, friendly place and our host was quite welcoming.  We started our tasting with the Corley 2006 Reserve Chardonnay at $40 which was a full bodied, rich Chardonnay with mostly apple and pear.  My friend liked it enough to purchase some.  This was followed by the nice Monticello 2007 Estate Grown Pinot Noir at $38 which emphasized fresh fruit, mostly cherry and strawberry.  The Monticello 2006 Estate Grown Merlot at $34 was offered next.  It had a nice aroma and plenty of lush, fresh fruit, with a very smooth presentation.  The final pour was the, Monticello 2007 Jefferson Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon at $38. This was my favorite of the wines we tried.  It was a very lush, smooth Cab with mostly cherry and black currant plus some mocha, cedar and baking spices.  It had a good medium plus length finish.

We enjoyed our visit to Monticello Vineyards.  Wine prices there seemed quite reasonable by Napa Valley standards, ranging from $22 to $72 and they even have a sparkling wine.  Next time we visit, I'd like to try their Syrah and the Reserve Cab.

4242 Big Ranch Rd
Napa, CA 94558
(707) 253-2802
Date of visit: 3/16/2011

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