Chilean Winemaker Aurelio Montes to Start Napa Label

Two Cabernet-based blends will debut in 2006
Aug 17, 2006

Chile has historically provided fertile ground for outside wine companies to invest in, with big names such as Lafite Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild and other high-profile vintners involved in ventures there. But now, Viña Montes—one of Chile's biggest names—is turning the tables with its own project in a high-profile region, becoming the first Chilean winery to set up shop in California. Production of two Cabernet-based wines is slated for the 2006 vintage.

"We are in Napa because we love challenges, and we want to prove ourselves against the big names in the valley," said Viña Montes co-owner and head winemaker Aurelio Montes.

Montes, considered one of Chile's most experienced and respected winemakers, will source grapes from Napa Valley vineyards in the Oakville, Stags Leap and Yountville districts for the as-yet-unnamed project. Montes has a one-year contract for grapes in 2006, and then will begin to look for longer-term sources.

"My policy in every country, even in Chile, is to sign long-term contracts only when the quality of grapes has been proven," said Montes. "Napa is no different, so we will be scanning the whole area to get hold of the best grapes in the region in the long term."

The top wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, will retail for around $70, while a second wine made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon with small percentages of other varieties, possibly including Syrah again, is earmarked for a $45 price point. Total production for the project is slated to be around 6,600 cases in the 2006 vintage, with plans to grow to about 15,000 cases, one-third of which will be the top wine. Montes will make the wines at the Artesa winery facility located in Carneros. Montes is considering building his own facility down the road, assuming the project flourishes.

Montes is no stranger to high-end Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, as his top Chilean wines (Alpha M and Folly), which feature these varieties, have been among the top-rated wines from Chile in recent years.

In Napa, Montes will have local help. Working with him as a consultant on the project is Larry Levin, former head winemaker at Franciscan. The two met while Levin was at Franciscan, and they kept in touch while Levin consulted at Chile's Veramonte winery.

The Napa project comes on the heels of Montes' expansion into Argentina, along with a newly built winery in Chile's Colchagua Valley for Montes' existing brands.

United States California News

You Might Also Like

Champagne's Nicolas Feuillatte Expands, Buying the Historic Henri Abelé House

Champagne's Nicolas Feuillatte Expands, Buying the Historic Henri Abelé House

Henri Abelé will be the first standalone brand for Feuillatte, the grower-cooperative that …

Jul 15, 2019
Will the Supreme Court's Tennessee Decision Dramatically Change the U.S. Wine Market?

Will the Supreme Court's Tennessee Decision Dramatically Change the U.S. Wine Market?

The highest court delivered a win for consumers last month. Here's how this could affect …

Jul 12, 2019
UNESCO Recognizes Prosecco Wine Areas as World Heritage Site

UNESCO Recognizes Prosecco Wine Areas as World Heritage Site

Italy's hills around Conegliano and Valdobbiadene join the U.N. list's newest additions

Jul 9, 2019
Burgundy Giant Boisset to Buy Maison Alex Gambal

Burgundy Giant Boisset to Buy Maison Alex Gambal

Famille Boisset will acquire 30 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards, the Gambal …

Jul 8, 2019
Bordeaux Vintners Convicted of Fraud, but Fellow Winemakers Cry Foul

Bordeaux Vintners Convicted of Fraud, but Fellow Winemakers Cry Foul

Hervé and Régis Grandeau were found guilty of selling surplus wine, but protest that …

Jul 3, 2019
Group Behind Grand Award–Winning Saison Opens a Second Angler in Los Angeles

Group Behind Grand Award–Winning Saison Opens a Second Angler in Los Angeles

Plus, sommelier shuffles at major restaurants in New York

Jul 3, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search