Sip, Sip Hooray for the USA!

Most everyone has given a bottle of wine as a gift at one time or another.  It is a convenient, and universally appreciated gift. 

Be patriotic, and support the U.S. vineyards by sharing their wines.  Chateau Montalena is one vineyard that has a fabled history in Napa that will swell your patriotic heart!

California wines were dismissed and ignored by Europe’s wine elite for many years until the 1976 Judgment of Paris competition.  Set during the bicentennial year, the competition established Chateau Montalena and Stag’s Leap wineries as world class.
If you are looking for a nice gift for Him or Her, for Mother's Day, for Father's Day, to honor an Anniversary, to celebrate a Date Night, to be patriotic for the 4th of July, or to recognize an Achievement the chardonnay from Chateau Montalena is excellent.  $45.00 per bottle
Spice It Up:  Make a simple gift of wine special by adding a copy of the book Judgment of Paris by George M. Taber.  The book chronicles the history of California wine country, and the 1976 Paris competition which literally blew the lid off the closely held European wine industry to level the playing field from California to South America, New Zealand and beyond.  Whether your recipient is into wine or not, the book is a fascinating tome about the region’s fledgling start, and the transformation of an entire industry.  $13.37 for softback edition

Even better, include a copy of the movie Bottle Shock which is based on the book.  Some of my favorite actors are in this movie: including Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, and Chris Pine (and, yes, even with the blonde “spicoli” wig, Chris Pine is still a handsome devil).  The movie is a fun watch for guys & gals in for a laid back evening.  As soon as it starts, you will want to uncork your bottle to sip as you watch!  $4.99-7.99 for unused/new DVD
Note 1:  The movie has some language and a love scene, but still fairly mild.

Note 2:  Bottle Shock is a very different story from those of you who have seen the movie Sideways.  Sideways is a great movie, but it is raunchy and melancholy.  Bottle Shock is an upbeat, inspiring tale about the underdog who succeeds.  Unless you are sure of your recipient’s humor, I recommend going with the milder Bottle Shock.

Where to Buy: 

Wine:  Chateau Montalena can be ordered online from the vineyard or at your local fine wine shop/liquor store.  While you can find it at the big discount stores, I like to support the local “mom & pop” stores who are working hard to make it in the business, and who provide a personal touch. 
 Note 1:  If you can’t find Chateau Montalena, try Stag’s Leap which was one of the other winners.  Also, try Grgich Hills Estate wines which are produced by Mike Grgich who originally worked at Chateau Montalena as the winemaker back in the 70s before starting his own vineyard.
Note 2:  If you do not want to spend for such a pricey bottle of wine, your local store can guide you to a very good $10.00 bottle of wine from California in keeping with the spirit of the book and movie.  As the story unfolds, you will see the California vineyards banded together to support each other because “If one succeeds, we all succeed.” 

Book:  Barnes & Noble, Amazon and most bookstores carry the book in the Wine/Food History section.

DVD:  Vintage Stock/Movie Trading Company carries 2-3 copies in each of their stores which is an easy pickup locally if you need the movie right away.  It is also available to be shipped on Amazon and Barnes& Noble online.

End Note:
The timing of this gift idea is bittersweet as Jim Barrett of Chateau Montalena passed away on March 14th of this year at the age of 86.  By following his dream, Barrett built a quality vineyard, and his success helped lift the fortunes of many in Napa Valley.  Read more of his pioneering spirit at Wine Spectator.


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