Mar 182013
Musings on the death of Chateau Montelena’s Jim Barrett
and the movie Bottle Shock
Courtesy of Chateau Montelena

Courtesy of Chateau Montelena

We were saddened this weekend to learn of the death of Jim Barrett, founder – Chateau Montelena, just outside Calistoga in the northern end of Napa Valley. Barrett was 86 years old. His son, Bo, who now runs Montelena said of his father; “He was a tough and loving man who will be greatly missed at home, at the winery and throughout the Napa Valley. My father bought Chateau Montelena in 1972 and has worked hard every day since to grow the best grapes and produce the best wines. My dad died of a life well lived.”

Though we never met Jim Barrett, he was a positive influence in the our lives. To honor this Napa Valley legend, my wife and I settled into our leather couch with a bottle of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and watched again, the movie Bottle Shock. For those few wineauxs who have not seen the film, it is based (some say loosely) on the story of Chateau Montelena, the father – son relationship between Jim and Bo Barrett and the coming of age of Napa Valley…in the Age of Aquarius. All this the result of a sparsely attended blind Paris wine tasting, where some of the most renown French wine palates, much to their surprise, voted Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar’s 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon superior to the more respected French competition. Continue reading »

Jun 052011

My second day in Napa Valley was an easy going one. This is in contrast to most days, as you will see in later posts are filled with scheduled appointments, tastings and winemaker meetings. I know, you are already filled with sympathy for this strenuous job of glass tipping, jaw boning and writing.

Calistoga Roastery

We left our hotel in Calistoga and headed the 8 miles south to St. Helena for a peach muffin (the best) and a latte at Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company (The tip jar reads “Livin’ la Vida Mocha”). As we drove past Calistoga Roastery (which later becomes my new favorite breakfast hang out) who  should  jog across the street in front of us, but Bo and Heidi Barrett ( Bo of Chateau Montelena and the movie Bottle Shock fame and his wife Heidi, a very highly respected cult winemaker, Screaming Eagle & Dalla Valle to name a few).  When Conch was considering studying winemaking, it was the movie’s portrayal of Napa Valley and Bo, however inaccurate, that sealed the deal. So this can be considered a true Napa Valley star sighting. Continue reading »

Mar 262011

The Cameo Cinema on main street St. Helena, the heart of Napa Valley, originally opened its doors in 1915 as the Golden Gate Theatre. Today it serves not only as a local movie house but a hub for Napa Valley arts. Programs over the last year have included the St. Helena Family Film Festival where 31 shorts by young local filmmakers made their debut and a panel of Animation Professionals shared their “tricks of the trade.” Fund raisers at the Cameo helped out local teen centers and soccer fans cheered their favorite teams during the World Cup.

Other events throughout the year included a pre-release screening of Waiting for Superman with screen writer Billy Kimball, a pre-release screening of The Tillman Story with director Amir Bar Lev, LunaFest showcased women filmmakers and much more.

Sounds good for Napa Valley, right? So what’s in it for me, you ask…well plenty! As they say the “Cameo exists to entertain, inspire, educate and connect the community through the “art of storytelling”. Our vision is to be a window to the ever expanding world of creativity.”

The Cameo Cinema is hosting “The Art of Storytelling” auction (bidding closes Thursday April 7th at 12PM EDT) with items that are the stuff of wine filled dreams.  And YOU can go online and WIN any of these amazing wine fantasies. Continue reading »