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Friday, May 11, 2012

Task 05 - Madonna Estate

(05) Visit a winery or brewery & take the tour

Winery/Vineyard: Madonna Estate
Location: 5400 Old Sonoma Road
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 255-8864


Rating: 4-Stars

Since 1922 the Bartolucci Family has consistently crafted their skills and grown grapes and produced wine at Madonna Estate. Located in the renowned Carneros region where the land is fertile and the climate cool, tThe Bartolucci family has found success with their organically grown grapes and Estate Bottled wines.

As the third oldest winemaking family in the Napa Valley, the Bartolucci’s are dedicated to continue the premium grape growing and fine winemaking that has been established by generations passed. It is their commitment to continue to farm naturally, to preserve, and refine the winemaking traditions of their past, which will result in bringing you the finest wines possible. 
In 1912, Andrea “Andy” Bartolucci left Italy and traveled to the United States. After a long journey he arrived at Ellis Island and made his way to San Francisco where he worked on the French Exhibition Building at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. After his job was done in 1922 he ventured north to the rich and fertile soil of the Napa Valley and purchased a 24-acre vineyard and winery across from Mount St. John peak in the town of Oakville, and named it Madonna Winery. Soon after a fire devastated the winery in 1924. With the support of his family they rebuilt it and in 1933 his son Louis joined him.
From 1955 - 1965 Louis with his brothers purchased additional acreage to expand the family business and established some of the first varietal vineyards in the Napa Valley. In 1967 Louis’ son, “Buck” joined his father at the winery as assistant winemaker. In 1970 the family vineyards and Madonna Winery were sold. Passionate about continuing their family tradition, Buck purchased 160 acres of land in the Carneros Region of Napa Valley that same year and named it Madonna Vineyard. It is here that he primarily planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes but knew there was potential to grow many different varieties.
In 1977, Louis eager to make wine again purchased a 4½-acre piece of land near Madonna Vineyard. Together Buck and Louis constructed the current Madonna Estate Winery. The production of Estate Bottled Wines, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dolcetto, Barbera, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Muscat Canelli, began.Currently, Buck and his wife Susan live on the family vineyard and tend to every aspect of the vineyard and winery. In 1997, his daughter Brette joined the family and she continues her vineyard and winery education under the tutelage of her father.
Our tour began with the vines where we got up close to them and their growth and life cycle were explained. I learned that it takes years of growing grape vines before your vines are mature enough to grow grapes suitable for wine production. We then moved indoors to their warehouse where wine barrels were stacked to the ceiling. It is here that our guide explained what differentiates Madonna Estate from others. They produce smaller batches of richer more flavorful wines by dry farming. We learned that dry farming stresses the vines which produce richer flavors and greater depth in the wine. We then moved on from the warehouse to their tasting room where we sampled many of the wine varietals they produce. Of the three vineyards we visited this was the only one that let us get close to the vines and it was also here I learned more about wine production then any of the others. The facility is not nearly as impressive and significantly smaller but you can tell that their passion is in producing wines and that they pride themselves on those ideals rather than being a large commercialized vineyard. 
I also really liked their wine openers and bought a few from gifts to bring home.


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