Monticello Vineyards, a family-owned and family-operated winery in the Oak Knoll District of the Napa Valley, is excited to announce that Earth Day and Monticello Vineyards share the milestone of turning fifty years old in 2020.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans — 10% of the U.S. population at the time — took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet. The first Earth Day is credited with launching the modern environmental movement, and is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event.
On April 22, 1970, a 38-year-old Jay Corley surveyed a 120 acre prune orchard along the Napa River in southern Napa Valley and envisioned planting a vineyard with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Within three months the purchase was made and it would forever change the Corley Family.
Little did the first participants of Earth Day know that their first protest would became a global phenomenon. Likewise, even though it would become known as the Golden Age of the modern wine pioneers in Northern California, it wasn’t yet clear in that moment. In fact, from the vantage point of Jay Corley’s wide circle of business associates, the endeavor looked downright peculiar.
The family-owned and family-operated California wineries that started in the 1960s and 1970s, and introduced New World wines to the world, are harder to find now. Those that do remain share a devoted respect for the land and for sustainable practices. We see it in the vineyards and we see it reflected in the wines.
“As a multi-generational winegrowing family in Napa Valley we are very mindful of our environment and community,” remarked Kevin Corley, President and Winegrower. Our State Lane Vineyard and Knollwood Vineyard, where we grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, are certified organic and NAPA GREEN certified.
The most visually obvious representation of sustainability are the solar panels placed in and around many vineyard estates and winery operations of the Napa Valley. “We use a comprehensive range of practices from organic farming to the installation of solar panels to steward the land for future generations, protect the environment and wildlife, while maintaining the highest quality grape growing and winemaking. The Corley's are also committed to our community and have been active over these past 50 years in volunteering and leading many needed local nonprofit organizations.”
Monticello planted its solar array with 550 Sun Power High Efficiency silver-framed premium modules. These modules, or solar panels, are affixed to six solar arrays whose power generation is converted to DC power with six SMA TriPower Inverters. SolarCraft of Novato, CA, the 100% employee-owned and North Bay’s leading solar provider for 35 years, installed the system in 2017.
The system since its installation has produced approximately 720,000 kWh’s of energy which has reduced the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere by approximately 505 tons. That’s equal to 56,262 gallons of gasoline, or 1.2 million miles driven by an average passenger car, or the burning of 550,931 pounds of coal.
“These last 50 years, our family has pursued a commitment to estate grown wines, to the land we steward, and to passionate winemaking,” says Stephen Corley, Director of Sales and Marketing. “In 2020, the second and third generations of Corleys enter the 2nd half of our first century with the full recognition that we are borrowing the land we steward from future generations of humanity. Our stewardship is not only of the land through sustainable farming and winemaking techniques but also our business practices and our commitment to community.”
MEET CHRIS CORLEY
Growing up in the heart of The Napa Valley, Chris Corley began learning winemaking through his father Jay Corley. Spending his high school summers in the cellar at Monticello Vineyards, he chose to focus on all things winemaking and winery operations and would in time, assume title of head winemaker at Monticello. Through thousands of visitors of the winery, to scoring dozens of 90+ point ratings each year, Monticello has become a breath of fresh air amidst The Napa Valley.
Although the successes are celebratory, Chris always looks to the future, as the winery is celebrating their 50 year anniversary in 2020, he is always strategically thinking about what clones to isolate for the next reserve or where to plant the next plot of Chardonnay. Chris also takes part in classes to increase his wine knowledge skillset and to continue to expand his wine education. Keeping a streamlined and consistent approach to the winemaking process, he maintains the same philosophy his father put forth since the beginning of Monticello - creating great wines they've become known for, and resisting the need to tailor yearly harvests to industry trends.
Visiting the winery, you can find Chris playing one of the two grand pianos on the property (one is tucked away in the bubble lounge and the other is nestled amongst barrels in the production area of the winery) or enjoying a bottle of Corley State Lane in the wine cellar after hours. On the weekends, you can find him snowboarding or scuba diving in Monterey with his wife and two kids.
Premiere Napa Valley 2015 ended with another record breaking year at $6 million!
I spent an eventful week with Stephen and Chris Corley at five trade tastings representing the State Lane Vineyard in Yountville, Tietjen Vineyard in Rutherford, Yewell Vineyard in St. Helena, the two vineyards in the Oak Knoll District and Next Generation in Wine. Each of these prepared our visiting trade for where to bid on Saturday's big auction day at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.
Monticello Vineyards entered The French Connection under Lot 83 (our lucky number for Jay Corley's age).
Notes from Chris Corley about this wine:
This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2013 vintage currently ages in a custom designed barrel with a French and Virginian barrel head on each side and alternating staves.
We congratuate Gary's Wine & Marketplace for the winning bid at $28K!