Montoliva Winery - August 2021

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After days of being stuck indoors, too smoky to go out, the Delta Breeze kicked in (on a Saturday), clearing out this part of the Sacramento valley.  Rich and I (anticipating this) drove up into the Sierra foothills and attended a wine event at Montoliva Winery near Colfax, Ca., in Placer County, at around 2,000 ft.   

The event was the release of their 2017 wines. About 70 people (or more) attended and most seemed like wine club members who pre-ordered, as Rich & Linda did, and were here to collect the goods, well, and also to hang out, to taste the new wines, and to have a mini-gourmet lunch. 

Because we arrived early, Rich & I were able to chat with owner Mark Henry, and he gave us a quick history. It was an unexpected surprise to find a California winery using Old World Italian methods to produce Old World style wines.  Mark only grow Italian varietals, one of them so rare it is only found in a single 600-acre vineyard near Sicily. 

Mark also told us the story of a recent wildfire scare, as described in the Postscript below.

The wines we sampled were great and of course complimented a terrific Bolognese style meatball w/pasta lunch, catered by staff from La Fornaretta Authentic Italian Restaurant, in nearby Newcastle (back down in the Valley).   

I would recommend this winery, because it's a nice property to see or walk around, the grapes are unusual, and it is a bona-fide family winery, and, the co-owner Mark is fun to talk with. Winery website -

Air quality - it was a bit smoky, my guess was an AQI of 100 - 130. There was a cool & pleasant breeze coming from the canyon, behind us, as we sat listening to music or looking out over the attractive vineyard, or in conversation with people sitting nearby.

note - you can enlarge any part of a picture by left-clicking in and then out again. 

arriving  a small family-owned winery  black Elderberry  this poodle feigns an attack from behind, when you turn away
    re-circulating waterfall with a folly it was good to be out in the country  
blackberries in a drought year. late season wisteria modest Montoliva Winery and home every row of grapes has a rose at the end, in the French tradition
  Rich in smoky light 5-string electric cellist I heard south Asian influences  
a tiny acorn fell from the sky...see note    

web photo of co-owner Mark Henry, see Postscript

one of my wine purchases, in my back yard

note - of course, this is an arranged photo, using the elegant mask my wife made for me 17 months ago. But the tiny acorn did indeed unexpectedly drop from a large Blue Oak looming above us, and landed right in front of me; the Oak is seen in the fifth image above, behind the poodle.  The acorn looks perfect but was so small I assumed it is drought-related.     

EV note - Once again I enjoyed being a passenger in Rich's Kia Kona, because it is amazingly quiet with an impressive ride, or suspension, luring one into sports-car mode. The latest safety features are intelligent, too.  EVs have astonishing acceleration & torque and I could tell that Rich was in his element today.   

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Postscript - three weeks ago a wildfire came dangerously close to Montoliva Winery, burning down three houses within maybe 1,000 ft.  Owners Mark & Julianne had to evacuate for four nights. 


The photo above & text below (from Mark) are on the Montoliva homepage.

"At 3:30 pm on August 4, I was fairly certain that the River Fire was going to take everything I had spent decades working to build.  Initially, the wildfire was following the Bear River Canyon, just under a mile away, and I was feeling optimistic that we would not be directly effected.

Then the wind shifted from W to SW and drove the fire directly towards us. At about 4:30 pm, as the fire was approaching the south vineyard, the wind shifted back to W and pushed the fire away from us."