Madonna Estate is located in the Carneros region right next to the busy Highway 12. It is run by the famed Napa Valley winemaking family, the Bartolucci’s. This family has been making wine in Napa Valley since 1922 which makes them among the oldest of the winemaking families in Napa. How many Napa wineries started *during* prohibition and are still in business today. We cannot think of another one.
The original winery was used for making Sacramental Wine during Prohibition and selling the “juice” to home winemakers and used to be up in Oakville (the current Napa Wine Co) across from Mont St. John (as of press time this name still appears on some of their wine labels). The winery name is a decent one when you consider who they were originally selling to! The present day winery building dates from the 1970s.
Madonna makes a wide variety of wines ranging from Chardonnay to Pinot Noir to their Cabernet Sauvignon. Their 2005 Reserve Pinot Noir named “Due Ragazze” or in English, “two girls” and is named after the winemakers daughters. This is an elegant and restrained Pinot – in other words its well balanced and not overly fruit driven. Dolcetto is a varietal not often found in Napa – it hails from Northern Italy and Madonna’s 2004 Estate version has lots of blueberry and blackberry flavors with a very exotic spicy finish. Need something slightly sweet? Try their Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Need dessert?! They have a very light not overly sweet Muscat Canelli.
This winery is on the large tourist bus stop circuit so the Tasting room can fill up extremely fast and then empty extremely fast. It all depends on your timing with the buses as to how crowded it will be. A good alternative to tasting when there are crowds is to taste in their special reserve room, which is available only for their higher end mostly Estate grown wines.
Many winemaking families have trouble continuing the business to the younger generations – fortunately Madonna has been able to avoid some of the pitfalls and is a good case study for families who successfully hand down a winery business to succeeding generations. There are 4 alcoves in the Reserve Room, each of which contains photos from the 4 generations who have run Madonna since its inception.
There is a small gift shop contained within the main tasting room with some nice trinkets and souvenirs including “seed postcards”. Send Napa flower seeds as a postcard! They have been farming all their vineyards organically since they started this winery. Their official CCOF organic certification dates from 1991 making them among the oldest CCOF certified vineyards in the Napa area.
Their primary vineyard is located near Acacia winery just up from the cool often fog infested San Pablo Bay. On a clear day you can see into San Francisco from this location. Up valley they sometimes tell you there is only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in Carneros and yes, these varietals are the dominant ones in this region, however Madonna also grows Cabernet Sauvignon.
Their 2002 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon tops out at 13.1% alcohol well below the fruit bombs you will find “up valley”. This is a very earthy wine from the aromas to the flavors – with some spices on the finish. Picnic tables are available for winery customers. Visit: www.madonnaestate.com
Wine with Tony