Montoliva Vineyard: Tuscany in the foothills

WINE SHOULD TELL A STORY. Montoliva’s started years ago, when the Earth shifted to create a mountainous region of granite and quartz. Then climate and glaciers combined to grind the rock into a coarse sand and deposit it along the Sierra foothills.

At the same time, the area’s weather settled into a pattern of warm days and cool nights all summer long.

This mix of weather and geology has replicated the growing conditions for central and southern Italian wine grapes here in the Northern Sierra foothills. The “sweet spot” is at about 2,000 feet in the hills near Grass Valley—home to Montoliva Vineyard & Winery.

With its roots in agriculture and its name coming from Italian-American immigrants, Chicago Park is where vineyardist and winemaker Mark Henry is setting a high standard for growing and producing the Italian varietals Sangiovese and Aglianico.

Montoliva has been making world-class “Cal-Ital”-style wines since it opened a decade location, Mark set about learning all he could about
Tuscan grape growing, and he has incorporated most of what he learned into Montoliva’s estate vineyard.

Mark traveled to Montalcino, Tuscany, to learn how the famous Brunello di Montalcino Sangiovese-based wine was made. With a patience that is uncommon in the New World, Italian wine masters
allow for a natural, deliberate process that ultimately results in a harmonious fusion of fruit and earth.

Montoliva has taken the relaxed methodology to heart, using the same slow acting wine yeast — and taming Mark’s natural high energy.

In February, wine critic Dan Berger observed that the 2006 Montoliva Sangiovese was perhaps the best California Sangiovese he had tasted in years. Berger called Mark courageous for his efforts to create unique, California wines, where he’s replicating the Tuscan Hills in the foothills.

Vineyard & Winery
15629 Mt. Olive Road
Chicago Park

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