Winter Visit to Solune and Montoliva Vineyards
off Hwy 174 in west Grass Valley, and Chicago Park

November 16, 2014
November 18, 2014

2014 Herbert E. Lindberg

As the 21st Century dawned several new wineries appeared in the foothills of western Nevada County.  Among these are Solune and Montoliva vineyards and wineries.  I had added these to my Google Wine Tour Map (Tour Maps) but only now finally had some time to drop in to both of them.  They are both small -- their owners are the winemakers and each bottle about 1500 cases per year with their own bottling equipment in the corner of the tasting room.

Solune Vineyard and Winery sits on a 15-acre estate, with 4 acres of vines nestled in an open area among the trees on a hilly site.  As you approach the winery from the Grass Valley direction you will see a simple 2-foot square sign on the right side of the highway with only the words "Solune Winery."  Don't be mislead, as I was, that the winery is nearby.  You have to drive another half mile to a mile before you come to a more artful Solune Winery sign at their road, Jewett Lane.  They are at 16303 Jewett Ln, but you will need this number only if you are entering it into a navagation system.  Turn right from Hwy 174 onto
Jewett Lane and wind up the lane until you come to the winery, a red barn-like building.

Owners Jacques Mercier
and Andrea produce wine as a team, with Andrea inclined toward growing the grapes and Jacques toward developing them into fine wines.  Please take time to visit their website to learn more of their vision and many other interesting facts.  Among these is that Jacques has a Ph.D. in Applied & Engineering Physics and Physical Chemistry from Cornell University.  I have a Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics & Physics, from Stanford.  I didn't have a chance to talk in any depth with Jacques, but will have to make a point of it on our next visit!  My research professor taught at Cornell before moving to Stanford, so Jacques and I come from the same engineering culture.

A pleasant place to chat, have some Solune wine, and perhaps a sandwich.

Andrea greeted us just inside the door in a very pleasant tasting room.

Longer view of the tasting room.

Bar, also seen in the previous picture, and bottling equipment in the rear.

Mary and I tasted 6 of the 9 wines featured on the day of our visit.  I liked all of them but chose to buy two of their white wines, Sauvignon Blanc Musqu 2012, and Florronts, because each had a unique fruity flavor that I had not tasted at other wineries.  I look forward to sharing them with friends on a special occasion.  They also had a wonderful ros wine, Ros of Barbera 2013.  I generally don't care much for ros because it is often bland, but this ros had a crisp fruity flavor that makes me want more -- saved for our next visit.  I highly recommend that you visit Solune, even if you already have.

Montoliva Vineyard and Winery
is farther along Hwy 174 toward Colfax, in Chicago Park.  At the bottom of a hill you will see the Chicago Park general store on the right.  Turn right onto Mt. Olive Rd., which is on the near side of the store.  Proceed about 3/4 mile as you focus your attention on the left.  Montoliva Vineyard is at 15629 Mt. Olive Rd., just past Chicago Park Elementary School on the left.  The entrance is an elaborate gate on the far side of the winery.  Turn left and park almost immediately, in front of the owner's garage, which is the winery.  Walk on the right side of the garage to the bottling and tasting room at the back.

We were greeted by the owner's daughter (in the foreground) and her friend.  The bar setup is primative but welcoming.
The couple on the left kindly allowed me to include them in the picture.

Just to the right of the bar are these wine-aging barrels and bottling equipment.

The vineyard is immediately in back of the winery and house.
About one acre is in vines at present and they plan to purchase 7 more acres as soon as possible.
The land to be added includes everything you see here except the far right home in the background.

This view is rotated to the left from the view above (use the red building to relate the photos).

Rotated left once more.  The low building is associated with the school.

This final rotation brings the home's back yard into view, with inviting tables and umbrellas.
Owner Mark Henry prefers to set up tasting here when weather permits.

This is slightly zoomed, looking straight back at the beautiful view from the winery as in the first picture.

Much more information about these wineries is available at their websites (click on their names at the top of this page).
  Also, click for my roadmap to Nevada County vineyards more generally.

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