Bo Barrett, CEO of Chateau Montelena since 2013, began his career there as a vineyard worker not long after his father, Jim Barrett, created the partnership that revived the estate in 1972. With a staff of 60-70 employees depending on the season, Chateau Montelena helped put the Napa Valley on the world wine stage when its Chardonnay won at the 1976 “Judgment of Paris” competition. It is a little known fact that at the time, the Montelena Chardonnay was a side project as Chateau Montelena specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, and always has.
Bo is a farmer through and through and told Visit Calistoga that he is never without a shovel, two types of fire extinguishers, a big farming hat, pruning shears, a flashlight, a Gerber multi tool, and a farming tool kit, jumper cables, tow strap, numerous trailer hitches, irrigation repair parts…… “typical farmer stuff,” he says. Bo also discussed Montelena’s dedication to sustainability, an effort that dates back to before sustainability was “cool” and started with moving the barrel aging from air-conditioned buildings to the cave complex in 2000. Since 2007, Chateau Montelena has been fully solar powered, including the farm and wells and is in the process of moving their maintenance vehicles and farm trucks to electric. They are patiently waiting for their newest piece of technology to arrive: an electric farm tractor to replace a diesel tractor. “We’ve done our farming right since day one,“ Bo stated proudly.
On a personal note, Visit Calistoga discovered that Zinfandel is Bo Barrett’s favorite beverage outside of the office and likes to relax after a long day with regular swims in the pool and cooking during the rainy, dark winter months. As for advice he would give his younger self? “Make decisions you are prepared to live with for the rest of your life.” When Visit Calistoga asked Bo what makes Calistoga different from other towns in the Napa Valley, he responded, “Calistoga remains true to its roots as a charming, small town centered around historic spa hotels and the local winegrowing community. We’ve always welcomed visitors here.” This is Calistoga.
This is Calistoga is our blog series profiling our members, their stories and life in Calistoga. Check in regularly and follow along.