by Fred McMillin
for November 9, 1999


Bouchaine's in the Fast Lane



In the fast lane...
Bouchaine's first-release Pinot Noir (vintage 1981) was a herald of exquisite Burgundian depths of fine complexity.

The second vintage was served by President Reagan at the formal banquet he hosted in China in April 1984.

...Robert Balzer, California Wines

The Rest of the Story

John Montero Bouchaine roots are in the heralded Carneros district, and they extend back 100 years. Notice, they've nearly always been on the cutting edge.

1899—Italian-born John Garetto establishes one the very first wineries in the Carneros.

1933—With the arrival of Repeal, the Garetto Winery leads the Carneros recovery, releasing its first vintage in 1935.

1980—Dupont executive David Pollak organizes some easten investors including Austin Kiplinger (of newsletter fame) and Garret Copeland, Dupont heir (and current Bouchaine Chairman of the Board). The shell of the original Garetto is incorporated into their new winery, but the name is changed. David Pollak's ancestors were the Bouchaines.

1993—Critic James Halliday visits the winery and is impressed. "The on-going clonal selection program for Pinot Noir, coupled with the formidable technical qualifications of Winemaker John Montero, (pictured) means we can expect even greater wines in the future..[and here's one]".

Wine of the Day

1996 Bouchaine Pinot Noir
Carneros, Napa Valley
Winemaker History— There have been only two from 1980 to the present. The first was a partner in the project, Jerry Luper, who made that President Reagan Pinot. His initial contact with fermented grape juice was as an 18-year-old teetotaler running lab tests on Gallo wines, and on wines of both domestic and imported competitors. Before long he was tasting wines from around the world. By 1968 he had earned a degree in enology.

John Montero stepped into Jerry's shoes thirteen years ago. Like Jerry, he wasn't initially planning on a career in winemaking. His U.C.-Davis M.A. was in microbiology. He started in medical work. Fortunately, he soon saw the error of his ways and returned to the Davis campus to study Enology. The 200 or so medals he's won since indicate it wasn't a bad decision.
Contact—Barbara Jura, (707) 252-9065, FAX (707) 252-0401


Bouchaine acquired its 31 Carneros acres years ago when the price was right. Today's price would be around TWO MILLION.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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