by Elizabeth Smith | PHOTOS COURTESy OF Fontanella Family Winery
In 2005, ambitious young couple Jeff and Karen Fontanella discovered a beautiful and serene 26-acre property nestled in the illustrious Mt. Veeder appellation. Located up one of Napa’s spectacular roads that winds through oak forests and rises 600 feet from the valley floor, this property would become home to their growing family and in the short years that followed, Fontanella Family Winery.
Today Fontanella is a small, family-owned winery producing approximately 4,000 cases annually. Jeff and Karen are involved firsthand in the day-to-day operations of the vineyards and winery. The team at Fontanella is small and tight-knit. Their hallmark is creating a welcoming, comfortable, and relaxing atmosphere where guests feel at home, away from the hustle and bustle of Napa Valley, despite the winery being only 15 minutes from downtown Napa.
This year, the Fontanellas will celebrate their 15th harvest on Mt. Veeder, and the future has never been brighter. With seven acres of Cabernet Sauvignon planted on the estate in 2012, the family acquired an additional 55 acres next door in 2016 and planted another seven acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in 2017. In 2023, another seven acres of vineyards will be planted as they continue their focus on taking advantage of the microclimates and diversity offered by the rolling hills of their estate location.
This summer they released the third and fourth vintages – 2017 and 2018 – of their flagship wine, the Estate Reserve Cabernet. This wine was the alpha mission for the estate and showcases the potential for premium grapes and all the special characteristics that make Mt. Veeder unique in Jeff’s signature style. Harvested from the best vineyard blocks on the estate and selected from the best barrels within those lots, the Estate Reserve Cabernet exhibits layers of complexity, concentrated dark fruit notes, and a tremendously long finish. It is truly a wine to experience.
In conjunction with this milestone, Fontanella has launched an exceptional new tasting experience. The Reserve Tour and Tasting is designed for Cabernet Sauvignon lovers. It features a tour of the vineyards and winery, a selection of their Cabernet Sauvignons – including the Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Per Sempre Cabernet Sauvignon – with a host guiding guests through what makes Mt. Veeder and the Estate unique. It also includes artisan cheeses, charcuterie, and a barrel sampling from an upcoming release in the cellar.
With a portfolio of wines that includes Viognier, Chardonnay, and Rosé, another must try is Fontanella’s Zinfandel – a nod to Jeff’s Italian heritage and love of food and wine. Jeff makes it in a balanced, food-friendly style with Napa and Sonoma grapes. It is extremely versatile – delicious by itself or a variety of foods.
The debut of long-anticipated projects like Per Sempre – a multi-vintage, solera-style Cabernet Sauvignon – are a testament to the family’s fortitude and dedication to their craft and the pursuit of quality. “While we’ve had some unfortunate situations with the earthquake and fires that will always be a part of our history, our focus is growing our estate vineyard and the excitement of years to come,” they shared. “We could not be more thrilled for what the future holds, and we invite you to be part of it.”