Bulmaro Montes is not your typical vintner. Although he owns vines in prime Coomsbville real estate and produces three extraordinary wine labels, there is something unique about Montes. He is quiet and reserved. He does not like to talk about the wine he makes.
Montes prefers to let his pure, incredible estate Cabernet Sauvignon speak for itself. He knows when a bottle is ready to drink because he is pleased by its perfection. “It’s something that I like,” Montes says of the current release of his signature red, the 2011 Marita’s Vineyard Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon. “It's a nice clean wine with light aromas, a good mouth feeling.”
Montes tends the 2.6-acre 5000-vine plot with his older brother, Manuel Montes. The two have worked side by side for over five decades. His wife, Sara, and his two daughters, Sophia and Mara, help with the day-to-day operations. Marita's Vineyard focuses on quality over quantity. As a small family-run operation, it’s all hands on deck for harvest—even the grandchildren get involved.
Montes realizes that he’s not competing with anyone or anything, be it mother nature or vineyards run by large corporations. Instead, he focuses on making wine appealing to the palate. “I don't want to challenge mother nature,” he explains. “Mother nature is going to do whatever it wants to do. I must go with it. What mother nature requires; we have to adjust to that.”
Spend a couple of hours with him, and it’s clear that Montes is a humble farmer who grows from the heart. “We call ourselves wine growers because we do everything from the beginning to the end. We work with the grapes we crush and drink,” Montes says. “He sees it as more of a garden, a passion,” Montes’ older daughter Sophia explains. “If you do the right things in the vineyard, it will reflect in your wines.”
Montes walks through the vines daily, and because they are too close for a tractor to fit, he performs the labor himself, from pruning to picking. “He's very meticulous and passionate about what he does,” his younger daughter Mara, expresses, “He feels the vineyards in his veins.”
How to Taste Marita’s Vineyard: Marita’s Vineyard does not have a formal tasting room. Contact them via their website to find out where to enjoy these illustrious wines.
Known For: Sensational smooth classic 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Marita’s Vineyard doesn’t release any wine until it's aged for at least five years. Montes is constantly tasting his wines alongside consulting winemaker Kurt Niznik and has the final say on when a wine is ready to drink. Currently, he makes three 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines: Marita’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, what Montes views as the quintessential Cabernet; SOMA, a newer style Cabernet Sauvignon meant for younger palettes; and Marita’s Vineyard Legacy, a Cabernet made with the top two barrels of the current production.
Wine Club 411: There are three levels of Marita’s Vineyard wine club ranging from six bottles per year to three cases or more per year. All memberships are customizable and allow access to private special events.
Fun Fact: Montes is a wine industry pioneer whose name you’ve never heard of but should know about. He first came to Napa Valley 58 years ago from Oaxaca, Mexico. Montes spent much of his long career at Joseph Phelps Vineyards, advancing from day laborer to vice president of vineyard operations. He was behind many of Joseph Phelps Vineyard’s famous wines, including Insignia and Montes’ favorite, the single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, Backus.