History is alive and well at Boatique Winery. This is where a love for antique wooden boats once set the stage for award-winning wines to be cultivated on the slopes of ancient volcanos.
Boatique Winery’s story begins in 2011, when Robert and Madi Mount purchased the estate in the Red Hills of Lake County, 35 miles north of Calistoga. The picturesque terrain and its welcoming barn made for the perfect place to house their ever-growing collection of vintage wooden boats (plus a 1975 Thunderbird).
Putting the “boat” in Boatique
Once Robert started collecting wooden boats, he couldn’t find a good reason to stop. So he and Madi, longtime residents of Napa County, went in search of a place to house their beloved collection. They found 47 acres in the Red Hills appellation, at the top of Mt. Konotic, a 350,000-year-old dormant volcano. The land, located in the Lake County wine region, had a barn fit for a boat collection. Before long, the land inspired Robert and Madi to start growing grapes native to Bordeaux.
The first vintage was released in 2015, and Boatique wines began winning awards right away. In 2016, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon won double gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and Boatique took three additional golds that year.
Soon, their boats started winning awards too. The 1955 Chris Craft Cobra “Touch of Glass” was awarded Best of Show at the 2016 Antique & Classic Boat Society International Boat Show.
Fostering a love for Lake County wines
Amidst the fanfare of neighboring Napa and Sonoma County, two powerhouses in their own right, it’s easy to overlook the prowess of Lake County wines. At the start of Boatique Winery, the Red Hills AVA was a mere 11 years old, having been established as an American Viticultural Area in 2004. Not many people knew then that the land had the goods to make incredible wines of structure and elegance.
Today, Robert and Madi know that they were buying land in the North Coast’s best-kept secret and that their love of boats had led them to water.
Boatique Winery sits at an elevation of 2270 feet. The high altitude that marks the wine region is a dream come true for grapes like Malbec. Here, the grapes get more time in the sun which allows them to develop concentrated aromas like blackberry and plum. Elevation also keeps them cool during the summer nights, so they can maintain a quality of finesse to balance their complexity and power—a tough balance to strike.
The red lava soil from eruptions of extinct volcanos gives the wines structure and mineral-rich aromas. And Clear Lake is essential to the wine region, bringing breezes that cool the grapes during the hot summer and preventing frost during budburst, a crucial time.
It is here that Patrick Sullivan, winemaker, has planted Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, and Petite Sirah using sustainable farming practices. Boatique winery is a small-scale, ever-growing operation in an exciting wine region with a bright future.