Montoliva Wine & Vineyards

Mark Henry was one of the first to plant the prized clones of Sangiovese introduced to the U.S. by Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo in 2000, and the first to plant the southern Italian mainstay Aglianico in the North Sierra Foothills.

Chicago Park

... was originally settled by German and Italian Americans. The original Italian settlers came here from Chicago in the mid-1880's looking for somewhere to re-connect with their agrarian roots. None of the original vineyards still exist, however, agriculture in the form of century old orchards and newer vineyards, including Montoliva Vineyard reflect the spirit of our pioneering forebearers. ​ Chicago Park is Nevada County's agricultural epicenter. At 2300' elevation, it is blessed with very warm days, and cool nights; perfect for the central and southern Italian varietals we love to grow.


Chicago Park, California is on the western slope of the Sierra Foothills at 2200 ft elevation, about equidistance from Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. Warm summers, cool evenings and soils of decomposed igneous rock create a very happy home for our 1820 Sangiovese and 80 Aglianico vines. This, combined with the old world tradition of close planting (4ft x 3ft), means that Montoliva Vineyard & Winery is blessed with an annual bounty of high-quality fruit.

In 2015 we embarked on an exciting new chapter in Montoliva history as we expanded our estate vineyard, more than doubling in size, adding Negroamaro, Teroldego, Aleatico, Canaiolo Nero and Primitivo to our plantings. 

We adhere to the idea that our vineyard will reach its full potential, not under our watch, but when our children and grand-children are tending it. We use no pesticides, very limited weed control and employ sustainable farming practices. All leftover grape skins/stems from the winery are composted back into the vineyard.

Our Falanghina is sourced from the Viani Vineyard in El Dorado County. Steve Viani was the first in California to plant Falanghina (interesting side note: the federal agency that governs wineries and wine labels did not even recognize Falanghina as a varietal until 2014), and we are honored that he provides just about all he grows to us.

​Our estate vineyard of Sangiovese and Aglianico was planted in 2000. We were fortunate that this same year, Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo, Italy’s largest grapevine nursery, opened a subsidiary in California and made available, for the first time, many prized clones of Sangiovese.

Montoliva Vineyard has a higher degree of clonal diversity than any other Sangiovese vineyard in California. By combining these exciting grapes with the old world tradition of planting vines very close together, we are blessed each year with a bounty of very high quality fruit.

We practice sustainable agriculture, composting all of our pressings, using highly regulated drip irrigation, and no pesticides.

The Future

It has always been our goal to grow all of our own fruit. When our neighbor presented us with the opportunity to purchase the adjoining 6.5 acres (including a beautiful red barn!), we saw our goal come that much closer.

Planting a vineyard is a long-term proposition. Normally, the appropriate grape stock and the grafted root stock must be ordered at least one year in advance. So, best case scenario had us planting in 2016. At least until we contacted NovaVine (a subsidiary of Rauscudo, the largest grapevine nursery in Italy) in December. As luck would have it, they had 600 Negroamaro and 600 Primitivo vines, grafted with an appropriate rootstock, and ready to go. We bought them, and completed our first planting of the new vineyard in May, 2015. Hundreds of our new vines were adopted by wine and agricultural enthusiasts from around the country (and around the world..when you visit you will note vineyard plaques in Russian, French and Italian).

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Join the Chicago Park Wine Society

The Chicago Park Wine Society is a special release club, offering exclusive opportunities to sample and purchase pre-release and limited release wines.

Club Members also receive a 20% discount on all of our other wines – this means you are paying $11.99 for our multiple-award-winning Sierra Bella!

Your commitment is 2 bottles each of two different wines, four times a year. Join the club and enjoy wines nobody else makes, or can obtain.

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