Arata Winery and Orchards were wine wholesalers and orchardists based in Sunnyvale over 100 years ago. They purchased bulk wine from around the state and marketed it under their own labels.
In 1955 the Arata family purchased 18 acres in Saratoga, on which they planted apricots and plums. When those trees were wiped out by a severe frost in the early 1970s the family planted a vineyard instead. Their fruit was sold to other local wineries and the Aratas continued to purchase and market finished wines. Over the years Saratoga grew, and over half of the original estate has been sold. By the early 1990s a little over an acre of Cabernet Sauvignon vines remained; tightly spaced and head trained.
David Arata is now a lawyer in San Jose. Around 1994 he met Tom Leonardini of Whitehall Lane Winery in Napa. The two became friends and Tom agreed to crush the 1995 vintage for him. Though the harvest was small the quality was clearly there.
Since the Arata brand was already established as a 'jug' wine, the winery needed a new name. He chose Montallegro, after a 14th century church in Rapallo, near Genoa in Italy. (A small, stylized representation of the church appears on the label).
The vineyards produce around 2 tons, which results in a total production of up to 200 cases. The wine is available from the winery or from Napa Valley Winery Exchange in San Francisco. This bottle was received as a sample; it retails for around $40 to $60.
2006 Montallegro Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains
Opened and decanted. Dark purple in colour. The nose has earth, mint and blackberry. On the palate it's initially very tight, dry and tannic, but over the next hour or two it opened up to reveal lots of savoury blackberry and blackcurrant. I'd give it at least 3-5 years in the cellar, if not more. Fans of Mount Eden, or Kathryn Kennedy's "Small Lot" Cabernet should love this. 93