Monticello Vineyards - Corley Family banner

Monticello Vineyards - Corley Family

Napa Valley AVA

U.S. Presidents, Queen Elizabeth, British Prime Ministers, the Russian President have all enjoyed the family wine.

Jay Corley first came to Napa Valley in 1969 with the intention of producing world-class wines. Now more than forty years later, his sons are proudly managing the small family winery which produces limited-edition wines designated as either Monticello Vineyards or CORLEY.

When Jay arrived in the Valley in 1969, he began searching for an appropriate site to grow wine grapes. He settled on a piece of land in what is now known as the Oak Knoll District - a part of the famous valley that had heretofore been unplanted. Jay chose to initially focus on Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon and immediately went to work on the property and planted his first vines. The vineyards were as far south as anyone in that era had dared to plant.

It wasn't until eleven years later that Jay Corley decided it was the right time to begin preparations for a family winery. The Corley vineyards were now highly regarded by local wineries and the great California wine explosion was also well on its way to providing a whole new legion of wine fanciers both here and abroad.

The new winery was completed in 1980 and the first release of Monticello Vineyards was warmly received in 1982 by both the wine media and a large section of consumers. It is almost amazing that Monticello Vineyards has remained under the proverbial radar to this day, and the wines have won numerous medals and awards of the highest caliber.

In the late 1990's, the Corleys decided to add a new label to their Monticello Vineyards entity, CORLEY, which includes a Proprietary Red Blend and a collection of high-end, vineyard-designate Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays, and Pinot Noirs. They also produce a CORLEY Reserve, but only in exceptional vintages and these wines represent the family's very finest expressions of Napa Valley wine. The CORLEY wines have truly catapulted the winery entity into stardom and it is now regarded among the most respected wineries in the Valley.

Jay Corley has now placed the fate of his family business in the hands of the next generation of Corleys, his sons Kevin, Chris, and Stephen. Kevin Corley serves as the winery president and winegrower, Chris Corley is the winemaker, and Stephen Corley is the director of sales. Today, the family farms five vineyards in Napa Valley, within Oak Knoll, Yountville, Rutherford and St. Helena. Little else has changed in the 30-plus years of the family winery's lifespan. Monticello Vineyards and CORLEY are still small in size, producing approximately 15,000 cases annually between the two brands, and with great vineyard designated fruit to work with, the future seems quite assured for the winery and family. We're happy to deliver this superb wine to our Diamond Plus! Wine Club Members.

Map of the area

Jay Corley - Founder & Winemaker

Picture of Jay Corley - Founder & Winemaker

‘I used to spend summers at my grandfather’s farm in southern Illinois,” Jay Corley recalls. ‘He was also the county doctor and let me make the rounds with him whenever I was visiting,” he recalls fondly. Jay’s grandfather was doing what the Corley family had done for centuries before him—farm. It was those memorable summers on the farm that instilled in Jay a love and appreciation of the land.

Born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, a community outside of Chicago, Jay’s folks ran a successful company that manufactured food processing equipment. Jay’s thought when he entered Stanford University that he would enter the family business after graduating. Instead he joined the National Security Agency, the hush-hush arm of the U.S. Intelligence service. While working there he became an Italian linguist for the agency, living in Virginia. It was during this period of time in Virginia that Jay became an avid fan of Thomas Jefferson and his life as a viticulturist. Sometimes he would hike the Virginia countryside and feel a desire to someday follow his family’s farming heritage.

After several years in the N.S.A., Jay moved to southern California to pursue other career interests. He started his own company that dealt in a variety of financial and venture capital projects. While in California he became involved in several food & wine appreciation groups. This active interest served to further fuel Jay’s desire to be a part of agriculture and envelope his appreciation for food and wine.

Jay began to put those thoughts into action by obtaining an MBA at Pepperdine University. His thesis, by no accident, was a study in starting up a small winery. Shortly after finishing his graduate work he discovered and purchased the 90-acre property that launched Monticello Cellars.

While he prepared his vineyards in Napa, Jay continued to work in southern California, commuting back and forth. An investment he had made in the National Education Corporation turned into a leadership role as their CEO until 1977. It was then he moved his family permanently to Napa to run his winery full-time.

Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,

Picture of Dear <i>Platinum Wine Club</i> Members,

We are very pleased to make available our 2010 Corley Proprietary Red Wine for the May offering. Like all of our wines, this is from our Estate Vineyards in Napa Valley.

This wine features Cabernet Sauvignon from our State Lane Vineyard in Yountville; Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah from our Home Ranch Vineyard and Knollwood Vineyard in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. With the iconic design of our Jefferson House, we pay homage to Thomas Jefferson. The Corley Family has taken his quotation “good wine is a necessity of life…” and fashioned a life and a business around it.

In addition to his numerous and well documented political accomplishments, we are most grateful for his role as the ‘Father of American Wine and Food.’ We think that he would be most proud to know that our wines have been served at special events for world leaders including U.S. Presidents, Queen Elizabeth, British Prime Ministers, the Russian President, and others.

Equally, we suspect that President Jefferson would be pleased to know that wine continues to be a growing part of the American lifestyle and that it continues to be shared in fellowship with friends and family at home.

Please enjoy this wine with friends and family as we so proudly do.

The Corley Family
Stephen, Chris, Kevin, and Jay