News & Features

Popping the Cork at MontaVino

The Flathead Valley’s newest winery prepares to open in downtown Kalispell

Sometimes it’s best to let a fine wine sit a little while before popping the cork.

That’s sort of the situation at MontaVino Winery & Tasting Room in downtown Kalispell. For weeks, months even, much of the winery has sat ready to greet customers on First Avenue East. The bar is set up, the chairs and tables are in place, and the doors are just about ready to be open. But there’s one important piece of the puzzle missing: wine.

Co-owner and manager Julie Davison said that will all change within a few weeks once MontaVino’s first batch of wine arrives from its partner vineyard in Washington. Once the doors open — either in late June or early July — the Flathead Valley will have three wineries. Davison, who owns the winery with her boyfriend, Rob Coladonato, said she’s excited to be an early member of the area’s growing wine scene.

Davison spent 25 years as a medical coder and most recently worked at a local hospital. But a few years ago, she started looking for something new and decided to team up with her boyfriend to turn her passion for wine into a new career.

“We just love wine,” she said. “It’s our drink of choice.”

Davison said she initially wanted to open up a wine bar, something she felt downtown Kalispell needed, but as she did more research she became intrigued by the idea of opening an actual winery. After giving it some more thought, MontaVino Winery & Tasting Room was born.

Davison is working with a vineyard in the Columbia River Valley near Quincy, Washington to create 12 different varietals that will be exclusive to MontaVino and bottled under their own label. Davison said she picked out the grapes for a number of the wines. Among the varietals that will be available will be a cabernet franc, a merlot, two red blends, a chardonnay and a rosé. Davison is particularly excited about the cabernet franc.

“I want to expose people to new tastes,” she said. “The (cabernet franc) is unique … It has a really rich flavor. It’s nutty.”

Once the winery is up and running, Davison plans on traveling to California later this year to get grapes to bring back to make a wine at the winery in Kalispell. If that wine, most likely a zinfandel, is successful, then it will be bottled locally and sold.

But wine won’t be the only thing available to patrons at MontaVino. The winery is teaming up with its next-door neighbor, Bonelli’s Bistro, to offer food, including small plates, desserts and charcuterie boards. The winery also remodeled its space, which was previously Nature Baby Outfitter, to include a kitchen so that MontaVino can also do basic food prep.

When MontaVino opens in a few weeks, it will employ one full-time employee and four part-time people.

Davison said she has received encouragement from a number of other wineries, breweries and distilleries in the valley. In recent years, the Flathead Valley has become a destination for beer fans, and Davison believes that it could also become a destination for wine lovers. Another winery will only help build toward that goal.

“I think we can all help each other,” she said.

Davison encourages people to keep an eye on MontaVino’s Facebook page and website, montavinowinery.com, to learn when it will open. Once the doors open, the winery’s hours will be Monday and Tuesdays from 2 to 9 p.m., Wednesday to Saturdays from noon to 11 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m.

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