So I know it’s been a REALLY long time since I wrote for this blog and I intend to change that! Check back every other Wednesday starting today (so next one is 2/28/18).
I have a little-known secret about the small and quaint town of Calistoga up in the northernmost part of the Napa Valley. Though farther away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco, this little town/region has wines of great finesse, variety and value. And from early December until early February (which is the slow tourism season) Calistoga has the Winter in the Wineries Passport; a booklet filled with special winter offerings from a myriad of wineries, tasting rooms, spas and hotels. Considering the fact that many wineries charge $25 or more for a tasting, it only makes sense to pay the $60 for the passport and get several tastings included. You can find the booklet at some participating wineries or the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce. I did eleven total tastings over the course of three days (don’t worry, I wasn’t chugging wine) all over downtown Calistoga and a few of the surrounding wineries for an estimated $5.45 a tasting-a steal in the Napa Valley. Therefore for your viewing/reading entertainment (and my tasting pleasure) I visited Calistoga’s lovely downtown area with Passport in hand ready to get acquainted with the area’s unique and delicious wines.
Romeo Vineyard’s garden
Romeo Vineyards’ tasting room is a little bit of a hidden gem. The tasting room is situated behind a home on Lincoln through a little private garden complete with a fountain and several sets of nice tables and chairs shaded by large trees. Needless to say, the walk through the greenery was delightful. The relaxed tasting room was manned by Clint, a great host who helped me through a tasting of several of Romeo’s wines. He started me with a less acidic Sauvignon Blanc which led into a very good Petit Verdot (which surprised me, as Petit Verdot is typically a grape put in to accent other wines), a $32 Cabernet Sauvignon which tasted like a Cab twice that amount and the Soiree which was a late harvest Petit Verdot (a dessert wine). To my delight, it was not overly sweet and paired amazingly with chocolate.
Romeo Vineyards Tasting Room
I did find out that Romeo serves wine by the glass or bottle in their outdoor patio (most tasting rooms and wineries can only do tastings) which makes this a great stop during both Summer and Winter. So come for the shade and stay for the wine and great service! http://www.romeovineyards.com
August Briggs’s Tasting Room
August Briggs is a simple and cozy little tasting room almost right across the street from Romeo. For my visit I had a very nice gentleman named Jim who was very knowledgeable of Calistoga and the area surrounding it. He showed me a very good and spicy Zinfandel, a very nice blueberry-ish Charbono (lighter weight and very drinkable) and one of the best Petite Sirahs I’ve ever had (2013 vintage). All three were from Calistoga and had great price tags around the $30 mark. You simply can’t get that kind of quality in many other parts of the valley. August Briggs is by appointment only so be sure to give them a call a day or so ahead of when you’ll be visiting. They will also have outside seating soon along with wine by the glass so you’ll definitely need to swing by to check it out! https://augustbriggswinery.com
Interior of Picayune Cellars tasting room
Picayune is a great little tasting room/eclectic gift shop also on Lincoln right next to the Palisades Deli Café. Upon arrival I was greeted by the very kind Tasting Room Manager Carly who helped me with a brief tasting-a super grapefruity Sauvignon Blanc and a cherry-ish Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast. At the end she showed me The Padlock-a Merlot heavy red blend which was very interesting. I loved how the wines were all reasonably priced at around $30. Picayune Cellars is unique in that it is owned by Ms. Claire Ducrocq Weinkof, a Négociant who buys quality wine from Napa Valley and the Sonoma Coast. She then blends wines together to create a unique product. Ms. Weinkof’s wines even appear on the world-famous French Laundry’s wine list. This fun little tasting room is definitely worth a look. Visit them at http://www.picayunecellars.com
Picayune Cellars interior II
Downtown Calistoga has great charm and several shops offering everything from glass sculptures to beautiful large print photographs in addition to its tasting rooms. Several chic restaurants and bars line the street making it a lively little town. Even though it’s a bit farther up the valley, it is well worth the drive! Check out https://visitcalistoga.com for more on what to see and do in Calistoga.