This blog was updated in July 2022
On the north edge of the 30 miles long, roughly five miles wide region within Napa County known around the world as Napa Valley sits the town of Calistoga.
And the immediate area around the town boasts some of the finest wines and wineries Napa Valley has to offer.
It turns out that at Cal Mart, we’re not the only ones who think so.
According to the website at WineCountry.com,
At the northern end of Napa Valley is the quaint town of Calistoga, known for its mineral waters and mud baths as much as for its small-town charm. This area of Wine Country is also home to a wide assortment of world-class wineries, where you’ll find impressive tasting rooms offering welcoming ambiances and plenty of complex wines.
Climate, Geography, and History – 5 Great Wineries and Wines from Calistoga
A combination of ideal climate, perfect soils, and a few immigrants with a penchant for viticulture, formed the beginnings of a world-renowned wine region.
As the Napa County Historical Society has noted, Sam Brannan was one of the first in the Calistoga area to commercially produce wine. By 1862 he had several thousand acres of land on which he planted nearly 20,000 French vine cuttings. German immigrant Jacob Schram founded Schramsberg Vineyards in 1862. And the oldest large-scale winery in Calistoga was the Kortum Wine Cellar built in 1875 by German immigrant Louis Kortum.
Today, there are dozens of wineries near Calistoga. Here are five that you should visit, and five wines to take home.
1. Larkmead Vineyards
Established in 1895, the historic Larkmead estate is one of the oldest family-owned wineries in Napa Valley. Larkmead’s legendary vineyard features a remarkable diversity of soils that are more typical of a hillside than the valley floor. With 110 acres of estate vines, Larkmead produces varieties like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc, as well as a small block of 100-year-old tocai friulano vines.
Larkmead is blessed with a diverse Estate that based on soil profile alone is a ‘snapshot’ of the entire Napa Valley.
– Dan Petroski, Winemaker
Cal Mart’s Wine Choice: 2001 Larkmead Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Solari Reserve Napa Valley
2. Sterling Vineyards
The white stucco, hillside Sterling Vineyards winery was designed to reflect the architecture of the Greek island of Mykonos, where Sterling founder Peter Newton once lived.
Accessible by aerial tram, Sterling offers some of the best views of the valley below, making for a great spot to taste their varied selection of wine and take in the beautiful vistas.
Cal Mart’s Wine Choice: 2016 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
3. Storybook Mountain Vineyards
The family-owned Storybook Mountain Vineyard is located near Calistoga, on an eastern slope of the Mayacamas Mountain Range whose ridges separate Napa from Sonoma counties.
The land and the weather come together in unique ways there, enabling them to craft award-winning wines from organically farmed estate grapes.
Cal Mart’s Wine Choice: 2017 Mayacamas Range Zinfandel
4. Vincent Arroyo Winery
One of the oldest wineries in Calistoga, Vincent Arroyo Winery is perhaps the picture-perfect Napa Valley experience with its rolling vineyards and family atmosphere. The wines produced at the Vincent Arroyo Family Winery have made it a Napa Valley destination that shouldn’t be missed. The winery makes a Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and several red blends.
Cal Mart’s Wine Choice: 2013 Petite Sirah Winemaker’s Reserve
5. Chateau Montelena Winery
Chateau Montelena has four decades of winemaking history in the Calistoga region of Napa Valley. With a storied past, it also helped put Napa Valley and California wines on the map after its chardonnay won in the famed 1976 Judgement of Paris. It is also a beautiful winery with an ivy-covered stone façade, peaceful Chinese gardens, and a lake.
We build our wines to stand the test of time. Our cellar, comprising every vintage we’ve made, is testament to this belief.”
Cal Mart’s Wine Choice: 2018 Napa Valley Chardonnay
Bonus Winery Destinations for You – Because Five Wineries is Never Enough!
There are good reasons why Napa Valley is the “original” wine country in California. As the Wikipedia entry describes it, the “Wine Country,”
“Is the region the northern Bay Area, known worldwide as a premier wine-growing region. The region is famed for its wineries, its cuisine, Michelin star restaurants, boutique hotels, luxury resorts, historic architecture, and culture.”
And much of that “premier wine-growing region” lies right here in Napa Valley.
Consequently, Napa Valley is the home of some of the highest ranked wineries in the country, if not the world. And the sheer abundance of wineries in Napa County makes it truly the “Wine Country.”
With that in mind, we’ve brought together several more winery destinations for you to consider on your next “wine tour” here in Napa Valley.
6. Beaulieu Vineyard
Located in neighboring St. Helena, this venerable winery provides a number of experiences for visitors that showcase its almost 120-year history and many of its iconic wines. You can sample some yourself from Cal Mart such as the 2019 Reserve Carneros Chardonnay.
According to one magazine story,
“With the release of the Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon in 1940, Beaulieu Vineyard created the first “cult” Cabernet Sauvignon in California and continues to produce top-rated wines today.”
7. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
After winning the world-famous blind tasting at the 1976 Judgment of Paris, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars took a “quantum leap” in winery status. Known especially for its Cabernet Sauvignon, it offers several wines including the Napa Valley 2020 KARIA Chardonnay, this winery also produces a variety of reds and whites.
Stag Leap’s FAY Outlook and Visitor Center offers stunning Napa Valley views and provides visitors and wine enthusiasts with an immersive tasting experience. And wine tasting isn’t the only tasting experience they provide. Their Cellarius Kitchen Experience offers a tasting of four world-renowned wines paired with local dishes created by the winery’s chef.
8. Stony Hill Vineyard
Stony Hill Vineyard, considered by many as one of the landmark Napa producers with products such as their 2019 Stony Hill White Riesling. And the winery has a storied history. According to the winery’s website,
“In 1943, Fred McCrea and his wife, Eleanor, stumbled onto a 168-acre plot of land hidden away on the slopes of Spring Mountain, which they purchased and later named Stony Hill Vineyard… the McCreas built the first post-prohibition winery in 1951 and released their inaugural vintage the following year.”
The McCrea’s first planted grapes in 1948, and under the new ownership of the Lawrence Family, visitors can walk through those original plantings and learn the history of these graceful vineyards before a tasting at the family home overlooking the Napa Valley.
9. Tom Eddy Winery
As the Tom Eddy Winery describes themselves, “Tom Eddy Winery, a boutique, family owned winery with a 5,000 case production, features twenty-two gorgeous acres of unspoiled Calistoga landscape surveying Napa and Sonoma County… sitting 1,000 feet above the valley floor.”
With great offerings such as their 2021 Elodian Manchester Ridge Rose and 2021 Parcel One Chenin Blanc.Tom Eddy prefers mountain grown grapes for the “dynamic and complex” wines they create, and he has developed relationships with growers all over Napa Valley and New Zealand.
10. Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Much more than a winery, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery is an experience and an event for visitors. Situated in sprawling yet stylish grounds with a pool, bocce, seasonal fare, and movie relics, it has grown over the last decade and a half.
As Coppola himself was recently quoted, “What started as a dream to buy a family cottage in Napa Valley has turned into a million-plus case business producing iconic award-winning wines.”
These wine selections include the 2019 Diamond Collection Black Label Claret and the Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Gold Label Chardonnay.
There’s More to the Wine Country and Napa Valley than Fine Wine
Wineries themselves are often much more than vineyards and tasting rooms. The entire Napa Valley is steeped in history that goes back to the very beginnings of American settlement after the Spanish.
For example, the Charles Krug Winery boasts vines were first planted in 1861, and the winery itself was the very first to open its tasting room to the general public in 1882. Yet, the vineyard at Napa Valley’s Hendry Winery was quite likely planted as early as 1859, making them somewhat older than those at Charles Krug.
Much of the richness of the Napa Valley experience is in the history and stories of these iconic vineyards and wineries.
As is much of the architecture.
The château at the Inglenook Estate in Rutherford, for example, is a beautifully restored structure built in 1881 by San Francisco architect William Mooser and Hamden W. McIntyre, who oversaw the winery design.
And the at Stags’ Leap Winery, situated on one of California’s oldest wine estates boasts a carefully preserved, original Victorian-era estate manor house that was built in 1890. In addition to this striking structure, the estate still has its wine caves, which were blasted in 1893.
Driving the Silverado Trail Isn’t the Only Way to Go
The famous Silverado Trail has been described by one tourism site as,
“Quintessential Napa Valley. Its surrounding land is dotted with so many wineries that you could travel it for a week straight and still not visit all of them. Constructed in 1852 as the first permanent road linking the 30 or so miles between the towns of Napa and Calistoga, the Silverado Trail is the bucolic, parallel counterpart to busier State Highway 29.”
Yet another – and much more immersive alternative – is the Napa Valley Wine Train.
Described as part fine dining, part museum, the Wine Train celebrates the days of luxury train travel of the early 1900s. Instead of driving, you can simply sit back and enjoy sumptuous cuisine while taking in the extraordinary scenery. While there are many ways to explore Napa Valley, a trip on the Wine Train is an experience you will never forget.
For the Best from Calistoga Wineries, Cal Mart is Your Napa Valley Destination
As a family-owned and independent grocery store in Calistoga for over half a century, Cal Mart has always been a go-to destination for fine Napa Valley wines. In those more than five decades customers have always had a unique and enjoyable shopping experience with us and continue to do so today.
Known for decades as “Napa Valley’s Finest Grocery” we believe that it’s because of our love for what we do and our commitment to serving our customers. And it’s also what makes Cal Mart a memorable shopping experience.
In addition to fine wines, Cal Mart is also home to a great delicatessen, a gourmet cheese department, a tantalizing selection of specialty foods items that are unique and hard to find, as well as an extensive craft beer selection.
Of course, we also provide a generous and eclectic selection of quality fine wines.
Looking for that special something to give to a friend or loved one? We offer beautiful gift baskets that make for a charming way to give a bottle or two of fine wine. In addition, we have a vibrant collection of flowers and plants for any occasion.
And much, much more! We invite you to make it a point to stop by and take time to explore all that we have to offer. While you’re here, please feel free to talk with our knowledgeable staff and then treat yourself to one of our refreshing smoothies made with organic ingredients.
Cal Mart in beautiful downtown Calistoga – where you will always find something unexpected, unusual, and uncommon!