Somehow we've completely turned this road trip into the wine tasting roadtrip.
Yesterday we decided to backtrack down the twisty windy Highway 29 to a couple places in Calistoga that we passed when we weren't really in a position to stop with the trailer. Calistoga is such a cute town, I could have spent the day wandering around down there.
A while back, Kevin's brother Craig gave us a bottle of Cab from Sterling Vineyards, and it was so good that I saved the bottle, so we thought we'd check it out. On the way there, Kevin looked up the top 3 wineries (Yelp, I think) and they were Vincent Arroyo, Paoletti Estates, and Sterling Vineyards, in that order. Vincent Arroyo is only open by appointment for tasting so we called and got a 4pm slot. We thought we could go ahead and go to Sterling first (arriving around 2), then maybe fit in Paoletti Estates, then make the 4pm at Louis Arroyo. What we didn't know was that Sterling Vineyards is the Disneyland of wineries. You buy tickets. There's an aerial tram. The architecture is Greek…whitewashed walls with wooden trellises casting geometric shadows. But you get to see behind the scenes too, as you stroll from one tasting bar to the next, sipping wine as you follow the self-guided tour on giant flat screens that are motion-sensor operated. It's the Complete Winery Experience. It was over-the-top but it was a blast.
We just barely made it to Vincent Arroyo by 4pm, which was similarly awesome but in a completely different way. We tasted some wine, walked out to the vineyard and got to check out the grapes and talk about grafting and bugs and olive trees, then tasted a little more, then our guide took us into the room with all the barrels and we tried a few wines out of the barrel. Instead of joining a wine club, you can choose wine futures: a wine club based on what you tasted. We did that, but we also brought home two bottles of what may be my favorite yet: a 2005 Entrada (syrah blend). Delicious.
Here are some photos from Sterling (lots of time to stroll on your own = lots of photos):