Winery Wandering: Sterling Vineyards


Beyond Napa, the cool air of wine country breezes through Calistoga, sitting pretty in the northern hills of California’s Napa Valley. Here, we find the likes of renowned Schramsberg, lesser-known Castello di Amorosa, and the picturesque Chateau Montelena. Take in the young greenery; by driveway standards, it’s a rather pleasant welcome.

img_3204For as much as I like wine and wineries, I haven’t really written much about them. That changes today. Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent weekends in Napa Valley, visited wineries closer to home, and attended a wine event featuring 30 producers. So, yeah, at least one post about wine is overdue.

I’m partial to Italian varietals (which probably doesn’t surprise you); and although you can find them here, they aren’t abundantly common. So rather than exploring wine, let’s ease into our winery wandering with a color palate for the eyes by hopping into a gondola of the world’s only winery with an aerial tram: Sterling Vineyards.



Harvest season is still months away, but it’s not at all a bad view of Calistoga, especially with the sun out. ;)



Once in the winery, you move through tasting stations at different vantage points of the complex. In addition to the views from an outdoor balcony, you can now also sip wine and learn about the wine-making process. With videos and educational plaques, you’ll learn at least a fact or two of note. Did you know that a slight difference in a barrel’s toasting level alters its taste and aroma? (See chart below.) This winery uses only French Oak to age its wine, and they proudly display samples of their barrel producers.



Here’s where the wines are fermented, aged, and stored.



Walking around the winery, you can stop to admire art, both new and old. It’s not uncommon to find certain galleries publicly accessible, and other galleries accessible only at more premium tour or tasting levels. (If you’re into photography, painting, or sculpture, check out Mumm Napa, Artesa – the building itself is a work of art, or The Hess Collection.)



Can you believe it’s already July? The days are definitely longer, and it looks like it’s going to be a hot summer. So, wherever you are, happy summer-ing (or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, wishing you a pleasant winter).

Say, I think that’s Castello di Amorosa in the near distance. How about we head there next?