Irene Ojdana
February 22, 2014 | Napa Valley, Wine Tastings | Irene Ojdana

Unusual Calistoga Wineries

Recently, the Napa Valley Vintners' Association provided its member wineries the opportunity of visiting four Calistoga Wineries: Phifer Pavitt/Date Night; La Sirena & Jericho Canyon Vineyard; and Storybook Mountain Winery, to network with and learn from each other. Not only did Ed and I have terrific networking opportunities, but what we found were four wineries that were absolutely unique: Phifer Pavitt/Date Night in a barn that appeared to be suspended in the air; La Sirena and Jericho Canyon Vineyard in a property previously lived on by Robert Redford; and Storybook Mountain Winery in three tunnels dug over 100 years ago.

Phifer-Pavitt Tasting RoomAt our first stop, we met Georgia-born Suzanne Phifer Pavitt, who with her husband Shane Pavitt, created a tasting room out of a repurposed 19th century barn, which seemed to be hanging in the air. Suzanne poured great Date Night Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc at an unusual tasting bar made from a fallen slab of black walnut wood, suspended so that it moved back and forth and made us feel as if we had a bit too much to drink. The huge lighting fixtures were also sensational, made out of historic barbed wire. 

We were then on to Jericho Canyon Vineyard, which hosted visiting vintners along with Heidi Barrett's winery La Sirena, whose La Sirena 2004 syrah tasted yummy. Heidi produces La Sirena from the cellar of Jericho Canyon. Not only was Jericho Canyon's sleek, redwood tasting room on a property formerly lived on by Robert Redford, but the colorful and interesting art (mostly of abstact wine bottles) of Sibylle Szaggars, Redford's wife, was hanging on the walls. Thanks to proprietors Marla and Dale Bleecher, we tasted their delicious Jericho Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon made in the Bordeaux style in their 6000 square foot cave.

Caves at Storybook Mountain wineryOur last stop was Storybook Mountain Winery, which ages its wines in century-old caves dug by Adam Grimm, who came from a German wine-producing family in the wine business since 1540 and which continues to this day. In 1889, Grimm dug 3 large tunnels 100 feet into the volcanic rock and established the Grimm Vineyards and wine vaults. The property was bought by Jerry Seps in 1976, who has been producing world-class zinfandel there ever since. President Obama became the third president to serve it in the White House.

Peeling Back Over 100 Years of MossWe watched Jerry's son-in-law peel back the thick black 100-year-old moss in the cave to reveal the stone beneath (see photos), and enjoyed the tour of this Calistoga property on the top of Napa Valley on an eastern slope of the Mayacamas Range, on ridges that separate Napa from Sonoma.  Jerry treated us to his 2010 Estate Reserve Zinfandel, which received a 97- point rating from Wine & Spirits Magazine -- the highest Zinfandel rating ever.

As we returned to our own Vineyard {511}, we were high on the beautiful views and the beautiful day we spent in Calistoga.






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