I went to Calistoga, California yesterday and it was 105 degrees. 105! For a gal who was born in Seattle and calls Wales her home away from home, that’s kind of like saying “My clothes caught fire when I visited hell yesterday.” Except Calistoga is nothing at all like hell. In Calistoga, heat is magic. Heat makes tasty grapes grow up and become tasty wines, and those tasty wines travel to France in 1976 and suddenly Napa County becomes WINE COUNTRY. And billions and billions* of people come visit the beautiful county and taste the tasty grapes that grew up and became tasty wines, and really, heat is actually a very good thing when it comes to agriculture.
Chateau Montelena is at the tippy top of Calistoga, which is at the tippy top of Napa Valley. After you park your car in the parking lot, you’ll spend another few minutes walking through the beautiful garden. You’ll pass a lake with two pagodas- you can reserve private tastings there! You’ll walk by plants that smell delicious as they bake in the heat (did I mention it was 105 degrees?). You’ll see the old vine covered building with a convenient little device that is half tripod, half selfie stick, and free to use. You’ll keep going until you finally reach the tippy top of the hill. There’s some cute little koi to greet you. “Congratulations!” they’ll say. “You’ve found the tasting room!”
I enjoyed all the wines I tasted, and no, that doesn’t always happen. They are known for their Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Somehow, I walked away with a bottle of Reisling and Zinfandel instead.
Visit Chateau Montelena on your next visit to wine country! In the meantime, you can enjoy Bottleshock (a fictionalization of the 1976 tasting in France that Chateau Montelena won and as a result, put California on the wine map) from the comfort of your own portal into the magical world of neverending stories (more commonly known as Instant Netflix).
*Yeah, billions is probably a bit overstating it. What can I say? I’m a fan of hyperbole.