Originally, the Napa Valley had four premier wine growing areas – Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. Yet, the official American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation for Calistoga wasn’t granted until 2010, which made it the 15th sub-appellation within the larger Napa Valley AVA.
According to Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena, “we were too busy making wine and never filed the federal paperwork.” What prompted Bo to spearhead the effort toward an official Calistoga AVA designation was a skiing accident. In 2009, Bo was sidelined with a broken leg and decided this was the perfect time to fill out the mountain of forms to apply for federal recognition of the Calistoga region.
The Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau, which oversees the alcohol beverage industry, states an AVA is “a delimited grape-growing region with specific geographic or climatic features that distinguish it from the surrounding regions and affect how grapes are grown.”
For weeks, Bo hobbled over to the Napa Valley Wine Library (located within St. Helena Public Library) to research the region’s unique characteristics of “life, land, weather and water,” and begin the arduous task of building the case for a Calistoga AVA.
Bo’s efforts paid off as the official Calistoga AVA designation began appearing on local wine labels starting with the 2010 vintage. The appellation is now home to more than 60 wineries including many boutique, family-owned establishments, as well as popular wineries including Sterling Vineyards and the internationally recognized Chateau Montelena. The warm and welcoming charm of Calistoga make its wine experience authentically and uniquely wine country.
The total Calistoga AVA area is 12,713 acres (about seven square miles) with approximately 625 acres of planted vineyards. Calistoga AVA is one of 250 established AVAs in the U.S., and one of the 140 in California. For more information about the Calistoga region, visit https://www.calistogawinegrowers.com/learn/nine-calistoga-ava-facts/