POSTED ON September 26, 2006 | IN Hidden Napa Wineries, Tasting Rooms | BY joe

Chiles Valley is an area in the Vaca Mountains above the Napa Valley. Here, three wineries have established the Chiles Valley Wine association. We recently visited these three hidden wineries, each one very different from the other. We began our trek with a visit to the Catacula Lake Winery, the largest and newest of the three wineries. To get to this area, one must travel up Highway 128 from the Silverado Trail to Chiles Pope Valley Road. We took this road to the left and traveled four miles to the entrance of Catacula Lake Winery.

Catacula Lake Winery opened in 2001. The building is very big with an almost unbelievably sized tasting room. It is very spacious and can accommodate a busload of visitors. That’s very optimistic given the backcountry location of this winery. We spent a good 75 minutes at the winery and did not see another visitor during that time stretch. It is a beautiful and quiet setting in these mountains with a view of Catacula Lake located just below the winery’s picnic area. This is the perfect spot for anyone who wants to get away from the crowds for wine tasting and enjoy a peaceful, quiet picnic in the Napa wine country. There is also an added bonus in the reception area of the winery. The walls contain attractive murals of historical events in California.


For a $5 tasting fee we tasted four wines. The prices of the Catacula Lake wines are reasonable. We enjoyed the current release of the Estate Cabernet priced at $22 and the Estate Old Vine Zinfandel priced at $24. We thought both wines were very good wine values. Even a better value, was a 2001 Estate Zinfandel on sale for a case price of $144. The Sauvignon Blanc is the only white they produce and we thought it was just an average tasting wine.

The Good: Beautiful setting, perfect spot for a picnic, red wines that are good tasting and reasonably priced for the Napa Valley.

The Bad: Out of the way drive from the Napa Valley.


  1. We visited this winery several years ago and on returning last year saw that you’ve closed. We are returning to Napa Valley next week and read that you are doing replantings and may have some wine to order. Is the winery open now? Can you send
    us an answer and phone to contact before we leave NH on Sept. 19?? Thank you!
    would love to see this spot again — and nothing we’ve had was any better than the
    2000 Zinfandel!! Sincerely, Judy and Cliff Stroncer Hampton, NH

    • You should try and contact the winery directly. I have not heard that anyone is about to reopen the winery. You might also try the Napa Valley Vintners Association.


  2. I believe so, but check their web site and see if they have a contact number. If you visit, let us know how you like it.

  3. The Catacula Lake Winery is closed only to the public. The winery is still open and is producing a smaller and higher quality wine. There are extensive vineyard replantings and improvements currently underway during the 2008 season.

  4. The Catacula Lake Winery has been closed due to the passing of Ed Keith. This was a very nice property and is next door to Rust Ridge (a very nice place to visit). Rust Ridge is also home to the Catacula Lake wine dog who was put out along with all staff when the winery closed. David Maggard the Sugar Land Wineman bought a lot of the remaining inventory of Catacula and you can call him at 281-980-1955 as he can ship these wines. We are very sad to see Mr. Keith and his winery pass on.

  5. Interesting post, I am a fan of the wines made on this historic property. I believe it was part of the original Rancho Catacula land grant given to Colonel Joseph Ballinger Chiles. You are right that the property is out of the way, but I think that Pope/Chiles Valley will see increased interest from the public over the next few years. The grape growers and winemakers have certainly already discovered it. I agree with you that the full bodied red wines from the area offer great value; it’s not common to see a serious Napa red wine priced around $20. There are some very old Zin vines in the region that I think are actually planted on Vitis vinifera rootstock and were never attacked by phylloxera.