It has been about a year since we last visited the wineries just north of the town of Calistoga. The most notable winery in this small area is Chateau Montelena, but there are several other wineries worth exploring. This little wine area is currently in an interesting battle to establish its own AVA called Calistoga. We ventured off to Tubbs Lane where Chateau Montelena and Summers winery are located. Just as we turned on to Tubbs Lane off Highway 128, we discovered a winery that was not there a year ago, Envy Wines. What used to be there was Calistoga Cellars, which has opened a tasting room on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Calistoga.
The Calistoga Cellars vineyards and the winery were purchased by the renowned winemaker Nils Venge along with a partner, Mark Carter. Nils Venge owns both Saddleback Vineyards and Venge Vineyards and also is a consulting winemaker for various wineries. Mark Carter has been producing cult wines under the label Carter Cellars.
Envy Wines has been open less than a year. Current wines have been released in very small amounts. For example, only 100 cases of Petite Sirah were made and those quickly sold out. Case production will eventually reach 2500 but the tasting room also features the Carter Cellars wines and a second label by Nils Venge called Vine Haven.
For $10 you can taste 5 wines and the fee can be applied to the purchase of wine. The tasting room is exquisitely designed and very comfortable. Our host was energetic and very knowledgeable about the winery. We were the only ones in the tasting room but are host kept things lively and entertaining. She provided a very upbeat and pleasant wine tasting experience.
The wines are all very good but on the expensive side. We purchased a bottle of the Envy 2006 Sauvignon Blanc for $26. This Sauvignon Blanc is very rich and full-bodied, very different from what we are used to in a Sauvignon Blanc. The best wine we tasted was the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon but, at $55 a bottle, too far out of our price bracket.
Tip: If you are in Calistoga, visit the Visitor Center on Lincoln, and they have a coupon there for a two for one tasting at Envy Wines.
The Good: Beautiful winery and tasting room, off the beaten path.
The Bad: The wines are expensive and most out of our price bracket of around $20.