Bragg Vineyards in Calistoga – family owned, small and hidden
There are said to be more than 400 “Brick and Mortar” wineries in the Napa Valley. For such a small wine region, the distance from one end of the Valley to the other is 27 miles, that is an enormous density of wineries. Many tourists drive along Highway 29 and choose a winery to visit by whatever catches their eye. In most cases, one can expect the same in each of these tasting rooms: crowds, merchandise for sale, and a well-rehearsed spiel about the wines. Chances are the experience will be fun and enjoyable but nothing like the old days of the Napa Valley. This is where Bragg Vineyards comes into play. Bob and Anna Marie Bragg are the owners of Bragg Vineyards in Calistoga. Bob does it all as far as producing the wines. He tends to his 4.5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and makes the wine. Anna Marie helps with tastings and PR activities. Wine production is a mere 150 cases of wine, a far cry from the average Napa Valley Winery. If you visit, you’ll be treated to Anna Marie’s original art work and her flair for decorating.
The Bragg Vineyards Story
Bob Bragg was a successful trial attorney in San Francisco. He found visiting the Napa Valley was the best way to reduce the stresses of the courtroom. He and his law partner began looking for a Napa Valley retreat home and purchased this Calistoga property in 1995. Fifteen acres were planted with vines. Later Bob and his partner divided the property, with Bob holding 4.5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. These grapes were sold to the nearby Chateau Montelena winery. After retiring from his law practice, Bob began to learn both viticultural and enology. In addition to taking classes at a Napa J.C., Bob had plenty of friendly instruction from the many contacts he made at Chateau Montelena and other Calistoga wineries. In 2008 Bob went full tilt into winery business, launching his first vintage.
Bragg Vineyards produces two 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines each year, one from Padre’s Vineyard and the other from Mario’s Vineyard. The wines are aged one year longer than most premium Napa Valley Cabernets. Bob’s 2014 Cab is still in the barrel. He will bottle it in a few weeks. Age time in the bottle will be eight months to a year before the wine is released and sold. The result is a softer Cab, with a balance of tannins and acidity. These are very nice, food-friendly Cabernets. The Bragg Vineyards Cabs sell between $70 and $85. Similarly produced Cabs in the area sell for more than $100. If you are a cult Cab collector, put a visit to Bragg Vineyards on your list.
Just about all farming and wine making is done solely by Bob. He does bring in a few helpers to prune, thin and help with the harvest. The only thing that is not done at the Bragg Vineyards winery is the bottling. For that aspect, Bob transports his barrels over to winery with a bottling line, and that makes for a smooth and easy bottling process for the Bragg Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Many wineries use the term “Hand Crafted,” but in the case of Bragg Vineyards, that term is an exact description.
Plan well in advance to book an appointment at Bragg Vineyards. Bob and Anna Marie have a home in San Francisco but spend most of the Spring to Fall months at the Calistoga home. There are also many excellent wineries in Calistoga worth visiting. We have outlined those in our Calistoga Wine Trail.