If there’s one wine-tasting affair that prominently stands out from the rest, it is the one at Sterling Winery in Calistoga. It’s not the wine tasting alone that is different, but the locale, the building and the cable journey that adds to the overall experience.
Sterling Winery sits atop a hill on the northern end of Napa Valley and offers scenic views of the valley and the mountains nearby. What really sets this one apart from the other wineries in the California Wine Country is that here you don’t just park your vehicles and walk right into the winery and go about tasting. Instead you make your way to the hill-top winery on an aerial tramway that sets out from the front-offices of 1111 Dunaweal Lane. Once up there, you begin what is a wine tasting-cum-winery tour, that is one of a kind.
Why one-of-a-kind? Read on and you will know why I say so. As we got out of the tram and entered the white structure that we had seen from afar — on our way to this address– we were given our first glass of wine. After we picked that up and tasted it, we began what they call a self-paced-tour that allowed us see the winery at our own speed and pick up our remaining four glasses of wine on the way. There were sign boards that made sure we didn’t lose your way. Then there were the larger boards and television screens that guided us through the processes of wine-making as we passed through the fermenting and aging sections of the winery. The screens seemed to show everything from crushing to the different types of Oaks used for the wine casks. We also saw an entire wall that showcased these different Oaks.
When we began our wine tasting at Sterling, we started off with two white wines. I am a red-wine person so I was waiting to get to the red ones. Our third tasting was of a red wine and this one was coupled with an incredible sight. This third tasting happened on the terrace that overlooked the Napa Valley. So here we could smell and sip wine while we took in the beauty of the surroundings: vineyards, wineries and some houses, not to mention the mountains. On one part of the terrace, there was even a board that pointed out the different mountains that were visible from there.
After our fourth and fifth tasting along the tour, we walked into wine shop that had not just the wines but also wine accessories, gifts and souvenirs. At this point, let me tell you another thing that is special to this winery — nobody walks away without a souvenir. At the end of the tour, every guest returns to the tram with a Sterling Winery souvenir glass.
I think anybody who likes wine and wine tours, scenery and interesting buildings would be impressed by Sterling Winery. The image of this winery on the hill is sure to stay in my mind — the white building with a very Greek touch. They say it was inspired by the architecture of the Greek island of Mykonos where the founder of this winery once lived. This place is also proud of its bell towers and some big bells that come from a London Church.