Friday, January 30, 2015
Of all the AVA sign photographs that I have posted up till now, this Calistoga AVA sign, on the corner of Highway 29 and Larkmead Lane, has to have the most unlovely of dispositions. There are other Calistoga AVA signs that I could have photographed in much prettier settings, but this one makes me laugh. Like some cavalier afterthought, this sign was plonked down in the most unprepossessing of locations. I think the oval wine-coloured AVA signs are of a rather fetching design, but this Calistoga sign is being outcompeted by a slightly mangled chain-link fence, the yellow safety shield on a guy-wire (stabilizing a utility pole) and a red sign warning of an underground telephone cable (which I cropped out). Funny!
Grapevines were first planted in Calistoga (also known for its sparkling water, hot springs and mud baths) in 1862 by Samuel Brannan, a Mormon settler and businessman. Dominated by a single soil type - volcanic (or, as the successful petition for AVA status reads, "volcanic bedrock overlain with lava flows, ash-fall tuffs, welded tuffs, pyroclastic flows and mudflows"), Calistoga was listed in a viticultural census as long ago as 1893. Calistoga, in the summer months, has the most dramatic diurnal shift in the Napa Valley, a 50°F (often more) day-to-night change in temperature.
Calistoga was granted AVA status in 2010. The contentious petition to the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) was initially proposed by Bo Barrett (of Chateau Montelena and Judgement of Paris/Bottle Shock fame) in 2003 and resulted in the temporary cessation of all AVA petitions until the TTB could complete a top-to-bottom review of AVA rules. Sheesh! Some people can get so tetchy over alcohol, money and politics.
Notable wineries for me in this AVA are; Clos Pegase Winery, Frank Family Vineyards (I recently had their sparkling wine, they call it Rogue Champagne, which I didn't even know they made and it was delicious), Larkmead Vineyards, Madrigal Family Vineyards, Schramsberg Vineyards and Vincent Arroyo Winery.
Eight down, eight to go