My sister was coming to town with her family, and it was her husband’s first time in California. I had one day to take off and I knew that wine tasting in Napa was a must. But I had had a slew of visitors in the winter, and I was tired of all my usual “go-to” wineries. My sister’s husband also is not a big wine drinker, so I decided to look for something with more of an experience. That’s when I came across Sterling Vineyards. With a scenic tram ride to it’s tasting room, I knew it would be an experience. What I didn’t expect was to find, in my opinion, the best wine tasting experience in Napa Valley.
Sterling Vineyards it located in Calistoga, at the top of the Napa Valley. From the town of Napa, it’s another 45-60 minutes up to Sterling. But you will soon find out it’s worth the drive. We parked in the lot and went over to get our tickets. Then we got in line to take the aerial tram to the top of the mountain. This is a unique experience as it’s the only aerial tram in Napa. As you ride up the small tram to the tasting room at the top of the hill, you are greeted with views of Napa hills and valley.
Once at the top, you walk out of the tram and walk across a quaint covered walkway to the tasting bar. There you are greeted with friendly wait staff who are there to tell you about the 1st wine you are drinking. While pouring out the Sauvignon Blanc into our classes she instructed us on how the tasting work. The basic tasting we had purchased included four tastings. But unlike most wineries, where the tastings are done in one place, here the tastings were done in four separate stations. You were instructed to go from station to station. Along the way there were interesting exhibits about the wine making process, and a bit about the history of the area and the building. And then she even told us the best news. We had to take our glasses with us from station to station and at the end, we got to take them home, as souvenirs!
The second station was tasting a Merlot, in the fermentation room. Here we saw the large steel barrels, and even saw the workers sterilizing them, preparing them for harvest.
The third tasting was a Cabernet Sauvignon. This one was located inside, you could look down and see the wine barrels where reserve and higher end wines were aged. As we walked along to the fourth station, we were treated to more barrel rooms, and tried to guess what varieties were in each barrel.
Finally, you were led outside to the fourth and final tasting. Here, there was a large balcony that opened up to expansive views of Napa from up high. We finished with a fruity and light Malvasia Bianca. We took our tasting and walked over to settle into a table to sip our last wine, let my niece get out and stretch her legs, and relax enjoying the view.
Sooner than we liked, our wine was done, and my niece was getting into more trouble. We were also getting hungry for something more than the cheese plate that was on sale at the top. So we grabbed some water and started to head out. We slowly meandered back to the tram, anxious to get lunch, but not wanting to leave such a beautiful place. But the tram was waiting there, so we squeezed in and rode the swinging cable car down to the bottom, soaking in the scenery, and letting the wine float up to our brains, giving that pleasant, happy feeling that comes from a good day with family and friend, a good wine, and a peaceful and pleasant location. As we disembarked from the tram, we headed over to the car, anxious to get to lunch and the rest of our day in wine country.
- Address: 1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA, 94515
- Time: Open Daily, 10 AM – 5 PM
- Cost: General Admission – $35, includes 4 tastings, Under 21 – $15, Age 3 and Under – Free. Upgraded wine tasting experiences available for a fee.