In the heat of May, vines are transitioning between flowering and fruit set. Each tiny flower has the potential to form a single grape berry. How powerful is that? The pollinated flowers are starting to drop, emerging a tiny green sphere at the end of the stem.
Barbera, Mourvedre, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Zinfandel, Primitivo, Tempranillo, Graciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vermentino, and Verdelho
I rolled up to our first vineyard at 7:30 AM sharp as Bertus was already leaned against the truck, sunhat, and glasses in hand.
This is the Sierra de Montserrat vineyard in Loomis, CA. This vineyard is wild because you essentially turn into a residential community and boom: rolling hills of Tuscany? In between the endless rows of vineyards are huge custom-designed homes. This area is also dedicated to the conservation and preservation of about 200 acres of protected oak woodlands, wetlands, and wildlife habitat. The days are significantly warmer here than in Napa so fruit set has already begun in some parts of the vineyard. Understandably so since the sun was already roaring in full force by 8:00 AM. Bertus predicts in just a few weeks' time that these tiny green spheres will become pea-sized berries! This vineyard is approximately 28 acres of Barbera, Mourvedre, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Zinfandel, Primitivo, Tempranillo, Graciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vermentino, and Verdelho.
Tiny flower clusters ready for bloom.
Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot, Grenache Noir, and Counoise
A few twists and turns down the road and we ended up at Clos du Lac, another unique vineyard community modeled after the southern region of France. From this hillside vineyard, overlooking dozens of wildflowers, you can see the itty bitty base of Folsom Lake. In French, Clos du Lac means “Walled Vineyard by the Lake" so take it literally! This vineyard is nestled in the Sierra Foothills at an elevation of 500 ft. 30 acres in the gated community have been set aside for vineyards planted with Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, and Petit Verdot. Also, several acres of Grenache Noir and a small amount of Counoise have been planted on a private estate vineyard.
Zinfandel and 2% combined Mission, Mourvedre, and Cinsault
Lastly, we trekked out to the Stampede vineyard just outside of Lodi where we met with Jeff Perlegos, who walked us through the rugged site. Jeff and his brother, John, farm the Stampede Vineyard near the Clements Stampede Rodeo grounds in the Lodi AVA’s Clement Hills sub-AVA. The rodeo still competes and is the biggest amateur rodeo in the country. Jeff is warm and easy-going and walking his vineyards feels like he’s invited you into his backyard. These old vines were originally planted in the 1920s, are head-trained, and were planted in a diamond pattern. Jeff expressed that the fruit takes on qualities from both the areas it straddles: Amador in Amador County and Lodi in San Joaquin County. The acidity in the grapes hails from Amador and the fruit aroma and flavor is derived from Lodi. The vineyard consists of 98% Zinfandel and 2% combined Mission, Mourvedre, and Cinsault.
In June and July, young clusters will begin to appear. Over roughly the next 60 days, berries undergo rapid cell division and grow larger. These clusters will eventually become berry bunches. The green berries will start to change and ripen, undergoing a process called veraison. For red grapes, this is when the color changes from green to purple! Stay tuned ✌️
“Since 1952, Dr. Wilkinson’s has been providing wellness, relaxation, and good times. Home to healing mineral waters, "The Works" mud bath, and a backyard that keeps you connected—we’re Calistoga’s original wellness resort. And now, we’re all brand new.”
Hello, sunshine! Calistoga is calling!
To say we're stoked for the summer season is an understatement and this year, you'll want to be kickin' it poolside at Dr. Wilkinson's Resort. Founded in 1952 and re-imagined in 2020, Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs is Calistoga‘s most iconic and historic resort and spa in the heart of Wine County.
In 1952, Dr. John Wilkinson took Calistoga mud and turned it into the star Napa Valley attraction that has existed for 60 years. "Doc and Edy founded the resort with wellness in mind all the way back in 1952. Our goal is to embrace Doc's pioneering spirit and time-honored, stress alleviating, and health balancing treatments in a completely reimagined environment, with every element of the resort experience designed with integrated wellness in mind. Dr. Wilkinson's will continue to be the resort destination where wellness meets happiness." Doc studied alternative medicine and practiced wellness before these ideas became popular. Doc tapped into Calistoga's famous waters, sharing the healing benefits of mineral soaks and mud baths with over a million travelers and wellness seekers from around the world.
A spa attendant hard at work in 1962
Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort and Mineral Springs is going to be your new favorite place with relaxing massages, mud baths, and mineral springs aplenty. The new spa features four mud baths, three geothermal mineral pools, eight new mineral baths, falling water treatments, CBD and aromatherapy experiences, and new outdoor treatment rooms in the reimagined spa garden. Fed by geothermal hot springs, three mineral-rich pools are yours to enjoy before and after your spa treatments, and throughout your stay. If you want the full spa experience, go with "The Works:" relax in the volcanic ash mud (a secret family recipe mixed with Calistoga's famous warm mineral water), then dip into the natural healing mineral pools and finally refresh with a full body massage. Afterward, you'll feel energized, squeaky clean, and ready to take on all the wine Napa Valley has to pour.
Dr. Wilkinson's Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs launched House of Better, a new restaurant in partnership with Trevor Logan, best known for the popular Green Chile Kitchen in San Francisco and Chile Pies Baking Co. in Sonoma County, CA.
Consider House of Better as a spa treatment for your taste buds.
The restaurant will feature dishes including wood-fired flatbreads, "booster bowls," salads, and traditional New Mexican fare. The beverage menu will feature a beer and wine selection highlighting boutique local partners, and a collection of healthy and fermented beverages such as water kefir, kombuchas, adaptogen teas, and agua frescas. The restaurant will also feature Chile Pies Baking Co.'s famous seasonally-rotating pies.
(There is literally a pie vending machine y'all.)
Straight from the source:
The resort is currently accepting limited reservations and has taken precautionary measures guided by recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure the safety of guests and staff. Additionally, state and county health and safety COVID-19 guidelines will be implemented.
Guests will have the option to check-in by using their cell phones as keys and can check-in online without stopping at the front desk. The majority of the guest rooms open directly to the exterior, which will also enable guests to access their rooms without entering the lobby. The entire staff will practice social distancing, use personal protective gear, and implement enhanced cleaning and safety measures.
1507 Lincoln Ave, Calistoga, CA 94515