Voted the number one vineyard in the USA by Travel and Leisure Magazine*, Vincent Arroyo Winery in Calistoga, California offers something for almost everyone. You don’t have to be a wine enthusiast to enjoy a visit. Though you should visit for the high-quality wine, Vincent Arroyo Winery has become known as one of the most fun and engaging winery experiences in the country.
*Though the article states #1 vineyard, we believe they meant winery.
Indeed, Vincent Arroyo Winery is far from the stereotypical Napa Valley winery.
The tasting room is concrete and plywood, with boxes of wine and olive oil lining the walls.
There is no bar or tasting menu. Instead, there’s a vintage card table (Vincent’s own table from the 70s) set with a selection of wines which changes from day to day.
The unique wine selection, friendly staff, and relaxed atmosphere are just a few of the reasons customers return to Vincent Arroyo Winery. Not to mention that unlike most Napa Valley wineries Petite Sirah, not Cabernet Sauvignon, is the flagship wine.
I love the informal atmosphere around the table.
It’s akin to hanging out in the kitchen at a house party or family gathering. You may come in alone, but you’ll end up talking with whoever is standing around the table. Visitors from all over the world share a feeling of camaraderie at having been clever enough to discover this boutique winery in the far northern corner of Napa Valley.
Adding to the friendly ambiance is Rosie, a rambunctious two-year-old black lab who loves to play ball and greets all visitors. In 2017, the winery bottled its first Syrah of Rosé. Want to guess what they named it? This is a bone dry rosé produced in the Provencal style.
You’ll often find Bodega in the tasting room, too. Bodega is a chocolate lab whose namesake wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petite Verdot grapes. Naming wines after the family pets is an enduring tradition at Vincent Arroyo Winery.
A little Vincent Arroyo Winery history
It was an ad offering a 23 acre vineyard for sale in the San Francisco Chronicle in the early 1970s that called to Vincent. A successful mechanical engineer, he felt disconnected from the products he helped create. He’d never heard of Calistoga, but he knew he wanted a career that allowed him to be more hands on. He bought the vineyard and set out to become a farmer. It wasn’t until ten years later that he began making wine.
Today, the homestead sits on that property, and most of the original vineyards are still there. There are now over 80 acres under vine. I asked Vincent what made him decide to grow Petite Sirah. He said, “It tasted good with barbeque.” Who can argue with that?
The second generation is now at the helm at VAW, and in 2018 the winery will be rebranding as Arroyo Winery.
The tasting experience
Most tastings will include the Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, a Tempranillo or a Sangiovese, a Zinfandel or Merlot, a red blend, and of course, the signature wine, Petite Sirah. The team at VAW likes to mix it up so there is no “standard” tasting.
The first wines made at Vincent Arroyo Winery were Chardonnay, Melange (a blend), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah. The winery currently offers sixteen different wines, all estate-bottled and sold exclusively through the winery or direct mail. Customers can reserve next year’s vintage in advance to ensure they don’t miss out on the more popular wines, like the Petite Sirah.
There are four different bottlings of Petite Sirah at Vincent Arroyo Winery.
Two are single vineyard and two are blends. The Petite Sirah Winemaker’s Reserve is a blend of the very best grapes. Blending the grapes from different plots affords customers a chance to buy a good wine at an affordable price point. Vincent Arroyo Winery makes about twelve other wines, and grows nine varietals.
Internationally, Vincent Arroyo Winery’s Petite Sirah has become a bit of a cult wine over the years. This varietal has historically been used to add more color and body to wines, and used less so as a single varietal, as it is very tannic. But fans love its deep purple color, ability to age well, and compatibility with rich foods.
On a sunny day, dine alfresco at one of the picnic tables. Grab a bottle of wine in the tasting room and bring your lunch with you.
Tastings are by appointment only. Please book in advance. Smaller groups may get lucky and snag an appointment the day of.
The annual Winemaker’s Dinner and Amigo’s Party are always a sell-out. They are reserved for standing order customers and highly sought after events. Put the first weekend in May and the first weekend in October on your calendar now. It’s just one of many good reasons to become a standing order customer at Vincent Arroyo Winery.
The knowledgeable staff can answer most any question you have about winemaking – don’t be afraid to ask.
Discover what thousands of fans already know — Vincent Arroyo Winery offers one of Napa Valley’s most interesting experiences.
Come to Vincent Arroyo Winery for the wine, the experience, and a chance to share in a little bit of Napa Valley history.
Did you like this article? Go ahead and share it! You may also want to read about my first visit to Calistoga!
Disclosure: At the time I wrote this article I was the hospitality coordinator and social media manager at Vincent Arroyo Winery.