Controversial Calistoga AVA Remains Stalled
The proposed Calistoga AVA continues to hit road blocks, primarily because of objections from Calistoga Cellars and Calistoga Estates. At issue is the fact that because these two wineries do not use at least 85% Calistoga grapes in their wine, they would have to stop using their brand names if AVA status is granted.
In 2003, Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena submitted the proposal for Calistoga to be granted AVA status. In his petition, Barrett demonstrates that Calistoga has long been recognized as a distinct grape growing region in Napa Valley, and produces unique wines. “Good wines take on the very essence of where they are grown and produced, from the aroma to the lingering flavor on the palate. Therefore, it makes sense that the distinct wine-growing regions of California are reflected in name on the bottle so consumers have a sense of the origin of the wine they are enjoying.”
In addition, Calistoga has some physical traits that distinguish it from surrounding AVAs. For instance, the geology of the region is much more consistent than in Oakville and Rutherford to the south. Whereas the soil in Oakville and Rutherford is a mix of ancient sea bed, volcanic debris and alluvial flows, Calistoga’s soil is almost entirely of volcanic origin. Located in the northernmost point of Napa Valley, the climate of Calistoga is also warmer than surrounding areas.
The Napa Valley Vintners Association backs Barrett’s efforts to create the Calistoga AVA, and argues that they want to work with Calistoga Cellars and Calistoga Estates. Rex Stults, a spokesman for the Napa Valley Vintners Association, recently said,
“We’re trying to make our message loud and clear. We’re not trying to put anybody out of business or make them drop their brand names.”
Stults went on to say that the two wineries will be able to keep their labels as long as they start using at least 85% Calistoga grapes in their wines. But this clearly is not acceptable to Calistoga Cellars and Calistoga Estates, and so the controversy continues.