Calistoga Continues its Quest for AVA Status
The proposed Calistoga AVA continues to stir controversy and passions on both sides. At issue is Calistoga Cellars’ use of the region in their brand name, despite the fact that they do not use Calistoga grapes in their wines.
This is a cardinal sin in the eyes of many local growers and wineries, who place a high value on the geographic origin of their wines. The entire AVA approval process has ground to a halt over the controversy as the TTB reevaluates the system. Calistoga Cellars recently opened up a tasting room, amidst protests from other vintners who claim the winery is thwarting Calistoga’s quest for AVA status.
Roger Louer, CEO of Calistoga Cellars, has stated in the past that he cannot source enough grapes from the Calistoga region for his wines; a claim that local grape growers vehemently deny. One of these vineyard owners, Charlie Wolleson, asserted, “My family has been growing grapes on land three miles south of Calistoga for generations. We still have vines budded by my grandfather — zinfandel, cabs and merlot. To say that local grapes are not available or affordable is not right.”
Bo Barrett, owner of Chateau Montelena, is also particularly outspoken on the issue. He recently said that, “Calistoga Cellars is completely deceiving the public by using the Calistoga name. They go over there to source their grapes because they can find them for half the price.”