The last time I went to northern California wine country, I put a call out, looking for recommendations for wineries and restaurants. It should come as no surprise that my Facebook friends are particularly well-educated, astute and good-looking people, so I wasn’t surprised when they had a number of good ideas.
What did surprise me, however, was how many of them insisted that I visit Vincent Arroyo Winery in Calistoga, just a short drive away from the infamous mud baths where you can fix your skin, get a massage and, later, find mud in crevices you never knew you had.
Like many places in Napa County, Vincent Arroyo is rustic and picturesque. You need to call ahead to set up a tasting, but once you arrive, it feels casual and professional without being corporate, and the wines they produce are just terrific. There’s a reason Vincent Arroyo is known for his Petite Sirah, which manages to be both full-bodied and subtle at the same time. It’s a big taste with an awful lot going on. It isn’t inexpensive (at least by my budget-conscious standards), but it won’t break the bank, either, topping out around $45 or $50.
The only downside is that it’s tough to find at retail shops, and it’s kind of a long drive just to pick up a bottle to go with dinner. So, go in with some friends and buy online (vincentarroyo.com). And the next time you’re up north, make an appointment, swing by, meet the dogs and taste some wine.