One of St. Helena’s most interesting wineries is Charter Oak Winery. Known for its exceptional, and award-winning California Zinfandel, Charter Oak is an “old-world” family- run boutique winery.
After learning the process of winemaking from his Italian grandfather, and inheriting his winemaking tools after his death, Robert Fanucci, along with his son David and friend Jim White opened the Charter Oak Winery in 1986. Among the hundreds of other wineries in the valley, it is truly unique in that it is one of the only wineries that does mostly everything by hand; all of their wines are made with naturally occurring yeasts, hand-pressed in a 100-year-old basket press and punched down by hand. Their 2007 Monte Rosso Zinfandel recently gained notoriety in the international wine community, receiving the best in show, out of 730 entries, at the Millennial Winemakers Challenge.
Charter Oak Winery | 831 Charter Oak Ave, St. Helena, CA 94574 | (707) 963-2298
A little further north is Calistoga, which was developed in the 1860s. The name of the city is said to have been accidentally coined by town founder Sam Brannan who apparently intended to refer to it as the "Saratoga of California" (referring to Saratoga in upstate New York), but instead, after having had a few drinks, came out with "the Calistoga of Sarafornia".
Calistoga it stayed.
Grapes are not the only thing fermenting in the Napa Valley. Charbay Winery & Distillery is the only legal distillery in Napa, and they are makers of wine, port, vodka, brandy, tequila, whiskey, rum, grappa, liqueurs and aperitifs. Charbay Vodkas come in flavors like blood orange, ruby grapefruit and pomegranate and their 80-proof clear vodka, which is made using
American Midwest corn and rye, was voted the #1 Vodka in the World by Spirit Journal for two years in a row. Their Brandy No. 83 Folle Blanche was distilled in 1983 using rare Folle Blanche grapes and small batch distilling. 27 years of aging make this a premier brandy that goes for about $350 a bottle.
Affectionately known as “The Still on the Hill”, Charbay is a 27-year-old independent family business owned by the Karakasevic Family. Miles and Susan Karakasevic are the owners and co-founders and their son Marko, is a 13th generation winemaker and distiller.
Charbay Winery & Distillery | 4001 Spring Mountain Rd., St Helena, CA 94574 | (707) 963-9327
For a truly unique local cocktail, look no further than Bistro Don Giovanni whose bar makes a Yellow Bloody Mary, using yellow tomatoes, instead of the traditional red. Their Italian-inspired menu offers culinary delectable’s like gourmet pizzas, Fritto Misto, rabbit Pappardelle, shrimp Risotto and a wild boar Rigatoni Bolognese.
Green Tabasco Sauce
Lea & Perrins Marinade (light Worcestershire sauce)
Charbay Pepper Vodka
Rim glass with lemon, add salt and pepper
Pour into glass, garnish with cherry tomato and bean