Jericho Canyon Vineyards Review
Address: 3322 Old Lawley Toll Rd Calistoga,California 94515.
Phone Number: 707-942-9665
Tasting Hours: By appt. Mon-Sun 10:00-4:00
Region: Napa Valley AVA, Calistoga AVA, California
Reviewer: Sherrie Perkovich
Review Date: 6/8/2014
Reviewer: Sherrie Perkovich
Calistoga, in lovely Napa Valley, is breathtaking year-round. Nestled at the base of the Palisades Mountains and Mount Saint Helena, and at the very north end of the Napa Valley, you will find Calistoga. It is a small town treasure in an otherwise vast and often crowded wine country. If I had to choose only one word to describe Jericho Canyon, it would be “breathtaking.” Although often overused, the word breathtaking might actually be an understatement of the speechless beauty visitors will encounter at this winery. There are a total of 135 acres that make up Jericho Canyon, but only forty of them are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah vineyards. The rest is just pure, lush natural beauty.
The Winery:  There are rolling hills in every direction with lush, green vineyards enveloping you with every turn taken and every view encountered. Be sure to opt for the Polaris (ATV-like vehicle) vineyard tour of a portion of their 135 rugged acres, where Jericho Canyon’s phenomenally friendly and knowledgeable staff create a unique and energetic experience.
The Wines:  They don’t make much wine at Jericho Canyon, so try everything. All of their small lot wines are delicious and expertly crafted. The quality of the wines is extremely high. Your tasting will likely begin with a Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Rosé [if they have it] and finish off with one or two Cabernet Sauvignons. The Sauvignon Blanc is lovely, crisp, fruit forward and acidic, while the Rosé is perfectly dry and a treat to drink; both make excellent summer wines. Their Cab is dark, deep and luscious, and is sure to please any Cab lover.
Insider Information:  The property used to be the historic Silverado Mine, circa mid-1800s. It is situated along the road to the old Silverado Mine, a spot made famous by Robert Lewis Stevenson in his book Silverado Squatters. The first property owner was a Civil War vet in 1868; the property was given to him as a land grant payment for his services. The property had been used as a cattle ranch since the 1930s, but it also showed evidence of a pre-Prohibition vineyard alongside Jericho Creek. When walking or touring through the property, keep a look out for the green farmhouses, they are over 100 years old. And for you “green” fans, Jericho is a certified Napa Green winery and is a part of Napa Greenland and Fish Friendly Farming.
If you are looking to spice up the tasting a bit, you can call the winery to arrange for more of a VIP or unique experience with cheese or other food pairings. Be sure to give them a few weeks notice to accommodate your request.
Tour & Wine Tasting Details:  On the tour, guests will be introduced to Jericho’s sustainable farming practices, barn owls, two ponds and likely the owners, Marla and Dale Bleecher. The Bleechers are often seen roaming around the property on ATVs, checking on the vines. Marla and Dale are incredibly down to earth and absolutely adore Calistoga and living the wine country lifestyle. They are true stewards of the land and treat it as they treat their own children. They’ve been living in Calistoga since the 1980s, so if you do happen to meet them on the tour, hit them up for restaurant recommendations. They frequent them all.
The ATV/Polaris tour is not for everyone. If you are not a fan of bumpy rides and coming in close contact with the vines, then this tour is not for you. However, if you are up for a bit of an adventure and like getting up close and personal with the vines, views, and terroir, then this tour is definitely for you. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. No heels ladies. After your adventurous and rigorous tour through the property, guests are treated to a unique, seated wine tasting in their wine cave. The wine tasting appointments are private for all guests. Your wine educator / tour guide will focus all their attention on you and your group, and you won’t have to worry about being stuck next to the “annoying couple.” During the tasting, you will taste through all of their current release wines. If you’re lucky they may pop open either a very limited release wine or a library wine.
This tasting experience is ideal for those that are serious about buying wine and locating that hard to find winery with incredibly high-quality Bordeaux wines. Tours and seated tastings are by appointment only, and it is preferred that tasting and tour groups are no more than six people. Jericho Canyon sells their wine through allocation, and since they don’t make much, guests are encouraged to join their mailing list in order to acquire the wines outside of the tasting room. As encouragement to join/buy, your first shipment is delivered in an awesome wood box and features a vertical of their Cabernet Sauvignon.
For your tour and tasting, plan for 90 minutes. If you opt for the $40 mini walking tour and tasting, your fee can be refunded with a minimum of a $250 purchase. Jericho doesn’t have a gift shop per se, but they do offer some of the usual items to buy such as coasters, logo t-shirts, and logo glasses.