October 31st, 2010

“In wine there is health (in vino sanitas)”

~Pliny the Elder

Imagery Estate Winery

As I mentioned in my first post about the journey, each winery had a unique history and story to tell. And Imagery Estate Winery is no different.

‘It all started with a guy named Joe.’ So says the history of this unique winery. In the 1980′s, Joe Benziger moved with his family from New York to start a winery on Sonoma Mountain. After a few years, Joe decided that there were some vineyard lots that would be perfect to produce a series of small artisan wines.

Joe met up with a renowned local artist named Bob Nugent and Bob volunteered to design a label that could match the expressiveness and originality of the wine inside. Bob became curator of the Imagery Art Collection commissioning hundreds of international artists to design one of a kind artwork for Imagery Labels. You can read more of the interesting history of the winery here

Needless to say, it is fascinating. Each wine has a one of a kind label designed, never to be duplicated or repeated. Each artist is not limited by size, medium, or content but must include a likeness of the Parthenon replica that is on the Benziger Estate. It was so much fun looking through the art gallery of past labels and picking out the Parthenon. Some are very visible and some you have to search for. You can also buy prints in various forms of the ones you like.

Reason for the Parthenon? According to Winemaker Joe Benziner, it is the connection of the Imagery Winery to his family’s Benziger Winery.

Cool, huh?

The entire wine tasting bar is lined with these small ceramic pieces, both big and small, and you can actually pick out the ones you like and buy them. We bought two bottles of wine from Imagery. One, a Muscato de Canelli (love muscato wine!) and a bottle of 2009 Wow Oui which is a single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. We had fun searching the bar for the stone magnets that matched both labels and bought them to bring home. Somehow I am going to figure out how to showcase them with the matching wine bottles. Hmmm… will let you know.

Could only find a picture of the Muscato label.

2009 Imagery Estate Muscato di Canelli

Parthenon mural inside Tasting Room

Inside the Art Gallery

Mural inside the Art Gallery

To be continued…


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October 24th, 2010

“Always carry a corkscrew and the wine shall provide itself.”

~Basil Bunting

Chateau Montelena Winery

Front of the Chateau entrance

Two miles north of Calistoga, Chateau Montelena Winery sits on 254 acres of rugged terrain at the base of Mount Saint Helena. Built in 1882 it became the seventh largest winery in the Napa Valley. Winemaking halted during the Prohibition and the winery was sold to Yort and Jeanie Frank, who was looking for a place to retire. The Franks, inspired by the Chateau, found a perfect area to excavate a lake and landscaped it to reflect the Chinese gardens of his homeland. It was called Jade Lake and consists of two islands, not open to the general public but available to their wine club members. You can, however, stand next to the entrances to the footbridges that connects to the islands and feed the fish and waterfowl. Marveling at the way the footbridges were built crooked, I found out that, according to Chinese legend, evil spirits can only travel over water in straight lines.

I found it very interesting that the Chateau was like a mini-castle and the gardens and lake was of Chinese architecture complete with weeping willows and native fauna. But somehow it works. According to their brochures, it is considered to be one of the most peaceful and beautiful sanctuaries in Napa Valley. It was indeed very enchanting.

A little more interesting history here…

Back in 1976, the Chateau Montelena Winery entered their 1973 Chardonnay in a ‘blind taste testing’ International Wine Tasting competition in Paris, France and their 1973 Chardonnay won, beating out the French and Italian wines. This, supposedly, is what put California on the map for winemaking. Here at the Chateau, the movie, Bottleshock, was filmed about the historic event and you can even take a special ‘Bottleshock’ tour. We didn’t take the tour, but when we got home, we rented the movie and really enjoyed it. It was fun watching the movie and saying, “Hey, we were there…and there…”

Jade Lake

Small waterfall in front of the Chateau

Different sizes of wine bottles

To be continued…


October 11th, 2010

“Nature is the art of God.”

~Dante Alighiere

Sorry to be so long in getting back to this. Have been so very busy. Just got back from the Texas Wine Trail Tour in the Texas Hill Country, but that’s another tale for the blog later.

We are also nature lovers so the whole group took in what the area had to offer.

First on the list was the Petrified Forest. According to their information, over three million years ago, a volcano in the direction of Mt. St. Helena erupted and fire, ashes, and molten lava came out and coursed down the valley which now lies the Petrified Forest. It actually states that this is the same pale yellow, sandy ash in the soil that we walked on during the visit.

The Giant

Rock of Ages

Next we visited Old Faithful Geyser of California in Calistoga. NOT to be confused with the Old Faithful in Yellowstone. Somehow this Old Faithful didn’t have the ‘umph’ that Yellowstone has. It spewed about every ten minutes and left you with the baffled look in your eyes wondering ‘is that all there is?’

But it was interesting to find out that the barometric pressure, the moon, the tides and the earth’s tetonic stresses determine the height the geyser shoots and the time between the eruptions. They’d had an earthquake a few weeks before so it was kind of puny while we were there.

Out in the field next to the geyser, they had a small herd of goats that would ‘faint’ if you frightened them. Imagine that, fainting goats. What will they think of next. Of course, GW and the guys wouldn’t THINK of trying such a thing. Not them. Absolutely not.

Thar she blows...

...and again...


Hey! I said, Boo!

**Note: no animals were hurt, frightened, or felt the least bit faint during our visit.

Last, but not least on the nature tour was the Redwoods. One word. WOW!

No way to describe the feeling of being around something that grand and that old. And I am talking about the trees, LOL!

The Old Colonel Armstrong

to be continued…


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