Sterling Vineyards (1111 Dunaweal Ln., Calistoga, 800/726-6136, www.sterlingvineyards.com, daily 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., $20) is more appealing for folks who are touring Wine Country for the first time to see the sights than for serious wine aficionados. The jewel of the new “Disneyland with wine” culture of Napa, Sterling features a gondola ride and an enforced “tasting tour” through their estate rather than a traditional tasting room experience. It’s expensive, and the lines can get long on in-season weekends.
To be fair, once you’ve stood in line and bought your tickets, the gondola ride up the mountain to the estate shows off Napa Valley at its best. Take advantage of the time to admire the stellar views of forested hills and endless vineyard lands.
Once up at the estate, you’ll be led around by signs to each tasting glass of wine. Frankly, the wine isn’t worth the effort or the high per-bottle price tag. But the estate has some charm, and the views off the deck match those from the gondola.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition