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2 8 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t 2 8 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t Believe it or not, some of the world's best-known wineries are located at the top of Napa Valley, in Calistoga, population 5,200. This town with the Old West feel falls right in line—geographically and in terms of quality—with the rest of the renowned Northern California wine region. It is host to Sterling Vineyards and Twomey, sister to the famed Silver Oak Winery. But one particular winery in Calistoga stands out—one of the places where the superstar status of Napa Valley winemaking began: Chateau Montelena. Founder Jim Bar- rett's enological skills put Napa Valley on the world's radar when his 1973 Chardonnay bested those of France in the celebrated 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting in the French capital. Where Calistoga parts ways with the rest of the valley is in its quirky, rustic elements, begin- ning with Old Faithful Geyser, complemented by Tennessee fainting goats. Just outside the city limits is the Petrified Forest, a 3.4-million-year-old geological site to explore; and a visit to Calistoga wouldn't be complete without a tour of Castello di Amorosa winery. This eye-popping replica of a 13th-century Tuscan castle was a dream-come-to-fruition, completed in 2007 by its eccentric owner, Dario Sattui. Utilizing materials purchased from crumbling castles throughout Europe and working with tools of the 13th century, builders created an architectural master- piece, from its medieval dining parlor to its extensive torture chamber. One approaches this attraction off Highway 29 via an uphill driveway lined with dozens of stately cypress trees. The resort scene in Calistoga is varied, with the historic Brannan Cottage Inn downtown, consisting of several quaint family cottages, and the upscale Calistoga Ranch, with sections of its rustic lodges helicoptered into the forest to protect the environment. Calist oga, the Unsung Hero of Napa Valley PHOTO: GENE IVESTER, STUDIO ON MAIN Downtown Calistoga's architecture and vibe is like a Spaghetti Western set. by Charlene Peters PHOTO: CHARLENE PETERS Preserved vines for sale at the entrance of Paul Block's workshop and Wine Barrel Furniture studio. TRAVEL SPOTLIGHT

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