August Briggs: Leave Pretention at the Door
Make their your way to the northern edge of Napa Valley into the quaint town of Calistoga, a treat is in store the minute you walk through the door of August Briggs.
The small, airy tasting room right on the main drag of Lincoln Avenue is home to the winery’s trove of eclectic varietals. With a continually rotating tasting menu, visitors will find plenty of options from which to choose. Some of those varietals might be rare to Napa Valley, like the Charbono, a complex red that grows on only 86 acres in California.
Co-owner Matt Gasco said the winery is turning its focus more on rare varietals, like Charbono, because wine drinkers are becoming more experimental. Though the standards like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon will always be in large demand, the younger generation of wine drinkers, as with food, are into trying new things.
“Everyone knows Cab is good in Napa,” he said. “But there’s so much else. We can grow so many varietals here, and do them well. We want to showcase that.”
Some of the rarer wines August Briggs is dabbling in are Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier, plus a few different takes on Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. In all, August Briggs makes 15 wines from 11 varieties, all sourced from local, single vineyards.
But since the winery’s production is small, the best way to secure a bottle of your favorite wine is to join the wine club. Members have priority purchasing power for the small-batch wines that don’t always make it to the tasting room before selling out. They also receive discounts, special promotions and invitations to winery events held several times a year.
Coming into the tasting room for a flight can help introduce curious wine drinkers to the portfolio. August Briggs rotates its menu a few times a month and builds it around the seasons. Visitors can always choose among two flights of three wines to try and will be led through the tasting by a knowledgeable staff member. Like anything, good help is hard to find, and Gasco said, he and his co-owner are very particular to hire people who have deep knowledge about wine and the world beyond so they can give visitors a personalized experience that will deepen their enjoyment of the wine and answer any questions they may have.
The tasting room is open year round 11 am to 5 pm daily, Tuesday by appointment only, and seasonally they stay open until 7 pm Friday and Saturday. No matter the season or the time of day, August Briggs will be a welcoming, friendly wine experience for novices and connoisseurs.