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Chris Madrigal’s Calistoga: A Third Generation Vintner Offers Up an Insider’s Map of His Hometown


“My family has always been in Calistoga”, remarked Chris Madrigal, Founder and President of Madrigal Family Winery. “We were a farming family that followed the harvests, but it was the grape farming in Calistoga that my grandfather fell in love with and that kept him, my father and now me here for all these years.”

Madrigal Grandparents

(L-R) Grandpa Jacinto and Uncle Jay having lunch while pruning the vineyards; Grandma Luisa and Grandpa Jacinto, 1952.

And while his grandfather Jacinto came to Calistoga from Mexico in 1937, Chris grew up in this small vineyard town. Jacinto farmed apples in Sebastopol, pears in Lake County and grapes, prunes and walnuts in Calistoga. In 1974, with a truck, pruning shears and a tractor on loan, Jacinto’s son and Chris’ dad Jess, established a vineyard management business, and then Chris founded Madrigal Family Winery in 1995.

“Calistoga has grown a lot since we first got here,” noted Madrigal, “but what my grandfather and father found and loved is still here today. It’s a small, diverse and eclectic town, full of amazing natural resources and abundant local fare. We eat and cook with the seasons and take our time to enjoy it with friends, family and neighbors. The wine grapes are some of the best I’d like to say in the world. And the wines we make, in small batches and some unique varietals, such as Petite Sirah, Tempranillo and Garnacha as well as traditional Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc, all reflect the region and our family’s heritage.”

Chris Madrigal Calistoga

Chris Madrigal’s favorite Calistoga events include the firefighters’ BINGO night in November, the Soroptimist International Women’s Club Crab Feed in March and the fairgrounds July 4th fireworks. And in terms of favorite places, while the list is hard to edit, Chris cites the following destinations as “must visit”, reflecting the “classic Calistoga” he knows well.

  • Forni Brown Welsh heirloom vegetable garden, which supplies most of Napa Valley’s best restaurants and sells Chris his organic starter plants each season
  • Buster’s BBQ at the four corners, for the best roadside tri-tip sandwich money can buy
  • Mount St. Helena, it’s what’s left of the volcano that is the Napa Valley, where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote stories and novels, and is a great place to hike
  • Cal-Mart, the grocery store, where the butcher shop is run by Chris’ old high school classmate Rick Serini, who’s lamb is the key ingredient in Madrigal lamb tacos
  • The Old Bale Mill, one of the last grain mills still standing west of the Rockies
  • Old Faithful Geyer, part of Calistoga’s hot springs culture and one of the three faithful geysers in the world

“Calistoga’s always been a tourist destination, with gliders, geysers, balloon rides, great produce and friendly locals. And although the town keeps changing, the spirit of Homer Wright’s General Store, now long gone but where my grandfather used to run a tab all year ‘til he could pay it off after harvest, still lives on. Many of us have lived here a long time and even the newcomers add something to the place.”

About Madrigal Family Winery

Located on Highway 29, halfway between Calistoga and St. Helena in the renowned Napa Valley, the Madrigal Family Winery continues the family tradition of viticultural leadership and wine production. Since the 1930s, the family has been building its reputation and earning recognition for their vineyard management program as well as their wines. Situated on 40 acres of estate vineyards, the state of the art Madrigal Winery specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, and small lots of single vineyard and estate wines. Today, Madrigal Family Winery is run by Chris Madrigal, the family’s 3rd generation.

Madrigal Family Winery is a Bacchus portfolio company.

For more information, visit www.madrigalfamilywinery.com

About Bacchus Capital Management

Bacchus Capital Management is an investment firm providing strategic capital and making equity investments in United States wineries and wine businesses.

Current Bacchus portfolio companies are: DeLille Cellars, Madrigal Family Winery, Maritime Wine Trading Collective, Panther Creek Cellars, Sbragia Family Vineyards, Dobbes Family Estate / Wine by Joe.

Prior Bacchus portfolio companies are Andretti Winery, Cameron Hughes Wine, and Qupé.

For more information, visit www.bacchuswinefund.com

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