Tamber Bey Vineyards in Calistoga is one of Napa Valley‘s most unusual wineries in that it is located in the middle of a working horse ranch. In fact, the 15,000 square foot winery was once a covered riding arena.
Tamber Bey’s primary purpose is winemaking, but it is also home to over 45 horses and the largest horse rescue organization in Napa County. What else would you expect from a vintner, Barry Waitte, who is so passionate about horses that he named his winery after his first two Arabian horses, Tamborina and Bayamo?
A visit to this magnificent property is truly like nothing else you’ll find in Napa. Here are seven unique ways to experience it all, from eating and drinking to playing and exploring. (Just be sure to plan ahead as tours and tastings are by appointment only.)
Not many Napa Valley wineries encourage you to horse around, but that’s exactly what happens at Tamber Bey, which is located at Sundance Ranch, a world-class equestrian facility where high-performance Arabian horses are trained, and abused and neglected horses are cared for and given sanctuary. There are 45 horses on the property at all times, and there are always a few hanging out who are happy to say hi and pose for a photo. A 90-minute Winery and Ranch Tour is included with your tasting and is the best way to meet some of the resident horses, as well as see the ranch and the crush and barrel facility.
There are plenty of wineries in Calistoga with bocce courts, but it makes sense for a working horse ranch to have a horseshoe pit. It’s not the, ahem, mane attraction, but it is regulation-standard and the perfect place to enjoy a little friendly (we hope!) competition while wine tasting.
Do you have a friendly, well-behaved dog who will happily stay on a six-foot leash? If so, you can bring him along on your Napa Valley wine tasting adventure. The folks at Tamber Bey will even give him treats and make sure he has plenty of water, because humans aren’t the only ones who should make sure to hydrate when visiting a winery.
In theory, wine tasting and picnics go hand-in-hand, but in actuality, there are a lot of tasting rooms that don’t offer food and/or don’t allow people to bring their own. Tamber Bey is neither of those. You can pre-order a boxed picnic lunch that includes a gourmet sandwich, salad, fruit, chips, and a cookie, or you can bring your own picnic (as long as you’re doing a tasting). Whichever way you go, we recommend enjoying your lunch in the courtyard, which is surrounded by a 16-stall barn, with views of Mount St. Helena and the Palisades.
Every wine on Tamber Bey’s tasting menus has received a score of 90 points or higher. The grapes for these wines come from one of two estate-owned vineyards in Napa Valley plus vineyards in Sonoma and Lake Counties. Whether you choose the Vineyard Series Tasting or Signature Collection Tasting, you’ll get a sampling of top-rated wines.
Forget wine and cheese, at Tamber Bey it’s all about wine and cookies. Seriously! The winery partnered with a local baker to create a collection of savory cookies that pair perfectly with its wines. With names like Wasabi Ginger, Black Bacon, Cardamom Crunch, and Lemon Loop, you know you’re in for a tasting treat full of unexpected flavors. Plus, there’s no other pairing like it in Napa Valley.
The atmosphere at Tamber Bey is so relaxing that there’s a good chance you will want to linger a little longer, and everyone knows that lingering is made so much better when accompanied by wine, which Tamber Bey offers by the glass. Taste through several to see which one you like best, then enjoy a full pour in the gorgeous tasting room (the original barn clubhouse) with vaulted ceilings and rustic touches, or al fresco in the sunshine.
Open daily from 10am to 5pm. Tours and tastings by appointment only.
Images courtesy of Tamber Bey