The first thing many wine lovers remark upon when introduced to Envy Wines is the name. After sampling from the boutique winery’s portfolio, they often ask if the label was chosen as an inside wink to other winemakers, because the wines certainly are enviable. But that’s not why founders Nils Venge and Mark Carter chose “Envy.”
Nils became a stellar winemaking presence in the Napa Valley in 1985, when his Groth Vineyards Cabernet Reserve was the first wine to receive the very highest accolade: 100 points from Robert Parker. Nils launched his own Saddleback Cellars, and was the star attraction at the first winemaker dinner at Carter House in Old Town Eureka, owned by Mark Carter. Mark constructed an amazing wine list for his restaurant and inn, and then when he wanted to create his own label, Carter Cellars, he asked Nils to be his winemaker. Nils and Mark worked together for many years and then began searching for a location for their next joint project, Envy Wines. It took more than five years, but they found the perfect, idyllic spot along charming Tubbs Lane in Calistoga.
The amiable Tuscan-style tasting room features a friendly wrap-around covered patio. It’s the kind of spot that invites guests to picnic, sample wines, and enjoy their view of the Palisades, and Old Faithful Geyser, which still erupts at regular intervals. Dogs are more than welcome and are often greeted by winery Chihuahuas Moxie and Coco. Those still intrigued by the name Envy Wines are told that the initials “N.V.” are phonetically pronounced “Envy.” Although the wines beautifully express the terroir of the Napa Valley, the N.V. whom Envy Wines was named is Nils Venge.
Although a visit to the tasting room is a must for those planning a visit Calistoga, Envy Wines has a wine club that allows members to customize their orders, if they choose. This allows everyone to enjoy Envy Wines and see for themselves what the intrigue is about.