SONOMA, JULY 19, 2014 – Calistoga, in lovely Napa Valley, California, is breathtaking year-round. Nestled at the base of the Palisades Mountains and Mount Saint Helena, and at the very north end of the Napa Valley, you will find Calistoga. It is a small town treasure in an otherwise vast and often crowded wine country.
1. Wine Tasting
It should be no surprise that the number one thing to do in Calistoga is taste wine. What you may not know is that there are a lot of small, artisanal wine producers hidden away in Napa Valley. Here are a few wineries not to be missed:
Jericho Canyon Vineyards: if there were only one word to describe Jericho Canyon, it would be breathtaking. Often that word is overused, but in this instance, it might actually be understating the speechless beauty visitors will encounter at this winery. Tasting suggestions: they don’t make much, so try everything. Tours and seated tastings are by appointment only.
Homage Vineyard: if there were a name for teeny, tiny artisan wineries, Homage would be the picture in the dictionary next to the word. Micro-winery standout Homage, is an absolute must when visiting Napa Valley. Tasting suggestions: the good folks at Homage only make one wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and it is delicious! Seated tastings are by appointment only.
Tamber Bey: relative newcomer to the scene, Tamber Bey is a must see horse ranch and winery. At this stunning winery and horse ranch, the owners have brought their two biggest passions together. Tasting suggestions: try their Tench Sauvignon Blanc, Rabicarro Red Blend and their Oakville Estate Cab (if they are pouring it). Seated tastings are by appointment only.
Amici Cellars: Tasting suggestions – try all of their Cabernet Sauvignon and the Chardonnay. Seated tastings are by appointment only.
Bennett Lane: Tasting suggestions: Reserve Chardonnay, Maximus and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Tastings are by appointment only.
Canard Vineyard: Tasting suggestions – Bordeaux blends: Adam’s Blend, The Rescuer, and if you can get your hands on any, their Cabernet Franc. Extremely limited appointments are available.
Castello di Amorosa: Tasting suggestions – reserve flight tasting. Be sure to book your tour and tasting well in advance in the summer and fall months. Tip: if you can book this tour on a weekday and early in the day to avoid those large crowds.
Phifer Pavitt: Tasting suggestions -they only make two wines here – Date Night Red and Date Night White; try them both. By appointment only; seated tasting; tours available.
Carter Cellars: Tasting suggestions – Cab Cab Cab with a splash of Merlot. Don’t miss The Grand Daddy and The Three Kings. By appointment only.
It is no secret that Napa Valley is known for its four-star restaurants. Yes, there are a few of those in Calistoga, but there are also a few lesser-known treasures worth mentioning.
Calistoga Kitchen: This charming restaurant has a very intimate atmosphere. The menu features ingredient-driven food using the bounty from local growers, purveyors and winemakers from the region. Don’t leave without trying an original concoction from the organic juice bar. Not to be missed brunch items include huevos rancheros with ranch gordo beans, house made guacamole, and roasted jalapeno, and French toast with fresh strawberries, blueberries and organic maple syrup. Calistoga Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner and Sunday brunch. Location: 1107 Cedar Street (at Lincoln), 707.942.6500.
Jolè: Jolè is a contemporary American Restaurant that is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Matt and Sonjia Spector, chef and pastry chef, respectively. Choose from four, five or six-course wine-pairing dinners. Sample dishes such as local salmon with yellow, blue lake & romano beans, dill, salmon roe and bacon wrapped veal sweet breads with fingerlings, crimini mushrooms, toasted hazelnut, and marsala. It is highly suggested that you try the wine pairing tasting menus starting at $80 per person. Location: 1457 Lincoln Ave, 707.942.5938.
D’Amici Ristorante: D’Amici is a very urban chic, neuvo-Italian restaurant with clean, masculine architecture and incredible food. It has the look of a San Francisco restaurant tucked away on sleepy main street in Calistoga. The look, the service, the wine and the food are impeccable. Food and wine lovers, be sure not to miss this cuisine hot spot. Eating suggestions: Mozzarella tiepida, burrata con bietole, di finocchi e arance con ricotta, malfatti di bietole, gnocchi and lasagna verde al forno. Location: 1440 Lincoln Ave, 707.942.1400.
Brannan’s Grill: Brannan’s is ideally located in the heart of downtown Calistoga, right in the middle of everything. The restaurant is one of the larger ones in Calistoga, beautifully laid out with elegant tables and a long, hip bar space. Guests can belly up to the bar for drinks or bites, or dine in their spacious main dining area. Brannan’s serves weekend brunch, lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended. Brunch recommendations: egg white scramble with veggie cakes, arugula and salsa; French toast with mulberries and maple syrup; mimosas, bloody marys and other Sunday Funday drinks. Location: 1374 Lincoln Ave, 707.942.2233.
Mount View Hotel Spa: The Mount View Spa staff and technicians create an ideal and effortless environment in which to relax. If you are staying at the hotel, you can just walk down to the spa in your robe, instantly ready to start soaking in the soothing atmosphere. Choose from treatments such as massage, couples massage, facials, and various body treatments. Plan to stay for the day and relax around their outdoor serene pool and hot tub. Location: 1457 Lincoln Ave., 855.281.6668.
Baths at Roman Spa: Calistoga is a popular destination for a spa weekend due to their hot mineral springs and mud baths. There is no better place to relax, rejuvenate and revive than at the classic Roman Bath House. Spa-goers here can choose from treatments such as massage, mineral bath and of course, mud baths. There is nothing fancy about the Roman Bath House. If you are looking for a more elite spa experience, this isn’t the place for you. But if you are looking for a wonderful experience (and at a reasonable price), then this is the place for you. Their very attentive staff will treat you like a Roman…back in the day. Location: 1300 Washington Street, 707.942.2122.
There are many choices for accommodations in Calistoga, including quaint bed and breakfasts, hip, nearly LA-like hotels, elegant inns, spas and even cheaper motels. Depending on your budget, Calistoga will have something for every traveler.
Mount View Hotel: the recently renovated Mount View Hotel is in the perfect location to wine taste all day and walk to dinner in the evening. Each room is unique, featuring a different local winery. As a bonus, their spa is wonderful and only a short walk down the stairs to get to your relaxing treatments. Double bonus, Jolé is their hotel restaurant. Score! Location: 1457 Lincoln Ave., 707.942.6877.
Sunburst Hotel: the Sunburst Hotel was also recently renovated. This hotel is perfect for the budget conscience traveler. They possess a hip, mid-century modern motel vibe. Their pool is private, tucked away at the back of the hotel, with a huge hot tub. Location: 1880 Lincoln Ave., 707.942.0991.
Additional hotel suggestions:
Art studios and galleries seem to pop up in the most unexpected places. Not to say that Calistoga is a completely unexpected place to find art, however, the high quality and unique types of art experiences you can have here is a welcome surprise.
Villa Ca’Toga Tour: Ca’Toga is truly an art lover’s paradise. Ca’Toga is the home of renowned artist Carlo Marchiori. This home is nothing short of spectacular. Touring this house and property is like walking inside a work of art. Marchiori will be your very gracious and hospitable tour guide. Who better to tour you around the house and property than the artist himself? ? Immediately upon entering the house, art-lovers won’t help but to be impressed by the floor to ceiling frescos and sunken living room/fireplace. Marchiori will provide a history before letting you loose inside the house to tour at your leisure. With each door opened and room entered, greater beauty and mystery awaits.
Everything in and outside the house is by design, from the sculptures to the trees, to each and every stone, except the creek, nature put that there. This is Marchiori’s masterpiece. He was reusing and repurposing old materials before it was “hip.” Ca’Toga is the very definition of green. He has managed to turn piles of rubble into awe-inspiring art. Marchiori is quoted as saying, “whatever you have, you cook with.” Location:3061 Myrtledale Road, 707.942.3900
Additional Art Suggestions
Amazing, breathtaking, picturesque and surreal are only a few of the words that come to mind after hot air ballooning over Calistoga. Calistoga Balloons is the perfect partner to cross this thrilling item off your bucket list. Soak in the majestic mountain landscapes and vistas while you soar over spectacular 360-degree views of Napa Valley vineyards. Every picture you take can be sent as a postcard: Napa is beautiful; wish you were here, xo. Information: http://www.calistogaballoons.com; 707.942.5758 to make a reservation. Individual tickets start at $185 per person.