Play: At the northern tip of the Napa Valley, the Calistoga AVA is home to more than 45 wineries. Downtown is dotted with tasting rooms, but before we started on Lincoln Avenue, we toured Schramsberg Vineyards just south of town.
The winery’s rich history begins with Joseph Schram who purchased the stunning hillside property on Diamond Mountain in 1862 and began growing grapes. The magnificent caves were built in the late 1800s. In 1957, the winery became a CA historical landmark. Since 1965, they have followed the French method of making sparkling wine, including hand riddling the bottles. Be sure to try the 2010 Blanc de Blancs and the 2005 J Schram.
In the center of Calistoga, our wine tasting adventure started at Up Valley Vintners. This comfortable venue includes a rear outdoor patio as well to showcase now five boutique wineries (four on our visit). We enjoyed these handcrafted wines – the 2010 Las Tres Hermanas from Zacherle Wines, Tofanelli’s 2010 Charbono, the 2008 Kenefick Ranch Cabernet Franc and the 2007 Barlow Vineyards Merlot.
Next door, W.H. Smith Wines sells both wine and a variety of accessories. Their Pinot Noirs, Hellenthal Vineyard and Marimar Estate – both 2009s – are rich, fruity and balanced.
If you’re energetic, Bothe State Park offers 1800 acres of hiking trails, picnic areas, an historic Visitors Center and Wappo People, a Native American plant garden. Every Saturday, there’s a Farmers Market in full swing.
When it’s time to immerse yourself in thermal waters and warm mud, there are many tempting options including Indian Springs Resort & Spa. Operating since 1862, the 16-acre property sits in the shadow of the mountains and next to the active Indian Springs’ geysers. The mud bath ritual includes sinking into the warm volcanic mud for 15 minutes, then rinsing off in the shower and soaking in geyser water. A cleansing steam of eucalyptus and lavender follows and finally a heavenly wrap in a flannel blanket, cucumbers on the eyes and a blissful rest. If this isn’t enough, there are always spa treatments and lounging in the Olympic-sized mineral pool naturally heated to over 90 degrees. )
Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort offers a similar experience. You can’t help but feel pampered and tranquil. Skin care treatments, massages and three mineral pools add to the serenity.
At the Sunburst, there are three soothing mineral pools to soothe your aching body (includes full size, wading and a Jacuzzi).
Lincoln Avenue is Calistoga’s main drag. In addition to inns, spas and wine tasting rooms, you’ll find an interesting selection of art galleries, consignment shops, a candy store, pet store, book store and Maxine’s. This intimate shop sells antiques as well as new items with six individual dealers represented in the space (707-942-4300). And for great tasting olive oils, spices and bath products, it’s the Calistoga Olive Oil Co.