If you enjoy visiting the wine country, but you shy away from wineries requiring appointments, you need to change your ways. I, too, used to avoid those wineries - after all, it was just such an intrusion to be bound by a schedule!
When I visit the wine country now, I'll usually schedule an appointment at one winery. You get personalized attention, more wine for the tasting, no crowds (often you and your friends are the only ones there), and the wines are almost always superior.
Reverie Winery on Diamond Mountain, just east of Calistoga is one of these wineries that requires appointments. We were first taken into the wine cave where we sat at a large table and several wines were poured for us. Then we went out to the redwood grove, and several more wines were poured. The scenery was gorgeous, and the wines were outstanding. We were sold, and are now huge Reverie fans!
Just south of Calistoga on Hwy 29, look for the Diamond Mountain turn off to the west. A narrow road winds up the mountain to the Reverie Winery.
"Great water and even better wine"
Calistoga is probably best known for it's water and it's hot spring spas. But even better are some of the wineries located in this village at the northern end of Napa county.
One of my favorite wineries is Clos Pegase. Founded by publishing magnate, Jan Shrem and his late wife Mitsuko, the winery is dedicated to creating world class wines and hosting international art.
Pictured is the entrance to the winery
Napa Valley Escape
"Mud Baths and Beyond"
After a weekend in San Francisco, my girlfriend and I took a rental car out to Napa Valley for some R and R. and that is exactly what we got. I can truly say that the two and a half days we spent winding around the Napa side of Wine Country was as pleasant and relaxing as it gets. We set our base in Calistoga to take advantage of the hot springs, and spas. The town of Calistoga is cut right from the old western postcard. One would not be surprised to see nothing but stilts holding up the buildings from the other side as if resembling a movie set. Although restaurants and salons and spas make up most of the merchants on main street, there are other speciality storefronts that make for a pleasant afternoon of shopping. But yes, it is the spas that keep this town on the map. We must highly recommend spending a few hours (if not a day) at the Lincoln Avenue Spa. My girlfriend and I enjoyed a treatment we were escorted to a room where in privacy we could rub a soothing clay mask across each other's body. Upon completion we laid down on a steam table and our host returned to offer us a "flavor" of steam. She then closed the table's lid over us for about 25 minutes. (We chose the lemongrass flavor) I relaxed and recounted the weekends events back in the city, while every soothing breath tasted like lemon camomile, and I, indeed, almost dosed off
"The Silverado Trail"
The Silverado Trail is a more scenic path thru the northern Napa Valley. Running parallel to the busy route 29, the Silverado Trail connects Calistoga to Napa winding along the Napa River. There are many great wineries to discover along the trail, such as, Sterling Vineyards, Robert Pecota, Chateau Montelena and Monticello.
"The Tastings Continue"
Besides the major attractions of Beringer and Sterling Vineyards, I would recommend highly some smaller gems in the Valley. First, do not miss the regal spendor of Chateau Montelena. This vineyard's reisling vintage found its way back home with me. Second, do not bypass St. Clement Vineyard perched high aboove route 29. Enjoy this vineyard's smooth rose on the terrace porch overlooking the vines below.