Calistoga is a gem of a destination located at the top of the Napa Valley, where visitors flock to for its laid-back ambiance. In a paradoxical twist on its bucolic charm, much like a fine jewel, it glitters with elegance, boasting posh retreats, world-class wines and sophisticated spots. A visit to Calistoga is a glimpse of the Old West within Napa Valley’s embarrassment of riches.
Take, for instance, Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort nestled in a secluded canyon with a private lake, hillside ancient oak groves, bubbling creeks and private Lakehouse restaurant. This upscale hideaway offers 50 freestanding guest lodges ranging up to 2,400 square feet. The style is sumptuous, with sleek wood cottages boasting private decks set with massive trees and outdoor rain showers, plus fireplaces, soaking tubs, and optional amenities like gourmet kitchens with private chef service. Here is where guests can succumb to a massage and therapeutic mineral salt body scrub in the spa, and then indulge in excellent meals featuring eggs from the resort chicken coop, honey from the resort hives, produce from the resort garden, and wine from the resort cave.
At Solage, an Auberge Resort, the heart and soul of the sophisticated farmhouse style resort is its 20,000-square-foot spa. The “mud bar” bathhouse impresses with a fire-pit lounge, geothermal pools, eucalyptus steam rooms with a luxury Starlight at the Bathhouse experience (a private retreat for couples after the spa has closed). Soak, steam and slather, and then sip some wine and nibble on dessert. Be sure to test out a Private Mindful Awareness Session that offers techniques to help you slow down and tap into a powerful source of creativity and energy. Post-spa, relax over a gourmet feast at Solbar, which serves inventive, locally-sourced dishes such as hibachi-grilled Akaushi Wagyu rib eye with Brentwood corn, wild mushrooms, Nardello peppers, new potatoes soaked in bordelaise.
Elegant Creole French cuisine in Wine Country may be found at a chic cottage and garden bistro named Evangeline. Indulge in silky duck confit cleverly brightened with red wine spiced prunes, or crispy skin seared salmon with Sebastopol greens, Persian cucumbers topped with trout roe and mustard vinaigrette. Even the butter is house-made from Straus Family organic cream with a bit of sea salt for slathering on warm baguette.
Davis Estates was built by renowned architect Howard Backen, who outdid himself with the planning of this extravagant winery. Within its 11,000 square feet of caves and 50-foot windmill outside, wine club guests gain access through the cave room’s four-ton double doors and wave at an infrared vein scanner that literally reads your palm. A tasting in the temperature-controlled Phase V Cellarium (a 24-foot tall glass and steel enclosed octagon that’s cozier than the chilled caves around you) leads to a dip into the Phase V wine series of which only about 200 cases are made per wine per vintage. The best way to sip these wines is to enjoy with a nibble of food pairings created by the winery chef.