You probably know that Calistoga is famous for wine – award-winning wine, in fact. It was Calistoga’s own Chateau Montelena Winery that put Napa Valley on the map as an international wine region in the Judgement of Paris in 1976. But did you know that Calistoga was founded as a resort town in the 1860s, long before Napa Valley was famous for grapes?
Town founder, Sam Brannan, had a grand vision of a wellness destination for wealthy and elite San Franciscans. Though Brannan became California’s first millionaire by selling supplies to miners during the Gold Rush in the 1840s and 1850s, he struck wellness gold when he discovered the healing, geothermal waters that naturally flow beneath Calistoga. The geothermal activity in our region sets Calistoga apart as both a wine and wellness destination, as the volcanic ash found here is used in spa treatments like our world-famous mud baths and contributes to Calistoga’s unique grape-growing capabilities.
The native Wappo tribe that resided in Calistoga had built their structures over areas where the steaming hot water emerged from the ground. Brannan quickly saw the potential for the healing waters that were naturally too hot to bathe in directly. He built pools to fill with Calistoga’s mineral waters, then added spring water to cool the waters down to a temperature you could bathe in. (This is how Calistoga’s 12 hot springs resorts still function!)
With Calistoga’s waters now ideal for not only mixing with native volcanic ash to apply to the skin, but also for swimming and relaxing in, visitors flocked to Calistoga’s new resort and have been coming here for rest and rejuvenation ever since.
The resort that Brannan built as the crown jewel of his wellness town still stands today, now called Indian Springs Resort, and many spas and resorts have cropped up in Calistoga since Brannan’s heyday. Once Calistoga became a wine and wellness destination, local resorts saw the potential to combine both areas for ultimate relaxation. Just as the volcanic ash is vital to Calistoga’s wine and wellness scenes, so are grape seeds. Aestheticians have devised clever ways to enjoy the benefits of the local crop of grapes in another way besides drinking them: in the form of grape seed spa treatments.
Here are three such grape seed spa treatments to try out on your next visit to Calistoga:
Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa is known for their retro aesthetic and quirky sense of humor, with rooms that look like vintage trailers, including tables that fold down into an extra bed, and fun events like full moon celebrations. A wall in the main spa area has tongue-in-cheek quotes, a nod to the quirky spa treatments of yesteryear.
MoonAcre Spa and Baths at Calistoga Motor Lodge offers two grapeseed spa treatments to choose from, as well as an extensive menu of more standard spa treatments. Whether you choose a treatment inside the chic spa or out in the airy and relaxing spa garden – this is an option! – you’re in for a treat.
“The Wine Country Scrub” features an exfoliating full body scrub made from crushed grape seeds followed by a hydrating application of a locally-made rosemary-and-lavender infused oil. Alternatively, try out “The Garden Vichy”, an homage to the popular Vichy treatments, in which one is showered and massaged with soothing, warm water. This treatment also includes a grape seed exfoliation, warm water rinse and rosemary and lavender oil, but set in the spa’s outdoor garden, (privacy drapery included.)
At Mount View Hotel & Spa, the luxurious, art deco hotel in downtown Calistoga, indulge in the “Radiant Glow Facial.” This treatment is perfect for the last day of a girls’ getaway – when you’ve had your fill of amazing wine but you’re not quite ready to end the relaxation. The facial begins with cleansing, followed by a skin exfoliation and antioxidant grape seeds toner. A neck, shoulder and foot massage completes the experience.
Have you tried a grape seed spa treatment? What do you think – is this your new favorite way to enjoy Calistoga grapes?