Your Guide to Wine-tasting in Calistoga

Calistoga is the ultimate destination for oenophiles and novices alike. With more than 50 wineries perched on this prestigious spot at the top of the Napa Valley, guests can easily spend an entire trip exploring this one town. Expect to be smitten by Calistoga’s Old West charm and welcoming community spirit as you taste your way through more than a few notable wineries and tasting rooms.

Tasting experiences run the gamut from boutique, family-owned wineries, to sprawling, luxury estates, to walkable, downtown tasting rooms. Return again and again to discover a new experience each time!

The best part? Fly home via Alaska Airlines from the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS), just a short 28-minute drive from Calistoga, and you can fly a case of wine home at no charge! Ah, the perks of visiting Wine Country.

Please Note: The elevated experiences and boutique wineries described in this itinerary require advance appointment.

Day One

Check in at your hotel. Consider making a reservation at a wine-centric property such as Calistoga Wine Way Inn or at Chateau de Vie, with vineyard views.

Start your wine tasting experience where it all began, at Chateau Montelena. Besting French whites in the ’76 Judgment of Paris, it was a Chateau Montelena ’73 chardonnay that placed first in the grand tasting at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Paris. The results proved Chateau Montelena as a fine wine producer, and California’s wine industry had come of age. Beyond its world-class wines, the chateau is eye candy for architectural enthusiasts. Are you ready to schedule an exclusive tour of the property? You may want to book an experience to taste wines in one of the private, Chinese pagodas in the center of Jade Lake.

From Chateau Montelena, enjoy a leisurely drive down the scenic Silverado Trail to Davis Estates, a posh winery with a rustic vibe. Indulge in tasting a wine flight in the unparalleled tasting room with its stellar view of Castello di Amorosa, Sterling Vineyards and trail of vines in between.

Head to the downtown area of Calistoga, where you can unwind from your day of exploration with a final tasting at Huge Bear Wines, a unique tasting room located in an historic bank building that pays homage to the urban legend of the brown bear appearance in Calistoga and nearby Knights Valley. Savor a flight of delicious wines and pose for a pic with the “huge” bear statue!

Walk across the street for dinner at Evangeline, a French-Cajun style bistro with a phenomenal wine list featuring New and Old World options. The sweet and spicy flavors from the kitchen mingle with scent of jasmine on its patio trellis sure to carry you away for an evening of relaxation.

Day Two

Pick up a cup of coffee and a light breakfast at Calistoga Roastery and warm up for a day of wine tasting adventures!

Head to Jericho Canyon Vineyard and buckle up for a thrilling Polaris ride through its steep, hillside vineyards (weather dependent). The view from the top of the hill is beyond spectacular. Off-road, the adventure continues with an exclusive tasting of small production, high-end wines served in the wine cave.

A bit down the road from Jericho Canyon, stop in to Amici Cellars for a friendly, laidback tasting experience in the barrel room, or, if pre-arranged, upstairs in the more formal tasting room with a glorious view of Calistoga.

Now that you’ve spent your morning wine tasting and exploring, it may be time for a lunch break at Lovina, a relaxed restaurant in downtown Calistoga with a farm-to-table style menu and a wine list featuring primarily Calistoga wines. Plus, you’ll also find a fun wine list addition of “Kaitlin’s Unicorn Wines”, exclusive wines from small batch wineries available at Lovina. Fun Fact: If visiting on a Thursday, bring a bottle from your new favorite Calistoga winery and Lovina will waive your corkage fee!

Make one last winery visit of the day at Brian Arden Winery, one of the newest wineries in Calistoga, one that features a panoramic view of the Palisades Mountains. Schedule an appointment for the Chef Bites Tasting experience and you’ll be greeted with a glass of bubbly, followed by a garden and vineyard tour and a seated tasting paired with seasonal, culinary bites.

Close the day with a decadent and luxurious meal at Veraison, French cuisine is on the menu and the wine list is otherworldly. Choose to order from the regular menu or indulge in the Chef’s Tasting Menu and wine pairing that “changes daily at the whim of the chef”. This is one risk you definitely won’t regret taking!

Day Three

Begin the day with a laidback brunch at Calistoga Inn, Restaurant & Brewery. If weather permits, and it usually does, choose to sit outside in the garden patio. Inside is pretty cozy, too.

Now that your appetite is satiated, are you ready for wine tasting? You may want to register in advance for a private wine blending session at Bennett Lane Winery, an unforgettable experience that includes a vineyard tour, sensory evaluation seminar, custom blending and cheese pairing. You’ll have fun blending, bottling, and even cork, foil and label your own bottle of Maximus Red Feasting Wine. Once you’re done, you can taste your own blend and other Bennett Lane wines, all paired with an assortment of cheese. This is an experience that simply can’t be missed for any self-proclaimed oenophile!

Down the road a bit is Tamber Bey Vineyards, located on Sundance Ranch, a world-class equestrian facility. Tour the property and catch a glimpse of the performance horses in-action before enjoying a signature wine tasting flight and savory cookie pairing. This should be enough to tide you over until a late lunch.

Speaking of lunch, you’ll enjoy perusing the wine list at All Seasons Bistro. The wine list is curated by the owner, a long-time Calistoga resident, restaurateur and wine collector, as is the fresh, seasonal cuisine. After a light and refreshing lunch, wander through downtown Calistoga and check out some top-of-the-line wine shops, including Calistoga Wine Stop and Enoteca Wine Shop. Be sure to stop in to browse through wine-inspired gifts at Blackbird of Calistoga and wine books and journals inside Copperfield’s Books.

Finish out your visit to Calistoga with an appointment at Larkmead Vineyards. Explore the classic red wines of Napa Valley from the heart of the vineyards along Larkmead Lane, as well as unusual blends created by their award-winning winemaker. Be sure to pack up your case of newfound favorite wines to bring home with you on your Alaska Airlines flight from Sonoma County!

Noteworthy Wine Events

  • Calistoga Wine Experience: On Saturday before Calistoga Harvest Table, sample Calistoga AVA wines and enjoy small bites and live music in a lush outdoor setting.
  • Calistoga Harvest Table: On the second Sunday in September, take a seat to celebrate a bountiful harvest season at 1,000 feet of tables along Lincoln Avenue. Enjoy a spectacular menu from one of a dozen Calistoga restaurants and purchase a glass of wine from a list of nearly 50 wineries!
  • Winter in the Wineries Passport: On the first Saturday in December through the second Sunday in February, purchase a Passport for $60 and enjoy complimentary wine tastings on the list of participating wineries, and get discounts on lodging, spa services, retail shops and restaurants!

Surrounding Areas

If you wish to extend your trip to the surrounding areas, know that Calistoga is the heart of the California wine country. Its location provides easy driving distance throughout the entirety of the Napa, Sonoma and Russian River Valleys, as well as the up-and-coming Lake County wine region. Click here to check out a few recommended regional wineries!

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