Celebrating Jazz, Wine, and Mud
The sound of jazz could be heard throughout the streets of Calistoga, Napa Valley’s famous spa town, at the annual Jazz Festival. The town overflowed with a festive spirit, food, and wine to mark this special occasion. The party took over the main street, with merchants offering sales and wine tasting. In the jazz tent, the sultry sounds of music resonated while some of the town’s best restaurants served tasty bites and wineries poured samples of their current releases for the happy patrons.
Live jazz was everywhere. Even after the festival concluded, many restaurants hosted musicians. We enjoyed dinner and jazz at Hydro Bar and Grill on Saturday evening. The musical entertainment was the ideal background for our lovely meal. On Sunday we dined at All Seasons Cafe, where we had brunch to the sounds of more jazz. The food and music were both excellent and left us wanting more.
While we were in town for the jazz festival, we choose to visit some of the more iconic wineries in Calistoga, those located in castles. There happen to be three of them. Here are some reasons why these wineries are worth visiting.
Castello di Amorosa is perched on a hilltop on Diamond Mountain. This Tuscan castle was inspired by owner Dario Sattui’s love of medieval European castles. Fortunately his success with the V. Sattui winery allowed him to realize his dream. After 15 years of construction efforts to utilize authentic materials and building techniques, this winery is open to the public. Their wine is as exceptional as the architecture.
For a special experience, make advance reservations for the horse-drawn Vineyard Tour, followed by a VIP tasting of their reserve wines in the airy Il Passito Tasting Room with comfortable furniture for a leisurely seated tasting. If you love architecture, then the Tour and Tasting will provide an opportunity to admire some of the 100+ rooms and eight levels of the castle. Their wine is only sold at the Castello, so if you find something you love, joining the wine club will provide discounts, as well as future shipments and inclusion at their member-only events. Read more about visiting Castello di Amorosa.
Details: Tours and Tasting, open daily from 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. March – October and 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. November – February. Castello di Amorosa is located at 4045 North St. Helena Highway in Calistoga, phone 707-967-6272.
Sterling Vineyards is on a hill overlooking the other side of the valley, with exceptional views. The tram spirits you up the mountain to their facilities. Inspired by the Greek Isle of Mykonos, these white-washed stucco buildings harbor an expansive patio and a private tasting room. Enjoy their self-guided winery tour while you sip a glass of wine. There are several upgraded tastings allowing samples of their reserve wine in a seated wine tasting. Join their wine club to get discounts on wine purchases and invitations to events that include a lobster feed.
Details: Tours and Tastings Monday – Friday 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Located at 1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515; phone 800-726-6136.
Chateau Montelena: This historic winery was featured in the film Bottle Shock. There are beautiful grounds to explore, and this is a lovely location for a picnic with views of swans gliding around the lake. Their wines are impressive, and the reason they won the Paris Wine Competition with their Chardonnay that put California wine on the map. They offer tastings in the main tasting room and encourage self-guided tours of their property.
Details: Tasting and Self-Guided Tours are available daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located at 1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515. Phone 707-942-4221.
We stayed at Indian Springs Resort and Spa because of their beautiful grounds lined with palm trees and the pool and spa, as well as their luxurious accommodations. We couldn’t have been happier. Their signature mud baths, from local volcanic ash combined with mineral waters from their own hot springs, make this an ideal way to relax. Afterward we continued our relaxation in the outdoor mineral-springs pool. It was heavenly soaking in the 102-degree water without a care in the world. Read about why Indian Springs is the place for relaxation and revitalization in Calistoga.
Details: Located at 1712 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA 94515; phone 707 942-4913.
Read the Art of Romance, a recent wine country adventure in the Napa Valley and Calistoga.
If you go, check out the Calistoga Visitors site for suggestions on how to plan the perfect itinerary. It is approximately a two-hour drive from San Francisco to Calistoga.