Nestled away at the northern end of Napa Valley, just outside of Sonoma County, Calistoga is known as “Spa Heaven.” In normal times, relaxation-seeking visitors come from all over the world to experience the mud baths, massages, facials, and body treatments offered at dozens of spas and resorts in the area.
Though COVID-19 may have put your spa getaway plans on hold for now, since many spas are still closed or operating on a limited basis, the good news is that this idyllic town is also famous for its wines. The Calistoga AVA has one of the warmest climates in the Napa Valley, offset by cool nights thanks to breezes from the Pacific Ocean drawn in through the Chalk Hill mountain gap. The result? World-class wines that visitors can taste at the many welcoming tasting rooms throughout the region.
As a reminder, existing COVID-19 guidelines state that all wine tastings currently be held outdoors throughout Napa Valley. Luckily, Calistoga’s wineries aren’t short on outdoor spaces. Here are our choices for the 15 must-visit wineries in Calistoga.
Tamber Bey Vineyards is part-winery, part equestrian facility in a gorgeous Napa Valley setting. Located at the Sundance Ranch in Calistoga, a 22-acre equestrian center, the winery itself was once a riding arena. It now features state-of-the-art winemaking facilities and a crush pad with 36 fermentation tanks built for vineyard-designate wines. This means you can sip world-class wines while you visit with resident horses and maybe even see them in action.
Insider Tip: Opt for the Savory Cookie Pairing experience when you book your tasting to nibble on creations like the “Lemon Loop,” “Cardamom Crunch,” and “Triple Threat,” all dreamed up to pair with each Tamber Bey wine.
1251 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-2100
This iconic Napa Valley winery makes wines exclusively from its 450 acres of estate vineyards located in many of Napa’s premier growing regions, including Calistoga. This means the winery is deeply involved in the winemaking process, from grapevine to wine, farming vineyards to winemaking specifications in order to produce world-class bottlings. The stunning property features 20,000 square feet of caves that offer the perfect temperature and humidity for barrel aging, a Cave Theater for (future) events, and a new Heritage Garden with a collection of rare, drought-tolerant plants and trees.
Insider Tip: While all wines on offer at Clos Pegase are top-notch, for a real indulgence, take home a bottle of the winery’s limited-production, reserve-tier “Hommage” series wines — including their single-vineyard Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon — which are an annual tribute to Clos Pegase’s oldest Carneros vines.
1060 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-4981
This small-production, family-owned property specializes in Bordeaux varieties like cabernet sauvignon, as well as pinot noir and zinfandel. The winery gets its name from the nearby Dutch Henry Canyon, which was itself named after a mercury prospector who mined the land behind the winery. Today, the winery offers a variety of experiences that let you sample the wines and taste their estate-grown extra virgin olive oil, with access to the on-site bocce ball courts.
Insider Tip: Feel good while you sip! Not only are their cabernet sauvignon and syrah vineyards California Certified Organically Farmed, but in 2004, the winery added a 16.1 kW solar system to its roof, enabling them to substantially reduce nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions.
4300 Silverado Trail N, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-5771
As the name suggests, this winery is as close to a real medieval castle as you can get, including features like a moat, drawbridge, five towers, defensive ramparts, a chapel, an armory, and even a torture chamber. Your al fresco wine tasting includes a self-guided exploration of the first floor of this architectural wonder.
Insider Tip: The wines are just as worthy of discovery as the castle itself. Splurge on the Royal Food and Wine Pairing Tour (offered after 10/1), which culminates in a “Somm-inspired” pairing menu in the Royal Apartment tasting salon.
4045 St. Helena Highway, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 967-6272
This well-known property, located 300 feet above the town of Calistoga, offers some of the best views of Napa Valley. Visitors kick off their experience with an aerial tram ride up to the Greek-architecture-inspired winery — Sterling’s founder, Peter Newton, once lived in Mykonos.
Insider Tip: Prefer self-guided learning when it comes to wine? Sterling was designed with the visitor in mind — walkways and balconies feature digital monitors throughout, making it easy to explore the lower portion of the winery on your own.
1111 W Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515, (800) 726-6136
Located on the northern end of the Silverado Trail, Fairwind’s limited-production wines are as gorgeous as the setting in which they are served. This stunning property invites visitors to sip wine from a safe distance on the picnic grounds amidst the olive groves.
Insider Tip: Everything’s better with bacon… including wine! One day, hopefully soon, Fairwinds will again offer its unique Bacon and Wine Pairing experience (which includes four types of bacon bites with wine), but for now you can enjoy the house-made charcuterie pairing.
4550 Silverado Trail N, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 341-5302
Chateau Montelena is most known for helping to place California wine on the map by defeating some of France’s top Chateaux with their Chardonnay at the famous 1973 Paris Tasting. However, the historic property itself, styled after an English Gothic castle, is worthy of global attention, as are their wines, which reflect the incredible terroir of the region.
Insider Tip: While Chateau Montelena has always been known as a walk-in friendly winery, reservations are now required in accordance with state mandates. However, those wishing to pick-up a wine order without tasting can conveniently visit the drive-through pick-up area, which is open daily.
1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-5105
They call themselves “The friendliest tasting room in the Napa Valley.” We’d be pretty friendly too if we had racked up as many 90+ rated wines as Bennet Lane has. Bennett Lane specializes in classic Napa cabernet sauvignon, as well as chardonnay and a tasty red blend called “Maximus” that includes a touch of syrah, merlot, and malbec against a cabernet base.
Insider Tip: Bennett Lane offers two levels for their wine club, including the “Date Night Duo” featuring two bottles shipped every other month, and the “Emperor’s Society,” which includes access to Reserve wines and special cabernets.
3340 CA-128, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-6684
Housed in a 1930s-era service station with vintage Americana décor, this winery is one of the hippest in Calistoga. Tank Garage specializes in one-off, limited release California wine blends, with labels that deserve a gallery of their own, created from collaborations with photographers, tattoo artists, designers, and unique brands. Rumor has it there’s even a backroom speakeasy at the winery.
Insider Tip: In 2019, the winery launched an initiative called Tank Cares. Purchase something from this online collection of wine, cool clothing, and tunes on vinyl, and know that a portion of the profits go toward a charitable cause. Last year, this program raised $25,000, surpassing their goal of $20,000.
1020 Foothill Boulevard, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-0859
Seth Cripe left his Florida hometown and drove to Napa Valley at 17 to pursue his dream of becoming a winemaker. In 2008, he established LOLA with the goal of making world-class wines “of purity and soul” at reasonable prices. Today, this boutique winery sources top quality fruit from various appellations throughout Napa and Sonoma to pour for guests at their welcoming tasting room, “The LOLA House,” in downtown Calistoga.
Insider Tip: Try LOLA’s spectacular Artisan Series Cabernet Sauvignon, only available directly from the winery. The good news is shipping is free on orders of four bottles or more!
916 Foothill Boulevard, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 342-0623
Housed in the property’s original yellow Craftsman house, Frank Family Vineyards has one of the most welcoming tasting rooms in the Napa Valley. Current outdoor tastings take place on the inviting back porch, expansive front lawn, or shaded estate courtyard. They also offer six different types of wine clubs to join, from varietal-specific to reserve and everything in between.
Insider Tip: In addition to their lineup of still wines, including their signature Cabernet Sauvignon, Frank Family Vineyards also produces four different styles of sparkling wine worth exploring.
1091 Larkmead Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-0859
This Diamond Mountain property features not only breathtaking panoramic views but also one of the most historically significant cluster of buildings dating back to the 1800s. Owners Kisha and Jason Itkin have worked to integrate as much of this history as possible, while also building a state-of-the-art winery and tasting salon.
Insider Tip: Theorem tapped legendary Napa Valley winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown to create world-class wines that express the character of the sites and soils in which the fruit is grown. Theorem’s “Hawk’s Prey,” a single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and their Diamond Mountain Merlot, are some of the finest examples of this vision come to life.
255 Petrified Forest Road, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-4254
Founded in 1895, the Larkmead estate is one of the oldest family-owned properties in The Napa Valley. Each and every tasting experience is personalized and unique, taking place on the tranquil patio, and includes an in-depth tasting of Larkmead’s lineup of truly stunning premium wines.
Insider Tip: Larkmead’s flagship wine, “Solari” Cabernet Sauvignon, pays homage to owner Kate Solari Baker’s parents Larry and Polly Solari, who purchased the estate in 1948. The wine reflects the remarkable terroir of one single plot of vines, and is considered one of the finest expressions of Napa Valley cabernet.
1100 Larkmead Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-0167
This family-owned and operated winery overlooking the Palisades is less than five minutes from downtown Calistoga. The family firmly believes winemaking starts in the vineyard — through the soil, climate, and grape growers — and Amici wines reflect the painstaking care taken in each plot of land through to the final product in the glass.
Insider Tip: Amici offers three tiers of wine club memberships. While all three offer access to both Reserve and Vineyard Designate wines, the top two tiers also offer access to Amici’s collection of library wines and large format bottles.
3130 Old Lawley Toll Road, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 967-9560
While Napa Valley is indeed famous for its amazing cabernet sauvignon, there are also some gorgeous sparkling wines to be found. For over 50 years, Schramsberg — “America’s House of Sparkling wine” — has been crafting classic method bubbly as well as still wines. The property features candlelit 130-year-old caves (housing up to 2.7 million bottles of aging sparkling wine), which are a bit eerie and a bit romantic at the same time. Tours of the caves are currently unavailable until further notice, but you can still get a taste of Schramsberg’s history during one of their outdoor tasting experiences.
Insider Tip: Sign up for one of the winery’s “camp” programs and join other wine enthusiasts from around the country for a three-day, hands-on, totally immersive behind-the-scenes look at how Schramsberg sparkling wines are made from vineyard to glass. Though it is currently on hold, Camp Schramsberg typically happens each spring and fall, so sign up early to hold your spot and keep informed on dates.
1400 Schramsberg Road, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-4558