A Weekend in Napa Valley: Finally, a romantic getaway!

A romantic getaway weekend in Napa Valley? It’s about time…I don’t talk a lot about my married life on here, for obvious reasons, but I’m publicly celebrating love this week. Why? First, it’s Valentine’s Day, but also I was recently asked about our wedding…I replied about how unconventional it all was (it was!) but stressed that the type of wedding we had didn’t matter–what does matter is that we’ve been together for 13+ years and married for almost 12. We’ve been through a lot together, roughed the transitions expected of a cross-cultural couple, and are now supporting each other on the joint mission of raising our two children.

Second, we just had the opportunity to have an overnight romantic getaway. We appreciated every moment of it because we rarely have the chance to get away without our kids. With Valentine’s Day here, I decided to share it with you–maybe our getaway will inspire you to come to Calistoga or to escape with your loved one wherever you are.

Calistoga getaway

As you probably know, I am a big fan of California’s gorgeous Napa Valley, but I honestly had not experienced it all until now–I had never been to Calistoga. Calistoga is the northernmost town in the valley, where the valley is very narrow (just 1.5 miles wide), so the town is literally bordered by mountains. It is known for its hot springs and for being a somewhat quirky resort town. Actually, I found that it has much more than that.

Day 1:

We arrived after driving up Napa Valley and enjoying the views of the winter vineyards decorated with yellow mustard blooms.

Napa Valley vineyards

1:30: Lunch at Calistoga Kitchen

Calistoga where eat

The restaurant has a modern interior and small menu that changes depending on what the season offers. We ordered the Iron Man juice (made with red vegetables), a salad with smoked trout, and the quinoa veggie burger. Everything was great, but the best item was the duck soup that they brought for us to try. I’m not much of a meat eater, but the flavors were perfect.

3:00: Small Wineries

We drove just a couple of miles north of Calistoga to Bennett Lane Winery and Envy Wines.

Bennett Lane Winery

Bennett Lane is a fairly new winery but has been getting a lot of attention for its 34 wines that have received 90+ point scores. They claim to be best known for their Cabernets and Maximus, a hearty red blend, and I have to agree. My favorite was the Robert Whitley 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Impressive wines but down-to-earth atmosphere. The tasting fee is $15–a good deal in Napa Valley!

Envy Wines

Have you wanted to visit a small winery in Napa Valley? Envy Wines is a great pick!

Envy Wines is a boutique winery, meaning that it produces small amounts of its wines (just 1500-1700 cases), which are available only at the winery. It is also an estate winery, producing all its wines from the grapes grown here (in contrast, most wineries make their wines from a combination of grapes from various parts of California). There are 11 acres of Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes on site.

I loved this place! Instead of standing at a bar to taste wine, we sat at a nice table and relaxed. I liked their reds so much that I almost signed up for their wine club. Maybe next time…

5:00: Check in at Craftsman Inn

Craftsman Inn

The Craftsman Inn is a small, romantic B&B in a craftsman-style house just one block from downtown Calistoga. The rooms are cozy and tastefully decorated with jacuzzi tubs and private patios, but probably the #1 reason to stay here is the breakfast (see below).

6:30: Walk downtown

downtown Calistoga

Calistoga’s downtown still has the look of a historic Gold Rush era town with several blocks of small shops, art galleries, and wine tasting rooms. We stopped at the Calistoga Roastery for coffee and loved the big tables and comfortable atmosphere, and then browsed in the large bookstore (so great to see a big bookstore these days!).

coffee Napa Valley

7:00: Dinner at All Seasons Bistro

Calistoga where to eat

We LOVED this restaurant! All Seasons Bistro has been in Calistoga for 30 years, consistently serving great food that celebrates the seasons, using the best possible ingredients available. For example, the owner explained the long process of making her own blackberry-infused vinegar instead of buying it. The flavors of the food reflected the restaurant’s attention to detail: everything was delicious and beautifully presented.

All Seasons Bistro

This was our dinner:

  • beet salad with pickled fennel and pistachios (shown above)
  • organic mixed greens with pears and walnuts (which my husband called “the best salad I’ve had in a very long time”)
  • butternut squash gnocchi with blue cheese cream
  • risotto with seared scallops and wild mushrooms (also above)
  • a Meyer lemon tart
  • The salads and entrees were perfectly paired with local wines, first a Sean Minor Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County, and second a Napa Cellars Pinot Noir.

Day 2:

8:30: Breakfast at Craftsman Inn

Owner Gillian Kite wrote a cookbook of breakfast recipes, and after eating breakfast there, I can see why she has her own cookbook. Everything was delicious: blueberry coconut muffins, baked apples, poached eggs with chicken apple sausage, baked breakfast beans, and fresh fruit salad, with coffee, orange juice, and champagne.

9:00: Mineral bath treatments at Roman Spa

Calistoga spa

Calistoga is known for its hot springs and is considered one of the best spa towns in the United States. I was definitely curious about the spa experience, so we had a couple’s one-hour mineral bath treatment at Roman Spa. An hour in the hot mineral water felt amazing, and I loved the mud mask and body scrub, too. Very relaxing…just what a couple needs on a romantic getaway.

10:30: Return to the hotel to shower and check out

11:30: Downtown shopping

Napa olive oil

We stopped at The Calistoga Olive Oil Company to taste olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Each was different but all had rich, fresh flavors. We couldn’t leave without buying some to take home for ourselves and as a gift. Wonderful!

Calistoga shopping

Calistoga has something I’ve never seen before but thought was brilliant: the old train depot and train cars have been renovated into shops and restaurants.

12:15 Scenic drive and a stop at Chateau Montelana

Calistoga winery

One of the unique features of Napa Valley is its almost unreal wineries, with incredible architecture and gardens. Chateau Montelana is one of those, with its beautiful European-style building and stunning Asian garden with the mountains of Calistoga as the backdrop. It’s just at the edge of Calistoga and made a perfect stop as we drove the scenic roads that lead out of town.

calistoga

1:15: Castello di Amorosa winery

castle winery

Castello di Amorosa is one of those wineries I had certainly heard about but had not stopped at yet. We were blown away…the castle is 120,000 square feet, and 80,000 square feet are underground. The interior is gorgeous, with materials imported from Europe, like the floor tiles imported from Belgium and the wall paintings done by European artists. The results are truly impressive.

The winery specializes in Italian-style reds, and my favorite was the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, which received double gold from the American Fine Wine Association. A great red wine that reflects the terroir of Napa Valley! More details about this winery are coming soon…

3:00: Quick lunch at V. Sattui before driving home

V. Sattui

V. Sattui winery and deli from last year in the fall

The owner of Castello di Amorosa, Dario Sattui, also owns V. Sattui, one of the classic wineries of Napa Valley. We stopped there for lunch, as we have before, choosing sandwiches, salads, and a baguette with cheese at the deli and eating outside in the sun at the winery’s picnic tables.

What’s your idea of a romantic getaway? Have you been to Calistoga?

A 3-Day Itinerary for Napa Valley, now available on Amazon

30 Things to Do in Napa Valley

Winter in the Wine Country

7 Tips for Wine Tasting

The Perfect Day-Trip to Napa Valley

A California Castle Winery

This trip was made possible by the Calistoga Vistors Bureau, but, as always, all opinions expressed are my own. A big thank you also goes to my mother, who stayed with our kids.

18 Comments

  • Ana O says:

    I love that area! What a great idea for a romantic getaway!
    Ana O recently posted..You ain’t from around hereMy Profile

  • Chris says:

    We’re taking a much needed solo no kids date tomorrow. And I know what you mean by “Yes. It’s been that long.”

    I heard a wise man once say about marriage, “The best thing you can do for your kids is love each other.”
    Chris recently posted..Family Business Values and Conscious Business with James Werning of the Fox and Fiddle InnMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I hope you have a great no-kids date! And I love that quote you shared. A healthy marriage makes the home happy, and the kids can really see that.

  • The Guy says:

    It looks like a wonderful place to retreat to. I’m very envious.
    The Guy recently posted..Why Do We Ski?My Profile

  • Cindy says:

    Love all the pictures, details, and menus from your getaway! So glad you two had such a wonderful time – it was much deserved and overdue!

  • I loved Calistoga. So much more personality than Napa. Loved the laid back feel. If you’re going to experience wine country and a real romantic getaway, I highly recommend this area over Napa.
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..Soaring through Mariposa on a Yosemite zipline highMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I agree that Calistoga has a great feeling and is more laid-back than the rest of Napa Valley, but I really like Napa, too. They are different, but I like both.

  • I’ve been to Calistoga, but not for a romantic getaway. I ended up there one time after an afternoon of wine tasting in the Napa Valley. One thing I remember about Calistoga is seeing the geyser. Anyway, after seeing your photos I hope I can get back sometime.

    Are you familiar with the origin of the town’s name? Supposedly it arose from a malapropism by the town’s founder, Sam Branna. He claimed he would make Calistoga a resort town to rival Saratoga, thereby providing California’s version of that East Coast city. But he mangled the words and said he was going to create the “Calistoga of Sarifornia.” The name stuck. Perhaps that’s apocryphal, but it’s a great story. 🙂
    Harvey (H-Bomb’s Worldwide Karaoke) recently posted..H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, Week 19: Nashville’s Union StationMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      Yes, I heard that story about the town’s name when I was in Calistoga. It’s funny because I had actually been wondering what type of name it was and was curious about its origin.

  • Christy says:

    These photos are amazing! If I lived slightly closer to Napa, I’m sure we would be planning tons of weekend getaways to that area. Scott and I are going to Santa Barbara (not for work!) in a couple of weeks and we have decided it will be a romantic weekend. Although, now you are making me want to book something to Calistoga!
    Christy recently posted..5 Restaurants to Try in San Juan, Puerto RicoMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I have not been to Santa Barbara, so going there sounds like a great time, but you should come up to Calistoga sometime. You’ll love it, I’m sure.

  • Love Calistoga! You know I think that’s the restaurant I ate at last time I was there! I was just thinking about that place today because I was looking at a yellow beet salad I had that was delicious!
    Timing and small world!

    Glad to hear you had a great getaway in some place new!
    Lauren @ roamingtheworld recently posted..Flashback Photo Fridays: Usambara MountainsMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience. We really enjoyed that restaurant! It felt like an older part of Calistoga, still a bit funky but classy at the same time. Much more character than some of the newer restaurants just down the street.

  • Thais says:

    Hi Jenna,
    I just read all about your romantic getaway as we are getting ready for ours this weekend. We are going to the same area, my favorite. We will bring our bikes to bike through the region and visit the wineries. I am gonna try to visit the Envy Winery, it sounds great. Thanks for sharing and for all the tips!

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