OK so for Napa, this blog is a guest entry and written by Caroline. Who as you will see is a far better writer than me :-)
Open 10.30 ish to 4.00. Maybe. Calistoga is the municipal version of a nap on the sofa after a long and leisurely Sunday lunch: a mellow, tipsy, dozy, 'everything's a bit too much of an-effort, so I think I'll just lie here' kind of place.We arrived on a hot Tuesday afternoon via the beautiful 'valley of the moon' and headed straight for the spa - Calistoga is known for its hot springs and mineral waters. At the Solage, Sarah and I opted for the couples mudslide; Calistoga is not that far out of San Francisco that this would raise an eyebrow. It was heaven: mudded up we sipped on lemon and cucumber water while we toasted on warm tiles, then had side by side mineral baths before being cocooned in duvets on 'zero gravity chairs' - a victory of marketing over physics I suspect but in any case supremely relaxing.The only people who rise early in Calistoga are Mexican builders. I know this because a group of them were demolishing the house next door to our airbnb, flinging roof tiles to the floor to the beat of mariachi music. At 7am. Not a problem for Sarah who popped round in a very English way to ask Juan if he wouldn't mind awfully starting the fiesta at 9am. They seemed to take it well, but I was still very relieved to find the Camaro intact on our return that evening.Later that morning we hired bikes for the first of many wine tours. We rather ambitiously thought we'd manage 5 wineries. Ha! Such novices, but it was after all what we'd paid for, and we are English don't you know. (On our 2nd bike tour we lowered our target to 2). We started strong at Summers (5 tasted and 2 bottles purchased), got our wine legs by Tedeschi 2 (5 tasted and another bottle purchased), became a little jaded by the banter and bluegrass music at Lava (4 tasted I think but the beards and banjos were a bit distracting, 0 bottles purchased) and were so wined out by Dutch Henry - 4 generous pours, the 35 degree heat, and a relentless sodding hill that some b*stard placed between the 3rd and the 4th winery - that I'd have gladly purchased the whole cellar in return for a lift home. We actually did get to see the cellar at Dutch Henry, which was cool in every sense of the word: a hobbit-hole style door in the hillside gave into a wonderfully refreshing vast area so fragrant with alcohol and oak that I'm sure you could get drunk there if you inhaled for long enough. We couldn't test that theory, what with already being somewhat merry.That night at Jole restaurant, Sarah could bear it no more, admitted defeat and ordered a cocktail in lieu of wine (note that she went the way of hard liquor rather than water...)
Following an early night (de rigeur in Calistoga), we were up even before Juan to hit a 7 mile trail up the palisades. The oak hill mine trail gave us stunning views of the vineyards and valley, and the whole hike smelt of redwoods warming in the morning sun. And then, all too soon, it was time to fling the bags into the Camaro, wave goodbye to Calistoga and head off to Sonoma.