Fall is the perfect time to visit Calistoga, the cream of the crop of northern California’s wine country. Napa and Sonoma may get more attention and praise, but Calistoga delivers-and then some.

My wife Emy and I took a mini-vacation (four days) this past November. The foliage (something San Francisco dearly lacks) added to the warmth of this sleepy little town. The population of Calistoga is roughly 6,500, and the locals-sixty percent are sixty-five or older-couldn’t have been more hospitable.

We stayed at Christopher’s Inn, a beautiful B&B, which included a fireplace, Jacuzzi, and deck. The price per night is $180.00 to $425.00. We were tempted to spend the entire time in the luxurious room but there’s too much to see in Calistoga.

One highlight was Castello di Amorosa ("The Lover’s Castle"), the winery created by Daryl Sattui (of V. Sattui Winery fame). The castle sits on 121,000 sq. feet and cost 30 million (and counting) to build. The one hour tour is $30.00 per person but is well worth it. Over thirteen years in the making, Sattui imported stone from Austria. It is truly a spectacular reproduction of a medieval castle, and at one point Emy, who grew up in Rome, told our tour guide, "If I didn’t know it, I swear I was somewhere in Italy."

Ah! and the wine, wine you can’t buy at Trader Joe’s or anywhere else. Buonissimo!

So, for some quality downtime and a touch of the Old World, visit Calistoga.


About the Contributor: John Mongillo is a writer/filmmaker living in San Francisco. You can view is work on YouTube under the username Groovtoon.


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