Calistoga and Diamond Mountain

Redwood Trees at Reverie in Calistoga

Redwood Trees on Diamond Mountain

Two popular appellations at the northern end of Napa Valley are Calistoga and Diamond Mountain.  On the whole, Calistoga tends to be the hottest area of Napa Valley, while the elevation of Diamond Mountain keeps it more moderate.  The primary varietals grown in Calistoga are Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Petite Sirah, while the main grapes grown in Diamond Mountain are Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Favorite Tasting Rooms in Calistoga and Diamond Mountain

Bennett Lane – Bennet Lane is a solid producer of premium wines in Calistoga, from owners Randy and Lisa Lynch who were inspired to establish a winery in Napa Valley by their travels in Italy. The tasting experiences here include a group tour with the ability to use a shaded picnic table, or a “proposal package” which starts with a wine tasting and property tour ending with a surprise proposal destination and photographer. Our favorite wines here are both the white and red blends named Maximus (after the wine-loving 2nd century Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus) and the Cabernet Sauvignon.  3340 Highway 128, Calistoga  (877) MAX-NAPA (629-6272) [reservation required]

Chateau Montelena – The winery was founded by Alfred Tubbs in 1888, renamed Chateau Montelena (after the nearby Mt. Saint Helena) by his nephew and ultimately purchased and revitalized by Jim Barrett in the 1970’s, whose son Bo is now CEO and Master Winemaker. In 1976, Chateau Montelena helped place Napa Valley at the forefront of the wine world at the “Judgement in Paris,” where a panel of French judges selected their Chardonnay as the top-ranking Chardonnay in a competition of French White Burgundies and California Chardonnays.  The property, the winery’s stone building, and the onsite Jade Lake are all beautiful. Our favorite wines here are their Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel and Napa Valley and Estate Cabernet Sauvignons.  1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga  (707) 942-1505 

Davis Estates – Owners Mike and Sandy Davis have led the restoration and preservation of a 1920’s-era barn into the beautiful destination it is today. Your tasting experience here may take place in one of multiple settings in the barn, at the outdoor fireplace, or on a second-story terrace on spacious porch swings as you take in a panoramic view of Napa Valley. Only 10 acres of the property’s 155 acres have been planted to grapevines so far.  Winemaker Cary Gott is creating delightful small-lot wines and our favorites are the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Zephyr (Cabernet Sauvignon-based Bordeaux blend). We also like the Phase V Petite Sirah, crafted by winemaker Phillipe Melka.  4060 Silverado Trail, Calistoga  (707) 942-0700  [reservation required]  

Jericho Canyon Vineyard – Proprietors Marla and Dale Bleecher purchased this property in 1989 after a three-year search and while 40 acres of vines are planted here another 90 acres of the ranch are preserved as wildlife habitat so the scenery is gorgeous. All visits include a vineyard tour on a Polaris ATV, a cave tour and seated tasting of estate produced wines. Jericho Canyon wines are made in the Bordeaux style, hand-crafted in small lots, and our favorite wines here include their Sauvignon Blanc and all three of their Cabernet Sauvignons (Jericho Canyon, Estate, and Reserve).   3322 Old Lawley Toll Road, Calistoga   707-942-9665  [reservation required]

Kelly Fleming Wines – Off of the Silverado Trail, in the Simmons Canyon area, lies a stunningly beautiful winery with tons of exposed stone on the walls and even within the 7000 square feet of caves. The property offers several locations for lovely scenic views. Kelly Fleming, the owner, purchased 300 acres in 2008 and Celia Welch, the winemaker, crafts outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon from the 12 acres of vines planted here. The Sauvignon Blanc and Rose are also very well made. The grapes that don’t make it into the namesake estate Cabernet Sauvignon are used as the base for another delicious wine under their companion label (Big Pour). Gorgeous winery, lovely views, and a gracious and welcoming staff here make a visit worthwhile.   2339 Pickett Road, Calistoga  (707)  942-6849  [reservation required]

Larkmead Vineyards – Founded in 1895, this historic winery is one of the oldest family owned grape-growing estates in the Napa Valley. Larkmead currently farms 150 acres with over 300 feet of ancient riverbed gravel, a soil type more commonly found on hillside sites. Over the years, the winery has undergone an extensive transformation into a state-of-the-art winery featuring a farmhouse and production facility designed by architect Howard Backen. The entire property was replanted and the production facility was even designed so that each vineyard block could have its own dedicated vinification tank. We especially like Larkmead’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, their proprietary blend Firebelle, and another red blend called LMV Salon.  1100 Larkmead Lane, Calistoga  (707) 942-0167  [reservation required]

Madrigal Family Winery – The Madrigal family has farmed Napa Valley vineyards since 1937 and they have been making wines since 1995. A wide range of wines are produced here, including Fume Blanc, Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc. However, our favorites are their Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. FYI, they also have a tasting room in Sausalito.  3718 St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), Calistoga  (707) 942-8619   and 819 Bridgeway, Sausalito  (415) 729-9549 [reservations recommended, but required for parties of 5 or more]  

Phifer Pavitt Wines – When a country girl and a city boy fall in love and move to Napa Valley, this is what happens when they start a winery. Come here for a sophisticated but down-home tasting experience in a renovated barn with refurbished snow fencing from Wyoming on the walls, recycled blue jeans for insulation, an enormous black walnut tasting table, chandeliers made from hay baling wire, country music in the background, and most likely the charming Ms. Phifer-Pavitt as your hostess while you sit and sample their wine. This very small winery focuses on Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.  4660 Silverado Trail, Calistoga  (707) 942-4787  [reservation required]

Picayune Cellars – Founded in 2011, this boutique winery follows the classic French Négociant model of purchasing small lots and then crafting them into wines of outstanding quality that can be offered at an exciting price point.  The key on the label signifies the winery’s theme of “unlocking secrets from California” because when the grapes are purchased, confidentiality agreements are signed so exact vineyard sources and provenance will not be shared.  We have followed owner/winemaker Claire Weinkauf for years, and our favorite wines here are the Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Padlock (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc).  Their newer and larger tasting room in downtown Calistoga is centrally located.   1329 Lincoln Avenue, Suite B, Calistoga CA 94515 (707) 888-9885

Vincent Arroyo Winery – He may be most famous for his Petite Sirah, but Mr. Arroyo produces wines made from seven different varietals. It all started in 1974 with the purchase of 23 acres and over the years additional land was acquired to bring the total acreage to 85. The tasting experience here is warm and casual. We especially like the Petite Sirahs and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  2361 Greenwood Avenue, Calistoga  (707) 942-6995  [reservation required]

von Strasser Family of Wines/Lava Vine – von Strasser winery, founded by Rudy and Rita von Strasser, provides an excellent opportunity to explore wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon from the Diamond Mountain AVA, made in a balanced and graceful style. This winery has focused for many years on Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignons made with grapes from its own estate vineyards as well as other local vineyards. The von Strasser winery recently added Lava Vine winery to its portfolio. Lava Vine is focused on producing wines from lesser-known grape varietals for the area such as Grüner Veltliner, Verdelho, Tempranillo, Grenache, Charbono and Petite Sirah. Tasting experiences include a tasting at the bar of both the von Strasser and Lava Vine wines, a Signature Tasting focused on vineyard-designated wines and a Reserve Experience highlighting the Diamond Mountain District and Reserve wines paired with artisan cheeses. 965 Silverado Trail, Calistoga  (707) 942-9500  [reservation encouraged but not required for parties of 5 or less]

Favorite Restaurants in Calistoga and Diamond Mountain

Buster’s Southern BBQ – This awesome roadside BBQ restaurant from Charles “Buster” Davis showcases authentic Louisiana BBQ. It’s at the northwest corner of Highway 29 and Lincoln Avenue and if the crowds don’t help you find this place, your nose will. You’ll find all the standards here: Ribs, Tri-Tip, Chicken, Pulled Pork, Hot Links and yes, Sweet Potato Pie. Come here for very casual dining either outdoors on picnic tables or indoors with air conditioning.  1207 Foothill Boulevard, Calistoga  (707) 942-5605

Café Sarafornia – For over 120 years, this old-fashioned diner has been serving locals and visitors. Come early or be prepared for a line. Or, sleep in because they serve breakfast until they close at 2:30 pm. They feature well-made, reliable diner fare (Corned Beef Hash, Steak and Eggs, Bagel with Lox, Biscuits and Gravy, 2+2+2) but also French Toast, Oat Bran Pancakes and Buttermilk Belgian Waffles. The lunch menu starts at 11 am, adding Burgers, Sandwiches, Salads and Shakes to the list.  1413 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga  (707) 942-0555

Calistoga Roastery – Originally started in 1992, this coffeehouse offers espresso drinks, iced drinks, smoothies and fresh baked goods 7 days a week. Breakfast menu items include Pastries, Breakfast Sandwiches, Granola or Quiche. Lunch menu items include Sandwiches, Salads and Wraps. You can purchase packages of their coffee in the Café or online, such as single origin Costa Rican, Colombian, Kenyan or Peruvian. The Roastery has developed relationships with several fine restaurants, resorts and inns throughout the valley and some of their customized blends can be purchased as well. We think this is the best coffee in Calistoga.  1426 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga  (707) 942-5757

Palisades Deli Café – This casual café and market is centrally located in Calistoga at the historic Calistoga Depot. They offer a wide variety of specialty Sandwiches, Wraps, Soups, Green Salads, Deli Salads and more. Their Kids Menu includes PB&J, Grilled Cheese, Chicken Strips or Fish & Chips. Palisades’ facilities include indoor and outdoor dining and they also offer box lunches to go.  1458 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga (707) 942-0145

Sam’s Social Club – Named after the Indian Springs resort’s founder, Samuel Brannan, this restaurant offers Rustic American Cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as at brunch on the weekends. The interior is filled with natural light, and the outdoor dining area features a fire pit and a geyser-fed water feature. We recommend their Salads, Pizzas, Cheeseburger, Fried Brussel Sprouts and the Albacore Tuna Conserva Sandwich. Nightly dinner specials include Cioppino (Fridays) and Prime Rib (Sundays). They also have a Kids Menu (Hot Dog, Hamburger, Grilled Cheese, Cheese Pizza, etc.).  1712 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga  (707) 942-4969

Solbar – Located at the Solage resort, Michelin Star-rated Solbar restaurant offers California cuisine featuring farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients. Dining on the outdoor patio is a major draw, but the interior is also stylish and relaxing. They offer delicious food all day long at Solbar. Breakfast items include Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup or a Continental Breakfast with homemade Granola, Yogurt, Muffin and freshly squeezed OJ.  Lunch includes Beet Salad, Duck Banh Mi Sandwich, or Petrale Sole Tacos. Dinner offers choices such as Steak Tartare, Charred Octopus, Pan Roasted Quail or a New York Strip Steak.   755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga  (866) 942-7442

Other Links for Calistoga and Diamond Mountain

Napa Valley Vintners – A nonprofit trade association, of over 525 members, that champions Napa Valley as the premier wine region in the world and has a mission to promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley appellation.

Calistoga WineGrowers (CWG) – An organization of about 50 wineries and grape growers dedicated to showcasing and promoting the quality of the wines produced from the Calistoga American Viticultural Area (AVA)

Buster's Southern BBQ & Bakery on Urbanspoon
Cafe Sarafornia on Urbanspoon

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