So I’m working in Calistoga, California this week, and I must say this is more like a paid vacation than work. The people I’m working with are so nice and laid back (and why wouldn’t you be if you lived out here!), and offered me quite a few local tips of things to do.
I’m staying at the Euro Spa and Inn, which is only a few short blocks from where I’m working, and is walking distance to all of the downtown Calistoga area, which offers umpteen choices of food and drinking/tasting places. I had a complimentary continental breakfast on the porch area, which was a comfortable place to sit and enjoy the morning coffee and even read one of the papers they had laid out. I chatted with a couple other guests who were visiting from New Jersey and they were having an enjoyable time as well. I finished work around 5pm, and on the suggestion of the locals I am working with, headed to the Castle Winery, which was a short 2.5 miles away. I had seen this before from a distance last time Steve (DOS) and I were out here, but we didn’t visit it. Officially called Castello di Amorosa it is a recreation of an Italian Castle and village from centuries ago. It is really a ‘must see’ if you are in the Calistoga area.
I was going to take the free city shuttle that operates in Calistoga, but as I was calling at 5pm, (that must be a peak time), I couldn’t get thru to someone to pick me up. No worries, I drove down to the Castle, and figured I could have a single tasting and then head back to the Inn as it’s so close. As you turn off the road to the Castle Winery, you drive up a long and steep tree-lined road – quite a dramatic entranceway!
As I got there around 5:30pm shortly before closing, the place was fairly empty, although they keep the tasting room open for quite a bit later; I wasn’t rushed at all getting out of there. I first walked around and took a few photos of the Castle and the spectacular views outdoors.
And then paid my tasting/tour fee, and walked thru the giant gated entranceway.
I had the Premium tasting, and self guided tour for $25, and even though I got there some 35 minutes before they closed at 6pm, I still got my money’s worth. In short, the Castle is Spectacular! Like something out of an Italian Village. No doubt inspired by the Italian owners, who also own V. Satuii winery in Napa which I’ve always liked. As I was traveling on business and didn’t have my wine luggage packs, I didn’t buy any wine to go, but am adding this to the list of places I want Steve (DOS) to visit with me.The owners created all sorts of rooms, from a mammoth Ball Room,
to a Chapel complete with organ,
and piazzas which gave you the felling of actually being in Italy.
The barrel room had loads of stacked wine casks with an informative display on many of the barrels explaining the varietals of the region.
The tasting room was downstairs, and apparently there are quite a few things to see underground, including a ‘torture chamber’, which I did’t have time to tour. The Tasting Room was a bit dark, so the pictures aren’t the best, but the ambiance was wonderful, not to mention the fine reserve vinos that were served!
After the tasting, I wondered around the property outdoors a bit, and took a couple more photos before heading back to the Inn.
Later, after leaving my car at the Euro Spa Inn, I walked to downtown Calistoga, and had a ‘mistaken’ dinner at Brannan’s Grille. I say mistaken because it was along the main strip on Lincoln street adjacent to another restaurant I had intended eating at – Bosco’s. I saw a menu posted outside that had pizza and similar Italian dishes for around $18, and sounded great. I walked a few more steps down the street to what I thought was the main entrance, only to be seated with a totally different menu – it was actually a different restaurant; they were just located side by side and had a similar look with the open windows facing the street. So instead of having an $18 pizza, I had a $43 steak and huge baked potatoe, half bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, and yes had an enjoyable, but more expensive meal. The meal was good, but the ribeye wasn’t the best steak I’ve had; quite honestly Outback is much better in thickness and quality, but the atmosphere was nice and the service very good, which coupled with wine from a local Calistoga winery made for a nice dinner.
Sitting on the ‘front porch’ of my room, I Face-Timed Steve (DOS) who is in Hawaii tonight as part of another mileage run. With the three hour time change to Honolulu, he was out and about walking the beach and city. We are both going there soon – Memorial Day weekend, so he’s already scouting out some places to eat! Sorry the sun was in your eyes when i captured this pic!
As I sipped my Merlot and chatted with DOS, (I’m repeating this picture below from last night – same place, same porch setup but sitting in the moonlight though) I thought to myself:
’twas another wonderful day and night in Calistoga!