Calistoga Girls’ Getaway, Part One

I usually love my job, but sometimes I really love my job, like the last two days when I got to take off with my daughter Sam in Napa to check out a great hotel, two spas, four restaurants – and lots of wine.

I was in Napa last summer, but it’s been a few years since I spent any time in Calistoga.  This quaint area is the perfect place to plan a girls' getaway as it appears to be the land of spas.  That’s exactly where we started, at Solage Resort & Spa, a luxury retreat in the center of Calistoga.

Our cottage at Solage was just beautiful, complete with a cozy living room and a patio in the back that included a Jacuzzi.  We also had two bicycles on our front porch and though we didn’t have a chance to use them, they are a popular mode of transportation around Northern California, where gas is over $4 a gallon.

The Spa at Solage has received many accolades (including a vote as the No. 1 Spa in the Americas in Conde Nast Traveller) and it was easy to see why. It’s a relaxing set of buildings with gentle music, light gardens and both co-ed and separated areas.  We were at the
Spa first for their Mudslide treatment, a three-part experience that was like no other I have had.  After choosing our “mud” (I picked “muscle relaxing” and Sam chose “stress relief”), we were brought into a 103 degree room where we laid down and applied the mixture all over our bodies.  We baked in there until the mud had dried and I have to say my mind and muscles definitely felt relaxed.  After showering, we were off to step two, the Geo Thermal bath.

I found the bath nice, but it was not as warm as I’m used to in the tub.  Still, I never turn down a bath in a quiet room and enjoyed the time there before heading to step three.  This one was strange.  We were wrapped cocoon like in chairs.  Light music was put on headphones and the chairs reclined while gentle vibrations were to put us asleep.  I didn’t find it very restful, but Sam – who has had trouble sleeping lately – said it was wonderful and she had a great rest.

After the Spa, we walked over a few yards to have lunch at Solage’s restaurant, Solbar.  We started with two of their signature cocktails, Sex in the Valley (Chabay Green Tea Vodka, Thyme, Mint, Cucumber, Lemonade) for Sam and a Persia by Jalisco (Don Julio Anejo, Pomegrante Juice, Spiced Agave Syrup, house-made Grenadine, peppermint) for me.  Both were tasty, as were the Asparagus Salad and Mushroom Soup (with a broccoli floret garnish).  For a main course I enjoyed the Spiced Chickpea and Tzatziki Wrap with a delicious hummus and Sam had the Seared Yellowfin Tuna Burger, which she said was worthy of being a house specialty.  Dessert was a very unusual (but very good) Cheesecake Mouse with an apple sorbet.

We walked off some of the lunch on the way next door to August Briggs Winery, where they are known mostly for their single vineyard production. Some of their grapes actually come from the neighboring Sonoma Valley.  Matthew took us through the wines both in the glass and at the barrel.  It was my first experience with Chabono, a dark grape that’s a bit smoother than Syrah, but similar in taste. I was also surprised to see Petite Meunier (a champagne grape) on its own and found it delicious, with a fruity nose and a light fruit and floral taste. Their 2005 Carneros Pinot Noir is also a must try, as it’s buttery and mild, not as dry as most.

Just across the street from August Briggs is a brand new winery, B Cellars, which started in 2003 in a co-op and now has its first vintage and first tasting room.  It’s wonderfully designed and even has a pond to look out on from the deck, making it a cozy place to taste and relax. We were the first to enjoy a private tasting experience as Gretchen welcomed up to a lovely set up in the back.  I was impressed with the wines, all blends. 

B Cellars Blend 23 is a chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and viognier combination that’s citrusy, but has a bit of ginger spice from the chardonnay’s oaking. I actually liked all of the blends here, but would like to give special mention to the 2007 Blend 25 Cabernet (66% cab, 34% syrah), which is very fruit forward with a great spice finish, and the 2007 Blend 26, which blends three different cabernet vineyards for a mix that’s filled with butter, vanilla and caramel.

After the wineries, we enjoyed the walk downtown on a perfect, warm night.  There we met Robin Richardson, owner of Attitudes Boutique.  It’s one of those true finds where anyone of any age can find there soon to be favorite outfit. Though actual shopping wasn’t on our schedule, we did get a taste of the sparkling wine, strawberries, chocolates and fun, personalized service that Robin gives all the groups coming in for a girls’ getaway.

Dinner was at a fairly new place in town, Barolo at the Mount View Hotel & Spa.  Their handcrafted cocktails are as good as the food and I loved the Pear Cosmo (Absolute Pear, Pama Liqueur, Triple Sec and Cranberry Liqueur), while Sam enjoyed the “Best Darned Mojito.”  She thought the Cast Iron Skillet Mussels were delicious and I declared the Minestrone Soup the best I have ever had anywhere.  Dinner was a creamy Four Cheese Ziti and incredible Mushroom Gnocchi, accompanied by a Rudy Sauvignon Blanc from Von Strasser which I will have to get more of.

We finished off the evening down the block at Brannan’s, a cozy, but classic restaurant that’s also known for its live music.  We had the Chocolate Lava Torte and the Butterscotch Pudding, both of which were decadent.  Unfortunately, we were too stuffed to eat a lot and needed to get some rest before day two of our Calistoga girls’ getaway.


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