Cycle through California wine country.
A two-hour drive from the city is Napa Valley’s northernmost town, Calistoga, a low-key spa-town alternative to its tony neighbors, St. Helena and Yountville. Here, a collection of mineral-mud spas, the Silverado bike trail, and the medieval-style Castello di Amorosa winery awaits visitors.
Castello di Amorosa
After 15 years under construction, Castello di Amorosa opened to guests in 2007. The structure resembles a 12th-century-style Italian castle with 107-rooms and such features as underground cellars, a dungeon with torture devises, escape tunnels, frescos by Italian painters, a wooden draw bridge, and moat. Under the leadership of Dario Sattui, owner of neighboring winery V. Sattui, the fully functioning winery grows many Italian grapes for its label. Guests can follow a two-hour tour, complete with a sampling of wines in the great hall and blending seminar on how to make Super-Tuscans.
Located within the Mount View Hotel in downtown Calistoga, Barolo is a small restaurant with red leather booths, a marble bar and tabletops, and varied artistic light fixtures. Mostly red artwork adorns the walls, some with pictures of pasta; apropos as the menu is rooted in traditional Italian fare utilizing local suppliers. Pasta specials are available five nights a week, as is a nightly three-course prix-fixe dinner. Arancine (deep fried, breaded balls of risotto), lasagna with four cheeses, and house-made gnocchi are signatures.
August Briggs Winery
Another great option: The family-run August Briggs, housed within a simple barnlike building on the south edge of town, offers free tastings.
Join the locals for a cup of house-roasted java (Clean Teeth Murray’s is a favorite blend).