Bike riding from winery to winery in Napa might seem like a challenge with cars on the road, but not if your first stop is Calistoga Bikeshop
. They’ve got the beta on a self-guided route that avoids some of the most congested roads and tosses some sipping into the mix. The Calistoga Cool Wine Tour includes a bike/helmet rental, wine pick-up, and complimentary tastings at six wineries (which more than pays for the $80 package if you visit all six). Start at Tedeschi
, where passionate winemaker Emil Tedeschi runs the property his father planted grapes on decades ago. Next up, make a stop at the taco truck in front of Mitchell’s Drive-in (at Tubbs Lane and Highway 128). Pick up a couple carne asada tacos and head a few minutes down the road to Summers Estate Winery
. Their big patio with a regulation bocce court overlooks dramatic views of Mount St. Helena and Napa Valley’s eastern mountains, the Palisades. Finish up at the highly lively Lava Vine
. Tucked into a little barn on the back of a house, this quirky establishment is a sharp contrast to the formal and lavish Napa tasting scene. An impromptu guitar session by one of the wine pourers can happen at any moment, and vocal accompaniment is encouraged. But don’t let the joie de vivre attitude fool you into thinking craftsmanship isn’t taken seriously here: they’re very wonky about wine, even while unloading barrels of cheer. Let the good times roll.
BLISSFUL BONUS: Calistoga has almost as many spas as wineries and is famous for mud baths. For one of the best in town, visit Lavender Hill Spa (1015 Foothill Blvd.) for a volcanic mud bath made from ash, white sea kelp, mineral salts, and lavender essential oil from their farm near Mount Shasta. Sink in!
The Calistoga Cool Wine Tour is self-guided and costs $80 per person. Make reservations by visiting Calistoga Bikeshop’s Web site or calling 707-942-9687. The volcanic ash mud bath at Lavender Hill Spa is one hour and costs $85.