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Calistoga put Napa Valley wine region on the map. A small town with a big heart, she may not appear glam on the outside, but this ole gal is home to some of California's finest wines, fabulous hot springs spas, and country charm. While folks have been crafting wine here since the Gold Country settlers arrived, it wasn't until the 1976 Judgment of Paris blind-tasting wine competition, when Chateau Montelena winery won against the finest French wines, that Calistoga (and in turn all of Napa Valley) began to get some attention. Soon after, hordes of visitors descended upon the area, bringing notoriety and cash to the region. Despite the praise, ...

Calistoga put Napa Valley wine region on the map. A small town with a big heart, she may not appear glam on the outside, but this ole gal is home to some of California's finest wines, fabulous hot springs spas, and country charm. While folks have been crafting wine here since the Gold Country settlers arrived, it wasn't until the 1976 Judgment of Paris blind-tasting wine competition, when Chateau Montelena winery won against the finest French wines, that Calistoga (and in turn all of Napa Valley) began to get some attention. Soon after, hordes of visitors descended upon the area, bringing notoriety and cash to the region. Despite the praise, Calistoga has managed to stay humble, right down to her hot spring veins. You may find celebrities lounging by the pool at Solage Resort, but you will also find low key spas populated by the rest of us. In summer, weekly town dances lure as many folks as the art gallery/winery Clos Pegase. During harvest, when the grape leaves turn magnificent shades of gold and red, the galleries lining Main Street stay open later and music wafts out from the restaurants. Come winter, the weather drops, the mud baths and hot springs lure leisure travelers and the annual lighted tractor parade reminds you that this small agricultural town has many layers to get to know.

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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