“Napa” means “plenty” in the language of the indigenous Native American Wappo people who lived in and near Napa Valley for thousands of years. But colorful, charming Calistoga’s name has a different heritage. The town’s founding father, entrepreneur Samuel Brannan, planned to make the community into a spa resort like Saratoga, New York. One day in 1862, Brannan explained to investors that his development would become the “Calistoga of Sarafornia.” It’s perhaps not a coincidence that this wine country town has nearly the same population today as Brannan’s upstate New York inspiration of Saratoga, another small community with an interesting history and a landmark spa. Calistoga homes for sale range from modest cottages to the most luxurious wine country estates.
Calistoga real estate benefits from history, hot water and the arts
Before wine country, this area was hot springs country. The Wappo people first discovered and enjoyed the region’s hot mineral water springs thousands of years ago. Founder Samuel Brannan was also an early American settler of San Francisco and founder of California’s first English-language newspaper. He led commercial development of the town’s hot mineral waters, and Indian Springs Resort is the present-day incarnation of Brannan’s 1880s mineral water resort development.
The community’s April arts festival, Sarafornia, indicates some of the town’s bohemian spirit. The festival includes art, music, food and wine, all four pillars that support this wine country town’s laid-back, colorful, yet still sophisticated lifestyle. If you’re interested in luxury Calistoga real estate, the community’s historic downtown and bohemian arts scene can appeal and delight.
Calistoga’s upcountry wineries and estates
Calistoga, which anchors the upper portion of wine country, is sometimes called “upcountry.” The community’s more than 40 “upcountry” wineries share a unique terroir (land, water and climate), which contributes to their distinctive vintages.
You may have heard of the Paris Tasting of 1976, in which the most prestigious wine tasters in the world awarded top prizes to Napa Valley wines. One of the wines that bested French vintages at the tasting was Calistoga’s Chateau Montelena’s chardonnay. The other winning vintage from Napa Valley hailed from Stag’s Leap in Napa, a cabernet sauvignon.
Chateau Montelena’s stunning grounds and vine-covered winery continue to greet visitors, along with many other wineries noted for their friendliness as well as quality wines. Being in the “upcountry” has some advantages in view as well, as can be seen from the tram that carries visitors to Sterling Vineyards, offering a panorama of Napa Valley, Mount St. Helena and Table Rock. Schramsberg, another early Napa Valley winery, is open by appointment only but offers the opportunity to sample sparkling wines in a lovingly restored Victorian estate.
Selecting elite real estate in Calistoga
Each Napa Valley community has its own character. Although not the food center of Napa Valley, this portion of wine country has fine dining at Solbar at the Solage Resort and other resort-based restaurants, including Sam’s Social Club at Indian Springs Resort. More informal bistros like Evangeline and Cafe Sarafornia offer casual dining. The community’s recent spa renaissance is attracting increasing numbers of elite visitors who come to soak up mineral water, locally-sourced foods, and revel in the fresh air and magnificent wines of the region.
Along with charming Victorian homes for sale, some of the most stunning Calistoga estates and wineries are located in Napa Valley’s northern anchor town. These estates can offer European sophistication and luxury, architectural excellence and distinctive American design. You may find that “upcountry” is the place in Napa Valley that you find most appealing.