POSTED ON January 9, 2009 | IN Activities, Tasting Rooms, Wine News | BY joe

January is the slowest month in the Napa Valley. Any tasting room worker will tell you that they get the fewest visitors in January and their workdays just seem to drag. People tend to stay away from the Napa Valley during January for various reasons. The weather is unpredictable and there are no major events taking place in the Napa Valley until the Mustard Festival that begins officially on January 31st. People are recovering from the Holidays and are still keeping their New Year’s resolution about eating and drinking less, exercising more, and saving money. Nonetheless, this may be one of the most enjoyable times to visit the Napa Valley. You will almost get the feel of what the Valley was like 40 years ago. The Napa Valley is quiet and peaceful during January.

If you want even more of an escape to the olden days, spend time in Calistoga. Calistoga is a folksy town, more country-like and less posh than Yountville or St. Helena. Much of Calistoga looks and feels the same as it did 40 years or more ago. Just venture into the Calistoga Inn and you will see what I mean.

To feel more nostalgic, visit some of the wineries that have been in the Valley for ages. Two that are close to Calistoga are Chateau Montelena and Schramsberg Vineyards. We especially like the tour at Schramsberg because of the ancient caves and the sparkling wines.

Caves at Schramsberg

Caves at Schramsberg

For dining, try the All Seasons Bistro, Wappo, or the Calistoga Inn. These restaurants are homier and less touristy than the others. For a picnic lunch, grab a deli lunch at either Cal Mart or Palisade Deli, both on Lincoln in Calistoga, or the Sunshine Market in St. Helena. These delis don’t have the pizzazz of a Dean & Deluca but you get a delicious picnic meal at a very reasonable price. A fun place to picnic and taste wine is the Frank Family Vineyards on Lakemead Lane, where you can see the original Larkmead Winery building completed in 1884. The winery building is on the National Register of Historical Places. It later was the Hans Kornell Winery until purchased by Rich Frank and Koerner Rombauer in 1992.

Calistoga Inn

Calistoga Inn

As far as lodging, if you want to continue with the theme of the old, try the Calistoga Inn. The rooms are neat and clean, but you will have to venture down the hallway for bathroom facilities. If you want more comfort try the Mount View Hotel. This hotel was built in 1917.

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