The old town of Calistoga at the top of Northern California's Napa Valley is a great springtime wine country destination. In keeping with the "Eggs, Eggs, Eggs" theme for this Spring issue, we will start our excursion with a Jimtown Store breakfast picnic at a historic old Sonoma County crossroads on California State Highway 128.
You can make your way to Highway 128 off of U.S. Highway 101 from either the town of Healdsburg or Geyserville.
From Geyserville, turn east on Highway 128 at the stop sign downtown. You will cross the Russian River and head south down the Alexander Valley. Make sure to stop and see our friends at Murphy-Goode Winery. It is about midway along the seven miles between Geyserville and Jimtown Store.
|In the Alexander Valley|
If you start this journey at Healdsburg, head north from the Plaza on Healdsburg Avenue. Stop for a visit at the historic Simi Winery on the north end of town, then continue on about a mile and turn right on Alexander Valley Road. This will lead you over the Russian River and to Highway 128 and Jimtown Store.
One of my favorite ways to begin a day off is with a cappuccino and a Jimtown Store baked egg sandwich. Order your sandwich, get your coffee and take a cruise through this historic general store with its wonderfully eccentric stock of merchandise. You may find yourself in the mood for a pop gun, plastic gnome, or set of dominoes. Paper dolls, sock monkey, a real steel kazoo? Rubber bugs, mothballs, rabbits foot, some pick-up-sticks? I get so engrossed with my browsing that the kindly counter folk have to chase me down to deliver my sandwich.
|Jimtown Store back room, Mercantile & Exchange|
They are used to this sort of thing at the Jimtown Store
|Mexican oilcloth, $10 per yard, at Jimtown Store| people are constantly ordering food and then getting lost in their shopping. I recommend you enjoy your baked egg sandwich with the provolone cheese and romesco sauce first before you venture into the Jimtown Mercantile and Exchange in the back room. Get a newspaper and kick back on the cozy shaded patio with another cup of coffee, and then wander back into the curio shop. This treasure of a room truly has an Another Roadside Attraction quality about it with its zany assemblage of twentieth century folk art. I will not be surprised if one day I discover a fully-functioning flea circus back there with performances on the hour.
After your breakfast and browsing, you might consider picking up a simple picnic to carry with you as you make your way to Calistoga. A good choice is to get a container of Jimtown olive salad, some locally made mild fresh goats milk cheese from our friends at Redwood Hill Dairy, and a baguette. This simple combination is just the ticket to sustain you as you taste your way along the southern reach of Alexander Valley. The bread, olive salad and cheese will pair beautifully with the wines of Sausal, Hanna, Alexander Valley Vineyards and Fieldstone wineries.
Just beyond Fieldstone Winery and the Chalk Hill Road, you will pass through the lovely Knights Valley and then through the southernmost extreme of the Mayacamas Mountains. This is a land of ancient volcanoes and continuing geological and geothermal activity.
|Mustard Meadow, Knights Valley, Sonoma County|
At the foot of our venerable old Mount St. Helena, the earth is still restless. The top of Napa Valley and the town of Calistoga sit close above its molten past. As long as there have been people around these parts (perhaps some eight or ten thousand years), this valley and its steaming springs of clear mineral water has been a place of healing and rejuvenation for the body and the spirit. We follow a path well worn by the feet of the Wappo ancestors to this place held sacred for its dramatic union of earth's fire and pure water.
Calistoga town has numerous choices for overnight accommodation and spa services, but we would like to introduce you to the historic Indian Springs Resort and Spa. There are cozy bungalows and a beautifully restored 1913 bath house, a fantastic Olympic-size thermal pool, a full range of spa services, plus lovely grounds and views to the mountains surrounding the valley.
Of special picnic interest is the fact that the locally owned Palisades Market prepares delicious food and will be happy to deliver it right to your room. I recommend you stop in the market after you get settled into your accommodations. It is located one block south of Indian Springs at 1506 Lincoln Avenue, phone number 707-942-9549. They have a great friendly kitchen staff and there is always something new and delicious being prepared fresh for your picnic or evening's repast. The beauty of the Indian Springs/Palisades Market synthesis is this: You needn't bother dressing in anything more than your robe or PJ's to enjoy an intimate meal with your sweetheart following an afternoon of soaking your bones and spa services.
|The Garden Shop at Palisades Market. Cow art by Ira Yeager|
For detailed information, maps, history, and room rates, and to make reservations or order products online from our friends along beautiful Highway 128, please click on these handy links.
6706 State Highway 128
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Indian Springs Resort & Spa
1712 Lincoln Avenue
Calistoga, CA 94515
1506 Lincoln Avenue
Calistoga, CA 94515
For great maps and links to all things "Sonoma" and a great online resource, please visit:
www.pressdemo.com and www.sonomatraveler.com.
For more Calistoga food, wine and lodging information, check out the Calistoga section at Napavalley.com.
Please see Go There! for more Hot Links to Alexander Valley wineries and the Sonoma County Wineries Association.