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In this post we outline an itinerary geared for first time visitors to Calistoga/Napa/Sonoma with limited time. This is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of the region.
The two wineries selected offer guided tours for guests looking to expand their knowledge of wine and spend some time on a beautiful estate. Following wine tasting, spend some time in quaint Calistoga, experiencing a mud bath and downtown’s gems.
Day two of the itinerary includes a visit to the American River for Category III & III+ whitewater rafting.
Updated April 2021
- Two day, one night trip
- Age 21+
- Requires a car
Places covered in this itinerary
- California Wine Country
- American River
10:30 AM Frog’s Leap Winery: Garden Tasting Tour
- 8815 Conn Creek Road, Rutherford, CA 94574
History of Frog’s Leap Winery
Frog’s Leap was originally started on a historic property in St. Helena known to be a commercial frog farm in the late 1800s. When John Williams first came to the Napa Valley in 1975, he began making wine for a little-known winery called “Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.” In 1976, John and his friend Larry Turley made their first barrel of wine at the “Frog Farm” with “borrowed” grapes from Stag’s Leap, and coined the name “Frog’s Leap” as an inside joke. In 1981, John and Larry decided to get serious and the rest, as they say, is history.
Garden Tasting Backgrounder
Frog’s Leap is located in the Rutherford appellation of Napa Valley. For more than 25 years they’ve been well known for advancement of organic grape growing, dry farming and many aspects of biodynamics. A perfect spot to round out your exposure to Napa Valley, a winery larger than Reverie and smaller than Mondavi.
History & backgrounder descriptions come from Frog’s Leap Winery.
12:30 PM Lunch at Oakville Grocery
- 7856 Street Helena Hwy, Oakville, CA 94562
Oakville Grocery is a great spot to grab picnic provisions on your way to the next winery. This grocery store has a full deli (grab-and-go items & sandwich shop), a wood fire oven pizza, a large cheese, cracker, jam and dessert section and of course, wine. Lots of wine.
2:00 PM Robert Mondavi Winery: Signature Tour and Tasting
- 7801 Street Helena Highway, Oakville, CA 94562
- History of Robert Mondavi Winery
Robert Mondavi established his namesake winery in 1966 with a vision to create Napa Valley wines that would stand in the company of the world’s finest. He chose To Kalon Vineyard in the heart of the Napa Valley as the home for Robert Mondavi Winery. This first-growth vineyard, located in Oakville, California, is renowned for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the world, as well as for its Sauvignon Blanc grapes, from which Mr. Mondavi crafted his signature wine, Fumé Blanc.
Signature Tour and Tasting Backgrounder
Most everyone who has ventured into the world of wine has heard of Robert Mondavi. He was really the driving force behind making Napa Valley know around the world and this iconic winery shouldn’t be missed.
This 90 minute, in-depth, winery tour goes from the vineyard to the cellar to the finished wine. Guests walk into the To Kalon Vineyard, visit the winemaking cellars (including fermentation and barrel aging) and receive a seated educational tasting of three wines.
History & backgrounder descriptions come from Robert Mondavi Winery.
4PM Check in to a Calistoga hotel
Hotel recommendations close to downtown
|Calistoga Spa Hot Spring|
1006 Washington Street, Calistoga, CA 94515
Kitchenettes included in rooms
|Indian Springs Calistoga|
1712 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA 94515
17 acres of rolling hills and ponds, olive trees and gardens
Activities like picnicking, onsite spa, garden exploration,
bicycling, swimming and soaking in mineral, lawn games
Evening: Mud Bath at Golden Haven Natural Hot Springs
1713 Lake Street, Calistoga, Napa Valley, California 94515
Mud Bath Experience Backgrounder
Experience a Calistoga tradition of soaking in hot springs & mud baths. Begin by showing off, getting into a mud bath and soaking. After some minutes, your therapist will apply a facial. Rinse off in a hot mineral shower. Finish the experience by making your to the massage room where a therapist will wrap you in a warm blanket and you will doze off.
FAQs about mud baths: http://www.goldenhaven.com/top_10_mud_bath.html
A few favorite spots in downtown Calistoga:
|Puerto Vallarta Market|
1009 Foothill Boulevard Calistoga, CA 94515
|Authentic Mexican food|
1330 Lincoln Street Calistoga, CA 94515
|An independent bookstore in the heart of town|
9:00 AM Depart Calistoga hotel for whitewater rafting
- 2.5 hour drive from Calistoga
12:00 PM Lower South Fork American River: The Gorge Experience Whitewater Rafting offered by Sierra Whitewater Rafting
- River’s Bend Resort, 6400 CA-49, Lotus, CA 95651
This tour of the American River is perfect for beginners. Over a four-hour, 13 mile journey, you’ll white water raft on Class III & III+ rapids.
- What to wear: bathing suit and shorts, t-shirt, old tennis shoes (no flip-flops)
- What to bring: water, dry clothes and shoes, towel, water, bag for wet clothes, snack
Lower South Fork American River: The Gorg Experience Backgrounder
- Meet at River’s Bend at 12pm to sign waivers
- Safety debrief with guide. Helmet, paddle and personal flotation device provided.
- Work with team to carry the raft down to the water with in-water orientation
- Get into raft and begin adventure
- Pace is relaxed for the first 4 miles with some rocks to jump off and rapids to swim in
- Raft down the South Fork Gorge through Class III and III+ rapids like Fowler’s Rock, Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar
What This Trip Cost
- Hotel: $150
- 1.5 tanks of gasoline = $60
- Garden Tasting: $35 / person
- Signature Tasting: $50 / person
- Mud Bath: $74 / person + tip
- Whitewater Rafting: $119-$128 / adult + $9 river access fees
- Lunch day 1: $15 / person
- Dinner day 1: $12 / person
- Breakfast day 2: included with hotel fees
- Lunch day 2: packed our own