Sipping and Soaking in Calistoga

By Emma Krasov. Photography by Yuri Krasov

Mount View Hotel & Spa in California wine country is one of those historic properties where you don’t need cosplay or hyper imagination to be transported into a different century. Upon entering the thoughtfully designed and carefully decorated lobby you immediately feel the coolness of the place, both literally and figuratively.

Whimsical red velvet love seats, period light fixtures, and Tamara de Lempicka prints hint at the glorious glamour-epoch past, but you’re here and now, in the present, in the beautiful Mission Revival style building with Art Deco influence that has been listed with the National Register of Historic Places since 1981.

Built and rebuilt multiple times starting in the early 1900s, with added new wings, and managed by different proprietors throughout its long life, today Mount View is a family-owned hotel with all the modern conveniences, two restaurants, a full-service spa, and a swimming pool, in the heart of downtown Calistoga, voted Best Boutique Hotel in Napa Valley.  

In fact, a mineral water hot tub by the pool is fed by the hotel’s private geothermal hot spring, so soaking in its healing waters is a must for a discerning traveler, and you can do it at any time—the front desk kindly confirmed that the pool area stays open day and night!

If you happen to check in on a weekend, don’t miss an old-fashioned “Dinner and a Movie” in the open-air patio with properly spaced comfy movie theater chairs. As an added bonus, in the outdoor setting you can order from both restaurants–Amaro Italian kitchen (try arancini with balsamic reduction, or shrimp scampi in white wine butter sauce) and Johnny’s [circa 1933], serving bar snacks, sandwiches, tacos, BBQ ribs, and other comfort food.

You can see what movie is playing during the weekend of your stay at this helpful link:, and if you plan to make your reservation sooner rather than later, on July 9, 10 and 11 expect to see The Ghostwriter; Eat, Pray, Love; and Antwone Fisher. On July 16, 17 and 18—Letters To Juliet; 13 Going On 30; and Thelma and Louise. On July 23, 24 and 25—The Heat; K-19; and Ray. On July 30, 31 and August 1—Casablanca; American Graffiti; and Zorba the Greek.

In the morning, a light continental style breakfast will be delivered to your room. Taylor Lane coffee from Sonoma County, various teas, fresh citrus, and three slices of different flavor muffin bread are offered with compliments to the hotel guests, and can also be served by the pool, or anywhere on the property—just tell the front desk what time and where you prefer to take it.

One of the most memorable experiences here is a relaxing massage at the Mount View Spa—truly a gem of wellness, with skilled staff, an array of signature aromatherapy products, and a positively dreamy, calming ambiance.

To book a stay at Mount View Hotel & Spa 1457 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, California, and to make a dinner reservation or request a spa treatment, call 707-942-6877, or go to

From the hotel, it’s easy to navigate the wine map of Napa Valley, with so many wonderful places to sit in the sun (or in the shade) and sip the world-famous wines that it would be hard to pinpoint just a few.

However, some of the surrounding wineries are definite standouts, and visiting them will provide an unparalleled experience and an in-depth look at the most wonderful things California wine country has to offer.

At Ballentine Vineyards, the third and fourth generations of the Ballentine family along with the winemaker Bruce Devlin, who works here for more than 20 years,  take great care of the 80 acres of estate vineyards, making old-school handcrafted wines, limited to about 300 cases each.   

One of the oldest in Napa Valley, in existence since 1906, the boutique winery produces 14 different wines, like Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, grown on small lots of Betty’s Vineyard, Fig Tree Vineyard, and Pocai Vineyard—the latter named after the original owner who bought his first plot of land in Napa Valley with gold coins. 

“We are not a huge winery, and we focus on quality,” says Jackie Deveny, who’s responsible for many things in the winery, including direct-to-consumer sales and club membership. “Our wines must represent where they grow, the true Napa Valley. We take what Mother Nature gives us, and make the best of it.”

Two kinds of wine tastings available now at Ballentine happen in a shaded patio with a fountain and a view of the mountains, surrounded by plethora of wild flowers, many planted by Ms. Deveny “to help the honey bees” and obviously to create an amazing atmosphere, suitable for the exclusive, high quality, singe vineyard wines.

To reserve a tasting at Ballentine Vineyards 2820 St. Helena Highway N. St. Helena, California, call 707-963-7919, or go to

Visiting LOLA Wines is like coming to a friends’ house, where you’re greeted with warmth and cordiality, where everything you try is unbelievably delicious, and where conversations are meaningful and joyous, because you’re in a company of some very special, interesting people with unusual biographies and a big taste for adventure.

These people are winemaker/owner Seth Cripe and artist Rafaela Costa, Seth’s wife, and his “love from the first sight.”   

Even the 1892 winery building, as cozy inside as it is picturesque outside, is called The LOLA House, hinting at the unusual, informal, in-house hospitality and friendly discourse.

LOLA winery, founded in 2008, became Seth’s dream-come-true in the winemaker’s pursuit to create “pure” wines, indicative of the terroir and the grape variety, and meeting the highest quality standards while keeping it affordable for both the wine aficionados and the novices.

“For us, growing grapes and making wine is about connecting with nature, working alongside the ever-changing elements, year to year, to make wines that represent their true sense of place,” states LOLA’s website. “LOLA’s portfolio of wines consists of our estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, California Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Rose – all part of our classic collection, mostly sourced from Sonoma County. As well we produce the LOLA Artisanal Series of wines focused on purity and uncompromised integrity from distinct vineyards mostly located in Napa Valley.”

By sustainably farming the vineyards, and combining old-world winemaking methods with contemporary technology, LOLA reaches perfection in its annual amount of about 20,000 cases distributed in 36 states and exported abroad.

Some uniquely special wines, like Dry Riesling from Rutherford, Chenin Blanc, Malvasia Bianca, and Zinfandel from St. Helena, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Calistoga are produced in miniscule amounts, from 55 to 170 cases, and reserved only for onsite tastings and distribution to the wine club members.

An interesting part of the LOLA tasting is an exquisite food pairing with bottarga (dried and pressed row of the mullet fish) and mojama (salt cured and dried black fin tuna loin) produced by Cortez Conservas, located on the Florida Gulf Coast—the sustainable fishing company started by brothers Seth and Mic Cripe at the fishing village of Cortez nearby their birthplace, Anna Maria Island.  

Much of the LOLA’s charm comes from the original artwork by Rafaela Costa Cripe, a talented artist and a world traveler who grew up in Brazil, and who speaks Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew, and English. At the LOLA house you can see vineyard maps collaged from wine labels, painted wine barrels and surf boards, and seafood series pictures created by Rafaela—as well as all of LOLA Wines labels and Cortez Conservas graphics.


The name LOLA comes from Seth’s trusty little dog, once found as an injured puppy on a trail in Big Sur.  Now 16 years old, and after crossing the country 14 times while accompanying Seth on his business trips, LOLA is commemorated in gold by Rafaela’s artistic rendition on a label of 10th Anniversary Reserve Pinot Noir (2018, Russian River Valley).   

To schedule a visit to The LOLA House from 11am to 3pm, Thursday through Monday at 916 Foothill Blvd, Calistoga, California, call 707-342-0623 or email More information at: