Napa's city at the top of the valley
“One good thing about Calistoga—you won’t find a fast-food outlet on every corner,” declares the town’s mayor, Jack Gingles. “In fact, there isn’t a fast-food place anywhere in Calistoga.”
When asked where Calistogans go for a quick bite, Mayor Gingles happily offers, “For barbecue it’s Buster’s, and the Home Plate Cafe has a terrific hamburger.” And if the name Gingles tickles your fancy, meet Eden Umble and Olga Cream; both are players in the tight-knit Calistoga community.
Cream owns the property on Tubbs Road where, as she puts it, “the Old Faithful Geyser of California erupts every 40 minutes, sending a plume of 350-degree water 60 feet in the air.” Intriguingly, she asserts that when the eruptions become less frequent, an earthquake is imminent. “A seismologist from Carnegie Tech analyzed my records,” Cream adds emphatically. “My claim is valid.”
Umble manages Calistoga’s visitor center. “Yes, our attractions are exotic spas and colorful wineries,” she says. “But this is a real community. We just raised $1 million for our schools, we are building a pool in the center of town and several exciting developments are in our new urban plan.” Umble is also proud of Calistoga’s three community events: the Holiday Tractor Parade in December; the Mustard, Mud and Music Festival in March; and her favorite, the Napa County Fair and community parade on the Fourth of July.
Calistoga’s 5,200 residents are clustered along Lincoln Avenue between State Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail, the famous address of many of the Napa Valley’s most celebrated wineries. Healdsburg is 15 miles to the northwest; St. Helena a similar distance to the southeast. A recent addition to the town is Solage Calistoga, an 89-unit green resort on the Silverado Trail that provides two cruiser bikes with every studio-style accommodation. “It’s an easy pedal to the town’s many boutiques, bookstores and cafes,” says Solage sales manager Jackie Almond.
As for a more permanent stay, Bob Beck of Beck and Taylor Realtors reports, “Close in to Calistoga, townhomes start in the mid-$400,000s, small, older homes in the mid-$500,000s, and newer, larger homes are in the $800,000-to-$900,000 range.” As for properties with acreage on the outskirts of town, Beck references a recent sale of $2.8 million for a ranch home on 3.4 acres. “In 2007,” he recalls, “we had a total of four sales each over $2 million.”