Being huge lovers of both wineries and beautiful landscapes, when we learnt that we could enjoy both of these things at the same time from above.. in a HOT AIR BALLOON, we looked into booking our morning in the sky immediately!
We did a bit of research online and it became apparent that ballooning over the Napa & Calistoga Valley is quite a common activity that is offered by many different businesses. After comparing the multiple packages and websites advertised on the internet, we were incredibly impressed with a company that we came across by the name of Calistoga Balloon’s. With glowing reviews and and a package that set them apart from the others, (which we will tell you about below!) we were able to make our reservation via email quite simply.
As ballooning is heavily dependent on weather and wind conditions, their friendly staff assisted us with choosing a day in advance where flying was looking quite promising & were very accomodating of our travel dates. We received an email confirmation which included all of the information that we needed for the day - including what to bring, wear, and the meeting point location.
The morning of our ballooning experience, we arrived at a historic railway depot in the gorgeous town of Calistoga at 6.30am where we were warmly welcomed by Peter and Daniel. Daniel would be our pilot for the morning, and Peter had prepared for us a delicious pre-flight snack - coffee, tea, and an assortment of sweet biscuits.
We met the group of 8 other lovely travellers who would be joining us for the morning, and after a brief orientation we all jumped into a van with Daniel where we drove to the nearby location where we would be commencing our balloon flight!
With the sun starting to rise over the valley, we watched and had the special option to assist in the setup of the balloon. Daniel and the crew involved us all in the process, with lots of photo and video opportunities of the impressively large balloon being slowly inflated and attached to the basket. Before we knew it, the basket was upright, we were all jumping aboard, and ready for take-off! It was such a surreal experience to be standing on the sturdy ground one moment, and in the sky the next. We were surprised with how gently and gradually we gained elevation, watching as the wineries, trees, roads, cars, and people beneath us became smaller and smaller from up high above.
Daniel was very friendly, professional, and informative during our flight, answering any questions that we had about the history of ballooning, how it all works, and about the towns of Calistoga, Napa, and the wineries below, whilst also ensuring that we were all feeling safe and comfortable. When we weren’t taking photos of the gorgeous views below and around us, we were enjoying how relaxing the entire experience was. The amount of elevation gain was dependent on the winds and weather - we were lucky enough to be flying on a picture perfect day which allowed us to reach around 1200 feet high in the sky! The flight lasted for around one hour before Daniel gracefully landed us nearby a golf-course, with lots of by-standers coming to take photos and applaud the smooth landing.
We jumped out of the ballooning basket, everyone with big smiles on their faces after having the most magical morning! But it wasn’t over yet.. back into the van we went and we were driven a short way to our brunch spot. A restaurant that was attached to a five-star resort called Solage, we were greeted with champagne, fresh juice, french coffee, and a menu that spoilt our hungry bellies with choice. We all sat and enjoyed some seriously delicious food while reliving our morning ballooning experience - wishing we could do it all over again!
Once breakfast was over, Daniel drove us all back to the historic railway depot where we said our goodbyes. We could not recommend this experience enough, and are so thrilled that we chose to fly with Calistoga Balloon’s! Their attention to detail, friendly staff and pilot, professionalism, and all their special little touches is what helped make the day so incredible and memorable.
Check out our youtube video at https://youtu.be/u-YqNVTiKGY (link and video also below) & see for yourself how much fun we had! Feel free to touch base with us if you have any questions, but if you are travelling through California, stopping in at the Calistoga & Napa region is a MUST and be sure to contact Calistoga Balloons to book in your ballooning at www.CalistogaBalloons.com
Before you head out of Calistoga, make sure you stop by at the trendy Calistoga Inn and visit the friendliest bartender we have been fortunate enough to meet - Kristian! With $5 happy hour pints straight from their hand crafted brewery, an abundance of wine options, lots of welcoming locals with great stories to tell, and the tastiest pizza’s in town, this place is a must-see!