It’s not hard to have a good time in Napa. After all, the food tastes better, the sky is a little bluer and the wine is definitely more plentiful. But if you’re looking for specific tips on where to stay and what to drink and eat in this dreamy destination, we have your getaway planned:
First things first, start the morning off with a stop at Dean & DeLuca for a cup of coffee and pastry; it’s also a great place to grab cheese, cured ham and fruit for an impromptu picnic. Now that you’re caffeinated and awake, begin your day of vino tasting by heading up to appointment-only Cade Winery, an understated but luxurious and modern LEED Gold-certified winery. We won’t spoil the surprise, but once you’ve recovered from the unparalleled view, enjoy the brawny Howell Mountain wines crafted from organically grown grapes. After drinking in both the wine and vista, pop back down to St. Helena for lunch at Goose & Gander. The upscale tavern-style spot is famous for its grass-fed burger paired with duck-fat fries, the exquisite mushroom soup and the cocktails — try the Winter Gander, a mix of local Hangar One Mandarin vodka, Meyer lemon, tangerine and five-spice syrup.
It should be check-in time by now, so head over to the LEED Platinum-certified Bardessono in Yountville, where eco-chic suites include fireplaces, patio rain showers and massage areas. Or, for a stay with more history, as well as tennis, golf and a top-rated restaurant, rest your head at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Meadowood Napa Valley.
Don’t get too comfortable, though; you have an appointment for a tasting at Brown Estate in Chiles Valley, where David Brown uses his family’s mountain fruit to craft zinfandels and petite sirahs that offer beautiful flavors, bright acidity and rounded tannins. Taste the wines with artisanal cheese pairings in a rustic-chic tasting room that resembles the lobby of an exclusive hotel. When your glass is empty, head across the road to the new Somerston Wine Co. for another tasting experience. An ATV ride around the hilly property’s organic vineyards will allow you to see its sprawling oaks draped in moss and grazing sheep.
For dinner, slip into the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Restaurant at Meadowood to experience Christopher Kostow’s formal and exquisite cuisine before returning to your hotel for the evening.
After so much running around on day one, a day two of relative leisure is in order. Pop into Bouchon Bakery for a bacon-maple scone, then head to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. The school occupies the impressive stone building that once housed Christian Brothers’ Winery. The Spice Islands Marketplace is the place to do guided tastings of chocolate, olive oil, or wine and cheese, or shop for high-end cookware, gadgets, books and gourmet food. Cook in St. Helena is a charming spot for simple Italian-inspired fare like mussels and sausage in spicy tomato broth or handmade pastas.
The spas in Napa specialize in grape-based treatments, but booking them can get tricky, as most of them only admit hotel guests. Bardessono does a vinotherapie massage with chardonnay-grape-seed oil, and Meadowood hotel guests can experience the Grape Seed Harvest Wrap that leaves skin silky for days. After your treatment, make time for sunset cocktails and more stunning views at Auberge du Soleil and end your idyllic trip with dinner at the lively bar at Redd; everything on Richard Reddington’s menu is first rate, the cocktails are creative and Master Sommelier Willi Sherer will be happy to help you pick out the perfect vino. The weathered guy in the plaid shirt, fleece vest and jeans on the next stool? He’s probably a famous winemaker.
Photos Courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley, Brown Estate Vineyards LLC, Cade, REDD Napa Valley and Goose and Gander