A Sojourn Through California’s First Wine Country
While the gold rush is one prize for which California has laid claim, another seems to have gained equal prestige. The Northern California region of Napa Valley happens to be one of the two percent of the world that enjoys a dry Mediterranean climate, which makes it an ideal place to grow premium grapes. Along with some of the most diverse soil and agricultural conditions on earth, Napa Valley is a prime location for winemakers to consistently produce exceptional quality wines. The region is the first to be designated in California as an American Viticultural Area, a distinction of which local vintners have been proud since 1981.
Most of the more than 400 wineries in and around Napa Valley are family-owned, and, though small in size, the region has rapidly become an accomplished player in the global wine industry. Among the internationally distributed wines produced in this region are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, for which Napa Valley is best known.
Aside from its wine-production prowess, Napa Valley is a charming area north of San Francisco, California, with hundreds of rolling hills and picturesque rows of grapevines. It’s a popular wedding destination as the landscape offers a stunning backdrop to any photo. It has also become one of the hottest weekend escapes for anything from a girls’ getaway to a romantic weekend, given the amazing hotels and spas in the area.
Indian Springs, Calistoga
Recognized as one of the few American communities committed to preserving its town’s character, Calistoga has earned the renowned National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Distinctive Destination” honor. Although its Victorian architecture and quaint small-town character draws countless visitors to the area, it’s the abundance of therapeutic hot springs which Calistoga is best known for.
Indian Springs Resort and Spa, enjoyed for more than a century, is a hideaway in the area overflowing with natural hot springs and healing elements. Palm trees and roses are scattered in and around the motor inn-styled resort, contributing to the tranquil and therapeutic mood instantly felt upon arrival. There are historic duplex cottages that date back to the 1940s and enchanting bungalows strewn throughout the 17-acre property and plenty of outdoor space to take in the views and enjoy the natural surroundings.
From its inception to 2015, Indian Springs Calistoga was a 40-room property, but with the renovations and additions since, it is now a 115-room resort. Current owner John Merchant, whose artwork is displayed throughout the resort and in guestrooms, maintains the genuine character of the iconic property with every update.
The original 1910 Olympic-sized mineral pool has been preserved and is nourished by four onsite geysers. With a poolside lounge, guests can relax and enjoy the water all day long. However, there’s plenty more to do while at Indian Springs Resort and Spa, such as a walk through the lush paths, relax in the hammock garden and ride through the grounds on the complimentary bikes.
Indian Springs Resort and Spa boasts one of the original spas in California and most of the treatments contain the rich minerals native to the area and their mud baths draw visitors both near and far. There is a peaceful Buddha pond where guests can relax and relish the calm ambiance and sounds of trickling springs before or after a spa treatment.
Sam’s Social Club, named for Samuel Brannan, the founder of Calistoga, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has even won “Best Breakfast in Napa” numerous times over the years. In addition to an extensive wine list, cocktails and home-brewed beer are also served. The “Alley” at Sam’s is our private dining space and can seat 12-40 people and is surrounded by olive trees and string lights.
There are plenty of private spaces for social functions, celebrations and business meetings throughout Indian Springs Resort and Spa.
Harvest Inn, St. Helena
Home to the Napa Valley Film Festival, St. Helena, located in the heart of Napa Valley, is the ideal stop for those who want to pack in as many visits to beautiful wineries as their trip allows. This picturesque community is relaxed and casual, yet with more than 150 wineries, St. Helena is where some of the best-known powerhouses of Napa Valley wines originate. It’s also filled with restaurants, hotels and the celebrated Harvest Inn.
Tucked within a lush vineyard and surrounded by the majestic Mayacamas Mountains, Harvest Inn has all the ambiance required when seeking a wine country experience. The woodsy property is calm, and it overflows with gardens, fountains, 320 towering redwoods and more than two million bricks, which is why the grounds are repeatedly depicted as an enchanted storybook setting.
Recognized by Condè Nast Traveler as one of Napa Valley’s top hotels, Harvest Inn has an array of amenities that surpass ordinary expectations. Hotel guests can enjoy wine tastings each Monday and Friday evenings at the lobby bar, complimentary wine tastings at neighboring wineries and receive access to Napa’s Silverado Resort and Spa. A courtesy house car is available, which is handy when visiting local wineries and restaurants. The fitness center is open 24 hours daily, there are two pools and a mesmerizing koi pond.
Harvest Inn features 81 rooms– most of which include panoramic views of Whitehall Lane’s Leonardini Family Vineyards and some that include a hot tub with fabulous vistas of the property. There are a variety of unique packages available to book such as the “Elopement Package” and the popular “Happy Tails” package, which includes a warm welcome to visiting pups with toys, treats, a doggy bowl and pet mattress. Canine guests are welcomed in the outdoor seating area of Harvest Table restaurant, located off the hotel lobby.
Harvest Table features a menu that uses locally sourced ingredients and the resort’s on-site vegetable and herb garden and offers Happy Hour six days a week. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and presents a signature brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Napa Valley Lodge, Yountville
Although an unassuming small town with roughly 2,933 residents, Yountville is considered the culinary center of Napa Valley, an area loaded with Michelin-starred restaurants, luxurious hotels and award-winning tasting rooms. Foodies are especially drawn to this community, given that a few of Thomas Keller’s famed eateries, French Laundry, Bouchon and Ad Hoc, among other gastronomical delights, are located here. Walking is the transportation mode of choice here as the boutiques and galleries along the way are not to be missed.
Guests looking to conveniently plant themselves in the hub of this epicurean escape select accommodations in town since it can take a few days to explore the amazing food and wine in Yountville. Napa Valley Lodge, a 55-room Tuscan-style boutique lodge, is well-situated at the north end of the Yountville experience. Walking into town from the property is an enjoyable trek past gardens and vineyards, or guests can use the complimentary bicycles available on-site on a first-come, first served basis. Those who’d rather roll into town comfortably seated can take advantage of the Yountville Trolley, which covers the mile and a half distance back and forth throughout the day.
Napa Valley Lodge offers a daily complimentary Champagne continental breakfast buffet, complimentary afternoon tea and cookies served in the lobby and complimentary Wine Hour featuring local wineries on Thursday and Friday evenings. There is a pool, and if one hasn’t had enough exercise walking through town, a poolside gym features the exclusive Peloton stationary bike.
Minutes from the property, Napa Valley Lodge guests can easily access the array of events hosted by Yountville year-round such as ARTS IN APRIL, Napa Valley’s largest visual arts event, The Yountville Food and Wine Tour, Hot Summer Movie Nights, Music in The Park and so much more.
There’s much more to Napa Valley than just great wines and spectacular hotels. Although it’s just 30 miles long and a few miles wide, this area offers an array of exciting recreation options within its relatively small parameters. Take a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train on which passengers eat and sip wine as it rolls through the valley. Rent a bicycle and ride along the 12.5 miles of the Napa Valley Vine Trail or golf at any of the five golf courses in the area. Fly high over the valley in a hot air balloon and check out the panoramic views or enjoy an afternoon on a stand-up paddleboard down the Napa River. There’s hiking, kayaking and of course, always wine-tasting. A visit to Napa Valley is not just another fun getaway, it’s a rejuvenating, multi-sensory experience.
A Sojourn Through California’s First Wine Country
By Monique Reidy
For more information:
Indian Springs Calistoga
1712 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga CA 94515
1 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574
Napa Valley Lodge
2230 Madison Street, Yountville, CA 94599
3625 East Thousand Oaks Blvd., Suite 230
Westlake Village, CA, 91362
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