Napa Valley Allure
by Lydia Crichton
Lydia Christine Crichton is a novelist who lives to craft her works of fiction in the heart of Napa Valley.
The narrow Napa Valley, less than thirty miles long, stretches north “up-valley” to south “down-valley”, winding along two main roads framed by dramatic palisades on either side. Vineyards grace the landscape on the valley floor and terrace the gentle slopes.
Getting the Lay of the Land
For a picture-perfect view, take a short drive up the Oakville Grade and pull over at the top. Mount St. Helena looms at 4,343 feet up-valley, north of Calistoga. From its peak, on a clear day - most days are - the hearty hiker will be rewarded with a stunning view of the blue Pacific shimmering in the distance. A tranquil flight above the patchwork of agriculture in a hot air balloon may be the best way to get a feel for the place. Napa Valley Balloons launch at sunrise for a fantasy flight followed by a champagne brunch.
The world-class Auberge du Soleil has Mediterranean-inspired rooms and villas terraced down the hillside feature Italian linens, down bedding and a plethora of deluxe amenities. The full-facility spa and renowned restaurant ensure that guests need not want for, well, anything. The view from the bar/restaurant wrap- around terrace is simply the most spectacular and romantic imaginable, day or night.
Eats & Sweets
Brix, near Yountville, offers al fresco dining with vineyard views. California cuisine with produce harvested from the on-site garden is prepared with a skilled but light hand. Tra Vigne in St. Helena epitomizes wine country ambiance. Classic Italian weds California fresh for a marriage made in heaven. Taylor’s Refresher right on Hwy 29 in St. Helena has a creative selection of the best burgers this side of Texas and an astonishing local wine list.
Nectar of the Grape
Over 400 wineries open their doors in Napa County alone, not to mention those in nearby Sonoma. Guests will discover stunning architecture, inspirational gardens, museum-quality art and, of course, some of the world’s finest wines. Many offer pairings of food and wine. Check out The Preiser Key to Napa Valley for complete details of where and when to go for public, private and reserve tastings.
Sterling Vineyards features a one-of-a-kind tram ride to a mountaintop winery with panoramic views and self-guided tours that culminate with an impressive variety of wines offered in the tasting rooms. Take a picnic to Robert Sinskey Vineyards, purchase a bottle or two of their “fine wines from organic vines” and enjoy lunch on the outdoor terrace with a sweeping view of the vines. The old-world atmosphere of Grgich Hills Cellar makes everyone feel right at home - especially during harvest when guests are invited to take off their shoes and jump right in to help stomp the grapes. Peju‘s elegant sculpture garden beckons from Highway 29 and you won’t be disappointed with the award-wining wines of this “boutique” family-owned operation.
Four major airports serve the San Francisco Bay Area, all just a short drive to the valley: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento. So what are you waiting for? Book a flight, rent a car and cruise through the experience of a lifetime in the beautiful, the bountiful, the breathtaking California Wine Country.
- Auberge du Soleil, 180 Rutherford Hill, Rutherford, 707-963-1211, www.aubergedusoleil.com
- Bouchon Bakery, 6528 Washington, Yountville, 707-944-2253
- Brix, 7377 St. Helena Hwy., Yountville, 707-944-2749, www.brix.com
- COPIA, 500 First Street, Napa, 707-259-1600, www.copia.org
- California State Parks, www.parks.ca.gov
- The Culinary Institute of America, 2555 Main St., St. Helena, 707-967-1010, www.ciachef.edu
- El Bonita Motel, 195 Main St., St. Helena, 707-963-3216, www.elbonita.com
- End of Money Road, 7960 Money Road, Oakville, 707-963-7222, www.endofmoneyroad.com
- The French Laundry, 6640 Washington, Yountville, 707-944-2380, www.frenchlaundry.com
- Grgich Hills, 1829 St. Helena Hwy., Rutherford, 707-9632784, www.grgich.com
- Lavender Hill Spa, 1015 Foothill Blvd., Calistoga, 707-942-4495, www.lavenderhillspa.com
- Long Meadow Ranch, Rutherford, 707-963-4555, www.longmeadowranch.com
- Maison Fleurie, 6529 Yount St., Yountville, 707-944-2056, www.maisonfleurienapa.com
- Massage in the Napa Valley, Janet Creapo, 707-227-4444, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Model Bakery, 1357 Main St., St, Helena, 707-963-8192, www.themodelbakery.com
- Napa Valley Balloons, Yountville, 707-944-0228, www.napavalleyballoons.com
- Napa Valley Wine Train, 1275 McKinstry St., Napa, 707-253-2111, www.winetrain.com
- Peju, 8466 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford, 707-963-3600, www.peju.com
- Platypus Wine Tours, 707-631-0757, www.platypustours.com
- The Preiser Key to Napa Valley, www.preiserkey.com
- Robert Sinskey Vineyards, 6320 Silverado Trail, Napa, 707-944-9090, www.robertsinskey.com
- St. Helena Fitness & Health Center, 930 Dowdell Lane, St. Helena, 707-967-0510
- Sterling Vineyards, 1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, 707-942-3344, www.sterlingvineyards.com
- Taylor's Refresher, 933 Main St., St. Helena, 707-963-3486, www.taylorsrefresher.com
- Tra Vigne, 1050 Charter Oak Ave., St. Helena, 707-963-4444, www.travignerestaurant.com
- Villagio Inn & Spa, 6481 Washington St., Yountville, 707-944-8877, www.villagio.com
- Yountville Fitness & Health Club, 6505 Washington St., #5, 707-944-9345