Did you know that the United States is the world’s 4th largest wine producer? California is the heartbeat of US production with wines competing among the world’s best! This visit took me back to the North Coast to see what was happening following the horrific fires of fall 2017. I can say that Napa and Sonoma are truly better than ever with all luxury hotels open, wineries pouring liquid gold, and top restaurants serving world class farm to table cuisine! The pioneering community spirit of the region is what is on fire!
My visit this time was split between staying at the classic stunner, Meadowood Resort in St. Helena and then near Healdsburg at the playful and charming Farmhouse Inn. Napa and Sonoma are so different in every way, and I think doing a two center stay between the two areas is the best way to do wine country!
Welcome to Meadowood!
The spa at Meadowood is truly inviting with fireplaces, cozy couples rooms, and a calming interior design that surrounds guests with nature. Even winter visits are made magical in Napa!
There are many room types at Meadowood – from their entry level rooms surrounding the croquet court (great for a family croquet tournament!)…..
….to the Hillside Lodges where I stayed below – These can be arranged anywhere from 1 to 4 bedrooms. They also feature a large central living room with a stone fireplace, convenience kitchen, French doors leading out to a private balcony and views of the resort’s wooded hillsides. Gather around a roaring fire to play games as a group or cozy up to watch a movie with the family.
Dinner is always an affair in Napa Valley and many of our clients will spend at least one night in Yountville bellying up to the area’s TOP rated restaurants. We spent a casual and fun night at the beloved Mustards Grill just north of Yountville, known as the place where “winemakers lunch with truckers and chefs spend their night off.” Food is simple American and the wine list is, of course, insane!
Plan on having one exemplary meal after another when in Napa Valley! Perhaps my favorite lunch ever was at The Charter Oak, the fabulous creation of Meadowood Chef, Christopher Kostow with Chef Katianna Hong. It centers on a celebratory, family-style dining experience, with simple, approachable, and seasonal food – grilled meats, beautiful vegetables from their farm, and local wines. Christopher refers to it as elemental cooking style on a hearth and highlights one to two ingredients at a time. A simply delicious experience!
I love the creativity of the daily menu tucked into a book as a book marker!
How about this special touch where each person has their own drawer to pull out and restock their silverware with each course? I want this in my house!
Family style, fresh, and flavorful – everything we were served was a complete delight!
How lucky we were to have an afternoon with Brittany Hastings – Meadowood’s Estate Sommelier – the most fun, young, knowledgable, yet approachable wine connoisseur! Brittany accompanies Meadowood guests on bespoke wine and food experiences throughout the valley – making for a personally curated and whopping good time!
Our visits started at Napa’s legendary Bill Harland’s (think Harland Estate, Bond, Napa Valley Reserve) latest and colossal sized project – Promontory Winery. Bypassing the valley floor, Promontory’s vines grow on steep hill sides on a land resembling a small national park and are expected possibly to be the premiere wine produced in the valley. To have a chance to taste the gorgeous Cabernets and tour this spectacularly stunning setting was a treat, for sure!
Next stop was a boozy but wonderful visit to taste the stunning Accendo wines at lovely Wheeler Farms – oh what a day!
After a rest and refresh back at Meadowood, we regrouped to enjoy what was the absolute coup de grace of the week – dinner at The Restaurants at Meadowood, the three Michelin Star restaurant overseen by Chef Christopher Kostow and restaurant director, Nathaniel Dorn. The evening’s tasting menu was a symphony of the magic provided by artisans, growers, foragers, winemakers and a dynamic service team. Truly a night I will always remember!
After a five mile run and a morning coffee with the lovely and hospitable Danielle Lucas of Meadowood, we drove through the Mayacamas Mountains from Calistoga to Healdsburg where we were delivered into the very capable hands of Joe Bortolomei, owner of the Farmhouse Inn, and the resort Director of Sales and Marketing, Brian Gipson.
Loving lunch at Shed in Healdsburg:
Farmhouse Inn is a delightful little Relais & Châteaux property just off the highway in Forestville, a small town hear Healdsburg in Sonoma County. Walking into the main lobby is a bit untraditional with a small reception desk, a group of people enjoying the evening wine tasting, and a fun display of locally made soaps and salts to grab for your evening bath!
The rooms at Farmhouse are wonderfully warm with heated floors, soft colors, cozy fabrics, and a fireplace that radiates inside and out. I slept very well at Farmhouse!
After a terrific dinner out, I returned to the above little goodies ready for my next bath. It is wonderful to soak in your bathtub with all of the local, organic products. When it is time for your spa treatment, the therapist comes to collect you at your room and walk you in your robe directly to the spa. I love this approach – no waiting around at the spa and you come already relaxed and ready for what was one of the best massages I have ever had!
Sonoma is really the most fun for wine tasting! With most of the estates small and family run, guests enjoy the unique character and flavor of each winery!
We had the best host of all – Joe Bartolomei, a 5th generation Sonoma resident and owner of the Farmhouse Inn – to show us around Sonoma in the hotel’s state-of-the-art Tesla.
We had a marvelous visit at Lynmar Estates in the Russian River Valley – the land and the wines were marvelous. Can’t wait for my case to arrive!
After a wonderful day of drinking (uh, er… “tasting”) we found ourselves marveling at and walking among the majestic redwoods of the region. Sonoma is a gorgeous area for national parks, the coast, hiking and cycling in addition to wine and food tastings!
Speaking of tasting, dinner at Farmhouse Inn is worth the trip in itself.
Self proclaimed Sonoma dining for wine lovers and friends, Farmhouse Inn is the product of two fifth generation Sonoma farmers, a Michelin-starred chef, a world-class maitre d’ and a team of fantastic sommeliers!
Nobody ever goes to Napa or Sonoma just once! It is a destination that never gets old with countless wineries and restaurants to discover, natural beauty and a spectacular array of lodging options – each one more special than the next! I have stayed at most of the best hotels in the area – from the most classic to the hot new opening! Please contact me to set up your wine country adventure in Napa and Sonoma, in Califorinia’s Central Valley, Washington State, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, or even in New York’s Finger Lakes region and Hudson River Valley! The United States has an incredible wine culture ready to be explored again! Did I say, “WAY TOO MANY WINES” yet? Happy tasting, happy living!