News from the Vines: What’s Cropping up in the Napa Valley this Season
An Arial View of Meadowood Napa
1. Just Completed: Five new Harvest Suites in the Harvest Cottage were just completed in September at The Carneros Inn. The new suites make for a total of 800 square feet of indoor living space, as well as 400 additional square feet of private outdoor patio space, which includes an outdoor soaking tub and fire pit. www.thecarnerosinn.com
2. Just Opened: Meadowood Napa Valley just debuted their new 14,000 square-foot, all-suite spa on November 2, 2015, with eight treatment suites, each offering forest views and a private environment for relaxation. Each spa suite features a private bathroom, steam shower and daybed. www.meadowood.com
3. Just Completed: Calistoga Hot Springs finished its extensive renovation project in June 2015, including a redesign of the guest rooms with spa-inspired bedding, pebble and Italian porcelain tile showers, kitchenette upgrades and High Definition LED televisions. The focal point, though, are the four geothermal heated mineral pools, with travertine tiles, new pool furniture and vine covered arbor niches. www.calistogaspa.com
1. Just Opened: The team from Ca’ Momi debuted their new Osteria on October 13, 2015, with a full bar of Ca’ Momi wines, house-made spirits and beer and a menu of authentic Italian specialties like their certified Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) and Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani pizza. Ca’ Momi Osteria; 1141 First St., downtown Napa; www.camomiosteria.com.
2. Just Opened: Launched by AvroKO and chef Matthew Lightner (who received two Michelin stars when he oversaw the kitchen at Atera in NYC), NINEBARK opened in October 2015 in downtown Napa with California-focused, market-forward cuisine using innovative techniques like smoking with local hardwood and shrubs and marinating in herbal, fruit and floral broths. 813 Main St.; www.ninebark-napa.com.
3. Upcoming: Opening late 2015, Tannery Bend Beerworks will brew and serve their own beers, born from a unique collaboration between a brewer (Matthew Cromwell) and a chef (Tyler Rodde) within blocks of downtown Napa. An upcoming crowdfunding campaign be established to engage members of the community. www.tannerybendbeerworks.com
4. Upcoming: Miminashi, Napa Valley’s first and only “Izakaya-style” (Japanese pub) in downtown Napa, is set to open this month by chef and owner Curtis Di Fede. The menu will feature classics like Kara-age (Japanese-style fried chicken), binchotan grilled porterhouse with uni shiso butter and the space will focus around an open binchotan grill.
1. Just Opened: In the center of Yountville, K. LAZ WINE COLLECTION opened on October 7, 2015 by former Dean & Deluca Wine Director, Kerrin Laz. The 12-seat tasting room and retail shop features a curated wine collection, local Napa Valley landscape photography shot by Kerrin and fresh flowers and terrariums from nearby Evermore Flowers. www.klazwine.com.
2. Upcoming: JaM Cellars is coming to downtown Napa this winter, with wine flights, by the glass and by the bottle programs available for Butter Chardonnay, JaM Cab and Toast Sparkling, plus several guest wines and special releases only available at the downtown tasting room. Designer Richard Vonsaal is creating a unique space with reclaimed materials and contemporary twists. www.jamcellars.com
1. Flavor! Napa Valley – March 16 – 20, 2016: A five-day celebration featuring farm-to-table cuisine, world-class wines and culinary star talent, with local and celebrity chef demonstrations, intimate winemaker workshops, Grand Tastings and exclusive experiences that bring out the best flavors of Napa Valley. www.flavornapavalley.com
2. Superbowl 50 – February 7, 2016: In celebration of the Bay Area’s hosting of Superbowl 50, Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, is offering a “GAMETIME” package for Superbowl weekend. The package includes a one-night stay in a Maison king room, GAMETIME welcome party snacks paired with a bottle of former pro Dick Vermeil’s Proprietary Red, wine tasting for two at Vermeil Wines in Calistoga or Napa, a GAMETIME sampler in the Bistro & Bar, a $100 resort credit and a 10 percent discount on any 60 minute service at Auberge Spa (including the GAMETIME sports massage and “heat-to-toe” treatment). The package starts at $898 and is valid through Feb. 12, 2016.
This once-sleepy stretch of the California coastal highway – just north of San Francisco in West Marin – has become a hotbed of innovation in artisan / organic / sustainable food and farmland conservation movements also chronicled in the recent, excellent documentary film, Rebels with a Cause – featuring interviews with the Straus family matriarch, Ellen Straus, who co-founded MALT, the nation’s first agricultural land trust.
“Years ago, my siblings and I launched Straus Family Creamery – the first organic dairy west of the Mississippi – which is owned by our older brother. Now, separately, my two sisters (Vivien and Miriam) and I have renovated our family’s Civil War-era home into a vacation rental,” says Michael Straus of Straus Home Ranch. Alas – and now the rental is on the market for those to feel a little closer to the excellent Straus family brand (complete with recyclable glass bottles and farm raised milk).
We think it’s a perfect home-base for exploring the artisan cheese revolution (assisted, of course, by the iPhone app created by Vivien, CheeseTrail.org), kayaking on Tomales Bay, hiking in the Pt. Reyes National Seashore, or simply escaping to what Michael likes to think of as the “Lost Coast of West Marin”.
- Overnight: $500 / night
Recently, the San Francisco Travel Association reached out to share their top tourist picks for those traveling to the city so we thought we’d spread the word.
Here you go!
1. Stroll in the San Francisco Botanical Garden (www.sfbotanicalgarden.org)
2. Head for the overlook at Sutro Heights Park
3. Walk the labyrinths at Grace Cathedral (http://www.gracecathedral.org/labyrinth/)
5. Go to the Ferry Blg for Hog Island oysters and/or tacos (Mjita) and cheese to go (Cowgirl Creamery is your friend) then jet across the bay to Angel Island, Oakland, Sausalito, Tiburon or Vallejo. To review schedules and departure points, visit www.511.org
6. Many museums in the city have extended hours at least once a week or are open late on Thursdays: Asian Art Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum, Exploratorium, Museum of Craft and Design, California Academy of Sciences which offers special programming until 10 p.m.as part of its NightLife series. On Fridays from March 28-Nov. 29, 2014 the de Young Museum offers a variety of interdisciplinary arts programs, including live music, films, lectures, a poetry series, occasional tango milongas and swing dancing, performance art, and hands on art making for young and old. For sunset watchers the view from the de Young’s 144-foot tower is stunning. For details on museum locations and other programming details, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel
7. The San Francisco Giants’ home opener is April 8, 2014. For the full schedule, visit www.sfgiants.com. Tours of the stadium, dugout areas and visitors’ clubhouse are also offered on a regular basis.
8. Something’s always brewing in San Francisco especially at Anchor Brewing Company (www.anchorbrewing.com). Tours are offered once a week by reservation only; to confirm a slot, telephone 415-863-8350. The San Francisco Brewers Guild (www.sfbrewersguild.org) also sponsors a number of events and has a map of local breweries.
9. Climb the steepest streets: Filbert between Leavenworth and Hyde (31.5 percent grade); 22nd Street between Church and Vicksburg (31.5 percent grade); Jones between Union and Filbert (29 percent grade); Duboce Avenue between Alpine and Buena Vista (27.9 percent grade). Percentage indicates for every 100 feet, block rises 3l.5 feet, 29 feet, etc.
10. Start training now for one of the many athletic events coming up. In April the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon (http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/san-francisco) on April 6, the Bay to Breakers (www.baytobreakers.com) on May 18, the San Francisco Marathon (www.thesfmarathon.com) in July and the popular Giant Race (www.giantrace.com) in September.
11. Discover new artists and revisit others on the first Thursday of every month when many local art galleries stay open until 8 p.m. or later. For a list of participating galleries, visit http://firstthursdayart.com/
12. Tap into San Francisco’s urban winery scene at Bluxome Street Winery (www.bluxomewinery.com), Dogpatch WineWorks (www.dogpatchwineworks.com), The Press Club (www.pressclubsf.com), Winery Collective (www.winerycollective.com) and The Winery SF (www.winery-sf.com)
13. Indulge in a deep tissue massage or a round of reflexology in Chinatown or on Polk Street (secret tip: check out Fung Soong at 1623 Polk Street for a $25 hour foot & neck massage) or at any one of San Francisco’s day spas. For a list of local spas and spas located within hotels, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel
14. San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (www.sfgov.org/recpark) has six municipal golf courses: TPC Harding (18 holes), Fleming (9 holes), Lincoln Park (18 holes), Sharp Park (18 holes); Golden Gate Park (9 holes), and Gleneagles (9 holes). The 18-hole Presidio Golf Course (www.presidiogolf.com) also offers twilight and early bird discounts. Sketchy weather? Check out Eagle Club Indoor Golf (www.eagleclubig.com)
15. Paddle on the bay on a twilight tour with City Kayak (www.citykayak.com). The route includes McCovey Cove, Mission Creek and goes under the Bay Bridge for a spectacular view of The Bay Lights. Previous kayaking experience recommended.
16. The walk across the Golden Gate Bridge – pedestrians have access to the east walkway of the bridge from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Considered one of the foremost engineering triumphs in the world, the bridge is the seventh longest suspension bridge in the world. For more information, visit www.goldengate.org
17. Experience nature in the big city along the windswept shoreline at Crissy Field (www.crissyfield.org). Savor a treat at the Beach Hut Café or the Warming Hut and explore the eight sculptures of Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field (http://www.sfmoma.org/exhib_events/events/2338) on view through May 26, 2014.
18. Exercise the intellect and the body on one of the free, guided walks offered by San Francisco City Guides (www.sfcityguides.org). More than 30 tours are offered day-in-and-day-out by the volunteer group. They canvass every corner of the city from the ever-changing Castro District to Victorians of Alamo Square.
19. Grab the Graham crackers, dark chocolate and marshmallows for an old-fashioned s’mores party at the beach. Small wood bonfires for groups of less than 25 (without permit) are permitted on Ocean Beach between Fulton and Lincoln. The full regulations are posted at www.nps.gov/goga
20. San Francisco at twilight as seen from an airplane or helicopter on a “flightseeing” excursion is an unforgettable experience. Aerial tours include Golden Gate Helicopters(www.goldengatehelicopters.com), San Francisco Helicopter Tours (www.sfhelicoptertours.com), Seaplane Adventures (www.seaplane.com) and SF Air Tours (www.sfairtours.com)
Greet the New Year with exceptional eats at a great price. San Luis Obispo County, CA is celebrating Restaurant Month, January 1-31, 2014 with more than 35 participating Central Coast restaurants from Cambria to Arroyo Grande will feature special menus, most offering a three-course, prix fixe meal, for just $30 per person, along with award-winning local wine pairings for an additional charge.
For those en route to the quaint, picturesque village of Cambria, both Black Cat Bistro and Robin’s Restaurant will be participating. The perfect setting to ponder thoughtful New Year’s resolutions, Cambria offers a peaceful, off-the-grid getaway, complete with fantastic cuisine, boutique shopping and a host of outdoor adventures.
Travelers in town for Restaurant Month can follow up their fantastic meals with an equally indulgent ocean view vacation at the Cambria Inns collection, which offers comfortable oceanfront accommodations at a variety of price points. Situated along beautiful Moonstone Beach, the collection includes the economical and family-friendly Castle Inn; the luxurious Blue Dolphin Inn; the warm and welcoming Sand Pebbles Inn; and the private Moonstone Cottages.
Foodies will also enjoy the Cambria Inns complimentary breakfast offerings, which range, according to property, from the simple and satisfying Continental to a fresh waffle bar to a gourmet Picnic Breakfast to Go. The hotels are situated off iconic California Highway 1 and offer convenient access to a bounty of area activities, from Hearst Castle to the acclaimed Paso Robles wine region.
My parents took their honeymoon at the famous La Valencia Hotel, and never looked back. Just as it was then, it is now one of San Diego and La Jolla’s finest. It’s also pink. Can you really go wrong with pink stucco, palm trees, and blue skies? I’m sure you can actually, just not here.
With its rich, 87-year history, La Valencia Hotel looks to the future under new ownership and new management. Having finished a complete room renovation in early 2013 and with many more updates planned – including a new French bistro and an elaborate spa — this 112-room vintage coastal retreat continues its role as a gathering place where generations of celebrations have taken place. With its iconic tower, “La V” – as it is fondly known by San Diegans – is a landmark on Prospect Avenue, perched on a cliff above the sweepingly beautiful La Jolla Cove.
Built in 1926 during a revival of Mediterranean-style architecture, “The Pink Lady” is known for its beautiful courtyards, hand painted murals, exquisite Spanish mosaics, and stunning panoramic views of the Pacific. La V is also just steps away from a wide selection of luxury retail and dining options in the village of La Jolla. Nearby attractions also include: Torrey Pines State Park, Scripps Ocean Institute, the Birch Aquarium as well as UCSD / La Jolla Playhouse, the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art and the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park.
Hollywood stars, presidents, and my parents have stayed here over the years and, as a ‘thank you and come join us,’ right now they’re offering the Suite Savings Package and you’ll receive 25% off rack rates for a 700 square ft. Suite or a 450 sq ft private, Ocean View Villa plus complimentary parking and a bottle of premium wine. So instead of $950 a night, you’ll pay $713 on weekends and $619 on weeknights for your own sweet La Valencia Suite or Villa.
Spring and Summer in the Napa Valley: the air is fresh and fragrant with blooming wildflowers, vineyards are awash with green buds signaling another growing season, and afternoons are filled with bright abundant sunshine. We can’t wait to hit up our favorite part of California in the coming weeks! From hikes and golf clinics to a new bar at The Restaurant at Meadowood, this season’s happenings are a refreshing spring awakening.
- The Napa Valley Collects exhibition will showcase work from the region’s private art collectors at The Napa Valley Museum now through the end of May. The exhibition includes significant works sourced from throughout the Napa Valley, many never shown in public including pieces by artists such as Pablo Picasso.
- The Land Trust of Napa County offers hikes each weekend now through June. Ranging from low impact observation hikes to more strenuous hikes like Maggies Peak, which offers 360 valley views at the summit. Hikes are complimentary and are based upon availability.
- The Chardonnay Golf Club has partnered with the Meritage Resort and Spa to offer Golf Digest’s Napa Valley Golf School. The one- or three-day intensive lessons are with a Golf Digest-certified instructor and are available starting at $1,499 per person.
- The Restaurant at Meadowood’s new lounge and bar now offers a three-course menu for $90 per person, and “snacks from Chef Christopher Kostow”, a light tasting menu for $20 per person.
- The inaugural BottleRock Napa Valley music festival was May 8th-16th and featured over 60 artists and bands, including The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, and Zac Brown Band. Over a dozen comedians, including Jim Gaffigan, Demetri Martin, Wyatt Cenak, and Kristen Schaal will provide laughs in between musical sets. Day passes started at $139, multi-day passes at $329. Make a note to put this on your calendar next year.
- Embark on a hot air balloon ride with Harvest Inn’s “Up, Up & Away” package.
- Channel the inner artist at The Meritage Resort and Spa with the “Art of Relaxation” package, which includes an easel, paint, and brushes.
- Unwind at the Villagio Inn and Spa with the “Arts in April” package with a VIP Wine Tasting at V Wine Cellar, spa treatments, and a Champagne sabering session.
For more information about travel to the Napa Valley, including special offers and a full calendar of spring and early summer season events, visit www.visitnapavalley.com