Issue 30Travel

Beauty and Relaxation in the Heart of Wine Country

By Ashley Stinson

If there’s one thing that California is known for the world over, it’s our excellent wines. California is the world’s fourth-largest producer of wine, with a climate that’s fabulously suited to growing vast vineyards of flavorful grapes. And no place in California is more synonymous with vineyards than the northern coast’s Napa Valley. Napa Valley has become a destination for both wine-lovers and those who are looking to take in some of the most beautiful pastoral scenery anywhere in California, and it’s a region with a lot to offer vacationers.

Located between the Mayacamas Mountain Range, the Vaca Mountains, and San Pablo Bay, Napa Valley is renowned for its scenery. While a nice morning drive can be a good way to take in the rolling hills and valleys, covered in extensive vineyards and dotted with oak trees, there’s no better way to see the region than by hot air balloon. A number of companies such as Balloons Above The Valley and Calistoga Balloons offer hot air balloon rides where you can take in the morning scenery, followed by a glass of sparkling wine once you land to celebrate your trip.

One of the biggest draws of Napa Valley is, of course, the opportunities for wine tastings. With over 400 active wineries in the region, the vast majority of which are family owned, that’s no surprise. Each winery produces wines with their own unique aromas and tastes. You could visit dozens of vineyards and taste hundreds of wines and still have different tastes to discover at the next winery. Or perhaps you prefer to have your wine served alongside a meal, in which case you’re in luck. Napa Valley is home to seven Michelin-starred restaurants, including La Toque and Bouchon Bistro.

The unique soil, sun conditions, and Mediterranean climate of the Napa Valley make for wines which are truly exquisite and unforgettable. One must-visit is Trinitas Cellars, where wine tastings are held in the Estate Cave a beautiful and serene natural stone cave. If you want to try rare wines which you might never find on your own, Back Room Wines might be the place for you. They pride themselves on offering little-known, quality wines, and wines sourced from small local vineyards which do not have their own on-site tasting rooms.

During the fall harvest season, there’s more going on at some wineries than just wine tastings. Bell Wine Cellars holds a STOMP Party on Sept. 30 that boasts wine, food, and grape-stomping competitions. Likewise, on Oct. 7, V. Sattui holds its Crush Party, which is an evening of live music, grape stomping, and an open house of the winery.

Travelling can be hard work. After you’ve done all your strenuous hot air ballooning and wine tasting, maybe you’ll just want to relax and be rejuvenated. Fortunately, Napa Valley is home to many spas where you can do just that. At Golden Haven Hot Springs, guests can soak in namesake hot springs, and enjoy relaxing, romantic couple’s mud baths with their significant other. Guests at the Mount View Hotel & Spa can enjoy couple’s massage packages, facials, and body wraps, or lounge beside the pool. Meanwhile, The Spa at Napa River Inn prides itself on its organic grape seed based treatments, and also offers a doggy spa for those who want to get their pups pampered, as well. Talk about Luxury!

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