Glo­ri­ous & Vic­to­ri­ous Napa Val­ley | DES­TI­NA­TION

Upscale Living Magazine - - Contents - | BY TRACY BEARD

Last Oc­to­ber, the me­dia flooded the news with cov­er­age of rag­ing fires roar­ing through Napa Val­ley. Many peo­ple around the world watched the re­peated footage and be­lieved that noth­ing re­mained of the pic­turesque Val­ley. How­ever, mis­for­tune has a way of build­ing or break­ing peo­ple. Lo­cals and out­siders came to the res­cue, and to­day Napa Val­ley re­mains magnificent and mag­i­cal de­spite the flames.

In Fe­bru­ary 2018, fol­low­ing the fire, I spent a week in Napa Val­ley. As I tra­versed the area look­ing for signs of dev­as­ta­tion, they were sur­pris­ingly chal­leng­ing to lo­cate. I learned from lo­cals that af­ter the dis­as­ter, com­mu­ni­ties banned to­gether, cleanup crews re­moved the rub­ble, con­trac­tors started new con­struc­tion, and only a few months later the bright col­ors of spring blan­keted the Val­ley. New growth cam­ou­flaged black scars left from the vi­cious flames, and the Val­ley stands vibrant and alive ready for vis­i­tors.


Napa Val­ley of­fers nu­mer­ous re­sorts, B & Bs, ho­tels, restau­rants, and winer­ies. The Mead­owood Napa Val­ley, a lux­ury re­sort, is ide­ally lo­cated in St. He­lena, Cal­i­for­nia, and makes the per­fect base for ex­plor­ing the Val­ley. De­li­cious food is syn­ony­mous with the area, and no trip here is com­plete with­out ex­plor­ing a few winer­ies. Angèle Restau­rant & Bar in Napa and Redd Wood in Yountville are es­sen­tial des­ti­na­tions for great food. For a unique and tasty wine ex­pe­ri­ence tour Amici Cel­lars in Cal­is­toga and Hour­glass Wine Com­pany Inc. in St. He­lena.


Mead­owood Napa Val­ley un­folds along the vast hillside and of­fers an as­sort­ment of ac­com­mo­da­tions. My child­hood dreams were brought to life when I spent two nights in a one of the lux­ury Tree­line suites. Loung­ing on the Cal­i­for­nia King bed, I gazed out the win­dows high above the ground sur­rounded by tree branches and spring leaves that flut­tered in the wind.

My cozy yet op­u­lent suite, dec­o­rated in cot­tage style, ex­tended out­side onto a white-washed deck over­look­ing the fair­way where I spent the evenings with a glass of wine in hand and the morn­ings with a cup of steam­ing cof­fee. The abun­dance of ameni­ties, which in­cluded a flat-screen TV, cof­fee ma­chine, re­frig­er­a­tor, and fully stocked bar, su­perbly equipped my tem­po­rary home.

Guests at Mead­owood of­ten choose to par­tic­i­pate in one of the onsite ac­tiv­i­ties like golf, ten­nis, cro­quet, swim­ming, hik­ing, or a spa treat­ment. Jen­nifer Chiesa, Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Re­la­tions, ex­cit­edly re­ports, “Forbes Travel Guide has just un­veiled its an­nual Star Rating list, nam­ing Mead­owood as a Forbes Travel

Guide 15-Star re­cip­i­ent with the Ho­tel, The Restau­rant and Mead­owood Spa each re­ceiv­ing the Five-Star Rating! The es­tate is now one of only 13 ho­tels in the world to have all three Five-Star des­ig­na­tions at the same prop­erty.”


Fab­u­lous din­ing is es­sen­tial to any trip, and The Grill over­look­ing the golf course of­fers scrump­tious op­tions for break­fast, lunch, and din­ner. The Restau­rant at Mead­owood, a Miche­lin-star es­tab­lish­ment un­der the com­mand of Chef Christo­pher Kos­tow, serves el­e­vated Napa Val­ley cui­sine in the evenings.


En­ticed by Mead­owood’s spa rep­u­ta­tion, I booked an ap­point­ment. As I stepped out into the women’s re­lax­ation gar­den, I found myself let­ting go of any stress­ful thoughts. I sat next to the min­eral soak­ing pool and dan­gled my feet into the wa­ter like a child. Soon I was roused and taken to my pri­vate treat­ment room where I re­ceived a mas­sage that lulled me to sleep. The all-suite spa de­sign of­fers pri­vacy, and each suite fea­tures a steam/sauna room, pri­vate bath­room, and treat­ment room. Jen­nifer says, “In ad­di­tion to the many culi­nary and well­ness ameni­ties avail­able, we first and fore­most want our guests to feel well taken care of, as if in their own home away from home. Just as ev­ery­one is unique, we strive to cre­ate the best per­son­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ences for their stay.”


Napa Val­ley boasts ex­cel­lent restau­rants. Stand­ing the test of time for over 20 years, Angèle Restau­rant & Bar is tan­ta­mount to vis­it­ing a magnificent bistro in France. As I en­tered this culi­nary gem next to the river, I im­me­di­ately felt trans­ported to my fa­vorite city in the world, Paris. Seated by the win­dow, watch­ing pedes­tri­ans stroll along­side the river, I wit­nessed the sun go­ing down as I sa­vored a dish

of tasty es­car­got tucked away in puff pas­try with gar­lic, pars­ley, and a beurre blanc sauce. This so­phis­ti­cated ap­pe­tizer pre­ceded a rich and hearty beef bour­guignon with but­tered noo­dles. I fin­ished with a de­lec­ta­ble but­ter­scotch bread pud­ding with bour­bon ice cream. It was so fla­vor­ful and en­tic­ing that two ladies from a neigh­bor­ing table vol­un­teered to join me in pol­ish­ing off the dish.

Pro­pri­etor Bet­tina Rouas says, “Own­ing Angèle is about my love for food, wine, and tak­ing care of peo­ple. My goal is for our cus­tomers to feel like they just had a quick trip to France. I hope they can’t wait to re­turn.”


Redd Wood, a Yountville pizza restau­rant, of­fers a con­tem­po­rary ver­sion of Wine Coun­try cui­sine. This vibrant restau­rant serves ca­sual up­scale fare with bold fla­vors and beautiful col­ors. Chef de Cui­sine Jake Koss­man works with Richard Red­ding­ton, ex­ec­u­tive chef and owner, to keep the menu ex­cit­ing and sea­sonal.

I be­gan lunch with a cold crisp Cae­sar salad and moved on to a bu­ca­tini pasta with au­then­tic Ital­ian bolog­nese sauce. I fin­ished with an ex­tra­or­di­nary scoop of sweet and salty date and ba­con ice cream. Pizza is a sta­ple at the restau­rant, and the mush­room pizza with béchamel is a re­peat win­ner. Cre­ativ­ity abounds at the bar, and the mixol­o­gist con­jures up stun­ning cock­tails.


Winer­ies lit­ter the main roads; but for a more in­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence, book an ap­point­ment at Amici Cel­lars owned by Robert Shep­ard and John Har­ris, long-term friends for over 25 years. Melissa Devore, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent, says, “Amici Cel­lars has no cur­few and no lim­its, and we want to be ap­proach­able to ev­ery­one at dif­fer­ent price points.”

John talked about the dif­fer­ent cooper­ages, or bar­rels. He said, “We use mostly French, 98%, but we have tried some Hun­gar­ian bar­rels. We have found that dif­fer­ent cooper­ages work bet­ter with some vine­yards than oth­ers.” Robert says, “Oak is like a spice rack. Dif­fer­ent forests and bar­rel com­pa­nies pro­duce dif­fer­ent fla­vors and com­po­nents in the wine, and that’s where the wine­mak­ing team comes in to do their magic.”

Amici of­fers sev­eral wines. The en­try-level brand “No Cur­few” is great for what I would con­sider the “Tues­day night wine,” and the mid­dle-level brand “Olema” is mod­er­ately priced. Fi­nally, the el­e­gant pre­mium wines listed un­der the brand “Amici” are those I would have to re­serve for spe­cial oc­ca­sions.


Hour­glass Wine Com­pany is made up of a win­ery, two vine­yards, and a col­lec­tion of es­tate wines. Own­ers Jeff and Carolyn Smith worked along­side Napa ar­chi­tect Ol­lie Lund­berg to de­sign a win­ery where they could pro­duce cut­ting-edge wines. Ol­lie’s fi­nal de­sign for the win­ery came to him in a dream. In­spired by na­ture and the prin­ci­ples of mod­ernism, the team worked to­gether to carve the new win­ery into the hillside. Hour­glass wines are in high de­mand, and the uniquely stun­ning win­ery is worth a visit.


Napa Val­ley has so much to of­fer vis­i­tors. The col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts of those liv­ing in the Val­ley led to the quick re­cov­ery of the com­mu­nity. Napa stands glo­ri­ous and vic­to­ri­ous af­ter fight­ing the flames; but we need to re­mem­ber that even though it is chal­leng­ing to find ev­i­dence of the fires, there are those still re­cov­er­ing from se­vere losses.

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