Yesterday I had a chance to sit down with the lovely Dawn Neufeld on The Broadcast to talk a little Napa Valley. Gary and I just got back, traveling with some friends who were the high bidders of our “Napa Valley Get Away Trip with me and Gary” auctioned off at our Dallas Uncorked June Jones Foundation dinner last summer. I had a chance to stay on a few extra days as well, staying at the luxurious Meadowood Resort. Though it is incredibly dry in the area now, not a good thing for farmers and vintners, Napa Valley in January is experiencing some record highs with sunshine filled days, ideal for visiting and getting out of these cold Dallas days. Here are a few reasons why Napa is the ideal place to visit this season.
Follow this link to see the segment – Napa Valley Wines with Hayley Hamilton. Follow the jump for specifics on each spot we talked about.
The Meadowood Resort set in the hills above St. Helena, is one of the most serene and relaxing hotels in the world. The exquisite resort just completed a major room renovation, updating many of the bathrooms and interiors, and is in the midst of updating their spa now. Each cottage style room set in the hills above the resort, or scattered throughout the lavish lawns. Meadowood is blessed with quiet and tranquility, perfect for relaxing after a day of wine tasting…or simply getting away from it all relaxing by their pools, playing a game of tennis or a round of golf. One of the only golf courses in Napa, the grounds have hiking paths, croquette and a stunning pool area….you may see some of your favorite winemakers on the course or at the gym as you enjoy the stay.
Gary and I travel to dine….it is one of our things that we love and one of the finest meals I have ever enjoyed was at The Restaurant at Meadowood and the Bar. The Restaurant, a 3 michelin star experience, led by the genius of Chef Christopher Kostow creating lavish 9 course tasting menus using the freshest seasonal ingredients for $225 a person. The lounge also just went through a renovation, expanding the bar and lounge area and now including 3 course tasting menus as the bar starting at $100 per person. I dined here when Chef Chris had 2 Michelin stars and it was one of the finest experiences of my dining life. The Restaurant gained its 3rd start about 2 years ago.
French Blue is a charming, pristine and very French bistro style St. Helena restaurant features a modern take on classic French, led by the former chef of Auberge with a cozy, welcoming atmosphere, ideal for lunch or dinner.
Conn Creek Blending Session – Conn Creek Winery in Rutherford has an opportunity for guests to truly taste the valley through their custom blending and bottling session. Napa’s story is its terroir…the soil and the sun, how you can cross from one side of the street to the other the exact same variety will taste completely different. The Conn Creek blending experience allows guest to taste through Cabernet Sauvingon wines in barrel grown in 14 of the 16 AVAs or viticulture areas – Rutherford, Carneros, St. Helena, etc. to truly understand the differences in the valley while really find their favorites by tasting each side by side. Through the experience we confirmed some things we already knew…like we love the Cabernet from Atlas Peak (the home of Stagecoach Vineyard which grows some of our favorite fruit for wines produced by Miner, Krupp Brothers and Paul Hobbs), and we love Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, the home of Lail, Ladera, Cade and Viader. But we also learned about some new regions, like Pope Valley up on the other side of Howell Mountain that is “a bit of a hidden gem, but well loved by Napa winemakers” according to our host. After tasting through the barrels you get to make your own blend, bottle it, put a cork in it and label on it, and take it home at the end of the session. A great teaching tool for anyone new to Napa or those of us who what to understand each area and what it will bring to a wine. The session lasts 2 hours and costs $95 per person….a steal for the value it offers.
There is always something to do in Napa, even if it is just popping into tasting room after tasting room, or relaxing at the spa at Villagio, Auberge or Verasa, but there are so many activities that are taking place throughout the region in the next few months that you can plan fun trips around, like the Annual Napa Cabernet Festival, Napa Valley Marathon, Stag’s Leap Wine District Festival – celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, Calistoga Winter in the Wineries, bAsh – St Helena Wine Festival, and of course, Auction Napa Valley, details available through the Napa Valley Vintners Association