It’s been a long time since California’s most glamorous wine region felt like farm country. Today, the area buzzes with Michelin-starred restaurants, new hotels and shops, and nearly 150 tasting rooms. Some may grouse about commercialization — to say nothing of weekend traffic — but this is still America’s best answer to Provence.
DRAWINGS: 11 hours in the valley: 9 a.m.: Grab a cinnamon bun or a house-made English muffin at the Model Bakery (644 First Street, Building B, Napa; 707-259-1128; themodelbakery.com).; 10 a.m.: Ogle more than 1,000 artworks at di Rosa, one of the world’s top collections of Bay Area art (5200 Sonoma Highway, Napa; 707-226-5991; dirosaart.org). ; 1 p.m. : Linger over lunch at Tra Vigne, where the mozzarella al minuto is made to order (1050 Charter Oak Avenue, St. Helena; 707-963-4444; travignerestaurant.com).; 2:30 p.m.: Unwind with a hot stone massage at the 13,000-square-foot Mission-inspired Spa Villagio (6481 Washington Street, Yountville; 707-948-5050; villagio.com).; 4 p.m.: Nibble a macaron from Bouchon Bakery and wander Thomas Keller’s 2.5-acre garden (6528 Washington Street, Yountville; 707-944-2253; bouchonbakery.com).; 5 p.m.: Browse the furniture and gothic objets d’art at Ma(i)sonry, then sample a flight of wine in its garden (6711 Washington Street, Yountville; 707-944-0889; maisonry.com).; 8 p.m.: Dine at the new Farmstead, where everything from the olive oil to the grass-fed beef is local (738 Main Street, St. Helena; 707-963-4555; longmeadowranch.com).
Going to Town
SHOP: Start at the Oxbow Public Market (610 and 644 First Street, Napa; 707-226-6529; oxbowpublicmarket.com), a covered marketplace chockablock with specialty food stalls, including an organic ice cream shop and an outpost of the Hog Island Oyster Company. From there, meander over to Cake Plate (1000 Main Street, Suite 100, Napa; 707-226-2300; cakeplateonline.com) for creative cupcakes as well as bright and graphic women’s clothing by the likes of Trina Turk, Orla Kiely and Leifsdottir.
EAT: For lunch, choose from beer-can chicken at Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ (975 First Street, Napa; 707-226-3976; bountyhunterwine.com) or authentic Indian food at Neela’s (975 Clinton Street, Napa; 707-226-9988; neelasindianrestaurant.com). Come dinner, there’s the grand seven-course tasting menu at La Toque (1314 McKinstry Street, Napa; 707-257-5157; latoque.com; $135) or the vegetable restaurant and yoga studio Ubuntu, which recently earned a Michelin star (1140 Main Street, Napa; 707-251-5656; ubuntunapa.com; entrees $11 to $17).
NEXT UP: Later this summer, three high-profile restaurants will open in the $72 million Napa Riverfront complex: a contemporary Japanese dining room and shop from the ”Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto; a Tyler Florence rotisserie and wine bar featuring locally raised meat; and Fish Story, a sustainable seafood restaurant with a raw bar and a boat dock.
HESS ART MUSEUM: Serious culture-trippers should make a beeline for the Hess Art Museum at the Hess Collection Winery, which displays modern and contemporary art by the likes of Andy Goldsworthy, Anselm Kiefer and Robert Motherwell in a sleek three-story gallery. 4411 Redwood Road, Napa; (707) 255-1144; hesscollection.com.
HALL RUTHERFORD: Drawn from Craig and Kathryn Hall’s personal collection, the 30 or so artworks on display at Hall Rutherford include paintings and sculptures throughout the grounds and wine caves and a bronze grapevine dripping with Swarovski crystals. 56 Auberge Road, Rutherford; (707) 967-0700; hallwines.com; by appointment.
CASTELLO DI AMOROSA: The Castello di Amorosa is a 121,000-square-foot replica of a 13th-century castle, complete with chapel, torture chamber and five stone towers that took the vintner Dario Sattui nearly 14 years to build using medieval materials and construction techniques. The operation is a bit like a theme park, but the impeccably designed building itself is well worth a gawk. 4045 North St. Helena Highway, Calistoga; (707) 967-6272; castellodiamorosa.com; tours by appointment
DARIOUSH: Darioush Khaledi designed his flashy namesake winery, Darioush, to evoke a palace in Persepolis, the ancient capital of his native Iran. It’s Persia by way of Vegas: picture a travertine-clad villa, an indoor three-story waterfall and 16 uplit granite columns topped with double bullheads. 4240 Silverado Trail, Napa; (707) 257-2345; darioush.com.
FOR CREATIVE PAIRINGS
SIP SHOPPE: At Swanson Vineyards’ stylish new Sip Shoppe, secreted away in a faux circus tent down a rural road, playful pairings reign: think pinot grigio served with domestic caviar and a potato chip, and dark chocolate paired with a dessert wine served in a miniature crystal goblet. 1271 Manley Lane, Rutherford; (707) 967-3500; swansonvineyards.com.
ROBERT SINKSEY VINEYARDS: At Robert Sinskey Vineyards, ”flight attendants” help visitors pair the estate’s food-friendly reds and whites with roasted almonds, gougères and olives picked and cured on site. The $50 farm-to-table tour lets guests pick fruits and vegetables from the orchard and organic garden, sniff kaffir lime and bay leaves, and figure out which herbs go best with which wines. 6320 Silverado Trail, Napa; (707) 944-9090; robertsinskey.com.
CADE WINERY: Cade Winery is striving to a Gold-LEED-certified, solar-powered winery and tasting room. The modern concrete-and-wood structure is built mostly of recycled and reclaimed materials; the 14,500-square foot wine caves are naturally ventilated; and the tasting room is insulated with denim remnants. 360 Howell Mountain Road South, Angwin; (707) 965-2746; cadewinery.com; by appointment.
QUINTESSA: At the 280-acre Quintessa winery — one of the most scenic properties in Napa — the owner and vineyard master, Valeria Huneeus, grows grapes in a sustainable, biodynamic way, farming in tune with the phases of the moon and cosmological cycles, and applying homeopathic compost teas to the vines. 1601 Silverado Trail, Rutherford; (707) 967-1601; quintessa.com; by appointment.
MUD BATH: HIGH: Mosey up to the mud bar at Spa Solage for a customized blend of minerals, clay and essential oils ($98). 755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga; (707) 226-0820; solagecalistoga.com.
LOW: Lower yourself into a concrete trough for an old-fashioned, no-frills volcanic mud bath at Indian Springs ($85). 1712 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga; (707) 942-4913; indianspringscalistoga.com.
NIBBLES: HIGH: Book a one-hour guided cheese, charcuterie and wine tasting ($50) at the new Kenzo Estate, owned by a Japanese businessman who made his fortune in the video game industry. 3200 Monticello Road, Napa; (707) 259-5408; kenzoestate.com.
LOW: Pick up some local ash-aged goat cheese and Frá Mani Toscano Salami at Sunshine Foods, and have a picnic by the boccie courts at Crane Park. 1115 Main Street, St. Helena; (707) 963-7070; sunshinefoodsmarket.com.
TOUR: HIGH: Go up in a hot-air balloon with Napa Valley Balloons for a bird’s-eye view of the valley, followed by a Champagne brunch ($240 per person). 1 California Drive, Yountville; (707) 944-0228; napavalleyballoons.com.
LOW: Rent a carbon fiber road bike from the St. Helena Cyclery and cruise the Silverado Trail ($65 for a 24-hour rental). 1156 Main Street, St. Helena; (707) 963-7736; sthelenacyclery.com.
COOKING CLASS: HIGH: high Sharpen your knife skills and cooking techniques in the five-day Basic Training Boot Camp at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone ($2,095). 2555 Main Street, St. Helena; (800) 888-7850; ciachef.edu/california.
LOW: Enroll in a whole hog butchering or salumi-making class at the new Fatted Calf charcuterie shop ($135). 644-C First Street, Napa; (707) 256-3684; fattedcalf.com.
BURGER: HIGH: Splurge on the almond-wood-grilled American Kobe beef burger topped with Gruyère and wine-stewed onions at Martini House in St. Helena ($17). 1245 Spring Street; (707) 963-2233; martinihouse.com.
LOW: Claim a picnic table at Gott’s Roadside and chow down on a classic burger topped with pickles and American cheese ($8). 933 Main Street, St. Helena; (707) 963-3486; gottsroadside.com.
In an effort to protect the valley from overdevelopment, the Land Trust of Napa County has permanently preserved more than 52,000 acres of agricultural and natural land since 1976. You can take one of the organized hikes led by trust members and, once you’ve done that, trek solo through protected areas that are otherwise off-limits. (707) 261-6316; napalandtrust.org.
1. Auberge du Soleil
Look Provence in California, with hillside stucco cottages shaded by olive trees.
Best for Hollywood types, honeymooners.
Don’t miss The three-acre sculpture garden.
Caveat Not family-friendly.
180 Rutherford Hill Road, Rutherford; (707) 963-1211; aubergedusoleil.com; doubles from $575.
Look Weathered steel, polished concrete, reclaimed wood, clean lines.
Best for Eco-minded sybarites (it’s California’s first LEED-platinum-certified hotel).
Don’t miss An in-room spa treatment (every bathroom has a fold-out massage bed).
Caveat The minimalist interiors can be sterile.
6526 Yount Street, Yountville; (707) 204-6000; bardessono.com; doubles from $350.
3. Calistoga Ranch
Look Cedar bungalows nestled in the woods, with decks and outdoor showers.
Best for Deep-pocketed nature lovers.
Don’t miss Hiking the resort’s 157 redwood-filled acres.
Caveat Bedroom and living room are seperated by an open-air deck — a drag when it’s cold or rainy.
580 Lommel Road, Calistoga; (707) 254-2800; calistogaranch.com; doubles from $550.
4. The Carneros Inn
Look Haute agricultural architecture by way of tin-roofed cottages with porches.
Best for People seeking evidence of Napa’s rural past.
Don’t miss The guests-only spa, which uses local ingredients like goat butter.
Caveat Off the beaten path — 25 minutes to St. Helena.
4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa; (707) 299-4900; thecarnerosinn.com; doubles from $450.
5. Meadowood Napa Valley
Look New England country club — a golf course, tennis courts and gable-roofed cottages — on 250 acres.
Best for Preppy families.
Don’t miss Croquet on the lawn and dinner in the Michelin-starred restaurant.
Caveat It’s spread out enough that you’ll be hitching golf-cart rides from the bell staff.
900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena; (707) 963-3646; meadowood.com; doubles from $525.
6. Milliken Creek Inn and Spa
Look Wooden shingled summer house by the river.
Best for Romantic getaways (candlelight at turn-down, breakfast in bed).
Don’t miss Wine-and-cheese hour hosted by local winemakers.
Caveat There’s no restaurant, pool or gym.
1815 Silverado Trail, Napa; (707) 255-1197; millikencreekinn.com; doubles from $350.
7. Hotel Luca
Look Fantasy version of an Italian courtyard house.
Best for Italophiles and foodies (it’s a short walk to Yountville’s restaurant row).
Don’t miss The house-cured salumi at the hotel restaurant.
Caveat Noisy courtyard dining is in earshot of guest rooms.
6774 Washington Street, Yountville; (707) 944-8080; hotellucanapa.com; doubles from $295.
Claim to fame Thomas Keller’s casual joint was supposed to be temporary, but it’s still here four years later, thanks to wild acclaim. Set menus change daily.
Vibe Unpretentious: waiters in jeans, family-style dishes.
Signature dish Perfect fried chicken, served every other Monday.
6476 Washington Street, Yountville; (707) 944-2487; adhocrestaurant.com; four-course meal $49.
Claim to fame Italian fare by Michael Chiarello, a Food Network personality and St. Helena resident.
Vibe Buzzing: Chiarello makes the rounds, greeting locals and industry insiders by name.
Signature dish ”Green eggs & ham” (braised asparagus with pecorino budino pudding, egg and prosciutto bits).
6525 Washington Street, Yountville; (707) 945-1050; botteganapavalley.com; entrees $15 to $37.
Claim to fame Keller’s original brasserie, with a Michelin star and outposts in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Vibe Festive: closely packed tables and a patio overlooking Yountville’s main drag. Popular with local chefs.
Signature dish Roasted leg of lamb with seasonal accompaniments.
6534 Washington Street; Yountville; (707) 944-8037; bouchonbistro.com; entrees $17 to $34.
Etoile at Domaine Chandon:
Claim to fame At 26, the chef Perry Hoffman is one of the youngest recipients of a Michelin star in the United States.
Vibe Insidery: Napa veterans imbibing in the lounge, visitors lingering over a four-course feast.
Signature dish Dungeness crab with shaved fennel and madeira gelée.
1 California Drive, Yountville; (888) 242-6366; chandon.com; entrees $26 to $38.
Claim to fame Keller’s three-Michelin-star temple is almost impossible to book — you have to call precisely two months to the calendar day.
Vibe Reverent: an awed hush accompanies the meal of a lifetime.
Signature dish ”Oysters and pearls” — a sabayon of pearl tapioca with oysters and white caviar.
6640 Washington Street, Yountville; (707) 944-2380; frenchlaundry.com; nine-course meal $250.
Claim to fame The first solo venture from Richard Reddington, who worked at Restaurant Daniel, Auberge du Soleil and top restaurants in France.
Vibe Hopping: power brokers, C.E.O.’s and Hollywood producers.
Signature dish Glazed pork belly with apple purée, burdock and soy caramel.
6480 Washington Street, Yountville; (707) 944-2222; reddnapavalley.com; entrees $26 to $30.
Martin Showroom Erin Martin’s eclectic shop is filled with furniture and objects like tar sculptures by the Los Angeles artist Mattia Biagi and a chandelier made of rope. 1350 Main Street; (707) 967-8787; martinshowroom.com.
Woodhouse Chocolate Tracy Wood Anderson handcrafts chocolates and truffles in flavors like Thai ginger and pecan-caramel. 1367 Main Street; (707) 963-8413; woodhousechocolate.com.
The Marketplace at Greystone The Culinary Institute of America’s store (above) stocks a jaw-dropping array of cookware, books and hard-to-find ingredients. 2555 Main Street; (888) 424-2433.
Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing Company This unassuming barn is famous for its extra-virgin olive oil, bottled on the premises every morning. 835 Charter Oak Avenue; (707) 963-4173.
Flats Jan Niemi’s ballet flats are handmade in Tuscany and come in colors from black to tangerine. 1219-B Main Street; (707) 967-0480.
Jan de Luz French antiques share space with milled soaps and exquisite linens at this boutique, which can monogram anything while you wait. 1219 Main Street; (707) 963-1550; jandeluz.com.
SLEEP Opening in June, h2hotel will have 36 rooms, a solar-heated pool, a restaurant, and a bar helmed by the mixologist Scott Beattie (219 Healdsburg Avenue; 707-922-5251; h2hotel.com; doubles from $195). The minimalist Duchamp Hotel (421 Foss Street; 707-431-1300; duchamphotel.com; doubles from $350) has six cottages with Donald Judd-inspired wooden beds.
EAT Cyrus (29 North Street; 707-433-3311; cyrusrestaurant.com; tasting menu $102 to $130) is the French Laundry of Sonoma, with inventive cooking by Douglas Keane. For something low-key, check out Barndiva (231 Center Street; 707-431-0100; barndiva.com; entrees $20 to $32), where Ryan Fancher uses exclusively local ingredients.
SIP The new Prohibition Speakeasy Wine Club (340 Healdsburg Avenue; 707-473-9463; speakeasywineclub.com) — hidden behind a phone booth in the back of a wine shop — specializes in Sonoma vintages. The Medlock Ames Tasting Room and Alexander Valley Bar (6487 Alexander Valley Road; 707-431-8845; medlockames.com) also runs a farm stand.
SHOP Lime Stone (315 Healdsburg Avenue; 707-433-3080; limestonehealdsburg.com), owned by the chef Charlie Palmer and his wife, Lisa, stocks culinary gifts. Studio Barndiva (237 Center Street; 707-431-7404; studiobarndiva.com) features textiles from women’s collectives in Ethiopia and Tibet. And Arboretum (above left; 332 Healdsburg Avenue; 707-433-7033; arboretumapparel.com) has organic cotton jeans and handbags made of vintage car fabrics.