Above: Napa in all its glory
Some places, like some things, are more than the sum of their parts. Napa Valley is a tiny thirty-mile dot on the map, yet it is to wine enthusiasts around the country what Wally World was to the Griswolds. Napa or bust. When most people refer to “Napa,” they don’t realize that the famed area is actually the sum of nine towns. Almost all of the wineries are family-owned, and every conversation with a winemaker proves that wine runs through their veins. We toured the area (it was a tough job, but someone had to do it) to bring you these not-to-be-missed experiences.
THE DON’T-MISS MEAL
Napa is home to seven Michelin-starred restaurants—the most famous among them The French Laundry and La Toque. But we highly recommend getting Two Birds/One Stone on your reservation list. The brainchild of acclaimed Chefs Douglas Keane and Sang Yoon, this yakitori-style eatery offers small plates that are as creative as they are accessible—from deviled jidori eggs and crispy Sonoma duck leg to wagyu short ribs and wok-roasted corn. As for the impressive wine list, you won’t find bottles listed by grape or region but rather by the winemakers who have created them specifically to be paired with the restaurant’s entrées. How’s that for local?
WHERE TO STAY
For the first time in seventeen years, there is a brand-new boutique hotel in Napa Valley. What was once a farmhouse at the top of a hill in charming St. Helena is now the entrance to Las Alcobas Napa Valley—the hottest hotel to open here in years. The interiors are by design superstar Yabu Pushelberg and the restaurant is helmed by celebrity chef Chris Cosentino, but at this hotel Mother Nature is the real superstar. Calling the rooms merely “Vineyard View Rooms” is to grossly undersell them. Many hotels offer rooms that are a “short walk” to a vineyard or have a dubious view where guests might spy a sliver of vineyard. Here, the deluxe rooms and suites overlook the estate and offer stunning vineyard views.
The Atrio Spa is as modern as the treatments are ancient. Choose from yin and yang balancing, naturopathic hydration, coffee body scrubs, and massages with origins from China, India and Thailand. A custom aromatherapy experience allows clients to co-create a therapeutic oil at the blending bar.
The hotel’s restaurant, the Acacia House offers a highly seasonal menu and is most certainly going to be on the list of hot eateries in Napa in the near future. In addition to the inventive dinner menu, the restaurant also offers picnic baskets filled with guilty pleasures like cold fried chicken.
Rooms start at $695.