What’s New in California’s Wine Country: Napa and Sonoma


Lush vineyards surrounded by upscale resorts and innovative restaurants specializing in Wine Country cuisine – this is the backdrop to California’s most famous wine region, just over an hour north of San Francisco. Napa is refined and well-groomed; Sonoma is bigger and more diverse, but both are booming with new homes and renovations recently revealed and more on the way.

Big news in Napa is the opening of the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley last week in Calistoga, a town in the north of the valley that opened in the 19th century.NS Century for its hot springs. The Talisa Spa here continues that tradition with mineral-rich mud treatments and other services, some of which use olive oil from the property’s olive trees. The upscale Wine Country cuisine is the standard in the soon-to-be-opened TRUSS Restaurant + Bar (apparently based on an architectural feature as well as the ability to secure a wild bird) and its already open, more casual side, the TRUSS Living Room, both under the management of Erik Anderson, former head chef at the critically acclaimed Coi in San Francisco. Another feature of the property is also a rarity for the valley: a 4.7 acre winery, Elusa Winery, which allows guests to watch the winemaking process and taste the results without leaving the premises.

The view of the vineyards with the Palisades mountains on the horizon is also the backdrop for the 85 rooms, suites and villas, which are all designed in a noble country house style with natural wood, concrete floors and a neutral color scheme in gray and taupe, very different from the hotel usual appearance of the group. For added privacy and space for multigenerational families, the Private Retreats collection consists of completely separate two to four bedroom houses with private patios, a resident host who organizes all activities, and a private chef if desired. The largest villa is the 3,395 square meter three bedroom estate villa near the vineyard with its own pool and garden.

Across the Silverado Trail from the Four Seasons, Solage, the Auberge Resorts Collection unveiled a $ 30 million makeover earlier this year just before California opened to tourism in June. The décor of the rooms, which are located in separate cottages, is now designer rustic with earth tones, natural materials, and features such as leather headboards, graphic lights, and padded walls. There are also 11 newly built one and two bedroom cottages with outdoor patios and soaking tubs; The two bedroom estate suites also have a bicycle kit, a Mercedes for guests to use to explore the area, an indoor oxygen bar, a dog walker for those who have brought their animal companions, and a private cabana with TV, WiFi and Champagne and fruit by the pool, new, improved amenities for a day.

Also near the pool is the Picobar restaurant, a new addition to a modern barn that complements the resort’s main Solbar restaurant. The menu connects the wine country with the home of chef Gustavo Rios in Ensenada, Mexico, in dishes such as wild mushroom tostada with local herbs and goat cheese by Sonoma’s cheese specialist Laura Chenel, Carne Asada with ribs cooked for 48 hours and bunuelos, a churro like funnel cake.

In February next year, the Auberge Resorts Collection will have another notable addition to the area with the opening of the Stanly Ranch in the southern Carneros region. Set on a 700-acre ranch with 100 acres of vineyards, the hilly property with expansive mountain views can remind guests of Provencal towns when a breeze lashes through the lavender-planted gardens. 135 rooms in 78 freestanding cottages have been designed in earth tones with materials like oak, leather, and dark metal that create a sharp but not overdone look. Wellness retreats will also be a major focus with cutting edge technology, fitness classes and treatments, as well as visiting practitioners and healers.

Over in Sonoma County, the main news earlier this year was the opening of the full-service Healdsburg assembly plant in January on 258 acres of vineyards and oaks. In keeping with the quality of the other resorts in the hotel group, the property offers 130 bungalow-style rooms and 25 private residences that blend into the landscape and are each fresh and modern with an 11,500 square meter spa. Guests looking to explore local winemaking can also take advantage of the nearby Aperture Cellars owned by winemaker Jesse Katz. Katz also looks after the vineyards on site.

Elsewhere in Healdsburg, chef Dustin Valette, whose first Valette restaurant is one of the most popular in town, opened another The Matheson Healdsburg in September in a sentimental location: the site of his great-grandfather’s bakery in the 1920s. Now it’s a three-story, modern space with several different experiences: farm-to-table fine dining, a sushi bar, a wine bar with 88 local brands on tap, and the more casual Roof 106. Given Valette’s highest emphasis on first-class ingredients and skill in creates new flavors, each of the rooms will result in an unforgettable meal.

Though defined as more casual, the night I was there, Roof 106 offered dishes that were impeccably prepared and delicious: local sesame crusted ahi tataki, a selection of sashimi and sushi from sushi chef Ken Tominaga, grilled Bavette steak with coffee and spices and leek salsa verde, followed by a creamy, melting, mousse-like lime posset and a baked Volo chocolate s’more, a variant of the classic fireplace. No wonder that the receptionist at the entrance to the restaurant usually has to inform guests who have not reserved that they will wait at least an hour. If I lived there I would be there every week.

Healdsburg’s other culinary stars, Kyle and Katina Connaughton, the chefs and chefs behind the three-star Single Thread restaurant, have also recently been expanded to include a second restaurant, soon to be opened in Little Saint. In the meantime, the new restaurant is serving small dishes with the wines of the renowned Marine Layer winery on the Sonoma Coast in the city’s tasting room, which the company opened in September. The feel here is very relaxed, designed to create intimate lounges with details like Moroccan wool rugs and pendant lights sculpted by artists in Oaxaca, a perfect place to sample the company’s little pinot noirs and chardonnays.

Southwest of Healdsburg, in western Sonoma County, another opening in September revealed the conversion of the former Applewood Inn into The Stavrand Russian River Valley, named after co-owner Emily Glick’s family of hotel owners. An intimate, 21-room property designed in Revival Mediterranean architecture, set on six acres of orchards and sequoias. It’s a quiet place perfect for a decompression stop. And if you don’t want to relax on your own, the hotel offers kayaks and tubing for swimming on the Russian River, which is just a few minutes’ walk away.

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