February 11th, 2021
News from the Vines: Spring 2021
What’s Happening in Napa Valley
California lifted its regional stay-at-home order in the Bay Area at the end of January – meaning Napa Valley’s hotels and outdoor dining and wine tastings are officially open for business. As Cabernet Season comes to a close, April means bud break – the official start to grape growing season – ushering in springtime in Napa Valley. During this time of year, temperatures rise and tiny clusters of grapes start to form on the dormant vines – cheers to new beginnings! New flight routes launching add to the region’s accessibility for domestic travelers – United will begin service from New York JFK to San Francisco (1.5-hour drive from Napa) at the end of February. West Coasters can board Surf Air with a private flight from Los Angeles directly to the vines – and frequent visitors can now purchase a destination membership for a bundle of 10 flights. Read on for a breakdown of the latest and greatest happenings across the Valley.
What’s New in Hotels
This year will bring a hotel boom across Napa Valley as long-awaited properties are scheduled to open their doors. Four Seasons Resort & Residences will open this spring with 85-rooms and an on-site vineyard and tasting room – a rarity in Napa Valley. As a nod to Calistoga’s wellness roots, the property will offer an eight-room spa with steam pods in which hammocks will be suspended above geo-thermal pools for guests to absorb the heated vapor. Stanly Ranch, an Auberge Collection Resort, is slated to open in the Carneros region along the banks of the Napa River later this year. The 135 open-air cottages will be set on the historic Stanly Ranch Winery estate, which has been producing critically acclaimed wines since the 19th century. Bann at Oak Knoll Napa, which opened its doors at the end of 2020, brings a taste of Thailand to this resort-style bed & breakfast. Owner Lalita Souksamlane, known for her Osha Thai restaurants across San Francisco, was inspired by design elements from three regions of Thailand – North, Northeast, and South. Each room, named after the provinces of the Kingdoms of Siam, features curated art and handcrafted items that showcase the blending of cultures across the country. Napa’s classic resorts are taking stock too. Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs, originally built in 1952 and considered one of the first resorts in Calistoga, will unveil a large-scale renovation in March 2021. The property’s new look will include a Southwestern-inspired restaurant, House of Better; and the spa, known for its mud bath treatments, will offer new outdoor cabana treatment rooms. In the revitalized city of Napa, R Inn Napa just unveiled three new Loft Suites. The apartment-style accommodations feature 20-foot-high ceilings with custom walnut wood and steel floating staircases that lead up to the master bedroom.
What’s New in Experiences
Whether a lover of wine, art, or outdoor pursuits (or all of the above!) – Napa Valley is readying for the spring season with new tasting rooms and outdoor experiences. In celebration of Women’s History Month in March, West Wine Tours in partnership with Visit Napa Valley launched the “Women in Wine Country” tasting tour, available for private reservations up to six guests. Guests are transported in a restored vintage VW bus between three wineries that are helmed by powerhouse ladies. First stop is Fantesca Estate & Winery by Heidi Barrett, known as “The First Lady of Wine.” Continue to St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery by Elaine St. Clair, the only woman in the U.S. to hold the commercial title of both winemaker and brewer; and end at Crocker & Starr, 40-year winemaking vet, Pam Starr, crafts her Sauvignon Blanc using sustainable farming practices. Anyone traveling to Napa Valley should build in time to stretch their legs with Active Wine Adventures. The new ‘Hike & Wine Tours’ gets travelers’ blood pumping with refreshing walks through the redwood and pine forests, wrapping with a private picnic lunch and tasting at Bremer Family Winery, where the original stone cellar from 1891 remains. And since Napa isn’t all about wine, the first standalone tasting room dedicated solely to luxury California brandies, California Brandy House, opened in November 2020. Visitors are guided through tasting flights, with selections including single-barrel samples that are only available at the tasting space. Art-lovers missing weekend museum strolls can add di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art to their itinerary. The outdoor sculpture park is now open on weekends allowing guests to explore the scenic two-mile loop or simply relax and birdwatch by the property’s 35-acre lake – aptly named Winery Lake.
Looking Ahead to Earth Day – April 2021
April 22, 2021 is Earth Day – a time to celebrate all that is green. While Napa Valley is best known for its wine, it is also recognized for its dedication to land stewardship. Designated as America’s first agricultural preserve in 1968, the region has been practicing sustainability for more than 50 years. This is one of the primary reasons why Napa Valley is, and will remain a wine-growing region for generations to come. Visitors can experience wineries committed to continuing the legacy with the Napa Green Tasting Passport, which gives insider access to 15 wineries passionate about nature and the community. Trefethen Family Vineyards, a 100 percent solar-powered winery, and St. Supery, celebrated for its all estate-grown varietals, are among the participants. Offers range from two-for-one tastings to exclusive access to winemakers. The pass costs $99, with three percent of the profits reinvested in the local community. Travelers can also hike the 53,000 acres of protected land with route suggestions from the Napa Valley Land Trust. Skyline Wilderness Park offers 25 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, including the 2.2-mile trek to Lake Marie, while the trail up though Robert Louis Stevenson State Park ends at Table Rock and offers a condor’s-eye valley view. And behind the scenes, Napa Open Space District continues to protect and preserve natural areas. Following a challenging year in 2020, the District has implemented the ReLeaf Napa Fund to support and sustain Napa’s parks and trails – a treasured piece of the Napa experience.