You may have guessed that I love wine…it’s my second favourite drink after champagne ;). That being the case, I have long wanted to visit one of the meccas of food and wine, the Napa Valley.
So after a six hour plane journey from New York to San Francisco we picked up our hire car and drove an hour and a half to Napa Valley and our gorgeous hotel, Calistoga Ranch
. As we were driving up we noticed the terrain became more lush, we saw the vines growing everywhere and the temperature was steadily increasing.When we arrived a much needed glass of the Ranch’s own Chardonnay was firmly pressed into our hands.
Our gorgeous resort, Calistoga Ranch, sprawls over 157 acres, and here you are at one with nature as the wooden lodges do not feel out of place in the beautiful scenery.
The room was incredibly spacious
With a large bedroom…
Large bathroom with indoor and outdoor shower.
And best of all…
A large terrace that was big enough for me to do a much needed workout!!
And a hot tub with a view for us honeymooners!
A knock on the door came and a wonderful surprise was delivered…
Champagne and chocolate! While on honeymoon people just want to give you chocolate…they seem to have no consideration for my bikini body 😉
We had an appointment at the spa for a massage before dinner and the drive up was the perfect opportunity to take in some of the views.
And to appreciate the beauty of the nature that we were surrounded by. As the resort is so huge and our room at the bottom of the hill and the spa at the top, the staff transport you in golf buggies. They offer an excellent service and as soon as you call they are there!
The spa is also stunning and offers all the restorative treatments that you could possibly desire.
Plus a number of relaxation pools to enjoy. Our massages were lovely and much needed after our long journey to the ranch.
There is a large, heated main pool with a casual dining restaurant and beautiful views. I would highly recommend the fish tacos there!
And so to dinner! The Lakehouse restaurant is for guests only and overlooks Lake Lommel. As you can imagine, views are totally stunning.
We really were dining under the stars…it was so romantic.
But this is my favourite view!
And I hope his view wasn’t too bad either!
The food at the Lakehouse celebrates the local produce of the region and is obviously complimented by an extensive wine list. Well, we all know that’s the important thing really!
The Lakehouse offers a four course menu, though we were restrained and limited ourselves to merely three…
Both choosing a gorgeously artful seared tuna to start.
We shared a plate of salmon and sea bass for main course, both of which were beautifully cooked.
For main course I stuck with the fish choosing squid and Mr S went for a hearty lamb chop. The restaurant was beautifully romantic, the sky was starry and the air was still. When I got a little chilly they bought me out a cashmere blanket. I was pretty much in heaven.
The next day, at breakfast we got to experience that beautiful view from the restaurant in the light of day.
We had a busy day as we had two vineyard visits, lunch and later a very special dinner (which you can read about in my next blog post). Our booking at Calistoga Ranch included two vineyard tours, the concierge asked me which ones I’d like to visit and as I was so overwhelmed with choice I just responded…”Um…pretty ones, with nice views please!”
Gregory, the fantastic concierge at Calistoga definitely fulfilled my very non-specific brief! Calistoga Ranch had provided us with a driver for the day (so Mr S could also get stuck in with the wine tasting) who was very efficient and incredibly knowledgeable about the local area. I spent the whole day talking to her about food! We started at Frog’s Leap
, we felt a little odd drinking wine at 10.30 in the morning, but we were told not to worry it’s always 5pm in Napa…
Our guide was a fantastic ‘cork dork’ filling us in on the history of the ranch, growing processes and and how they create the final product.
Neither Mr S and I are blessed with adorable button noses…
So we were well placed to give that gorgeous ruby red wine a good sniff.
We took a ‘break’ from the hard task of morning wine tasting for a well-deserved lunch at Farmstead restaurant at Long Meadow Ranch.
And I practiced some of the skills we learned earlier by sticking my beak in a glass of wine…
While sharing a light lunch with Mr S.
Of a deliciously well-cooked and flavoursome salmon salad for me and pork chop for him. We also shared an artichoke on the side.
Our second and final vineyard of the day was Spring Mountain, another well chosen and beautiful location.
I asked why we were drinking mostly red wines and I was told ‘Cabernet is king in Napa Valley’ as it can be grown very effectively there and we were told the story of the 1976 Paris wine tasting where Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon beat Bordeaux’s best in a blind tasting competition.
We only got to visit two wineries due to our limited time in Napa Valley but the are over 400 different wineries in the region and, our driver told us, each are very different and offer diverse wines and experiences. The wine at Spring Mountain that we tasted was incredible but our tasting ended early as we had the culinary experience of a lifetime to enjoy the next day…which you can read about in my next post!