Artful Living Destination Guide: Napa Valley

Fall harvest season is undoubtedly the busiest and most exciting time to visit Napa Valley. Winemakers have been waiting for this moment all year, and visitors can get a glimpse of the magic behind winemaking. Five distinct towns make up the valley, from Calistoga to the north followed by Saint Helena, Yountville, Napa and American Canyon at the southernmost point. The poignant resilience of this tight-knit farming community has helped it weather recent fires and a lingering drought, all with a mission to produce the most sublime and aged wines for you to enjoy.


Photograph provided by Alila Napa Valley

Stay

Alila Napa Valley

Start the day with cold pressed juice, coffee and pastries on your private terrace overlooking The Beringer vines at this 68-room adults-only retreat nestled into the hillside just minutes from downtown St. Helena. Rooms have a soothing palette and deep soaking tubs, while the original 1905 Victorian-style guest house now houses acacia house by Chris Cosentino. The celebrity chef celebrates California’s bounty with mouth-watering dishes like cacio e pepe sea urchin and Napa lamb loin dressed in local produce.

A holistic health spirit permeates everything from free cocktail classes using freshly picked herbs from the garden to treatments at Alila Spa incorporating ancient healing techniques and biodynamic botanicals from Be Here Farm + Nature. The concierge team can arrange guided bike tours and exclusive access to tastings at winemakers’ homes, ensuring guests experience Napa Valley like true insiders.


Art of living |  Artful Living City Guide: Napa Valley

Photography by Emma K. Morris

Having dinner

Compline

This unassuming restaurant and wine shop by friends and seasoned sommeliers matte pad and Ryan Steins is a welcome respite from the region’s ubiquitous Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The wine list here features esoteric bottles from around the world as well as hard-to-find California favorites. Plus, the convenient downtown Napa location makes Compline a fun stopover while exploring on foot. Choose a hidden gem from Austria Where Burgundy from wine cellar For dinner; the wines you’ll discover here are all delicious right now, no cellar aging required.

Pair a glass of producer champagne with duck fat fries and crispy farmer’s market crudités dipped in ramp zhug while pondering the eclectic little menu on the slate. Executive Chef Jammer gray infuses a global flair into its dishes, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options like red kuri squash agnolotti with chestnut and cabbage stuffed with maafe peanut stew and pickled okra.


Art of living |  Artful Living City Guide: Napa Valley

Photograph courtesy of Neal Family Vineyards

Sip

Neal family Vin the lessons

Winemaker Mark Neal sees himself first and foremost as a farmer. He comes from one of Napa Valley’s pioneering families, practicing organic farming alongside his parents on their Rutherford property, where they grew grapes and nuts. Young Mark started driving a tractor at age 8 and by 14 he was making garage wine with his father. Today, he operates the largest organic and biodynamic farming business in the valley, managing 720 acres of vineyards for many of the region’s cult varietals.

The Neal family also produces just a few thousand cases of 100% estate-grown biodynamic and regenerative organic wines from the Rutherford family estate and Mount Howell AVA. The brand is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, but the citrusy Vermentino is also deliciously elegant. Personalized tastings are by appointment only, including visits to vineyards, cellars and the cellar.


Art of living |  Artful Living City Guide: Napa Valley

Photograph by John Troxell

Having dinner

Hurry

Best known for having the largest collection of Napa Valley wines in the world, Press is a perfect epitome of laid-back luxury that is the destination’s hallmark. Sous chef/partner Philippe Tessier leadership, the restaurant has evolved beyond a simple steakhouse to become a celebration of Californian ingredients that appeals to pescatarians and vegetarians alike. First-timers should opt for the new seasonal six-course tasting menu with wine pairings (and also add the addictive seeded pretzel cob bread and crispy pig ears).

Start with a few small bites of seafood – osetra caviar, braised abalone, octopus croquettes – followed by savory cushions of ricotta gnudi delicately wrapped in squash blossoms. There’s the lemongrass amberjack, the truffle-glazed chicken or the tomahawk aged 60 days for two before the pastry chef Mina Pizarro ends the night with a soft and delicate touch. Many of her desserts, such as rice pudding with mango and champagne sauce, are inspired by her Filipino heritage.


Art of living |  Artful Living City Guide: Napa Valley

Photograph by Kollar Chocolates

Shop

Kollar VSchocolates

Visit this quaint artisan chocolate shop in the heart of Yountville to watch chocolatiers at work as you shop for mouth-watering candies to take home. The glazed chocolate candies look like precious jewels and are almost too pretty to eat, but once you’ve bitten into the rich ganache, it’s hard to resist devouring an entire box. The flavors here are anything but ordinary; there are pistachio amaretto candies, passion fruit, lavender and fennel pollen as well as white chocolate bars flavored with saffron and toasted poppy seeds.

Chocolatier Chris Koller won Food Network Chopped in 2020, and her whimsical confections were named one of the from Oprah favorite things. He works exclusively with Valrhona, the iconic French brand preferred by top pastry chefs around the world, and frequently creates limited edition treats for the holidays. Many local wineries, distilleries, and hotels offer Kollar chocolates for pairings and turn down service, and they’re also available to ship nationwide.


Art of living |  Artful Living City Guide: Napa Valley

Photograph courtesy of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Sip

The deer leap OInes Caves

Arguably Napa Valley’s most iconic cab, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon from the SLV estate won top honors at the 1976 Judgment of Paris blind tasting, beating the Bordeaux premier cru as the best red. This shocking upset has earned Napa the respect of oenophiles worldwide. Today, winemaker Marcus Notaro works closely with the Director of Wine Operations Kirk Graceplowing, trellising, leafing and selecting with precision the ideal clones and rootstocks to produce world-class wines almost 50 years later.

Book the new celestial visit and tasting for a guided tour of the cellars, glass in hand, followed by a seated tasting of current releases, including the flagship products FAI and SLV taxis, accompanied by bites from the chef Travis Westrope. Dolmas filled with buffalo milk ricotta and plump currants bring out FAY’s juicy raspberry notes, while SLV biases are more masculine, with cocoa flavors and powerful tannins.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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