Splurge for the best room, one of the Vineyard View Cottages, at Napa Valley's Carneros Inn and find a truly private any-season getaway.
The Northern California insiders' new retro getaway is Nick's Cove along a curvy stretch of the Marin County coast. It's hot because its impressario is restaurateur Pat Kuleto (Fog City Diner, Boulevard, Postrio and a host of other signature San Francisco dining destinations), supports the credentials of organic farming and sustainable fishing and is sufficiently out of the way for a cache of remoteness. Plenty of people have gotten the word in the past six months, though -- it's already difficult if not impossible to get a reservation on short notice, although they do have a bar and seat walk-ins....
Clos Pegase, a temple to both wine and art, is the Napa Valley winery I recommend friends visiting when they're searching through the hundreds of options. Designed in the post-modern style by architect Michael Graves, the winery also houses the internationally renown art collection of owner Jan Schrem. In addition to the winery, a visitor can take a tour (including self-guided with narrative) of the 24 sculptures in the gardens and porticos as well as the art in interior galleries. One of the most famous in the collection is Henry Moore's "Mother Earth," who faces west and is usually bathed...
Of all the ways to do wine-tasting in Napa Valley, the Napa Valley Wine Train is not only the easiest, but probably the safest.
The stars are aligned for Sonoma Valley wine country's hottest restaurant, Cyrus, which is offering a midwinter dining and hotel special with the Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza. While a typical evening at the 2-Star Michelin restaurant could approach $300 for two, the special is just $325.
During the fall wine crush, there's nothing like a taking a car along the less-traveled roads in Sonoma County in Northern California's wine country. Sonoma is my favorite region -- rich in wonderful wines and vistas yet retaining its more rural character than its more-developed Napa Valley neighbor.
Carrie Brown's Jimtown Store in Sonoma County, California wine country outside Healdsburg is a destination in itself. A revival of an old country store, with the sign commanding "Get In Here and Eat," the market purveys gourmet sandwiches and carry-out boxed lunches for wine country touring. And its dime-store-style wares offer nostalgic toys next to an unusual collection of antiques.
There's little more glorious than a summer wine festival in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley wine country north of San Francisco. Warm days, cool nights and sparkling clear air matched by the release of new vintages, jazz and classical music and art shows. Here are some of the choices.
Vanderbilt & Company, a homestyle store in St. Helena in Napa Valley, California, creates the real Napa style in its dinnerware, linens, bedding, and gifts. It's a must-see destination in St. Helena, along with restaurants Terra and Market.