This itinerary starts at the northern end of the valley, in Calistoga, and works its way south, to the city of Napa. While the area has a number of hotels that are designed with romance in mind, one top choice is the Calistoga Ranch
The 157-acre property includes hiking trails winding their way through grounds with oak groves and streams. Accommodations are in 50 freestanding lodges, with cedar decks and outdoor fireplaces (some also have private outdoor hot tubs). If you are tempted to never leave the resort, you wouldn’t be the first—and you can check off a number of Napa experiences on the property, from classes to treatments at the spa.
If you prefer the intimacy of an elegant B&B, the 5-bedroom Chateau de Vie
, also in Calistoga, is a good choice. The inn sits amid formal gardens planted with lavender and roses and two acres of vineyards planted with Bordeaux grapes; rooms come with Egyptian cotton linens and l’Occitaine products. Each morning, you can start the day with a fresh, seasonal breakfast, perhaps after a swim in the 40-foot lap pool or a soak in the hot tub.
Before you make the journey to Napa, you will have hopefully picked out a class at the Culinary Institute of America
’s Greystone campus that you want to attend. While the institute has trained some of America’s leading chefs and offers degree and certificate programs, the one-day classes some of which are only several hours long cover topics like wine pairings and California cheeses. It’s a good introduction to your Napa Valley experience, and can be an opportunity to figure out with your partner what wines you like best. You can then focus your winery visits in the days ahead.
In this part of the world, one of the most often repeated quotes from author Robert Louis Stevenson (who spent his honeymoon in 1880 in the Napa Valley) is, “Wine is bottled poetry.” At the Schramsberg Vineyards
, the poetry has some bubbles in it, as Schramsberg specializes in sparkling wines. The tours (by appointment only) include the romantic wine caves, lined with oak barrels.
Dine tonight at Solbar at Solage Calistoga
, a Michelin-starred restaurant that is more festive than stuffy. The menu focuses on contemporary California fare using local produce. Tip: Request one of the especially enticing poolside tables.