Hot Picks -Napa Valley, California Wine Country

Diane Sukiennik, Associate Editor, Food and Wine Access
          Michael Reiss, Editor, Food and Wine Access

When you think California and wine, the first region that comes to mind is Napa Valley.

Welcome to Napa Valley!

Napa Valley, known for it's reputation in the world of wine, is one of the premier travel destinations in the world. Stunning views of rolling hills dotted with vineyards abound. Every season offers breathtaking sites. From bright yellow mustard in spring, to glorious ripe grape clusters in fall, to stark, majestic bare vines waiting for bud, wineries of every stature grace the landscape.

Whether you are wine tasting, dining at renowned restaurants, pampering yourself with a spa treatment, bicycling, ballooning or relaxing at charming bed & breakfasts, hotels or resorts, Napa Valley is a vacationer's paradise.

Napa Valley is a great culinary and travel destination.

Here are some options for your visit!

Click on the picture to find the information you want.

Where to Stay

Where to Eat

What to Do


Hot Picks: Napa Valley,California Wine Country

Where to Stay

Diane Sukiennik, Associate Editor, Food and Wine Access
          Michael Reiss, Editor, Food and Wine Access

Napa Valley

Hotel Luca
Younteville, Napa Valley, California

Photo by Michael Reiss

Welcome to Yountville, one of the oldest and most charming towns in Napa Valley. But wait, you just might have landed in the vineyards of Italy. The moment you cross the rounded, Roman arch that serves as the entry to Hotel Luca, you've got the best of both worlds waiting for you.

Passing through the archway at Hotel Luca you enter a realm of experience that offer the best of Napa and Italy.

Photo by Michael Reiss

The architecture of this 21 room boutique hotel is a modern interpretation of a Tuscan village built with state of the art materials, design, decor and room appointments that spare no expense and showcase the finest quality available in every detail. From heated bathroom floors, to plush, oversized beds, to soft as silk sheets, to cozy robes, to in- room espresso machines, to state of the art electronics, you will feel oh so pampered

The architecture of Hotel Luca is reminiscent of a Tuscan town.

Photo by Michael Reiss

The gracious, yet informal welcome in the lounge/library/reception area is punctuated by a splash of Proseco to set the tone of convivial warmth. Whether you choose to hide away in your comfy room, chat with fellow guests in the outdoor living room or enjoy the pool, fitness center and spa, you are enveloped in a sense of place that is more than Napa or Tuscany combined, it is the magic of Hotel Luca.

The rooms at Hotel Luca are all appointed with modern ammenities.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Plan to stay several nights and you won't think twice about missing Tuscany at Hotel Luca!

Hotel Luca
Younteville, Napa Valley, California

6774 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-8080

The Inn at Southbridge
St. Helena, Napa Valley, California

Photo by Michael Reiss

Everyone who visits the wine country wonders what it would be like to live there. One way to find out is to stay at The Inn at Southbridge located in historic St. Helena.

You can park your car or arrange transportation from the airport and use the Inn as your pied a terre. Whatever you can imagine doing is within walking distance of this centrally located abode. (It's a block away from downtown St. Helena.)

Rooms are large, light and airy with simple decor, fireplaces and balconies overlooking courtyard, pool or hillsides. Just steps from your room are restaurants, shops, galleries, wineries, the local farmer's market and the St. Helena Visitor's Center.

The continental breakfast features an array of baked goods from the legendary Model Bakery, just down the street.

Walk out the front door of the Inn and you are facing the entrance of Health Spa Napa Valley. It is the only full-service spa of its kind in the Napa Valley accessible to day visitors that provides facilities for fitness, classes, swimming and a full array of spa treatments. Guests at the Inn have full use of the facilities except for the treatments which should be booked when you reserve your room because they are so popular.

The reception area of
The Inn at Southbridge sets the tone for gracious Napa Valley living.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Try their signature CENTER-YOURSELF MUD WRAP. For the ultimate spa experience, this all-encompassing body ritual will leave your skin baby soft, your muscles relaxed and your mind calm. A Frankincense and Ginger scrub masque is used to exfoliate dead skin cells away. Amazonian clay high in minerals and antioxidants detoxifies and firms the skin during the body wrap. Your treatment is brought to completion with a full body massage.

Or consider one of their "Wine and Spa Packages" offering the best of both worlds to visitors. What better way to enjoy the area than by combining tasting and relaxing with your accommodations at the Inn directly across the way.

This is the sparkling pool at the
Health Spa Napa Valley, which is across from The Inn at Southbridge.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Although restaurants abound, one of the most coveted seats is at Martini House located within easy walking distance, just minutes from your room at the Inn. ( See review under "Where To Eat" ).

Tucked away, yet oh so accessible to the best of St. Helena, The INN at Southbridge will make your wine country experience a memorable journey!

The Inn at Southbridge
St. Helena, Napa Valley, California

1020 Main Street
St Helena, CA 94574-2011
(707) 967-9400


Hot Picks: Napa Valley,California Wine Country

Where To Eat

Diane Sukiennik, Associate Editor, Food and Wine Access
          Michael Reiss, Editor, Food and Wine Access

Napa Valley

Auberge du Soleil

Rutherford, Napa Valley, California


Photo by Michael Reiss


You may have read about the legendary Michelin-Starred restaurants of France. You may have experienced them. But if you have not experienced The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil in Napa, you have not experienced the best of both worlds in one restaurant.

As you approach the lobby and look to your right, you will immediately be transported into a quintessential French courtyard filled with flora and fountains reminiscent of Provence. Take a deep breath, relax and enter the realm of Relais and Chateaux. There is a je ne sais quoi about the ambiance, décor, the art that speaks French to your inner Franchophile. It might be the greeting of the French maitre' d, or the old stone artifacts carefully placed to hearken back to our roots. Whatever strikes your sensibility, you are quickly smitten. But the best is yet to come.

Once seated sur terasse, looking out at the expansive Napa landscape of verdant vineyards, you settle in for an experience as transporting as being in Provence. The champagne cart heralds the beginning of your enchanted evening. An amuse bouche, is graciously presented to tease the palate and hint at what is to come. These tiny morsels of delight do the trick. They introduce the culinary creativity of Executive Chef Robert Curry, who welcomes guests with beautifully prepared Wine Country cuisine. He has brought the restaurant to its current Michelin Star status by offering you several tasting menus, all featuring the seasonal, local ingredients du jour expertly prepared with savoir faire.

Dining on the terrace of Auberge Du Soleil combines the best of France and Napa.

Photo by Michael Reiss


The choice of items in the Three or Four-Course Tasting Menus feature many luxurious choices including foie gras, lobster, risotto, local fish and meat selections with accompaniments to highlight the season's freshest flavors. Each item is expertly executed and satisfies the senses. The portion size is just right. Even the bread selection is an artisan tour de force, from lemon rosemary to pumpkin seed on one recent evening.

The wine pairings--- chosen from the "by the glass" selections--- are thoughtful and enhance the menu offerings.

The award winning wine cellar is managed by wine director, Kris Margerum---whose passion for the vine--- is demonstrated by the impressive wine list including a serious selection of wines by the glass.

In addition, Kris Margerum's newly launched Club Vin du Soleil is committed to providing members the opportunity to experience exceptional, rare and often limited-production wines (from around the globe) to its valued members.

The professional waitstaff is knowledgeable and makes sure that the food and wine are served just at the right moment. This is an impeccable dining experience that combined the best of France and Napa.

Vive la Combination!


Salmon is served au point at Auberge du Soleil.
Photo by Michael Reiss

Sample Tasting Menu with Wine Pairings

Ahi Tuna Sashimi
Gazpacho Granite, Black Garlic Vinaigrette
2007 Lucien Albrecht "Cuvee Cecile¨
Pinot Gris Alsace-France

Day Boat Scallop
English Peas, Onion Puree, Vanilla
2008 Ramey
Chardonnay Russian River Valley

Veal Sweetbreads
New Crop Apples, Mustard Seed, Sesame, Mizuna
2009 Paul Hobbs Chardonnay
Russian River Valley

Paine Farm Squab
Verjus Poached Peaches, Tarragon
2006 HDV ¡§Hyde¡¨ Syrah
Carneros-Napa Valley

Prime New York Beef
Tempura Eggplant, Miso, Radish, Anise
2008 Facets of Gemstone Cabernet Sauvignon
Yountville-Napa Valley

Cowgirl Creamery Fromage Blanc Pave
Trailside Strawberries, Terraces Balsamic Vinegar
Napa Wildflower Honey Streusel
2000 Royal Tokaji Betsek¨ 6 Puttonyos

Auberge du Soleil Restaurant
180 Rutherford Hill, Rutherford, Ca.



St. Helena , Napa Valley, California

Photo by Michael Reiss


Everything about Press, the St. Helena steakhouse, is impressive: the warm, comfortable, farmhouse decor, the blazing fireplaces inside and out, the strictly Napa winelist and the locally sourced meats, cheeses, and produce brought from farm to fork for your dining pleasure.

All the proteins are grilled over an opened fire and accompanied by expertly prepared sides including the outstanding truffled mac and cheese, which could well be their signature side.

The well priced wine list is redolent of Napa's finest and most boutique selections all vying for your tasting pleasure.


Press offers a warm, congenial wine country atmosphere and food to match!
Photo by Michael Reiss


The vibe is lively, the buzz is in the air, and you are likely to find the locals and winemakers talking shop.

If you are in the mood for hearty, American fare, Press will impress.


Although not opened to the dining room, it is easy to observe the kitchen action at Press.
Photo by Michael Reiss


Favorite Appetizers:

Chopped Salad, Romaine, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Bacon, Avocado and Apple

Beet Salad, Arugula, Mâche, Candied Walnuts, Laura Chenel Goat Cheese

Favorite Entrees:

Dry-Aged “Cowboy” Bone-In Rib Eye, Flannery Private Reserve 18 ounces

Sauces On the House
Press Steak Sauce, Bearnaise, Chimichurri, Horseradish Cream

Loch Duart Salmon, Fingerling Potato, Bacon, Whole Grain Mustard Sauce

Favorite Dessert:

Scharffen Berger 70% Chocolate Soufflé for Two, with Vanilla Ice Cream


587 St. Helena Highway
St. Helena, CA 94574
WorkPhone: 707.967.0550

The Restaurant at Meadowood

Over the river and through the redwoods The Restaurant at Meadowood. The stars lead the way to a gourmet holiday where Chef Christopher Kostow creates culinary magic.

The Restaurant at Meadowood is a hop, skip and a jump from the Silverado trail in St. Helena. Yet it is a world apart in the already stellar Wine-Country food scene.

Ambitious Chef Chris, who honed his skills at some of the world's top restaurants, is no stranger to accolades. And praise will continue at The Restaurant at Meadowood where he has free reign to let the fresh local ingredients, his classic French technique, and his unabashed creativity make for an extraordinary dining experience.

His presentations and flavors surprise from the get-go, and are in full swing with the Tasting Menu, especially one paired with wines. Whether ordering a la carte or the Chef's Tasting Menu, the parade of plates arrive with precision and panache to add to the sensual spectacle.


This is the striking and dramatic interior of the newly renovated Restaurant at Meadowood.

Photo by Michael Reiss

The brilliant wine pairings selected by Sommelier Rom Toulon enhance and highlight the Chef's creations. The Restaurant at Meadowood already boasts two Michelin Stars with another, no doubt, headed its way.

The country elegance and drama of the dining room offer an inviting and understated backdrop for the stellar gustatory experience.

Getting to Meadowood---through the woods-- is part of the buildup for a culinary tour de force that awaits you at the Restaurant at Meadowood.

Enjoy the journey, revel in the repast, and count the stars!

Chef's Tasting Menu

Cold Smoked Toro & Osetra Caviar
Crème Fraiche, Spring Onion, Warm Brioche

Foie Gras and Apple

Citrus Cured Spanish Mackerel
Olive Oil Ice Cream, Shaved Baguette, Legume Escabeche

Lobster & Sweetbread
Hedgehog Mushrooms, Turnip, Biancelli Truffle

Crispy Confit of Suckling Pig
Caraway Scented Cabbage, Pickled Apple, Maple Syrup

Poached Grass Fed Beef
Parsnip, Brussels Sprouts, Black Truffle Jus

Herve Mons Fourme d' Ambert
Dried Cherries, Arugula, Pecan Oil

Milk Chocolate
Slow Cooked Banana, Lim


At The Restaurant at Meadowood Chef Christopher Kostow serves creative and inspired gourmet dishes. Here is the "Cold Smoked Toro & Osetra Caviar
Crème Fraiche, Spring Onion, Warm Brioche."

Photo by Michael Reiss



The Restaurant at Meadowood
900 Meadowood Lane
St. Helena, Ca.
707 967 1205


The Grill at Meadowood

Where to go when you crave a casual dining experience but still want outstanding ambiance, great food, good service and an exceptional wine list at affordable prices? The Grille at Meadowood meets and exceeds all of these criteria.

Opened to the public but with country club cache, this informal venue, overlooking the croquet court and putting green, offers a seasonally changing menu with prixe fixe three course lunch and dinner options that change weekly.

Whenever possible, the produce is grown on property, the pasta is made fresh daily, and the preparations enhance the wellness-theme that is embraced by the resort

This straightforward,California Classic Cuisine appeals to locals and tourists alike.

The wine list includes many by-the-glass offerings, complete with tasting notes. These can be individually selected or combined in flights to allow for optimal pairing.

The servers and bar staff are well-informed and ready to discuss the food and wine offerings.

For a thoroughly enjoyable, upscale casual dining adventure, the Grill at Meadowood hits the spot!


The Grill at Meadowood is nestled in the trees and overlooks the beautiful Meadowood Golf Course.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Favorite Appetizers:

Duck Spring Rolls Dipping Sauce
Tuna Tartare Avocado & Lime, Gaufrette Potato Chips, Basil Oil

Favorite Entrees:

Sweet Pea Ravioli Green Garlic Broth, Pea Shoots, Dry Aged Goats Leap "Carmella"
Rosemary Crusted Organic Game Hen Garden Chard Pakora, Glazed Carrots, Natural Jus

Favorite Dessert:

Caramelized Banana Split-, Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate and Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream, Peanuts


Each dish at The Grill at Meadowood is carefully prepared and beautifully presented.

Photo by Michael Reiss

The Grill at Meadowood
900 Meadowood Lane
St. Helena, Ca.
707 967 1205


Photo by Michael Reiss

"Etoile" which is French for "star," is the new name of one of the oldest fine dining restaurants in Napa.

This culinary star, Etoile, has been the beacon for all who have followed. The restaurant itself has gone through several star chefs. The current Executive Chef Christopher Manning is an exuberant young chef who hails from Montana via the Culinary Institute. His goal is to make the wines shine. His menu, with each item accompanied by a suggested wine pairing, does just that. His food is meant to showcase the nuances and subtle flavors that wine can bring to food in exciting and sometimes unpredictable pairings.

As Chef Manning says "salt can often bring out interesting notes and highlights in sparkling wines." He layers ingredients, textures and flavors, much as complex wines are assembled, to offer an array of sensual experiences that combine and contrast to offer intriguing sensations.

The service is impeccable and the wine list offers value at every price point.

Etoile continues the culinary tradition of Domain Chandon and offers culinary surprises to match the new offerings of a winery poised to lead the pack into the 21st century.



Etoile's beautiful interior has remained a classic for many years.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Favorite Appetizers:

BIG EYE TUNA “ALLA NAPOLETANA” - whipped lemon cream,California osetra caviar

BROWN BUTTER MAINE LOBSTER - english pea purée, hen of the woods mushroom

Favorite Entrees:

DUCK BREAST - green lentil, salsify, orange,Montana huckleberry

ROSEMARY SCENTED RACK OF LAMB - broccoli rabe,cauliflower purée

Favorite Dessert
GRAND MARNIER CREPE - almond ice cream,bing cherry




Executive Chef Christopher Manning's dishes are beautifully presented and designed to be paired with the sparking and still wines served at Etoile.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Etoile at Domaine Chandon
1 California Dr.
Yountville, Ca.
707-204-7529 or
Toll Free (800) 736-2892



Hot Picks:Napa Vallely, California Wine Country

What To Do

Diane Sukiennik, Associate Editor, Food and Wine Access
          Michael Reiss, Editor, Food and Wine Access


Napa Valley Wine Train

Photo by Michael Reiss


Whether it's your first time in Napa or you are a regular wine country visitor, a local, or from a far away land, The Napa Valley Wine Train will enchant you.

Imagine the romance and luxury of touring this stellar terrain while sipping Napa's finest wines and enjoying the Cal- Med cuisine of Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald.

Whatever the season, rain or shine, whatever the reason, The Napa Valley Wine Train is one of the most unique and affordable ways to experience this magical valley.

The Napa Valley Wine Train provides beautifully restored 1915 vintage train cars where guests can experience a memorable gourmet meal.

Photo by Michael Reiss

The period decor---unique to each of the original 1915 train cars--- provides the plush ambiance to enjoy the scenic surroundings, as you slowly chug your way from Napa to St. Helena and back.

The leisurely, multi-course meal is deftly prepared by Chef Macdonald's team in the challenging confines of the galley with its glassed-in kitchen, perfect for observation by the culinarily curious.

Before dessert, you are invited to stroll through each car marveling at the comfort of the Pullman Lounge Car inviting entry to sit and sip, as the view of the vineyards beckons your senses. Walk all the way through the train and pop out to the open air deck to savor the sights, smells and sounds en plein air. Spend a spell sipping in the tasting car where a large array of wines can be compared and contrasted at leisure.

The Vista Dome Car on the Napa Valley Wine Train provides unparalleled views of the beautiful Napa Valley.

Photo by Michael Reiss

For a special treat, book passage in the Vista Dome Car perched above the rest of the train. On offer ---for a small premium--- is unparalleled viewing, a champagne toast, a four course meal served by entertaining and knowledgeable wait staff cum guides who delight by pointing out the tidbits and highlights that make this valley so renowned.

On the Napa Valley Wine Train the Vista Dome Car includes a glass of Napa Valley sparkling wine along with a four course gourmet meal.

Photo by Michael Reiss

As the train pulls back to the station, smiles of pleasure mix with bittersweet sighs of regret that this memorable journey is ending.

Reserve your seats now, all aboard, the Napa Valley Wine Train will be departing again soon, this time with you on board !

On the Napa Valley Wine Train guests can enjoy the wonders of the Napa Valley in the fresh air. .

Photo by Michael Reiss

Napa Valley Wine Train
1275 McKinstry Street
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 253-2111

Also published on Wine Train's Web Site:



Culinary Institute of America (CIA)
Wine Education Program

Photo by Michael Reiss

Wine Education at Its Best
at the CIA

(Culinary Institute of America) is known the world over as the authority in culinary education. So why is it also the smartest place to take a wine class?

The historic and famous Greystone Mansion is the home of the CIA Napa.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Mastering Wine – A Career Masterstroke

How can building your wine knowledge benefit your business and your career? What would an increase in wine sales mean for your organization's bottom line and your personal growth? Find out, by immersing yourself in a California wine class deep in the legendary Napa Valley.

The Photo by Michael Reiss

The "Professional Wine Studies Course" at the CIA starts the day with a complementary breakfast prepared by the Student Chefs in the exciting and dynamic model kitchen at Greystone.

Photo by Michael Reiss


"Professional Wine Studies Courses" at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone offer learning experiences like no other. Whether you are a working food and wine professional or are looking to expand your wine knowledge,the CIA classes are both practical and inspiring. And because it's the CIA, you know that you'll get a topflight education from expert faculty in return for your investment.

As part of the "Professional Wine Studies Course" at the CIA students get the opportunity to visit and experience in-depth tasting with wine makers at nearby Napa wineries.

Photo by Michael Reiss

CIA Courses: Setting Your Course for Success

With a wide variety of professional wine classes to choose from, you can target your learning to the specific subjects that will help you advance your career and business as well as enhance your personal knowledge and enjoyment.

The many on-site tasting make for an important learning experience for students who are a part of the "Professional Wine Studies Course" at the CIA.

Photo by Michael Reiss


Through insightful lectures, challenging discussions, and focused, guided tastings, our "Professional Wine Studies Courses" cover everything from the wine of Burgundy to the dynamics of food and wine interaction.

Here students of "Professional Wine Studies Course" at the CIA are shown the finer points of Shaefer Hillside Vineyards on one of the carefully planned field trips.

Photo by Michael Reiss

And thanks to our Napa Valley location, you'll have unique opportunities to walk the vineyards with area viticulturists, taste with winemakers in their cellars, and experience the world of wine in a remarkably integrated way that almost defies the description.

Here students of the "Professional Wine Studies Course" at the CIA learn about viticultural practices, while visiting an actual vineyard.

Photo by Michael Reiss


The CIA wine classes in California offer simply the best possible learning experience.

Award-winning teacher and author of the best-selling book The Wine Bible, Professor Karen MacNeil, conducts a class as part of
the "Professional Wine Studies Course" at the CIA.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Whether you are looking to advance your career or start anew, you'll embark on this journey with fellow professionals and enthusiasts who share similar passions about wine and food, providing the opportunity to enjoy camaraderie and build enduring business and personal relationships.


The knowledge gained from this program, the "Professional Wine Studies Course" at the CIA, is invaluable and students make a "quantum leap" in their understanding and appreciation of wine.

Photo by Michael Reiss

The CIA Professional Wine Studies
CIA Greystone Continuing Education



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