Discovering the Napa Valley
Over the past forty years, California has made great strides in the winemaking industry and its wines are gaining increased international recognition. The LUXE Magazine team toured the sumptuous Napa Valley region, about an hour from San Francisco. Here is our report.
With its Mediterranean climate, the Napa Valley is heaven for wine connoisseurs and gourmets alike. To tour the area, nothing beats taking the Silverado Trail. It’s a peaceful, picturesque road winding through the hollows in the hills on the eastern side of the valley, and it leads to the largest wineries, including those dotting the municipality of Calistoga. You also really shouldn’t miss visiting Chateau Montelena and Sterling Vineyards. The latter, built to resemble a Greek home, has an extraordinarily striking view over the Napa Valley. To reach the winery itself (for a taste of its famous chardonnay), you’ll take a cable car. As experiences go, it’s … intoxicating.
The wines aren’t the only things that are excellent in the Napa Valley. The food is just as good. The municipality of Yountville is especially renowned for its gastronomy, in particular because of the restaurant The French Laundry with its three Michelin stars. The village, another essential stop on a tour, was named for George Calvert Yount, the first man to plant grapevines in the valley in 1840.
We could go on forever about this magnificent region, but we’ve chosen to tell you about three of the highlights of our stay. As for the rest, all we can say is: go there yourself!
Calistoga Ranch is THE place to spend a night in the Napa Valley. The immense 157-acre ranch has 50 luxurious lodge-style villas and is a favourite of Hollywood stars. Spa treatments, a heated pool, a fitness room: everything is there to make your stay unforgettable. During the day, you can take part in a multitude of activities such as workshops on winemaking,culinary demonstrations, biking and hiking and even… hot air balloon rides!
Robert Mondavi Winery
Robert Mondavi wines (especially Woodbridge) are well known in Quebec and were the first to really compete with European wines. The late Robert Mondavi, a pioneer of Californian winemaking, founded his namesake winery in 1966. Cabernet, chardonnay, fumé blanc, merlot, pinot noir, rosé and sauvignon blanc: these are the varieties grown on his terroir, which now belongs to a large corporation specializing in the production and distribution of alcoholic beverages. You will enjoy wandering around, glass in hand, and admiring the beauty of the vines and the mountains that seem to go on forever. A dozen wines from this vineyard are available at the SAQ. Prices range from $11.45 to $457.
Although its wines are not sold in Quebec, the Davis Estates winery is an essential stop on any Napa Valley tour. Mike, the kindly owner, will show you around his superb facility. Besides tasking the red wines (pinot noir, merlot and cabernet sauvignon), you can have a delicious meal in the wine cellar or on the covered patio.
Led by professionals
Our stay in the Napa Valley would not have been the same without Napa Valley Tours & Transportation, which drove us around the region, including San Francisco, in a brand new Lincoln Continental 2017. Our chauffeur, Anthony Roller, not only knows the city like the back of his hand but helped to make our stay a very pleasant one.
Text: Joannie Langlois and Diane Stehle