Wine Country Tours – A Different Way to See Napa

February 27th, 2015

Exploring wine country on its own is an adventure in itself. But experiencing it by Jeep or in a private wine tour makes it that much more of a memorable vacation. While there are plenty of tours to choose from, including the wine train, some wine tours stand out. These excursions help you see wine country in a completely different light – and give you a true taste of Napa.

If you are visiting Napa Valley this Spring, try one of these fun wine country tours:

  • Open Air Jeep Tours – Go to the award-winning wineries of Napa Valley and tour the vineyards in your private Jeep. You will get to explore the regions in a way that the bus tours cannot provide and the tours can be customized to your comfort level.
  • Platypus Wine Tours – Go on a tour with the wine country experts at Platypus Wine Tours and you will learn everything there is to know about Napa, wine, and more. They offer join-in and private tours daily and when your tour is over, you will feel as though you are a wine expert!
  • Beau Tours – Head out on a private wine tasting tour with Beau Tours. This luxury, private experience is customized to your needs and you can even design your own tour itinerary. Enjoy some Napa fine dining on your way to exclusive tasting rooms, and your concierge tour guide can arrange food and wine pairings at your request.

Experience Napa in an entirely different way with a unique wine country tour. It will create an unforgettable experience and expose you to the many aspects of Napa that are not on your average tour.

Relax after a day of excursions at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites. Our boutique hotel is close to local attractions and wineries and it is the ideal oasis after a long day in wine country. Book your stay now.

Historic Landmarks In and Around Napa

February 23rd, 2015

Historic Landmarks In and Around Napa

Most people traveling to Napa think of wineries, restaurants, and resort hotels; but the Napa Valley area is home to several incredible historic landmarks worth visiting as well. Rich with history and culture, the area is ripe with attractions for history buffs and the inquisitive mind.

Bale Mill

Located in St. Helena, Bale Mill is located in Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park. The grist mill is one of only 2 water-driven mills that still remains intact west of the Mississippi. Established and built in 1846, the mill and nearby granary were built with local woods and once served as the social hub of activity in the Napa Valley area. The mill closed to the public in 2011 due to a lack of funding but has reopened on the weekends. Beginning in 2016, the mill will be allowed to sell flour as a means of fundraising for maintenance costs.

Elmshaven

Also located in St. Helena, Elmshaven is also often referred to as the Robert Pratt Place or the Ellen White House. Ellen White lived in the house for 15 years, until her death. She is noted for her involvement in the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The church currently owns the home and operates it as a historic site.

Napa Valley Opera House

The Napa Valley Opera House opened in 1880 and currently operates as a theatre. Located in Napa, the theatre existed during the height of the vaudeville era. The landmark has since seen hundreds of variety acts, musical ventures, and exhibitions. Even Jack London read his works on the stage. The threatre closed in 1914 due to competition from movies and damage from the 1906 earthquake but was restored in 1985 as the Café Theatre. After several different changes of hand, the theater became the City Winery, still an entertainment venue, in April of 2014.

St. Helena High School

Yup, the high school. It was the first official high school in the area and for its first year it operated out of a local church. The following year classes moved to Turner Hall, where they stayed until 1912. A private donor offered land for a high school in 1910 and construction didn’t end until 1912. The building has received several additions throughout the years, including an auditorium. In 1967, the original building was deemed unsafe for earthquakes and the new 100 Wing was built. In 2003, the completion of the restoration and earthquake retrofit of the original building was completed and the entire campus is used by students.

History surrounds us, everywhere we go. Block some free time, book a room in the Napa Valley Hotel & Suites, and prepare to spend a weekend really exploring the area. You’ll be surprised and pleased by what you uncover.

St. Patrick’s Day – Celebrate with a Green Beer in Wine Country

February 20th, 2015

There is a lot more to Napa Valley than wine. In fact, Sonoma is known for having its share of quality pubs and breweries too. If you plan to visit wine country for St. Patrick’s Day, you are sure to find a few fun events going on at one of these hot spots, including plenty of green beer to go around.

Here are just some of the pubs and breweries you will want to visit while you are here on St. Patrick’s Day:

  • Murphy’s Irish Pub – This traditional Irish pub always celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in style. In fact, this year the celebration starts at 3:00pm and will go until they close. You can enjoy great Irish beers and of course food, including the classic bangers and mash.
  • Cleophus Quealy Beer Co. – Head over to the Cleophus Quealy Beer Co. and taste some of the most unique, handcrafted beers. From their Coffee Milk Stout to the highly complex Dubbel, there is a brew for everyone – and of course, there is always something special here for St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Eat Drink and Be Irish at Hurley’s Restaurant – Every year, Hurley’s Restaurant has an “Irish All Day” theme as they roll out Irish dishes and enough Guinness for all.
  • Goose & Gander – The Goose & Gander is one of the more popular pub spots in Napa, and naturally, they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with great enthusiasm. Here you will find plenty of pub favorites and a delightful choice of St. Patrick’s Day brews.

This St. Patrick’s Day come to Napa Valley for your green beer, festivities and classic Irish cuisine.

Combine with the weekend before and book your St. Patrick’s Day accommodations at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites. Call 707-226-1871 or make your reservations online.

Napa Valley Restaurant Month

February 16th, 2015

Napa Valley Restaurant Month

February may be for lovers but it’s also an exciting time throughout the entire Napa Valley because the month is, officially, Napa Valley Restaurant Month. If there are restaurants you have always wanted to try but just haven’t had the time or budget for, now is your opportunity to sample some of the best the area has to offer.

In general, each participating restaurant will offer visitors a limited menu. Lunch menu items will range from $14 to $30 and dinner menu items will range from $24 to $50. Most of the restaurants and wineries will two or three  several courses. While some restaurants will offer both lunch and dinner seating, some will offer only one or the other. Some of the larger hotels and wineries are offering complete packages with hotel stays and meals included.

A Few Restaurants to Try

The Restaurant at Auberge will be offering a two-course prix fixe lunch for $29. The menu is only available during the week (M-F) and does not include alcohol. Reservations are encouraged and large group reservations will not be accepted during Restaurant Month.

The Grill at Meadowood Napa Valley is offering both lunch and dinner specials. Lunches are two courses at $30 per person, or $45 if you’d like to pair your meal with wines. Dinners are three courses at $50 per person, or $75 if you’d like to pair the meal with wine.

The Bakery Café by Illy will be offering a daily Market Lunch for $18.89 (representing 1889, the year the Greystone was built). Each lunch includes two food items and a glass of wine from Greystone Cellars. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Culinary Institute of America. This deal is available Monday through Friday only.

The Farmer and the Fox is offering a seasonal three-course menu with an optional beverage pairing. The daily menu will be spontaneous, based off of the local ingredients available each week. The cost for the three-course meal is $50 per person, with an additional $45 per person for beverage pairing (optional). Reservations are required and must be made by calling the restaurant directly.

These are, of course, only a handful of the restaurants participating in the festivities throughout the month. Visit the Visit Napa Valley page for a complete listing of participating restaurants along with their offering and reservation requirements, or ask your Napa Valley Hotel & Suites concierge for help choosing a location to visit!

Upcoming Events at Napa’s Uptown Theater

February 12th, 2015

March is packed full of events but book your tickets early as they are sure to be sold out quick. A glimpse of what you can expect to see next month:

  • Official Blues Brothers Revue – Who doesn’t like the Blues Brothers? Presented by Dan Aykroyd and Judy Belushi, this show includes the Blues Brothers classics, lively music and a lot of fun.
  • The Fab Four – If you are visiting on March 13th, catch The Fab Four at the Uptown. This is the ultimate tribute to The Beatles and you will get a chance to dance and sing along with your favorite Beatles tunes.
  • Alton Brown Live – Watch the Food Network? Then you have to see the Alton Brown Live Food Experience. Here comes science, music and food in a two-hour show that will be a hit for the entire family.

An hour before the show starts or during your intermission, you can catch your dinner at the Courtyard Café. They have a little something for everyone – and of course, plenty of wine to choose from.

Book your stay after your evening at the Uptown Theater. Choose Napa Valley Hotel and Suites. Our boutique hotel is close to local restaurants and shopping so you can make a weekend of it. Call 707-226-1871 or book your stay online.

14th Annual Napa County Pruning Contest to Be Held February 19th

February 9th, 2015

14th Annual Napa County Pruning Contest to Be Held February 19th

Hosted by the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation, this year marks the 14th for the Napa County Pruning contest. Vineyard workers from throughout the area are encouraged to participate in events that showcase their speed, skill, and artistic pruning abilities.

As odd as it sounds, the competition is a big deal throughout the valley. Many local wineries host their own internal competitions before the big day, allowing their own employees to earn their way into the county contest.

Official Event Details

The pruning competition is officially held on Thursday, February 19th, 2015 with a rain date of February 20th. The events will be held at the Beringer Vineyards Gamble Ranch from 11am until 2pm.

There will be one winner from each division, with prizes as follows:

  • 1st place – $850 plus custom trophy buckle, shears, and a vest

  • 2nd place – $600 plus shears, loppers, and a vest.

  • 3rd place – $350 plus shears, saw, and a vest.

  • 4th place – $200 plus shears, saw, and a vest.

Of course, the winner walks away with prestige as well, bringing notoriety to himself and the vineyard where he works.

Registration for the event closes on February 16th, so make sure you get your application in soon if you haven’t done so already.

Make sure you bring an appetite, too. Compadres will serve a free Mexican-style lunch to all competitors and there will also be music and entertainment throughout.

The Creation of Divisions

In years past, there were only men’s divisions but 2015 marks the 2nd year for a separate women’s division. Previous to 2014, women had seemed hesitant to compete with men, so the formation of a separate competitive division seemed like a fair compromise. And while the separate divisions remain this year, it’s important to note that at the end of the 2014 competition, when all of the points were tallied, the overall scores showed that if there had been only one group of competitors the overall winner still would have been the top female competitor.

The Napa County Pruning Contest has grown and evolved over the past several years and we can’t wait to see what’s in store this year. Book yourself a local hotel room, tour a winery or two, and head on over to see the workers in competition. This is one event you won’t want to miss.

Wine Country Tastings – It’s Not All About the Wine

February 6th, 2015

In wine country, you want to try wine, but did you also know that there is much more to the tasting room than a glass of robust red or crisp white? As home to some of the best breweries and olive oil artisans, you would be missing out if all you did was taste the wine. So, when you are in Napa Valley, do not forget to taste the other side of wine country, by visiting one of these delicious tasting rooms:

  • The Tasting BarAt Spice Islands Marketplace in the Culinary Institute of America, enjoy The Tasting Bar. Here you can taste premium olive oils, unique chocolates, cheese, and more. You can even enjoy a pairing with local wines.
  • Napa Smith Brewery Napa Valley may be known for the wine, but they have some of the best breweries in the country too. Enjoy handcrafted brews at the Napa Smith Brewery’s tasting room and see the pale ales, stouts, and more that come from wine country.
  • Lucero Olive Oil There is not just one type of extra virgin; in fact, there are hundreds of olive oils, each with their own unique aroma and taste. Lucero Olive Oil’s tasting room lets you explore these artisan olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and even gourmet mustards.
  • Napa Valley DistilleryThis family-owned operation is a micro-distillery that crafts some of the best spirits and cocktails. Visit their Tasting Salon for an informative, delicious tasting experience.

While you most definitely should try the wine, do not forget the other tasting options that Napa Valley has to offer. From the breweries to olive oil to artisan chocolates and cheeses, wine country “tastings” have a whole new meaning.

Book your stay with Napa Valley Hotel and Suites to relax after a day of tastings and walking tours. Call us now at 707-226-1871 to make your reservation.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day in Napa: More Weekend Activities

February 2nd, 2015

Celebrating Valentine’s Day in Napa: More Weekend Activities

Valentine’s Day certainly does provide an incredible opportunity to explore the romantic Napa Valley area. While there are plenty of romantic things you can do on your own, like picnics and hot air balloon rides, some of the area’s local wineries and shops are also putting together some fun events for you to check out.

Valentine’s Day on the Wine Train

Hurry and reserve a spot on the Wine Train for Dinner on Friday the 13th or for lunch or dinner on Saturday the 14th. A ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train promises to bring a touch of romantic old-school charm to your weekend, including not only a meal but a strolling violinist as well.

Valentine’s Day at Cornerstone Cellars

Cornerstone Cellars is offering an afternoon of live music and special offers from 3pm to 6pm on Saturday, February 14th. While the event is free to attend, you should be prepared to pay for special offers. Reservations are encouraged.

How Sweet It Is!

The Madrigal Family Winery Sausalito Tasting Room is hosting How Sweet It Is! on Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15th from 11am until 7pm. For $50 per couple you can enjoy one chocolate tray and two glasses carefully chosen and paired together. Make sure you call in advance to reserve your space.

Bottle Poetry

Head over to the St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winery for the Bottle Poetry event, held from 10am to 1pm on Saturday the 14th. Silvi Alcivar from The Poetry Store will be there to write a poem on a subject of your choosing – all on site and on demand. Register online by visiting www.thepoetrystore.com. The cost of your poem is included with the purchase of a wine tasting.

Cabernet Lover’s Tasting

Waiting until next weekend to celebrate? We understand that, too. Head over to ZD Wines on Saturday the 21st from 11:00am until 3:30pm for a dedicated Cabernet tasting. The cost is $40 per person and includes chocolate truffle pairings.

Don’t stay home and sulk on Valentine’s Day. There is plenty to do before, on the day, and after. Not sure what else is happening? Ask your Napa Hotel & Suites concierge for more information about other area events. You won’t be disappointed.

Get Rid of the Late Winter Blues—Visit Napa Valley in February and March

January 31st, 2015

February and March may be some of the coldest months for the rest of the country, but in Napa, they are ideal for visiting. You will be treated to luscious green hills, the early blossoms of wild mustard flowers, and mild temperatures that are still inviting. The average temperature is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but there are some days in March that may go up to 80 degrees.

So here’s a secret many don’t know: February and March are the best times of the year to come to Napa Valley!

  • The Scenery – The best months to tour wine country are February through April. Spring is slowly starting to creep up from its winter slumber, the green vines of the vineyards are budding, and the skies are clear.
  • Traffic – September and October (harvest months) are the busiest. By visiting in the off-season, you will find less crowds throughout the area, especially downtown. Tours will be more exclusive, lodging will be easier to obtain, and the valley will be less busy.
  • Lodging – It is easier (and more affordable) to book a package at the end of winter. During the busy season, you have to book months in advance, while February and March do allow for last minute plans and better package availability. Napa Valley Hotel and Suites offers a variety of winter packages including Valentine’s Day specials, a day trip to San Francisco, golfing, and even holiday packages.

Napa Valley is ideal year-round, but if you want wine country all to yourself, come visit in February and March.

Escape the cold winter temperatures and bask in wine country. Book your stay at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel: The Napa River Restoration Project

January 26th, 2015

The Light at the End of the Tunnel: The Napa River Restoration Project

While the end of this project has taken slightly longer than expected, residents who have been watching the Napa River Restoration project unfold will be thrilled to see it coming to a close. As a matter of fact, two main stretches of the project, directly in the center of the project, will be receiving vegetation in the next few months.

In certain areas, the Napa River had become eroded and narrow. This caused a major reduction in the wildlife species naturally able to thrive in the river and also contributed to major flooding events in the area.

The formally named Rutherford Reach project actually started back in 2009. The goal of the project was to correct the issues that had naturally arisen over time, creating better floodplain benches as well as instream habitats. The creation of the instream bench helps to slow the water while creating a refuge for species like Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. The instream benches themselves also keep the fine sediments from settling, which would suffocate the eggs the fish lay, by pushing it out to the sand dunes created by the floodplain benches.  The entire project spans a length of 4.5 miles.

The two stretches nearing completion are situated smack in the center of the Napa Valley and will soon be home to more than 18,000 plants. Project managers have been very specific about the type of plant used in the area. New plants will include western spice, Santa Barbara sedge, and bit leaf maple. It’s important to note, however, that there are certain types of plant that can’t become a part of the finished project. Plants like giant reed grass and Himalayan blackberry, for example, are considered invasive and would create habitats for insects and pets that carry diseases dangerous to the vineyards.

In order to complete this project, neighboring vineyard owners agreed to give up more than 20 acres of land. The sacrifice will be well worth the cost, however, when the river becomes healthier and their vineyards experience less damage from flooding.

We here in the valley should see the vegetation planted throughout the winter and spring months. The program contacted with Empire Landscaping to do not only the planting work, but also to monitor the vegetation for health for the next three years.

And this will be the end of the project. We’re sure neighboring vineyard owners, visitors, Napa Valley hotel and resorts, and local businesses are happy to see the work end – and hopefully they’re excited to see how the valley changes thanks to years of dedicated effort.