The endless acres of vineyards are breathtaking, and the wine is more than fine, but there’s much more to love about California’s wine country. Accommodations range from luxe resorts to charming inns, and the area brims with world-class spas and talented chefs. You can bike along country roads lined with wild blackberries, picnic under the oaks in fields of golden poppies, and then watch the sun set over the dramatic coast as you make a toast to your unlimited future.
Most Romantic Inns
Calistoga Ranch: Your luxurious cedar lodge comes with an outdoor living room, cozy fireplace and indoor-outdoor shower garden. Choose a forest, creek or lake view; they all incorporate the sights and sounds of nature, from bird songs to rushing water. It’s like five-star camping, without the messy camping part.
Honor Mansion: A century-old magnolia tree shades the front lawn; an enchanting koi pond adorns the back patio; and platters of home-baked cookies lure you into the cozy lobby of this Victorian B&B near Healdsburg Town Square. The Vineyard Suites with outdoor spa tubs are especially romantic.
La Residence: You’ll love the antique armoire, silver set and fluffy duvet in your suite. Bonus: You can re-create the room in your home, thanks to the “buy a room” program recently introduced at this charming Napa inn.
Vintage Inn: This French-style country inn in Yountville recently introduced its Vineyard Pavilion, a 16,000-square-foot garden surrounded by grapevines that’s perfect for rehearsal dinners, weddings and receptions. Guest rooms feature vaulted ceilings, balconies and sunken whirlpool tubs.
Sexiest Spa Treatments
Bathhouse After-Hours: Take over the spa at Calistoga Ranch after dark, and the outdoor showers, spring-fed pools, sexy soaking tubs and roaring fire are all exclusively yours.
Cedar Enzyme Baths: Lie side by side under a warm and woodsy blanket of fragrant cedar chips. This treatment for two is the hottest thing on the menu at Osmosis, a tranquil Japanese-style retreat, garden and day spa.
Wine and Roses Treatment: The acclaimed spa at Fairmont Sonoma Inn is located on the site of hot mineral springs that bubble up from 1,000 feet underground. Soak up the healing water in a rose-petal-sprinkled bath while sipping sparkling wine, followed by side-by-side massages.
Warm Goat Cheese Massage: The spa menu at the acclaimed Carneros Inn reads more like a restaurant menu, with fresh-from-the-farm ingredients such as paprika, guava, grape seed, and yes, goat cheese. Who knew that what was so bad for the hips could be do good for the skin?
Clos Pegase: Equal parts art gallery and winery, this opulent establishment near Calistoga is aptly self-described as “where wine meets divine.” Its grounds overflow with antiques, sculptures and paintings; free guided tours depart daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Chateau Montelena: This winery resembles a stone castle in the countryside, surrounded by lush grounds and a lovely bridge-spanned lake. The $25 winery tour includes tastings and a walk through the vineyard – book in advance.
Frank Family Vineyards: Stop at this legendary Calistoga winery and say hello to the friendliest winemakers in Napa. No appointments are required to tour their antique-filled stone champagne cellar.
Domaine Carneros Chateau: Reserve a private balcony and you can sit back and enjoy the vineyard views while your personal server pours sparkling wine and pinot noir paired with local artisan cheeses. The royal treatment also includes a private VIP tour and a bottle of sparkling wine with two flutes, yours to keep.
V. Sattui Winery: The lush gardens, manicured vineyards, stone fountains, grassy lawn and ivy-covered cellar make this boutique winery in St. Helena a stunning site for a wedding or reception. The family-owned vineyard has a complimentary tasting room and has been called the best winery in California.
Cyrus: Even in an area replete with high-end restaurants, this intimate, sophisticated establishment in Healdsburg has generated a ton of buzz since opening last year.
French Laundry: It’s a huge splurge, but Thomas Keller’s restaurant is the region’s most admired. Just be sure to reserve months in advance.
The Girl & the Fig: While wandering around the Sonoma Plaza, stop at this delightfully eclectic country-French restaurant.
River’s End: Located where the Russian River meets the sea in Jenner, this unpretentious eatery offers an award-winning wine list, along with Sonoma’s best sunsets and ocean views.
Jimtown Store: What began as a general store in 1895 became a Napa institution under the TLC of owner/chef Carrie Brown. Stock up on homemade spreads, baked treats and other gourmet goodies in the kitschy-cute store, or grab a tasty boxed lunch and eat it on the go.
Top Outdoor Activities
Bike the Vineyards: Getaway Adventures specializes in biking, hiking and kayaking tours. Ask about the “Sip n’ Cycle” ride: This 17-mile scenic loop takes you along winding country roads and the historic Silverado Trail, with frequent rest stops at wineries. Includes a gourmet picnic lunch.
Hot-Air Ballooning: Get a bird’s-eye view of the Sonoma Valley as you soar above the vineyards, farms and rolling hills with Aerostat Adventures. At the end of your flight, a champagne brunch awaits you at a nearby café.
Ride in Style: Snuggle in the back of a posh limo and sip champagne courtesy of Pure Luxury while a chauffeur takes you to the best wineries and sights in the area.
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