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Elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, Michelin-starred restaurants, and sweeping estates have always defined Napa Valley, California’s most famous wine destination. These days, it’s full of surprises. Written by Martine Bury for Quest Magazine

Long before Napa Valley became one of the world’s foremost wine regions, it was the wild west—a land of gold fever, stagecoach bandits, and pioneers. Today, this place that also ignited the era of modern winemaking maintains its coveted status with a fresh spate of restaurants, tasting rooms, and hotels. 

Napa Valley Luxury Travel - United States Luxury Travel - Ker Downey

Anchoring resurgent Downtown Napa’s culinary scene, Oxbow Public Market gives visitors a chance to savor the local bounty. Next door, The Restaurant at the CIA at Copia offers lively meals in the eclectic environment of a culinary campus. Head to Kenzo for Chef Kenzo Tsujimoto’s Kaiseki and sushi menu, featuring the fresh catch flown in from Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market. Opening soon: Charlie Palmer Steak and The Charter Oak by Restaurant at Meadowood alums Chef Christopher Kostow and Nathaniel Dorn. Indulge for now at the chef-driven eateries that opened in 2016, like Morimoto and two-Michelin starred chef Matthew Lightner’s NINEBARK. Hear live music at Blue Note Napa on the first floor of the 19th-century Napa Valley Opera House. Try a private tasting at Riverhouse by Bespoke Collection, surrounded by modern art and collectibles. And, if you love craft brews, make plans for Stone Brewing’s Napa Tap Room and Pilot Brewery, set to open later this year.

Beyond the lure of a vibrant hub, Napa’s town’s still reign for sweeping natural scenery, vineyards, unique character and exclusive experiences. Named for the mountain that anchors its north end, St. Helena is an icon by its own right. Major national landmarks and well-preserved architecture mingle effortlessly with Michelin-starred restaurants, beautiful boutiques, charming streets and hip tasting rooms that give you a sampling of what’s on offer at the 416 vineyards that comprise this local American Viticultural Area. For foodies, there’s no greater place in the US to satisfy your palate than Yountville. The town’s total area of 1.5 square miles is home to some of the country’s most important restaurants—many Michelin-starred, like Chef Thomas Keller’s legendary French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro. For the classic California wilderness, Calistoga offers breathtaking, forested vistas, sophisticated retreats and famous hot springs. While you might be taken with the mountain-fresh air and pristine surroundings, downtown Calistoga invites epicures and aesthetes to wander into the shops and eateries for artisanal goods and fresh, local bites.

Napa Valley Luxury Travel - United States Luxury Travel - Ker Downey

On the lodgings front, The Carneros Inn just completed various enhancements, with more to come. Yountville’s Vintage Estate is undergoing a design-forward refresh. Ultra-private, hilltop hideaway Auberge du Soleil recently revealed eight lavish guest rooms and suites. Now open, Las Alcobas—the St. Helena outpost of Mexico city’s swankest boutique hotel—delivers a chic, serene stay and bucolic views. Stay tuned for the unveiling of Archer Hotel Napa in the Downtown hub—and Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Napa Valley on the horizon.

To relax, tuck into acclaimed Spa Terra at The Meritage Resort and Spa for a treatment 40 feet beneath the vineyard vines. Then grab a glass of wine. After a major refresh of Stags’ Leap Vineyards historic manor house, the winery offers a host of new tasting experiences. Sip alfresco at Stewart Cellar’s hip tasting salon in Yountville, or hide out in a wine cave at Pine Ridge Vineyards “Cellar 47.” If you’re curious about craft wine, discover exquisite examples at Picayune Cellars in Calistoga (of the famous mineral springs).

Whether you the chauffeured routes, explore by bicycle, tuck into a private family vineyard hotel or have an exclusive cellar tasting and tour, be sure to seek experiences where you can meet or dine with winemakers. Ascend on a private, hot air balloon ride to see the valley from above. Or linger over a romantic dinner in private wine cave. The Napa Valley is the perfect blend of All-American, small town charm and European elegance.

Napa Valley Luxury Travel - United States Luxury Travel - Ker Downey

To start planning your journey to Napa Valley, contact your Luxury Travel Designer.

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