A year ago, Napa and Sonoma were offering only a limited flight of al fresco experiences for visitors; after all, out-of-town leisure travel was officially discouraged by many authorities. This summer, new releases in Wine Country include indoor and outdoor dining, spa and wellness programs, transformed lodgings, and of course, new tasting rooms. Before you go, check with the relevant visitor’s bureau for any new restrictions, and lift a toast to the return of safe travel.
While you can still reserve online tastings offered via Zoom, Baldacci Family Vineyards resumes its indoor guided tours and tastings July 1 in Napa’s Stags Leap District. Founded in 1998 and led by second-generation vintner Michael Baldacci, the 13.5-acre winery also owns vineyards in Calistoga and Carneros. The 105-minute All Cabernet Tasting With Tour ($125) starts with a splash of sparkling wine, continues with a tour of the wine cave and finishes with a tasting of membership-only Cabernet Sauvignons in a private room. The 65-minute Portfolio Tour ($65) seats guests in Stag Hall for tastings of a choice of three wines, either an all-red flight or Carneros favorites. Tours run Thursday–Monday by reservation, starting at 10 a.m.
In Calistoga, the longtime local vintners’ favorite Solbar recently expanded its outdoor patio, with seating under market lights and mulberry trees. It’s part of a $30 million renovation of Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection, which also added poolside Picobar. This new open-air restaurant is expected to win fans with contemporary Mexican dishes such as chips and guacamole made of whipped avocado, pistachio and kale.
Two of Napa Valley’s most popular spa oases, the Spa at Hotel Yountville and B Spa at Bardessono Hotel & Spa, have added an Ayurvedic-inspired “well bar” to help clients create personalized products ($25–$50) for massage, bath, body care and chakra balancing. Choose from seven formulas for a wellness intention body oil, consult a chakra guide to select a chakra gemstone anointing oil and blend an Ayurvedic dosha balancing oil based on your constitution. Those who also reserve a spa treatment can also enjoy the complimentary service of Naturopathica tea, tinctures and honeys. Hotel Yountville’s spa is exclusive to its guests, but B Spa allows non-Bardessono guests; a 60-minute treatment includes use of the B Spa center pool and hot tub, with poolside dining available.
Two miles south of Sonoma Plaza, the nearly century-old Sangiacomo Home Ranch now features a tasting room for Sangiacomo Family Winery. Private, reservation-only tastings for up to eight people take place on its spacious terrace, with an opportunity to amble through the vineyards and learn about the family’s grapegrowing heritage and sustainable practices. Guided wine flights ($45) include five current releases of its Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and single vineyard wines such as its Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. An optional food pairing ($70, including wine) adds a personal cheese and charcuterie box from local producers. The 90-minute experiences can be booked between 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m., Thursday–Monday.
Reserve a 90-minute window for artisan cocktails ($14–$16) and bar bites in the recently opened Beacon, a glamorous speakeasy-style lounge behind a pocket door of Taub Family Outpost restaurant on Sonoma Plaza. The Beacon accepts reservations from 5–8:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5–7:45 p.m. Sunday.
Acclaimed chef Michael Mina may have restaurants in San Francisco, across the country and even Tokyo, but his first Wine Country venue, Wit & Wisdom Sonoma, only opened last fall. This year marks the first summer menu for his tavern at the newly renovated Lodge at Sonoma, which plans to debut breakfast spot Benicia’s Kitchen and poolside High Horse Bar (a clever conversion of a horse trailer) this summer. Open for heated outdoor dining at press time, Mina’s restaurant specializes in wood-fired pizzas, sustainable seafood and pasture-raised meats, served 5–9 p.m. Wednesday–Sunday. Happy hour from 3–5 p.m. is ideal for enjoying a game of bocce ball while sharing a gourmet cheese and charcuterie plate ($32) with a glass of wine, Sonoma Springs beer or craft cocktail ($8 $10).
This summer is also the first for New Tree Ranch, a biodynamic farmstead and luxury retreat on 120 acres in the hills of Healdsburg that opened last fall. The nightly rent ($4,000, minimum six nights, for up to eight guests) includes use of the four-bedroom, four-bath, 4,700-square-foot contemporary ranch home, glamping-style tents with hot tub, swimming pool, stables and horse trails (bring your own steed), and fitness trail. Wellness options include catered vegan cuisine, yoga, sound bathing and tea making, as well as the Wim Hof Experience, which teaches mindfulness through breathing techniques. Think that’s cool? After training, participants may test their skills through the challenge of an ice bath. newtreeranch.com For the latest updates on health restrictions affecting Sonoma and Napa valleys, see sonomavalley.com or visitnapavalley.com.
For more on Better:
- Hawaii Travel Is a Go This Summer: How to Travel Safely, and Things to Do When You Get There
- From Napa’s Iconic Auberge Soleil to SF’s Hearst Hotel: A Q&A With Auberge Resorts’ Mike Minchin About a Business Bouncing Back
- James Cameron’s ‘Secrets of the Whales’ Will Make You Want to Fight for Our Oceans
Travel writer and guidebook author Jeanne Cooper lives in Hawaii, where she volunteers with the Hawaii Island Humane Society and St. James’ Community Meal.