Stress got you down?  When all else fails,
head to Napa Valley.  With more than 270 wineries
set amidst 38,000 acres of rolling vineyards, hundreds of
divine restaurants, a myriad of championship golf courses, and a
plethora of world-class accommodations, Napa Valley is the place for
your own personal Urban Renewal.

Napa Valley, 50 miles northeast of San Francisco, exudes the flavor of
Italy’s Tuscany and France’s Bordeaux.  Stretching only
five miles across at its widest point and 35 miles from north to
south, the Valley is divided into vineyard regions called
“appellations”, and consists of 6 different cities and towns, each with
their own distinctive character.

The most heavily traveled hot air balloon corridor in the entire world,
Napa Valley (Valley of Plenty) was so named by the native Wappo
Indians.  Today’s Napa Valley is unabashed in its abundance
and is rich in agricultural bounty and man-made offerings.

From the San Francisco airport, I headed to the town of Yountville.
 Although Yountville has the smallest population of
Napa’s incorporated towns and cities (pop. 2957 in 2011), it is the
hub of the Napa Valley where the Wine Country experience begins to
unfold.  Yountville is a walking town, rich with history
and character rooted in a century past.
It is also the locale of the 23-acre Vintage Estate that consists of
Vintage Inn, an 80-room French country-style inn, the 112-room Villagio
Inn & Spa and the historic Vintage 1870 specialty shops complex.

The intimate Vintage Inn blends 19th century
romance with simple wine country elegance, Vintage Inn is a step back
in time to a French country boutique hotel of the late 1800’s.



 The Villagio Inn & Spa is in a garden
setting, accented by vineyards, fountains, and a flowing central
watercourse.  This luxurious inn and spa facility was inspired by
the Italian countryside villages of Tuscany.  Architect Bruce Pao was
commissioned to deliver a design for Villagio Inn
& Spa.  Instead, he gave it a soul.  Pao used
the mythological attributes of nine Roman goddesses to lend a magical
influence to his design of the walking pathways, pools, fountains,
and central waterway of Villagio. 
True to wine country tradition, my Villagio Inn
spa treatments were big on the grape.  Wining and unwinding
became my sybaritic mantra of the week.  I began each day
with grape treatments in The Spa and ended each night with grape
treatments (aka wine) in some of the country’s best restaurants.

In Villagio’s Spa-aaaah, I was slathered with a Grape
Seed Mud Wrap and a Grape Seed Body Polish.  My tired eyes were eased
with a grape-sap compress followed by a grape-enhanced Essential Facial.  Grape
oils lubricated my loins during my European Wellness Massage and
the finishing touch was a Napa Valley Grape Seed Manicure and
Pedicure.  SPA-tacular!

Napa Valley staked a claim as America’s “Food and Wine
Capital” when the Culinary Institute of America opened in 1995 at
Greystone Cellars, the former Christian Brothers Winery.
 Visitors can dine in the Greystone restaurants, located
inside of one of the largest stone buildings in the world, built
in 1889 by Chinese laborers who used stone from local quarries.

Enroute from Yountville to the Greystone in St. Helena,
you will drive through Oakville (2010 population was 71). This tiny
town is renowned for its Oakville Grocery Co. that has been operating
continuously since 1881. 


The Oakville Grocery Co. offers highly
curated selection of the best products from farmers, artisans and
purveyors in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. At any given time of
day, you might  find some 50 cars in its
parking lot.  Tourists make up approximately 80% of
that number. 
Napa Premium Outlets, in Napa City, offers an abundant
selection of legendary brands at real savings.  TSE Factory Store is one
of my favorites.  If they happen to have a sale, you can pick up some
gorgeous cashmeres at a fraction of their retail price.
Though Napa Valley has many championship golf courses,
I did not pick up a golf club during my entire visit to Napa Valley.  However, my
stay at Villagio Inn & Spa totally rejuvenated my whole
being.  I might say that, even sans golf, Napa Valley
afforded me a “whole in one” week.
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning
Travel Writer and a Travel Consultant affiliated with The Travel
Authority, Mariemont/Cincinnati, Ohio office.