Tuesday, March 5, 2024 Mar 5, 2024
61° F Dallas, TX

Napa Valley, California

By Jennifer Chininis |
photography courtesy of Auberge du Soleil

SOAK UP THE SUN: In the California wine country, the sun (almost) always shines. Which explains the name Auberge du Soleil (The Inn of the Sun), the 33-acre French country-inspired retreat on the outskirts of the sleepy little winemaking town of Rutherford. Here is where luxury, haute cuisine, and relaxation converge. Snuggle up in king beds outfitted with soft Frette linens, enjoy relaxing soaks among flickering candles (and a flat-screen TV), or curl up in front of a crackling fire. Perhaps most important, you can wake up, throw open the French doors, and step out onto your private terrace overlooking the lush valley. There’s no better way to sip a cappuccino and welcome in a new day. SERENE SPA: The 7,000-square-foot Auberge Spa, built around a central courtyard with stone fountains and olive trees, provides respite from the outside world—even from the rest of the property. Signature treatments are smartly divided into four categories—the vineyard, the garden, the grove, the valley—depending on the ingredients (grapes, herbs and flowers, olives, and muds and minerals, respectively). Should you travel with your beloved, select from one of the many packages labeled Bliss for Two. Choose the Rendezvous, and you and your mate can apply warm mud to each other in the privacy of your own couples suite. It’s a chance to be silly and flirty—and show off your artistic talents. Then rinse off in the private outdoor couples shower, slide between the sheets on the massage table, and prepare to be pampered. If you prefer to spa solo, we recommend the rejuvenating and moisturizing 90-minute Grove Head To Toe: a full-body Meyer lemon olive oil massage with lemon zest foot therapy and olive oil hair treatment. GOOD EATS: Auberge du Soleil was a restaurant first, founded in 1981 by famed French-born restaurateur Claude Rouas. Not surprisingly, the legacy of fine food and wine, much of it sourced from local farmers and purveyors in the surrounding valley, remains intact, thanks in large part to the efforts of head sommelier Kris Margerum and executive chef Robert Curry, whose skills come together to create a dining experience magnificent enough to please the taste buds of even the snootiest foodie. Dishes such as pan-seared foie gras with poached rhubarb and red wine strawberry jus, crispy skate wing with wild mushrooms and parsley coulis, and Liberty Farm duck with parsnip purée are only a handful of the culinary treasures. If you find the energy to leave your nest at Auberge, you simply must make the rounds at the local vineyards. If we may, we’d like to suggest braving the curvy, uphill road to the remote Cain Vineyard & Winery, producer of the amazing Cain Five, a blend of the five classical Bordeaux varietals grown on this picturesque mountain vineyard. Reservations are a must to take a tour with affable customer relations manager Luke McCloud, who graciously led us around, even though we burst in unannounced, just as the last tour group was departing. In Napa you’ll find a killer selection of wines at even the most unassuming establishments, like the super-fun Taylor’s Automatic Refresher, where the burgers, made from hormone-free California beef, have been elevated to regal status. A visit there demands an ahi burger, slathered with ginger wasabi mayo, a side of fries tossed in garlic butter and parsley, and an espresso bean shake.

How To Get There
American Airlines flies daily nonstop to the San Francisco and Oakland, and Sacramento airports. You will need to rent a car, and the hotel web site provides detailed driving directions.

Where To Stay
Auberge du Soleil
180 Rutherford Hill Rd.
Rutherford, CA 94573
Rates (through March 31): from $575 for maison rooms; from $1,000 for maison suites; from $3,000 for private maisons . April 1–June 30: from $700 for maison rooms; from $1,200 for maison suites; from $3,500 for private maisons

Where To Eat
Taylor’s Automatic Refresher

933 Main St.
St. Helena, CA 94574

Where To Visit
Cain Vineyard & Winery

3800 Langtry Rd.
St. Helena, CA 94574
Tastings Friday, Saturday, and Monday by appointment only. Reservations required.


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