Perhaps this should really be called “The Perfect 48 Hour Getaway”.
We recently headed up to the Napa Valley wine country just as early spring
was bursting out all over. Lush green land, dotted with pink blossomed
fruit trees under bright blue skies greeted us. At twilight, we made
it to Milliken Creek Inn and Spa. A fire was roaring and wicker or leather
chairs were arranged around the main room in a cozy and inviting manner,
all cradling plush palm tree motif pillows. A local vintner was pouring
his chardonnay and cabernets around a circular table brimming with cheeses,
breads and fruits. There we checked in and met the owners, Lisa Holt
and David Shapiro, the attractive young visionaries behind this alluring
inn. The Milliken Creek Inn, once a carriage inn, had seen many changes
in its more than 150 years, but David and Lisa have now brought it up
to highest standards. Twelve guest rooms in a palette of chocolate, olive
and white include fireplaces, Frette linens and L’Occitane amenities.
Decks circle the rooms, and breakfast includes house made quiches, pastries,
fresh fruits and juices.
On our first night, we dined at Budo on 1650
Soscol Avenue (707 224 2330). This handsome new restaurant, featuring
fresh California cuisine with touches of Asia, is outstanding and we
cannot recommend it enough. The bar is sleek and elegant, and the dining
room has the feel of a small modern cathedral, with high ceilings and
spacious table arrangements. I began my dinner with a “Crystal Persuasion” cocktail--
sparkling Napa wine poured over crystallized ginger—real charm!
The sophisticated menu reflects the thoughtfulness, the diversity and
the utter respect the chef-owners have for local produce.
The next morning, I had a Grape Seed Polish and
Massage at the beautiful and immaculate Spa. The Spa store has an amazing
array of products, including L’Occitane, Kai lotions and perfumes
(white blossom scent from the tropics), Eminence (from Hungary), and
the Sonoma Lavender Collection. I returned to our room very joyous
and relaxed, toting my Kai products.
We drove to the Hess Vineyard at 4411 Redwood Road (707 255 1144), especially
to see the amazing Hess Collection, which Swiss vintner Donald Hess has
been putting together for ten years. Among his collection are works by
Anselm Kiefer, Leopold Maler, Franz Gertsch, Francis Bacon and Frank
Stella. Of course we tasted the wine and came away with some good cabernet.
Our big dining night was The
French Laundry at 6640 Washington Street, Yountville, a town a few
miles up the road. Getting a reservation here is close to impossible,
so I will let our readers find the number on their own if the want
to choose this restaurant. Quite frankly, I was disappointed. It could
be that the restaurant was having an “off” night, but the room in which we sat was cramped,
unattractive and thoroughly undistinguished. The tables were so close
together we could scarcely believe we were in “the best restaurant
in America”. The food was plentiful and meticulously prepared—we
chose the vegetarian menu. Unfortunately we were seated under the stairway,
and when a server climbing the stairs dropped a wine glass and it shattered
all over me, the room became as silent as a tomb. The staff acted like
they were in shock, and reacted slowly and clumsily. They took all our
food and various glasses of wine away, and then did not think to replace
any of it. They finally brought me a dessert wine which they opened with
great flourish and many apologies. It was a bizarre culinary evening
to say the least.
The next day was reserved for shopping discoveries in magical St. Helena,
a few miles north of Yountville. I have to say that Footcandy at1239
Main Street (707 963 2040) is one of the most chic shoe stores I have
ever seen. You can find George Mang, Pucci, Blahnik, Choo, Alexandra
Neel, Louboutin, Brian Atwood, and Marc Jacobs among others. I found
a pair of Christian Lacroix sandals that I wore to a meeting in Los Angeles
the next day with the directrice of Lacroix, Marie Martinez. She had
not even seen the shoe yet! Also on Main Street is Reeds, selling upscale
cutting edge lines with Japanese and global sensibility, and Woodhouse
Chocolates, purveyor to Milliken Creek Inn.
Lisa from Milliken Creek Inn recommends spending
a day with George Stone of Napa Valley Chauffeurs. “Let him take you on a wine tour, including
lunch, at one of the more elite vinters in the valley,” she says.
(707 253 2029). I sure wish we had known about George during our 48 hours
in Napa! Nonetheless, a trip to Napa isn’t complete without a visit
to Vintner’s Collective, one of the best “cooperative” tasting
rooms, where you may find Dcubed, Patz and Hall and a host of other small
release, hard to get wines. This is a great place for the serious wine
collector. And one more tip---try to go in spring!
Milliken Creek Inn and Spa
1815 Silverado Trail
Napa, California 94558
707 255 1197