From January through March, visits to Napa Valley become quieter and more intimate. All of the area’s favorite spots and wineries are still accessible, but because of the cooler temperatures, winter and early spring, boast fewer crowds and a more relaxed getaway experience.
If you love the outdoors, the weather can be perfect for viewing the gorgeous surroundings on a hike without getting too hot. If staying inside is more your speed, there are scores of restaurants to delight your palate, as well as endless shopping destinations and entertainment venues to explore.
And, of course, it’s still a perfect time to indulge in the delicacies that make the region famous: wine! Cabernet season continues thru spring, and there are countless wine tasting rooms to visit during your stay. Since the crowds are thinner this time of year, many visitors have the opportunity for more personal services and better access to tours of the region’s unique wineries.
Over the years, I’ve experienced all of these wonders during trips to Napa Valley. Take a peek at one of the amazing places I stayed recently, and the local wineries I visited for impressive caviar pairings.
Solage, an Auberge Resort & Spa in Calistoga
Solage Resort is centered around Calistoga’s famous bubbling natural hot springs and known for luxurious, elegant details. Solage, part of the Auberge Resorts Collection and situated at the north end of the valley in Calistoga, is a plush hotel destination for the modern traveler looking to relax.
The resort offers a breadth of amenities and activities to enjoy, from fitness classes to hiking trails to a beautiful outdoor pool, as well as outdoor fireplaces, bocce ball courts and, of course, wine tastings.
After arriving at Solage Resort, I was greeted with a glass of white wine by their friendly team, checked in and got situated in my spacious studio. All of the resort’s studios are housed in bungalows located throughout the property, giving each room an individualized and “home away from home” feel. My studio was outfitted in modern and earth-toned décor that gave the room a clean and sophisticated appeal. It also included a gas fireplace, pebbled shower, outdoor patio and cruiser bicycles that guests are free to use to roam the resort grounds.One of my very favorite parts of Solage is its award-winning 20,000 square foot spa. Spa Solage is one of the most impressive and indulgent aspects of the resort, offering guests the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate with a variety of luxurious treatments, (hot stone massages and mudslide are very popular in winter) a geothermal bathhouse and a yoga and wellness studio.
When temperatures drop, the Bathhouse’s mineral pools warm you up after a day of exploring downtown Calistoga. The pools are inspired by the region’s own natural hot springs that helped make Calistoga famous. Dining at Solbar
After a full day of relaxing at Spa Solage, it was time for dinner at Solbar, the resort’s restaurant. The relaxed vibe of the restaurant matches the calming atmosphere of the resort itself and is the perfect place to grab drinks with friends or your significant other.Although I’m a wine girl, I began dinner with a refreshing Barbarossa Cocktail created by Solbar restaurant’s Carly Hiebert with charbay grapefruit vodka, alessio vino chinato, applejack, a touch of lemon juice, homemade simple syrup, and Q tonic. Starters included a little gem garden salad and chips & dip with onion crème fraiche and California caviar served with potato chips. For the main course, I ordered their Fairytale Pumpkin Agnolotti with trumpet mushrooms, roasted fennel brown butter and sage. All delicious choices made easy with the help of my knowledgeable server.
Solbar offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor terrace is sprinkled with heat lamps to keep you warm under the glow of cafe lights and an outdoor fireplace with a calming water feature, makes for a dreamy ambience. The indoor seating area features massive windows providing gorgeous views of the mountains, but no matter where you sit and what you order, you’re sure to have a delightful time.
Caviar Dreams in Napa Valley
Outside of my relaxing and wonderful experiences at Solage, I made a point to try a few new experiences that included more caviar and wine pairings at three different Napa Valley wineries.
Davies Vineyards, St. Helena
The first pairing I experienced on this trip was a delightful Bubbles & Caviar Brunch at Davies Vineyards in St. Helena, Napa Valley. This tasting offers LOTS of bubbles and starts off with two of their Schramsberg Chardonnay-based sparkling wines served with Black River Caviar. It is served with their classic accoutrements to highlight the flavors sensation of the caviar and crisp sparkling wines.
Davies Vineyards follows that up with a pairing of two of their Pinot Noir based sparkling wines with locally made mushroom and Gruyere quiche. This tasting finishes off with pairing two of their Schramsberg rosé sparkling wines with salmon, locally smoked in Napa. “Caviar is a delicacy and we are always excited to show guests of Davies Vineyard how to best pair caviar with food and sparkling wines. This experience offers generous brunch bites and pours of bubbly – making it memorable, fabulous and unique,” said Carissa Ashman, Director of Marketing for Black River Caviar.
Cost: $130 per person. Reservations required.
Domaine Carneros, Napa
Yet another delicious caviar tasting was at Domaine Carneros. This winery is known for its sweeping Carneros vineyard views as well as hand-crafted sparkling wines and Pinot Noir. The winery features a breathtaking 18th century château-style building architecturally inspired by the historic Château de la Marquetterie owned by Champagne Taittinger in the Champagne region of France. Guests of Domaine Carneros can relax and enjoy food and wine tasting experiences presented through table service.
I was fortunate enough to indulge in their Ultimate Chips & Dip tasting. This tasting features three of the estate’s most highly treasured wines, paired with three servings of delicious artisanal caviar from Bay Area’s Tsar Nicoulai Caviar. The addition of gourmet potato chips, toast points and crème fraiche put regular chips and dip to shame!
Cost: $350 per couple. One week advance booking required.
Artesa Winery, Napa
Last but not least – the Aromatic Tasting with Caviar at Artesa Winery. Here, I enjoyed a flight of sparkling, white and rosé wines, beautifully presented with the pairing of Tsar Nicoulai American White Sturgeon caviar. This tasting is one of Artesa’s most luxe offerings. “The ambience of the Grand Salon Lounge offers itself wonderfully to complement the entire experience. With a clean and modern decor, the Grand Salon Lounge looks out to our Terrace featuring a view spanning to the San Pablo Bay – an idyllic location for our Aromatic Tasting with Caviar,” said Nichole Peterson, Artesa Marketing Manager.
Cost: $75 per person. Reservations required.
Visiting Napa Valley is always a treat for me—I love the rolling hills, blooming vineyards and countless new experiences to try. However, visiting Wine Country in the winter gave me a special appreciation for the area. The quieter, more intimate settings take experiences to a new level, and the cooler temperatures make spa visits and comfort amenities so much more inviting.
There are so many things to try here that it’s impossible to fit them all into a single visit, making each trip to Napa Valley different from the last. I look forward to my next visit in Spring.
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