CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY
Continued (page 5 of 13)
AUBERGE DU SOLEIL
180 Rutherford Hill Rd.
Tel: 707-963-1211, 800-348-5406
Auberge is the place for those who crave a taste of French country with snob appeal. A recent renovation has turned the interiors golden, with suites that include wet bars, large dressing areas and balconies. Weddings are held on an intimate, flower-filled veranda overlooking the valley vineyards. The formal dining area is just that—better to eat on the terrace in fine weather, with the possibility of a star sighting or two—but the semicircular bar is a cozy bet for a burger or pizza. The spa offers such local specialties as a Meyer lemon–olive oil massage and a rose petal–custard body mask. The facility is located far enough from the gorgeous outdoor pool, yoga pavilion and workout areas to assure serenity.
580 Lommel Rd.
Tel: 707-254-2800, 800-942-4220
The Napa Valley's newest luxury resort, this ranch is more like a Frank Lloyd Wright–inspired hideaway camp for royalty. Young men in golf carts whisk you to your room, which feels more like a country house. Most of the larger suites include a bedroom and a living room separated by a deck containing a private hot tub. The construction materials are high quality—slate in the bathrooms, beautiful wood in the outdoor showers and a subtle copper trim around the exterior eave that changes color with the weather. The spa's bathhouse has private outdoor tubs (filled with cabernet wine, mud, buttermilk, chocolate milk or fresh cucumber according to your taste). Weddings are held in an idyllic glen, and receptions can be hosted in a wine cave nearby.
THE CARNEROS INN
4048 Sonoma Highway
Here's the epitome of the new agro-chic resort, a mix of private houselike suites modeled on farmworkers' tin-roofed huts but with wood-burning fireplaces, private patios and Italian linens on the beds. The property is lush with fruit trees, flowers, lavender and rosemary, and the almost-Olympic-size chlorine and salt-water pool is the best in the valley. Indoor-outdoor spaces are fabulous when the weather is warm, but even when there is a chill, the outdoor fire pits (in some of the rooms) and showers keep things comfortable. Wedding-friendly, the Carneros Inn has several sites, among them an apple orchard, for your ceremony, and the banquet rooms echo the chic, clean design of the rooms. Each of the three restaurants here serves memorable meals.
EL DORADO HOTEL
405 1st St. West
Sonoma and Napa are very close geographically, but psychologically they are quite different. The Highway 29 part of Napa that is full of resorts, wineries, spas and world-famous restaurants is one way to go, but if you are more interested in quiet, quaint and comfy, then the town of Sonoma might be for you. The recently refurbished El Dorado Hotel has a modern country-chic style, with 27 simple accommodations (four of them bungalows near a small pool) and a large lobby connected to a cafe and the El Dorado Kitchen restaurant. When you walk out the hotel's front door you are right on Sonoma Plaza, across from a movie theater and within easy walking distance of restaurants, shopping and the historic Sonoma Mission.