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Napa Valley Elegance and Privacy Minus the Extravagance

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When I think of Napa Valley, the first images that come to mind are endless hills of vines, tasting rooms that seem to all look alike, limos full of inebriated yuppies, and tourists buying expensive artwork and furnishings. However, I recently learned that elegance and privacy can be found in Napa at a resort located off the gorgeous Silverado Trail in St. Helena. 


I spent the post-holiday weekend with my husband at Meadowood Napa Valley to get out of the city and unwind from the Christmas party circuit. Situated eighteen miles north of Napa, the resort felt far enough removed to escape the wine country tourist-based culture, but close enough that day trips for wine tasting, biking, and shopping would be easy. I was relieved to find the resort is quiet and unassuming, unlike the hotels in Yountville or Sonoma that seem to try too hard to win attention. 


Meadowood’s grounds are massive—there are 250 acres of beautiful oak and redwood trees, with cottages and walking trails spread throughout the property. Our room was luxurious but somewhat personality-less, and we mainly wanted to spend time sitting beside the fire reading magazines. The suite’s French doors opened onto a cozy, covered porch that looked out over the wooded hillside. I imagined myself in a rocking chair beside my husband sipping wine during a summer sunset.


It seemed impossible that anyone—even my A.D.D. self—could get bored on the property: there are two heated outdoor swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, tennis courts, a croquet court (with a croquet pro), a nine-hole golf course, hiking trails and a health spa that includes a gym. No wonder the bell man said they have groups that often stay for weeks at a time.


We checked out the main lodge that houses two dining rooms: The Restaurant at Meadowood for fancy dining and The Grill for more casual dining. For our first dinner we chose The Restaurant, one of just five Northern California restaurants that earned two stars from the Michelin Guide. A roaring fireplace welcomed us into the intimate setting with just fifteen tables, dim lighting, no music, and very little décor. What it lacked in ambience it made up for in extraordinary service; truly, it rivaled the service at some of the finest restaurants I’ve been to in all of California. The chef, Christopher Kostow, prepared creative and healthy dishes using locally grown vegetables, and considered how each would pair with the best wines. It was the first time I’d been offered only two menu choices: we could choose either the four-course menu or the ten-course tasting menu. We opted for four and enjoyed mushroom tea, sweet potato agnolotti, suckling Berkshire pig, monkfish with lime and crayfish, and a perfectly moist chocolate soufflé.


After waking up late, we ate a bland breakfast in The Grill, then headed to the Spa for deep tissue massages. Again, the service was outstanding but the cleanliness of the tiny locker room seemed forgotten. To exit the Spa, we walked past the tennis courts and Jacuzzi, promising each other we’d come back when it wasn’t 36 degrees outside.

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