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Wine Country Vacation Rentals
Unique Lodging Accommodations in the Wine Country
Vacation rentals offer accommodations far removed from ordinary lodging options. Often times couples are looking for a place where the comforts of home exist, but also seek unique amenities that pamper and refresh. One is forced to relax when the choices available include a soak in a hot tub while gazing at the stars, sitting in the sun with a good book surrounded by hillside vineyard views, or cuddling next to an open fireplace after a long day of sightseeing and wine tasting. Vacation rentals offer private accommodations, allowing couples to completely relax and enjoy each other, and their vacation. This month the WineCountry.com editorial staff features luxurious vacation rentals from three separate Wine Country regions.
The Wine Country Teahouse, in the Sonoma Valley, is the closest thing to staying in Japan without the long plane flight to get there. The owner, who lived in Japan for 10 years, brought back two carpenters to construct this authentic "ryokan". Tatami mats cover the floor of the spacious central room where the visitor sleeps on a traditional futon. In addition to the kitchen, the teahouse includes a traditional bath–a shower for bathing and stone tub, with view of the pond and garden, for soaking. Close the shoji screens for seclusion, or slide them open for panoramic views of the garden. The attention to beauty and detail throughout are astounding!
Included are a host of amenities. There is a separate outdoor hot tub and large swimming pool. A self-service breakfast, complimentary wine, cheese, fruit and chocolate, a large basket of bathroom amenities, sound system, and satellite TV are a few of the others. You can even order an in-room Amma Shiatsu massage. For truly "getting away" and a genuine sense of tranquility, the Wine Country Teahouse is hard to beat.
In Napa Valley Wine Country, visit the luxury villa Hacienda Guest House. The Hacienda is ideal for couples looking for privacy and romance, with the convenience of many Wine Country attractions only a short drive away. Set atop a hill just outside the town of Calistoga, on a private gated property with magnificent views, this inviting Hacienda gives travelers a very unique experience. Every inch of this Spanish villa is beautifully decorated in fine detail by owner Leigh Milleur. By October 2003, the Hacienda will also include a second bedroom, "the Soleil Room." The Hacienda offers a full kitchen, cable TV & CD player, fireplace, spa, and a large beautifully tiled bathroom. There are outside speakers so you can enjoy your choice of music during morning brunch on the deck, or perhaps soft music for a champagne toast at sunset.
In the Monterey Wine Country region, Pajaro Dunes on Monterey Bay offers a unique vacation setting. With miles of pristine beaches bordering the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Pajaro Dunes on Monterey Bay invites you to experience this relaxing environment in accommodations which will suit your style. Pajaro Dunes offers magnificent, fully-furnished oceanfront vacation homes, townhouses and ocean view condominiums. Choose from dozens of homes, with one to five bedrooms, and a variety of luxurious amenities.
Pajaro Dunes also offers private meeting rooms; the perfect setting to get away and get down to business. Also available are 19 tennis courts, nearby championship golf, and all the attractions of the beautiful Monterey Bay.
Be sure to check back next month for more recommendations from the WineCountry.com editorial staff! To see additional vacation rental options in these Wine Country areas, visit the WineCountry.com portals linked below.
A Perfect Day In Petaluma
An Insider's Visit to a Historic Wine Country Destination
Petaluma has been described as the Gateway to the Central / Northern Sonoma County Wine Country, a designation that will become even more accurate in the future as more of the recently planted vineyards come into production. Petaluma today might better be described as a blending of a Marin-like sensibility with a farming tradition that dates back for many generations.
This is especially seen in the historic downtown area. Spared from the brunt of the 1906 earthquake, downtown Petaluma hosts a unique collection of 19th century iron work fronted buildings surrounded by tree-lined blocks of Victorian, Queen Elizabeth, Craftsmen and Spanish Stucco styled homes. And while the downtown area boast many trendy shops and restaurants, a main community event is the famous Butter & Eggs Day parade, a pleasant reminder of Petaluma’s agricultural past.
Petaluma assuredly warrants a visit, either as a day trip destination or as a stop to or from the Wine Country further north. WineCountry.com has asked one of our editorial staff who has lived in Petaluma for the past several years to describe a Perfect Petaluma Day.
Morning: "We like to start the day with a good Brunch. Among our favorites are the smoked salmon eggs benedict at the Tea Room Café, the steamed eggs at Aram’s Café, or Pork Chops and Eggs, served with a large portion of home-fries at Marvin’s on the Boulevard."
Midday: "Any combination of the following will contribute to the perfect day. Downtown shopping at the numerous antiques, specialty, book stores and art galleries. Start at Vintage Bank Antiques (an old converted bank housing several dealers) and work your way from there. We’d suggest including a stop at one of the coffee houses as well.
"For a nature outing, visit Shollenberger Park — 165-acre protected wetland’s park, home to several species of birds, and featuring a two-mile circular trail suitable for hiking or jogging. Another favorite is Helen Putnam Regional Park -- 216 acres with trails winding through the hills and offering panoramic views of southern Sonoma County and northern Marin County.
"Keller Estate Winery and Vineyards offers wine tasting by appointment only, and produce an extraordinary Chardonnay that is a particularly fine accompaniment with food."
Evening: "Our favorite dining includes the Twisted Vines Wine Bar and Bistro, where after ordering your food, you select a bottle of wine from one of the many cases stacked against the wall; Le Bistro Café, an intimate restaurant whose owner/chef is renowned for his careful and tasty preparation; Hiro’s, arguably the best Japanese restaurant in the North Bay; and JellyFish (at the Sheraton Petaluma Hotel), which overlooks the Petaluma Marina and above mentioned wetlands and offers an uncommonly exquisite dining experience.
"For after dinner entertainment check out the Mystic Theatre, an ideal venue for excellent music, though you may need to book in advance."
The Butter and Egg Days Parade will be held at noon, April 26, in the Historic Downtown Petaluma.
Calistoga Inn Restaurant & BreweryThe Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery is conveniently located on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Calistoga. This is an excellent destination for a weekend brunch, lunch or dinner!
A family-owned business, a mother and son team; "Rosie" and Michael Dunsford, Jr. along with the charming hostess, Sarah Dunsford (Michael’s wife). Perhaps you remember Rosie who was the founder and principle owner of the popular "Rosie's Café" at Lake Tahoe. Now in Calistoga, they are known for their holiday meals and special dinners (which can accommodate groups of up to 70 people).
A WineCountry.com staff member recently met a friend on the outside patio for a Spring lunch. Here is what she had to say about their dining experience.
The seating on the outside garden patio along the Napa River is quite pleasant, especially on a lovely spring day. Calistoga Inn is a long time favorite of the locals and tourists alike. We were told there was no dress code here, allowing you to dine in elegance from shorts to tuxedos.
An entrée of grilled Salmon served with a tomatillo salsa, mashed potatoes and asparagus was scrumptious. For those with a lighter appetite for lunch, it’s recommended to have the flavorful "Luncheon Salad" – a Chinese Chicken salad with grilled chicken breast with local field greens and a delicious sesame-soy dressing on the side. Calistoga Inn is known for their great seafood and steaks cooked over an oakwood grill , giving the food a fabulous taste. Their breads and flavorful deserts are homemade daily.
Looking for a place to stay? The Calistoga Inn, Restaurant & Brewery, has 18 turn-of- the-century comfortable rooms available and are reasonably priced.
For more information on the Calistoga Inn, Restaurant & Brewery visit their website at www.calistogainn.com. Be sure to check next month's edition of WineCountry Lifestyle Online for our May 2003 Dining Recommendation.
Wine Country Recipe
Zinfandel Port with Warm Chocolate Cakes
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Put the chocolate in a small bowl, pour the butter on top and stir until smooth.
3. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar at medium speed until thick and pale. Beat in the flour; then add the chocolate mixture. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins. Bake in the center of the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes begin to crack.
4. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute. Run a thin knife around the sides of the cakes to loosen them, then cover each ramekin with an inverted dessert plate. Turn them over, let stand for a few seconds and then remove the ramekins. Serve the cakes immediately with a dollop of whipped cream.
Wine Tasting Recommendation
Merryvale Vineyards in St. Helena
Merryvale Vineyards found their historic and picturesque home in 1983 on Main Street St. Helena. It was the first winery built in the Napa Valley following prohibition. Great care has been taken to preserve the charm and warmth of yesteryear while completely refurbishing the historic winery with state-of-the-art winemaking equipment.
While touring the Napa Valley, you must visit the Merryvale Vineyards tasting room! This beautiful winery is dramatic, historic, inviting, and full of excellent award-winning wines! Choose from three levels of tasting from $4.00 per person for their "Classic" collection, to $12.00 per person for the "Prestige" wines. Prestige wines include a new brand new release, the 2000 Silhouette Napa Valley Chardonnay, and the 1999 Profile, Napa Valley, which received 93 points from Wine Spectator. Merryvale wines are handcrafted wines that are rich, flavorful, complex and elegant. Tasting room hours are 10:00 am – 6:30 pm daily.
Ongoing weekend seminars are also available for your enjoyment. The Wine Component Tasting seminar, recommended by Sunset Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle, includes a tour of the winery and moves into the renowned "Cask Room" focusing on wine and its essential components. Learn how the components blend together to create balance - in an entertaining and educational experience. To learn more about this and other ongoing seminars, visit their website: Merryvale seminars,
historic Cask Room is one of Napa Valley's most enchanting settings
Be sure to try Merryvale wines in their beautiful tasting room, and explore the gift shop full of unique foods and special wine themed gifts. Visit Merryvale online at www.merryvale.com
Be sure to check out next month's edition of WineCountry Lifestyle as we continue to explore wineries thoughout the Wine Country regions!
Wine Country Lodging Recommendation
Napa River Inn
Time to check out downtown Napa!
Like few other places in America, the Wine Country of Northern California seems to have turned back the clock to a simpler time. With farmers' markets scattered throughout the region, barber poles on every Main Street, and most downtown businesses closed by 6pm, we were surprised when our editorial staff kept hearing that Downtown Napa was the up and coming place to be. We decided to take a look for ourselves. The goal was to pick a hotel as close to the action as possible……and not have to move the car for at least a day. The Napa River Inn met our criteria perfectly!
On an early Spring Saturday afternoon we pulled our car up to the door of the property, and were warmly greeted by the desk clerk in the nicely appointed and welcoming lobby. We were told our room was just steps away in the Embarcadero building which overlooks the Napa River and that we could choose to have breakfast delivered to our door the next morning so we could enjoy it in bed. We were also given tasting tickets for the Hatt Market wine tasting bar which was located right next door. We wanted to settle into our accommodations before taking a stroll around downtown, and upon opening the door to our room we were very delighted.
Walking into the room we are immediately struck by the elegant furnishings and warm wood paneling. The Napa River Inn is designed and built with the utmost attention to every detail. The rooms have a historic feel in keeping with the buildings' surroundings, but also offer all the modern amenities discerning travelers have come to expect. All rooms feature color TV and two line-data and voice ports, refrigerators and terry robes. The bathrooms have ample space and the selection of grapeseed-oil based Napa Valley Spa Products are a nice touch. Although it would have been nice to experience a room with a balcony, our room still offered a peaceful view of the meandering Napa River and was walking distance to several excellent dining choices (which we will tell you more about in an upcoming issue).
The Napa River Inn is a full-service, luxury hotel
located in downtown Napa. Featuring its own onsite spa, plus
a Gourmet market, this establishment is ideal for the Wine Country
traveler seeking luxury in a premier location. From the historic
rooms to the contemporary-designed accommodations, every room
is detailed to pamper you with amenities and comfort that will
make your stay a visit to remember.
Events for April
Notable Wine Country Events:
12 -- Pick of the Vine –
April 13 -- Wine
and Art Festival at Chateau Julien – Monterey County
April 19 -- Santa
Cruz Mountains Winegrowers' Association Passport Program
April 28 -- Yountville
Epicurean Affair at Vintage 1870 in the Napa Valley
April 26 -- Santa
Barbara Futures Tasting
Wine Country Getaway Adventure!
Spend a weekend in the Wine Country ….
Win a ‘Sip N' Cycle Tour’ for two from Getaway Adventures! Spend the day on a guided bike tour through Calistoga’s beautiful quiet country roads, stopping to taste fine wine at five extraordinary wineries along the way! Dine at the award-winning, Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant with your gift certificate valued at $100. Winner will also receive a Napa Valley Expedition Guide, complete with audio tour and guidebook with CD-Rom.
Visit Getaway Adventures at: www.getawayadventures.com
***No purchase necessary.
To participate you must be 21 years of age or older. Only one
entry per person permitted. Prize is same as cash, FreeRun Technologies,
Inc/WineCountry.com is not responsible if lost or stolen. Winner
will be selected by random drawing and will be contacted via
email. Winner must claim prize within 10 days of email notification.
Winner name and state of residence will be announced in a future
issue of WineCountry.com Lifestyle Online newsletter. Employees
of FreeRun Technologies are ineligible. Void where prohibited.
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