WineCountry - The Insider's Resource

June 2004

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Chateau de Vie
Warm Mediterranean Country Spirit in Up Valley Napa
Family Friendly Fun in the Wine Country
Kid Tested Activities for Family Enjoyment – Part II
Wine Country Featured Destination
Sweetwater Spa & Inn and the Mendocino Village Inn
Wine Country Recipe
Fluffy French Toast from Blue Violet Inn B&B
Wine Country Featured Event
Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic 2004 Drawing!
Win a “Spoil Yourself WineCountry Package”!

From all of us at FreeRun - Thank you for using our sites!
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Discover Calistoga!
"The beautiful, unspoiled, romantic Napa Valley like it used to be."

Discover Calistoga!  The beautiful, unspoiled, romantic Napa Valley like it used to be.Just a short drive up the less traveled scenic Silverado Trail, awaits the historic town of Calistoga. Spend an active day of pursuing viticulture research (wine tasting), shopping, horseback riding, biking, hiking, ballooning, attending local events and one of a kind attractions such as the Old Faithful Geyser of California or the Petrified Forest. At the end of the day indulge yourself in great world class dining.

Relax and rejuvenate your body in the century's old, healing hot springs, mud bath or massage sure to heal the soul. Plan to stay at one of the fabulous resorts. To view the many places to stay and things to do click on

Calistoga is the perfect home-base for your wine country experience, centrally located in the beautiful Napa Valley and Sonoma wine country. The Calistoga area is unequaled, located just an hour and a half from San Francisco or Sacramento. For detailed information and maps of the area make sure you stop by our friendly Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center. Our office staff is always happy to help you plan your stay. For a free 66 page brochure about Calistoga send or visit

Come Discover Calistoga today at


"The Essential Link to Our Lifestyle"

Want to Know What The Locals Know 
About Visiting Wine Country?WINECOUNTRY is the authority on providing local and insider information along with key visitor information to the Wine Country. WINECOUNTRY is on the beat on where to eat, where to shop, where to stay, where to play, who's coming to town, what's hot, and just what's happening in Wine Country!

Published in a unique large format (12" x 20") in full, four-color print on high-gloss paper stock, WINECOUNTRY is designed for the reader who wants more than the usual visitor's guide -- one who's looking for "local" information of what's new and what's going on. As essential as a map, WINECOUNTRY is the ultimate tool for planning a trip like an insider instead of as a tourist. WINECOUNTRY is for travelers visiting for the first time, or for connoisseurs who visit throughout the year -- anyone who wants to stay abreast on what's new in Wine Country.

WINECOUNTRY will be published six times a year, with the premier issue launching July 1. Subscribe now and receive a "free" issue!


Hennessey House
"Napa's 1889 Queen Anne Victorian Bed and Breakfast"

Hennessey House - Napa's 1889 Queen Anne Victorian Bed and BreakfastWhen you want a peaceful place to relax, reflect and rejuvenate think of Hennessey House. Feel the joy of the colorful gardens surrounding the house. Unwind with a glass of wine by the trickling fountain.

Hennessey House is pristinely restored and maintained. Many of the guest rooms are featured in Tina Skinner's book, "Beautiful Bedrooms - Design Inspirations from the World's Leading Inns and Hotels". They offer the perfect elegant, soothing retreat. Rooms are appointed with European antiques, featherbeds, sherry, chocolates and some with fireplaces, spa tubs, skylights and private gardens.

Napa is famous for culinary pleasures as well as wine. At the inn you will savor a breakfast that has become a celebrated addition to that fame. In the evening enjoy complementary wine, hors d'oeuvres and pleasant conversation.

Hennessey House's location will enhance your Napa Experience. Stroll to historic Napa's restaurants, shops, theatres and COPIA. World-renowned wineries are just minutes away by car. Friendly innkeepers are always available to help you plan your activities. Before you arrive see Napa itineraries at our website.

For reservations or additional information call (707) 226-3774, visit our website, or mail us at

Chateau de Vie

Warm Mediterranean Country Spirit in Up Valley Napa

Chateau de VieI arrived just ahead of dusk on a warm spring evening.  The inn was easily located, and coming off the road I liked its unique facing as I approached, sited on an unusual angle to the road.  Character and personality were already showing.  Vineyards glowed with warm, soft colors in the slowly fading sunlight as I parked my car.

Soft music wafted through the garden and into the house as I entered.  I was greeted by a friendly guest sitting fireside in the spacious living room, a good start.  I called up to the main house, and one of the innkeepers, Peter, was right over to welcome me to the inn and show me my appealing room. I settled in quickly, as I couldn’t resist the urge to take the walk into the vineyards which Peter had suggested.  I renewed my spirit, enjoying the fading light on Mt. St. Helena and the surrounding hills as I wandered. 

I returned to enjoy a glass of excellent Merlot from a local artisan winery, and went out to the hot tub.  The tub sits at the side of rows of vines, private, and a spectacular sky glimmered above.  Music gurgled around me with the water.  After this serious relaxation, I returned to my room, recorded a few lines in the bedroom journal, and was ready to retire.

Chateau de VieJust after dawn, I woke to warm light filtered by the trees surrounding the house.  Sunlight re-intensified as it glowed on walls of toasty ginger spice.  I rose and looked out my bathroom window.  Vineyards, literally steps away, were filled with bright tones and sharp shadows along the rows.  A worker was carefully tending to the shoots of late spring, manicuring, tying the vines even at this early hour.

Charming recycled multi-paned windows offered graceful patterns with every view, which again was dominated by the awesome proximity of Mt. St. Helena. The Chateau was built in the 1980’s but feels like it is 100 years old thanks to the use of recycled materials and a floor plan reminiscent of a similar inn I stayed in years ago in Southern France.  It was specifically built to serve as a country inn, and it works so well for it.

Piping hot, rich coffee awaited me as I opened the door of my room into the expansive hallway.  As I came down the stairs, savory smells of breakfast preparations filled the stairwell and the great living room, several newspaper were available.  Telecommuters will be glad to know that a laptop is available for guests, along with a high-speed connection for those who carry their own, so I checked my e-mail too.

Chateau de VieThen I stepped out onto the expansive deck, where an elegant yet comfortable table awaited me.  Felipe is Chateau de Vie's proprietor, and his wonderful, caring service accompanied delicious muffins overflowing with fruit, fresh orange juice and finally the ultimate in a designed breakfast plate.  A piquant, tasty omelet full of delicious flavors accompanied lovely fruit…everything was perfectly arranged.  Eclectic sounds of a gurgling fountain and soft music ranging from opera to Tracy Chapman matched the tone set by the soft filtered morning light.

Offered instructions for a walking wine tasting tour, with my full stomach, I was ready.  I walked through vineyards to neighboring Bennett Lane Winery, where I enjoyed some wonderful wines before I had to check out and return to reality.

Chateau de Vie is located on Highway 128, at the peaceful top end of the attractive Up Valley area, just north of Calistoga…that really makes it Up-Up Valley.  What a great location, peaceful yet central to touring both the Napa and Sonoma areas.  Napa wineries are all within easy reach, and Calistoga offers the best wine country nightlife in the valley, if you want it.  A plethora of Northern Sonoma County wineries are merely a gorgeous 45-minute drive away.  The location is ideally suited for comprehensive wine country explorations, with a warm, rich and homey feeling welcoming you every evening as you return.

This property ably represents the newest breed of Napa, the kind that I love because it goes beyond the fancy chateau replicas and into something more real.  Chateau de Vie, the House of Life, feels older even though it is newer, and is hip without being pretentious. Peter and Felipe’s perfect partnership of hospitality, winemaking and contracting have transformed an already inspired vision into the perfect experience.  My only warning to you:  if you stay for only a night you may find yourself back for a week.  Either way, your spirit will enjoy!

Article submitted by Taylor Poff

Family Friendly Fun in the Wine Country

Kid Tested Activities for Family Enjoyment – Part II

Here is another set of kid-tested activities for family enjoyment in wine country.  (If you missed last month’s ideas, you can see them in the May 2004 WineCountry Lifestyle Online Newsletter.

Just east of Santa Rosa, Safari West offers “The Spirit of Africa in California Wine Country”.  A new giraffe was just born in April…new babies are born or hatched frequently.  A 2-1/2 hour adventure tour is led by a resident naturalist. Cruise around in an open-air safari vehicle for the first half, while the second part of the safari allows you to walk through the inner compound, where you'll encounter giraffes sticking their necks out for you, primates going ape over you, and birds in the open-air aviary winging over to see you!  Advance reservations required.

From May through September, Friday and Saturday evenings only, Safari West becomes a children’s paradise, featuring games, stories, visits with exotic animals and more.  These special Wild Child Nights are geared towards children ages 6-12. Programs for teenagers can also be arranged with advance notice.

An exclusive offer for overnight, tour or dinner guests, Wild Child Nights begin at 4:00pm on the lawn in front of the aviary.  Dinner is served at 6:30pm, followed by a fun group activity to round out the evening.  Parents are invited to join the kids, or make dinner reservations of your own and leave them in capable hands to enjoy this unique adventure on the Sonoma Serengeti.

You can get more information about Safari West by reading our January 2002 Newsletter Feature.

For more than 50 years, Charles Schulz Peanuts comic strip and its endearing characters have been a landmark in most any childhood.  The Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa offers an excellent opportunity to explore and enjoy.

You can find more information about the Schulz Museum by reading our September 2002 Newsletter Feature

The Schulz Museum is open every day except Tuesday.

County Fairs offer so many options for family fun. This year the Sonoma County Fair will be held from July 27 to August 9, and is a great place for family fun!  The fair includes horse racing, concerts, fireworks, great food, and fun activities for kids of all ages.

The fair theme this year is “There's Magic in the Fair!”, and the famous Hall of Flowers theme will be “Gardens of Camelot”.  Fair Hours are 10:00 am - 10:00 pm, the gates close at 9:00 pm.  More at:

The Napa County Annual Fair will be held July 1-4, and closes with fireworks on the holiday.  More information at: The Napa Town and Country Fair, with a "What's Cook'n?" theme, will be August 11-15. More information at:

The Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma is June 16-20.  The fair includes a Wine Competition, Technology Fair and nightly entertainment.  A one-price Fair ticket gives admission to the Fair itself, big-name entertainment AND unlimited rides on the big Carnival Midway, a great value for anyone.  A classic Destruction Derby held on Sunday is not included in the regular admission, but no doubt holds special appeal with the younger set, for just a few dollars more.  More information at

Another more rambunctious idea is the Northern California Paintball Park, located adjacent to the fairgrounds in Petaluma.  (707) 939-8550.

Finally, the Windsor Waterworks, which offers water slides and cool slippery fun for all, should also be mentioned.  This amusing activity is located at 8255 Conde Lane, just off the 101 freeway in the town of Windsor in northern Sonoma County, (707) 838-4195.

There is certainly a lot to keep youngsters of all ages busy in wine country.  Whatever you decide to do, enjoy!

Article submitted by Taylor Poff

Featured Sponsor
E-Postcards - Greetings From The Wine Country!

E-Postcards - Greetings From The Wine Country!
Do you find you can't stop reading email, even while on holiday in the Wine Country? Or perhaps you are a virtual visitor, planning for that glorious day you find yourself among the vines, discovering treasures in the cellars and tasting rooms! While online send a Wine Country e-postcard to friends and family! Visit E-Postcards and build a postcard from five beautiful photographs and your own personal message.

Now you won't return from vacation before your "Wish You Were Here" postcards arrive!

Wine Country Featured Destination

The Sweetwater Spa and Inn and the Mendocino Village Inn

Sweetwater Spa and Mendocino Village InnIf you are headed to Mendocino, the Sweetwater Spa and Inn and the Mendocino Village Inn can provide the perfect place to stay to complete the sense of relaxation and renewal that a trip to this extraordinary area provides. Though both properties share one owner, they are distinctly different in character. The Mendocino Village Inn is housed in a lovely 1882 Queen Anne Victorian building. The rooms are elegant and welcoming, many with fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs. Your stay includes an abundant breakfast, afternoon tea and cookies, and evening wine and cheese. Also included are free use of the spa and discounts on massage services.

Despite these enticements, I was drawn to the eclectic charm and distinctly Mendocino character of the Sweetwater property located right next door.   Though I arrived early for my reservation, I was greeted with great friendliness and shown to my cottage, the Garden Suite, which was spotlessly clean and had lovely fresh flowers on the kitchen table. There was a gas fireplace, well equipped small kitchen, and plenty of room for three. It would be ideal for a couple with a child, or a romantic weekend for two.

Because the Sweetwater Spa and Inn has such a wide variety of accommodations, it is well worth paying a visit to the Inn’s well organized web site. The choices include distinctive water tower suites, pet friendly cottages, and family style vacation rentals. There are all sorts of wonderful options. If you call the Inn their friendly staff is more than happy to help you make the right choice. I have already picked out the charming Summer Cottage for my next visit. With its own hot tub in a lovely private backyard, it is definitely a good choice for a romantic stay!

While you are at Sweetwater it would certainly be a shame not to slip on some flip flops and stroll over to the spa to use the hot tubs and sauna. From there you should certainly take time to experience the skills of the talented staff at the massage studio. The Sweetwater brochure will tell you that they maintain the premier professional massage staff of the North Coast, and I can certainly attest to that fact. The massage therapist I was lucky enough to work with was extraordinarily knowledgeable.

If you are looking for a truly relaxing, invigorating holiday, a stay at the Sweetwater Spa and Inn, and a visit to the glorious Mendocino coast make an unbeatable combination.

Article submitted by Claire Lewis


Wine Country Recipe

Blue Violet Mansion Fluffy Vanilla Cinnamon French Toast
with Bananas & Almonds

Recipe courtesy of the Blue Violet Mansion
According to Kathy and Bob Morris, their guests say that this French Toast is the best.....of any!!


  • 12 large California Fresh Eggs
  • 2 cups low fat milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 24 slices sourdough French bread (1/4 - 1" thick)
  • margarine
  • 12 large bananas
  • powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped

Serves 12

Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon until light and frothy. Dip bread slices in egg mixture and place on greased baking pan. Pour any leftover mixture over bread slices; cover and refrigerate overnight. Next day, saute bread in margarine on griddle until light brown and crispy. Slice bananas over top, sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with chopped almonds.


Wine Country Featured Events

July 3 - 4 -- 15th Annual Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic
This year's event all starts with the Balloon Classic at dawn on Saturday July 3rd, followed by the launch of about two dozen colorful hot air balloons around 6:30am.  Then Saturday night come back to Keiser Park at dusk for Windsor's free fireworks display! On Sunday the 4th we're back to the park at dawn for the Classic's second launch. Breakfast, Vendor Booths, Family Fun! Keiser Park: 700 Windsor River Road, Windsor
Fee: $8 Adults, $5 Ages 6-12, Under age 6 Free - Call for advance discounted ticket info!
Dawn Patrol: 5 AM, Launch: 6:30 AM Phone Number: 707-837-1884 Website:


For a complete calendar of events by region, visit: Gold Country, Mendocino, Monterey,
Napa Valley
, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma County, Temecula, Virginia Info Drawing:

Win a “Spoil Yourself WineCountry Package”!*

Experience the essence of relaxation to the infinite degree with a Mud or Mineral Bath with one hour Massage at Calistoga Oasis Spa for one person.  This spa specializes in giving quality spa treatments in a soothing and intimate atmosphere.  They focus on exceptional massage therapists and simple relaxation.

Afterwards, head over to Robert Mondavi Winery for a vineyard and winery tour and of course, WINE TASTING!


If that is not enough, The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) will certainly delight as you take a tour of the premises and watch two different live cooking demonstrations that will include the recipe and tasting of the dish demonstrated.  Then, sit down for a scrumptious gourmet meal at the Greystone Restaurant*located within the CIA.

(*some restrictions apply)

***No purchase necessary. Must be at least 21 years old to enter. Excludes alcohol & gratuity – not redeemable for cash . Calistoga Oasis Spa certificate expires 11/19/04. Only one entry per person permitted. Winner will be selected July 19, 2004 by random drawing. Winner will be notified by email. Employees of Freerun Technologies are ineligible. Void where prohibited by law.

Click here to enter this drawing! (Please note: If you are already subscribed to the newsletter, you are automatically entered in this drawing.)

The Winner of this Drawing will be announced on The Winner's Page after July 19. Info...

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