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by Erika Lenkert



What Is Love? Napa Valley


I've heard Eskimos have plenty of different words to describe the nuances of love. Although our language may not be quite as amorously adventurous, there's no shortage of meanings for the word for me, especially in the context of Wine Country. What about the world's great grape escapes makes my heart flutter most? Following are 10 of my favorite loves, Napa style. By the way, they're best when shared with someone who strikes your fancy.

A cottage at Calistoga Ranch. My favorite accommodations on earth, the freestanding luxury suites here are so fabulous they could make the Hatfields propose to the McCoys! (580 Lommel Rd., Calistoga, 707-254-2800, www.calistogaranch.com)

Coffee and pastry at Bouchon Bakery. Thomas Keller's sweet little dedication to French bread and pastry is a casual Yountville affair where you can order a beverage and a boxful of mini treats (think croissants, eclairs, and macaroons) at the counter and snuggle up and devour them outside at one of the gravel courtyard's tables. It's sweet surrender. (6540 Washington St., Yountville, 707-944-1565)

A cold bottle of wine and an alfresco lunch at Angele. There's nothing more seductive than tank-top weather , a fabulous bottle of crisp white, and the roast chicken with crispy potatoes, pancetta, and frisee salad with roasted garlic jus on the patio overlooking the Napa river. It's the perfect embodiment of the Napa dining love affair. (540 Main St., Napa, 707-252-8115, www.angelerestaurant.com)

A facial at Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort. Reserve the facial cottage on the quaint grounds of retro-funky Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs and you're in for a spectacularly relaxing and revitalizing experience. It's a gesture nothing short of self-love. (1507 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga, 707-942-4102,www.drwilkinson.com)

Dinner at Terra. The passion that chef Hiro Sone puts into his exceptional menu of culinary miracles (think heavenly rock shrimp salad, broiled sake-marinated cod with shrimp dumplings and shiso broth and medallions of venison with chanterelles, Yukon gold potatoes, and red wine sauce) practically leaps off the plate and the air at his St. Helena destination dining room. Finish the evening with his wife's tiramisu and you'll know what love truly is. (1345 Railroad Ave., St. Helena, 707-963-8931, www.terrarestaurant.com)

Dessert at Sweetie Pies. Drop in downtown Napa's hidden bakery for dark chocolate and caramel ganache fudge cake. It's edible amore that's so good you might not even want to share with the one you love. (520 Main St., Napa, 707-257-8817, www.sweetiepies.com)

A moonlight hot tub at Auberge du Soliel. As if the gigantic exclusive suites at this Rutherford hillside luxury resort weren't enough of an aphrodisiac! Slip into one of their spa pools overlooking the valley's evening lights and it won't just be the water that's feeling hot. (180 Rutherford Hill Rd., Rutherford, 800-348-5406, www.aubergedusoleil.com)

A movie at St. Helena's Cameo Cinema. I'll admit it; I have a thing for small-town charm and this renovated historic theater is oozing with it, which only makes a good movie and bucket of popcorn that much more of a cozy indulgence. (1340 Main St, St Helena, 707) 963-9779, www.cameocinema.com)

A concert at the Napa Valley Opera House. I continually marvel at how the ability to snag great tickets to shows at this intimate downtown Napa venue –especially considering the talent. See someone like Winton Marsalis bring the house down acoustic style and feel your heart melt at the goodness of the world. (1030 Main St., Napa, 707-22-OPERA, 707-226-7372, www.nvoh.org)