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Where Water Meets Wine at the Napa River Inn

September 2, 2016

Luxury reigns at the Napa River Inn, situated among the bustling renaissance of Downtown Napa’s Riverfront District. Their waterfront location within the Historic Napa Mill grants walkabout access to the neighborhood with specialty shops, gourmet restaurants and world-renowned wines all waiting to be uncorked.

In the 1990s the Napa River Inn was erected inside the Historic Napa Mill, with a focus on elements of the past and present. Today, local owner Harry Price, often credited as a key player in the revitalization of Downtown Napa, remains ever-committed to preserving the inherent charms of the Inn’s history, as he continues to evolve and enrich the hotel and its amenities to serve a modern day world.

We stayed in the Plaza Deluxe room, surrounded by riverfront gardens, and overlooking the Napa River. Luxury runs deep in this room with a wonderfully comfortable king-size bed, fireplace, serene river views and private balconies. And one of the best things about the Napa River Inn is that you don’t even have to get out of bed to enjoy your complimentary breakfast – they bring it to you! Sweetie Pies has been wowing visitors and locals for almost 15 years. Do not miss the Morning Bun – an unbelievably decadent warm cinnamon pastry that flakes apart in your hands. So, cozy up under the comforter; sit in your robe by the fireplace; and enjoy some coffee while watching the ducks alight on the Napa River.

Guests also enjoy easy access to more than 20 tasting rooms. Enjoy the sights on foot, by bicycle or simply slip into their Lexus house car for complimentary “driver hosted” jaunts in town. Relax and rejuvenate at The Spa at the Napa River Inn – they use all natural ingredients in their massage and skincare products from Napa Valley Organics. And the Inn is pet friendly providing customized blankets, gourmet dog bones and biscuits made from Napa Valley wines and you can even have a pet sitter. Now that’s pampering for you and your furry friend!

While in Napa, you’ll be astounded by all of the gastronomic delights. My preferred style of eating is tapas or farm to table where you can try numerous small plates with a focus on the freshest, local, in-season ingredients. We dined at the Atlas Social Club (http://www.atlassocialnapa.com), a lively Gastropub serving New American small plates in a rustic space with communal tables & modern flair. We tried the Paprika Marinated Octopus, with Olive Oil Braised Potato, Salsa Verde, and Arugula; the Ahi Tuna Crudo, with Preserved Kumquat, Pine-Nuts, and Fresh Horseradish; and the Jicama & Avocado Salad, with Quinoa, Sunflower Seeds, and Ras el Hanout Vinaigrette. Do NOT miss the Chef’s Crispy Fried Farm Egg, Bacon Jam – similar to a Scotch Egg but even more delicious.

The next night we headed up to the Yountville area and dined at the renowned Mustards Grill (www.mustardsgrill.com). It’s a wine country stalwart for upscale Californian-New American fare offered in low-key surrounds. Don’t miss the Three Greens, creamy Maytag Blue cheese and spiced pistachios; the Niman Ranch Barbecued Baby Back Ribs, apple-golden raisin slaw, cheddar-jalapeno corn stix; and the Lemon and Garlic Chicken, local vegetables, lemon vinaigrette.

We also fell in love with Zuzu (www.zuzunapa.com), a riverfront spot offering Spanish tapas & an eclectic wine list in relaxed surrounds. We tried the Scallop ceviche with radish, the Salted cod with truffle oil and crostini and the Arroz negro (paella with black rice and clams, mussels, shrimp, squid and fish) – all were amazing.

And of course the real reason anyone is in Napa – the wine tasting! Here is a list of my favorite wineries in Napa. Most are off the beaten path, small boutique style places that only make limited cases of their wine. The tasting rooms are cozy and often not crowded. The reason I love these places is you typically can’t get the wine outside of Napa Valley and you’ll rarely see it on restaurant menus. It’s a real treat to experience these wines and bring some home!

Del Dotto Caves Winery & Tasting Room (http://www.deldottovineyards.com)
I prefer the Atlas Peak location which has the traditional caves and cozier experience). Amazing and rich cabs, zinfandel, ports. The cave tour is absolutely worth it – you’ll get to taste wines that aren’t on the tasting menu and if it’s a small group you can customize your tasting. Appointment only.

Whetstone Wine Cellars (http://www.whetstonewinecellars.com) conveniently located next to Del Dotto. Lovely chardonnay and pinot noir in a castle-like tasting room.

Miner Family Wines (www.minerwines.com) Beautiful Chardonnay, Syrah and blends and fantastic views.

Plumpjack (http://www.plumpjackwinery.com) One of my favorite chardonnays, but also fantastic cabs and Syrah in a cozy tasting room.

Quintessa (https://www.quintessa.com) The wine is amazing – the tasting fee is $75 but it is worth every dollar. Stunning tasting room.

Hayne Vineyard/Chase Cellars (www.chasecellars.com; By appointment only). My favorite zinfandel in all of wine country! You can’t miss this place. Rocco will give you a personalized tour of the vineyard and you’ll get to see the “old gals” – ancient vines over 100 years old.

Submitted by Dr. Diane Hayden. For more information, visit: www.napariverinn.com.

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