Sophisticated Resorts in California's Wine Country

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Lauren K. Hurley
California Meetings + Events
Issue: 
Summer 2011

California’s ideal climate and lush landscape are perfect for growing grapes-and satisfying diverse tastes. While Napa and Sonoma may be known throughout the world for their vineyards, central and southern California are home to some lesser-known gems.

Treat your guests to wine tours, tastings, education classes, unmatched dining experiences and outdoor adventures by visiting these sophisticated resorts in the heart of California’s wine country.

KENWOOD INN & SPA | SONOMA Kenwood Inn & Spa

Guests visiting the Kenwood Inn & Spa will be treated to the finest wine country experiences California has to offer. The property’s staff will help you build a custom itinerary of tours from wineries for garden lovers and architecturally grand wineries to historic wineries and estates that make the best Pinot Noir, for example. 

When not in the tasting rooms, guests can enjoy nearby activities like golf, horseback riding, hiking, cycling, hot-air ballooning and racecar driving. Less exuberant guests can visit the Sonoma Plaza for shopping, art galleries and antique shops. 

Voted one of the Top 25 Spas in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Poll, April 2010, the property’s spa will pamper guests with its oxygen facials, massages and the Kenwood Wine Wrap featuring a luscious combination of clays, red wine extract, rosemary hydrosol and essential oils.

Treat guests to a quintessential California dining experience at the Inn’s restaurant, showcasing ingredients from local farmers, ranchers, cheesemakers and fisherman, along with the seasonal fruit and herbs grown right on the property. 

Private guestroom entrances lead into each of the only twenty-nine secluded rooms and suites creating a private, exclusive atmosphere.

South Coast Winery Resort & SpaSOUTH COAST WINERY RESORT & SPA | Temecula

About an hour’s drive from Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County, is Temecula’s South Coast Winery Resort & Spa where guests can enjoy tours and tastings on its working winery, which received Wine Spectator magazine’s 2010 Award of Excellence, and then retreat to one of its luxurious villas, complete with fireplace, soaking spa tub and private terrace tucked away in the vineyards.

Behind-the-scenes walking tours of the vineyards and crush pads culminate with a plated wine and cheese pairing, giving guests a peak at the state-of-the-art winery and its 38 acres of vines. The casually elegant California vibe is echoed in the resort’s Vineyard Rose restaurant which features a Mediterranean-inspired menu with Tuscan influence, a dining room with open wood beams, and a romantic terrace with vineyard views.

"Red lovers and aficionados enjoy the 2007 South Coast Winery Wild Horse Peak Mountain Vineyard Sangiovese," says Crystal Magon, director of sales and marketing. "Sparkling wine lovers are cheering on South Coast Winery’s NV Blanc de Noir, and the 2009 South Coast Winery GVR ." 

For an incredible splurge after wine tasting, book your guests some time at the GrapeSeed Spa with treatments like a Multi-Vitamin Facial, Honey-Lemongrass Revitalizing Ritual and Raindrop Technique massage followed by a poolside lunch.

Fess Parker Wine Country Inn & SpaFESS PARKER WINE COUNTRY INN & SPA | Los Olivos

Also tucked away in Santa Barbara’s wine country is the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn & Spa with its award-winning vineyard offering tours, tastings and education classes in its BiN 2860 International Wine Shop. The estate’s Rodney Vineyard, named in honor of Fess’s late son-in-law, surrounds the winery with its 118 acres of vines and has produced several award-winning Syrah and Viognier bottlings. 

"As a wine country we pride ourselves in ‘diversity perfected,’ " says executive administrator of the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association, Fran Clow. "Due to our varied microclimates (ocean/cool and hot/dry weather influenced by the geographic anomaly of transverse mountains) and soil variations, we have many varietals perfected and being perfected." 

After sampling Fess Parker’s distinctive varietals, guests can enjoy a Phytomer Signature Spa Facial or a Vino Therapy full body massage in the Champagne Spa & Boutique before retiring to one of the Inn’s quaint, country-style guest rooms. 

The property’s Petros Los Olivos restaurant by Petros Benekos, whose Manhattan Beach location continues to receive accolades from critics and local foodies, offers California-Hellenic cuisine highlighting classic Greek dishes and Mediterranean ingredients with a modern twist.

The Meritage Resort and SpaTHE MERITAGE RESORT AND SPA | Napa

Set against rolling hills with its own private vineyards, The Meritage boasts an impressive feature with its Estate Wine Cave built with artisan stone, tile, and woodwork, which includes the Entertainment Cave and the Trinitas Tasting Room where guests can sample Trinitas Cellars’ latest releases, as well as the only underground spa in California’s wine country, the Spa Terra. 

The award-winning Siena restaurant offers guests a chance to taste decadent farm-to-table menus created with seasonal and sustainable ingredients from the region. After dinner, head over to the Meritage Bar for a nightcap with one of the bar's signature cocktails or choose from the extensive local wine list. 

From shopping in downtown Napa to cooking classes at the nearby Culinary Institute of America, there is plenty to explore in the area, and the resort’s team is happy to offer itineraries and suggestions of walking tours and tastings of Napa’s finest wineries. 

Golf enthusiasts will have their pick from the abundant courses in the area, and others will love visiting the outdoor Oxbow Market, the many local museums, or even a wine country helicopter tour. Nature-lovers will appreciate a trip to Old Faithful Geyser, one of only three regularly erupting geysers in the world, or a visit to the nearby Petrified Forest, formed three million years ago when Mount St. Helena exploded in a volcanic eruption.

Hadsten House Inn & SpaHADSTEN HOUSE INN & SPA | Solvang

Nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara’s wine country is the European village of Solvang and the Hadsten House Inn & Spa featuring a sleek, sophisticated style and upscale amenities. All guest rooms include a fireplace, classic French furnishings and flat-screen HD TVs. 

The property's restaurant offers classic California wine country cuisine in a modern, European ambiance with black and white décor, rich leather seating, ornamental wood and sophisticated design details. As an added bonus, "a full breakfast buffet is included in all stays helping to reduce costs for small groups," says General Manager Bill Phelps. "Plus we have a complimentary daily wine and cheese reception, giving small groups a nice way to wind down after a meeting at no cost to the group." Guests should check out nearby Foley Winery which has an outstanding Ste Rita Hills Pinot Noir, says Phelps, while Chardonnay enthusiasts will love the local Lincourt Winery.

When not in meetings, the Inn’s Haven Day Spa will treat guests with services like its detoxifying seaweed body wrap, grapeseed mud wrap, or peppermint and rosemary salt glow. Guests can also spend some time checking out the village of Solvang and its antique shops, Chumash casino, cycling tours, golf, horseback riding, and scenic glider rides taking off from the Santa Ynez Airport, located just 10 minutes away.

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