NAPA Good Food, Good Friends, and Great Wine A weekend in the Napa Valley By Jennifer Hagan “Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living” – Robert Mondavi, Harvests of Joy In Napa Valley, wine is more than just a beverage to complement your steak tartar or foie gras, much more than a drink to enjoy with friends and a nice Brie cheese. As in the famed wine regions of Italy and France, the wine in Northern California often flows more freely than water and is seen as a fundamental piece of everyday life. A day that goes by, absent of a glass of rich, aged Cab, is like a party without music. Wine is the very heart and soul of Napa: deeply rooted within the network of vines that twist and turn through the deep soils of the valley, like the veins that pulse the blood of life through our bodies. Only a 90-minute drive north of San Francisco, Napa is easily accessible for a weekend getaway. Within minutes of crossing the San Francisco Bay via the Golden Gate Bridge, the dramatic California coastline comes into view. The 101 curves dangerously along the cliffs, giving the driver a clear view of the brilliant blue waters crashing below. Slowly, the scenic drive transports its travelers from the bustle of the city to the calm of the countryside, where rolling hills reach as far as the eye can see, covered from one end to the next in old vines and tiny grapes. As a luxury destination, Napa Valley is home to some of America’s finest inns and resorts, often located in the towns of Yountville and St. Helena, rather than the town of Napa itself. Just minutes off the well-known Silverado Trail, lies Meadowood (www.meadowood.com), a vestige of lavishness and comfort, nestled among acres of green forest. The estate, a member of Relais and Chateaux (www.relaischateaux.com), is home to eighty-five suites, lodges and cottages – providing lodging options for parties of all types.