One cute night in St. Helena
Home-made granola tied up in a package as a welcome gift. An in-room fireplace with real wood logs to burn. A board-game hidden under the bed. A nightly wine tasting with heavy appetizers. A CD player with jazz music at the ready. A free shuttle service to dinner in downtown St. Helena. Thick blue robes. Plush white bath towels. Pastel decor. What more could you ask for?
Dave and I just returned from a wonderful overnight getaway to St. Helena in Napa Valley, in which we encountered all of the lovelies mentioned above.
We stayed at the Wine Country Inn, a bed and breakfast we found via bedandbreakfast.com. My very generous older brother gave Dave and I a gift certificate to bedandbreakfast.com for Christmas and this was our chance to redeem it. I had never heard of the site before and think it’s such a great gift for a couple who likes to travel. Great job, brother.
Back to the Inn.
The Wine Country Inn is adorable. It’s quaint, small, intimate and very comfortable. There were so many little touches that made it extra special, completely over-and-above a regular hotel experience. In addition to a tour upon arrival from the front desk agent, there were endless complimentary items around. Coffee, tea and cookies during the day. Wine and nibblies in the afternoon. And of course, a full breakfast.
Perhaps the following photos will paint a picture of the adorable-ness of the Wine Country Inn.
The lobby, upon arrival …
Our room …
And that delicious Inn-made granola, which I sampled during breakfast …
And did I mention my hair is dark brown now?
A handsome fellow, who just happens to match the decor of the room …
You get the point.
Shortly after arriving at the Inn, Dave and I dropped our bags and set out on foot to the closest winery, Freemark Abbey. As guests of Wine Country Inn, we were given a complimentary tasting and tried about eight or nine wines, spanning Sauvignon Blanc to Petite Syrah.
The sommelier was friendly and told us that the large wine company Kendall-Jackson actually owns Freemark. It had more of a boutique feel, so I was surprised to hear that.
I like all wine, but to tell you the truth, Freemark Abbey didn’t have any stand-outs. In fact, we wanted to buy something to take home as “special occasion” wine, but didn’t love any of it enough to purchase. Still, a good time was had.
Dave recently learned you can smell things better if you open your mouth when you sniff, so we were awkwardly trying that for every single wine. He thought it worked, I wasn’t so sure.
Once our complimentary tasting was complete, we walked back via a shorter path and came across this perfect picture of Wine Country Inn in the background. It’s not exactly the lush season in Napa Valley, so sadly, most of the wineries looked dry and bare just like this one.
Once back at the Inn, it was time for happy hour in the lobby. There was a local winemaker pouring, and several Inn guests were gathered at tables drinking and gabbing. Dave and I grabbed food and wine and pulled out a game of Scrabble from the Inn’s game cabinet.
Dave may have won the game, but I drank more wine.
I liked so many things about Wine Country Inn.
But the WIC endeared itself to me even more with its savvy social media promotion to guests, in which you received $10 of “funny money” if you checked in on Facebook. What did Dave do with our earned funds? A bucket of brews for the room …
To go along with our fireplace …
After warming our feet by the fire, next up was chauffeur service and a fine dinner.
Dinner in St. Helena
There was another couple scheduled to take the Inn-provided shuttle at the same time as us. Naturally, we chatted with them en route and discovered they were from Winter Park, Florida, which is part of Orlando, and basically where we moved from. Small world.
Downtown St. Helena was just a few minutes away, so we didn’t get to talk for long before we were dropped off and walked in to Tra Vigne just in time for our 8:30 p.m. reservation.
We enjoyed a long dinner from a small table in the middle of the dining room, and everything we ordered was delicious.
Based on recommendations from the waiter, we selected all of the house specialties, including a mozzarella appetizer, kale salad, smoke and braised short rib and sage-infused pappardelle.
Our waiter humored me when I asked to take a photo as he prepared the mozzarella at our table. My mouth is watering just looking at the picture and thinking of that taste sensation. Warm, thick and cheesy. Oh I love cheese.
Such a nice dinner, complete with great service.
Dave and I turned off our cellphones once we checked into Wine Country Inn and enjoyed the entire afternoon, evening and morning off-the-grid.
Because of that, we had to have our waiter call the Inn around the time we were paying the check to alert the driver to come back and get us. That’s how things used to work in the old days. She was there when we walked outside. What a treat.
Most people end their nights early in wine country, especially after days full of tastings and big fancy dinners. And so that’s what we did too.
On Sunday, we got dressed and headed in to the lobby for the breakfast spread. It featured a waffle station, bagels, eggs, granola, fruits, etc. Certainly more than your average continental breakfast and enough healthy items to keep me happy.
Just after breakfast, we packed up and said goodbye to the WIC.
Unfortunately it was raining this morning when we left, so instead of going around to other wineries, we went to the Napa outlets and did some good shopping. We finished up with a lunch in downtown Napa at Norman Rose Tavern and drove the hour back to San Francisco.
Although we only had one night away, it was a major breath of fresh air to get out of the City and have a little adventure.
Thanks brother, for the awesome Christmas gift. Thanks Wine Country Inn, for being so darn cute.