Napa Weekend

By Kate Riley September 7, 2009

One of my favorite books, A Tale of Two Valleys, humorously chronicles the history of the two most prominent Northern California Wine Country counties, Napa and Sonoma.  From a visitor’s point of view, the book fuels the ongoing fiery debate as to which county has more to offer its residents and visitors.  Mr. CG and I are Sonoma County residents, so naturally, we’re biased towards our own home turf.  But every now and then, we wander over the hills to visit Napa, and for good reason.  A weekend in Napa County is simply divine.

napa grapevines Graeser Winery vineyard

It was our ten year anniversary, and the details of our getaway were left to Mr. CG.  I’m glad I relinquished all control, because he took me on a tour of some amazing places I’ve never visited.  It was a whirlwind weekend with fun around every turn.

Our first stop was crashing a wedding.

Well, not really.  In truth, we arrived at Hans Fahden Vineyards in Calistoga as they were just setting up for a wedding.  Turns out, the charming owner Antone Fahden is a  lawyer turned vintner who hails from the very same law school as me.  We had much to agree on as we sipped his blends.

Take a stroll through his exquisite gardens:

hans fahden gardens

Anniversary Napa 003

hans fahden lilly pads

How stunningly gorgeous is this cake?

wedding cake

How charming are these place cards set in wine corks ?

place card holders

Here’s the pavilion where they serve cocktails:

hans fahden dancing pavilion

And the illuminated cave where they serve dinner:

hf cave

Clearly, there’s a reason Hans Fahden has won this award:

hans fahden the knot

Next, we went for more tastings at Graeser Winery where we were treated like family.  We wandered the vineyards and hiked to the top of Diamond Mountain to enjoy the exceptional valley view and a Bordeaux blend.

mr cg at graeser

napa vineyards

napa grapes on vine

cab franc and valley views

Mr. CG surprised me by splurging on our hotel.  I was completely caught off guard.   Solage resort is located a few minutes outside downtown Calistoga and is quite cosmopolitan, but with a zen organic vibe.  It took me by surprise how much I absolutely loved this place.  Three days and two nights here and I was completely rejuvenated.

Our private bungalow room:

solage room

Our private patio:

solage patio

A complimentary anniversary welcome gift:

solage dessert

The pool:

solage pool

The pool bar & cabana:

solage cabana bar

Amazing water features all over the property, including this one:

water features

Solbar restaurant at night:

solbar at night

The stunning contemporary fireplace – those are metal rods artistically welded together.

solbar fireplace

Dangerously delicious red and white sangria cocktails.  Both are made with orange juice, Grand Marnier, and vodka.  The red also has cabernet and peaches, the white has chardonnay and blueberries.  Yummy yummy yummy.

solage sangria

Heirloom tomatoes with ricotta, toasted breadcrumbs, and basil.  So scrumptious !

solbar heirloom tomatoes

Seared ahi over butter beans:

solbar ahi over butter beans

I just love their Black Sea salt & pepper !

solage salt and pepper

One thing is for sure – this region will guarantee gastronomic sensory overload.  Next week, I’ll fill you in on our visit to:

Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Yountville for lunch, my new favorite dining spot on the planet and the place where I want to have my last meal in life, ever.  I am truly a Francophile foodie.


The flagship NapaStyle store

napa style

Castello di Amorosa, a Tuscan castle in the heart of Napa Valley.

castillo di amorosa

and window shopping in St. Helena.

st helena pillows

Three days away left me rejuvenated and inspired.  So now it’s back to business as usual . . .


  1. I love the napa valley, it is very similar to the area that we live in France except we do not have the fabulous Bouchon restaurant. That said we still have some fabulous and of course french restaurants :-)

    A bientot,


    ps I have the solage brochure and their website is in my favourites list so will bookmark it for the next time we are in the US.

  2. Now THAT’S a weekend. :) Your photos are stunning…make me want to hop through my computer screen and stroll through those vineyards.

    I can easily see why The Knot awarded Hans Fahden with “best of weddings.” The cave is amazing!

    More than a little envious of your wonderful weekend. :) I’m taking notes for our 10th anniversary. 1 Year and 11 months to go. ;)

    I hope you might be able to swing by the 2nd installment of my Decorating Dilemmas party tonight or tomorrow. I loved your last solution you shared. :)

  3. Happy belated anniversary! It looks like it was a fantastic weekend and everything about that wedding is stunning! I love that part of the CA. I used to live in SF and one of my favorite things to do was drive up to Napa or Sonoma for the weekend. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  4. Wow – I’m blown away! Congratulations! I lived in San Francisco for a few years and visited Napa fairly often. I miss that part of the country SO MUCH …

  5. I’m drooling over these photos! The hotel looks gorgeous and the sangria is making my mouth water! My in-laws aren’t far from wine country and I’m hoping to squeeze in a day in Sonoma when we’re there for the holidays. Kinda makes me wish they were father away so we could justify staying at such a lovely hotel.

  6. Your life is wonderful as are these photos! The grapes look so incredibly fresh that I feel I could just reach out and pluck them off that vine.

  7. kate ~ happy anniversary to you and your hubby. we celebrated our 10 yr anniversary 8/14/99. we have a 4.5 yo and a 17 month old so we didn’t venture too far – one night away – but it was lovely. enjoying your new look! Best ~~

  8. Quite the getaway! That Mr. CG is something else :)
    I’ve always wanted to visit Napa Valley, but your recap of your weekend made me want to hop on the next flight there! Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience with us.

  9. The first thing that caught my eye was how much your first picture looks like one I took at an area winery here this weekend for my travel blog. Considering mine was in Illinois, I was pleased with the similarities. However, mine was a day trip and I didn’t get the great hotel or fabulous food. What a wonderful weekend, and Mr. CG gets brownie points for the digs. Happy Anniversary!

  10. Thank you for the magnificant tour of Napa. My husband and I visited Napa and Sonoma exactly 1 year ago this week and I’ve wanted to visit again since the day I left. Thanks for taking me back to a place where my husband and I made wonderful memories.

  11. So pretty, I love Napa! The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Even better than a beach vacation in my opinion.

  12. Wonderful scenery! It looks like you had a simply fabulous trip and time away with your hubby. I love little getaways! I look forward to seeing the other photos next week!

  13. Well that looks like a little tiny slice of heaven. I’m in SoCal and we haven’t gotten much farther than Los Olivos. I’m putting this place on my To-Do list.

  14. Napa is ok, but being a native of the town of Sonoma I say Sonoma wins every time. The Smothers Brothers, who have a winery in Sonoma county, created my favorite tee shirt years ago for the annual “Wine off” between Sonoma and Napa. The tee shirt said “Sonoma Makes Wine, Napa Makes Auto Parts”

  15. Well, you certainly succeeded in making me wish i was in the wine country. I need an escape such as this soon…..thanks for the motivation. Great photos!

  16. Loved seeing your pics! We just got married at Hans Fahden August 9th and it truly is an AMAZING place for a wedding. I hope I get invited to a wedding there someday so I can experience it from the guests perspective! We didn’t stay at Solage but had the pleasure of having dinner there before we left. It was wonderful! Thanks for sharing~

  17. What a wonderful weekend! I just love Napa and I can’t wait to have you be part of the City Escapes Series.

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