If your idea of heaven is Tuscany meets Provence with a Bay Area sensibility, Auberge du Soleil will make think you’ve died and gone there. In the distance rise the mountains, while below, a vineyard sits. Fifty-odd rooms are decorated in a style that can only be described as European country cottage meets San Francisco — slanted ceilings, wooden beams, luxe fabrics, and a fireplace in every room. There are modern sculptures in the garden, and every portion of the property is very, very quiet. And now there’s a spa, of the earth-hugging variety that could only exist in the Napa Valley. Signature treatments are divided into four categories — the Valley (mud and minerals), the Grove (olive oil), the Garden (herbs and flowers), and the Vineyard (grapeseed).
Like many stops in California wine country, Auberge du Soleil is primarily an eating and drinking place. It started out as a restaurant in 1981, and was turned into an inn, presumably for those who had too much Russian River Pinot Gris with their meal. And despite mixed early reviews (the Napa Valley is a notoriously tough crowd) the Auberge’s restaurant has gone on to silence its critics with, among other awards, one of Northern California’s few Michelin stars in 2006. It’s hard to argue with upscale California-Mediterranean cuisine, sourced from the finest local ingredients, all with a view that’s nothing less than extraordinary.
Many of the guests are regulars, mostly of the Bay Area elite variety, some of whom make a stop here every year. Children, by the way, are not encouraged. In fact, Auberge is one of the perfect places for harassed parents looking to get away. It’s also not a place for the young and restless. There’s not a whole lot to do during the day, except leisurely strolls around the grounds, and the evenings are taken up by a multi-course meal and a few hours by the fire. It’s a spot for well-settled couples and late-blooming lovers, and it may also be the perfect place to bring your mother. But whether it’s your mom or your mate you’re trying to impress, get a seat by the window for dinner. Arguably the most stunning thing about Auberge is the sight of the wine country, stretched before you in the early evening, with a low hanging sun turning the grape leaves gold. Mom’s bound to forgive you for all those times you forgot her birthday. And your mate is bound to forgive you for every time you forgot anything else.
Auberge du Soleil is approximately a 2 hour drive from San Francisco International Airport, 1 1/2 hours from Oakland International Airport and 30 minutes from Napa County Airport. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange airport transfers.