Nicky's Corner

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A good friend of Nicky’s was getting married in Napa Valley so this was a no-brainer for us. We flew into San Francisco, rented a car, and set out north toward wine country.

Arrival Day – Stanley Ranch Auberge Collection

A good friend of Nicky’s was getting married in Napa Valley so this was a no-brainer for us. We flew into San Francisco, rented a car, and set out north toward wine country. When we arrived at Stanley Ranch we were greeted with a glass of wine and provided with a tour of the grounds. Individual cabins were sprinkled all over the rolling property and a large central pool and dining area offered a place for people to come together in their leisure time. Off to the side of the property was a Saks Fifth Avenue which I ventured into, of course. 

The hotel is quite new, having only been open for the better part of a year. We weren’t surprised, then, that our room was stunning! The décor and color scheme kind of reminded me of our room in Sardinia, except rather than a view into the city we were provided with a roomy outdoor courtyard that looked out beyond the cabins into wine country. 

For dinner we made the obligatory stop at the French Laundry. No, it’s not a laundromat like Nicky jokingly repeated, but a 3-star Michelin restaurant not far from downtown Napa. The menu offers a few tasting courses, all French, and if you haven’t had the opportunity to experience a Michelin tasting, this one absolutely ranks as “worth it.” 

Day 2 – Spa, lunch at Bear, and pasta making course

Because the hotel offered a suite of activities we were keen on doing, our second day was spent almost entirely on the property. In fact, we only left in the morning because I forgot my charger and was desperate to find a new one.

Nicky and I got a much-needed couples massage at the Spa and sat drinking champaign on the terrace afterwards. This was a perfect aperitif before eating lunch. We popped into Bear, the main restaurant on the property, and were blown away by their simple yet flavorful dishes. We learned that all of the ingredients are produced locally, many of which are grown on the property!

Around mid-afternoon we set out for a pasta making class (I had always wanted to do one and Nicky was sweet enough to surprise me with a booking). I was not expecting how difficult it would be to mix the flour and yolk initially, but once my dough we kneaded and we moved on to the cooking stage, I felt like I was in my element (unsurprisingly, Nicky was masterful from the beginning). Once everything was cooked and plated, the chef led us to an outdoor area where we could enjoy our homemade pasta while the sun cast a beautiful golden glow in the sky.

Day 3 – Napa Farmers Market and Downtown Area

If you end up staying in or around Napa, I suggest taking at least one day to do a wine tour. If you’ve already done a few wine tours in the past, you probably don’t need to do this (they are all pretty much the same). We opted for hitting the farmers market first thing in the morning and then walked around downtown Napa before finding a nice place to stop for lunch.

Once we returned to Stanley Ranch, it was party time (I’ll keep the details in memory)!

Final Thoughts

I’m so happy I finally had the opportunity to visit Napa. It had a much bigger impact on me than my trip to Sonoma (which was just a full day wine tour out of San Francisco). If you are considering a visit, I highly recommend Stanley Ranch Auberge Collection. It’s such a wonderful property with excellent service and that private cottage experience that leaves a lasting impression.