Napa Valley: Wine, Whiskey and Everything in Between

Napa Valley, California’s most famous wine region, a place that attracts roughly 4 million visitors a year due to its stunning landscapes, Michelin-starred restaurants, vibrant art scene and first-rate hotel accommodations. Consisting of five distinctive towns, Calistoga, Yountville, St Helena, American Canyon and the city of Napa the Napa Valley surely is more than meets the eye. As host to over 500 wineries, 600 different lodging options and an unending amount of restaurants how does one decide on the perfect stopover in this amazing viticultural paradise? Here are our picks for a quintessential wine country escape that includes a sampling of everything good and notable in Napa Valley.

Archer Hotel
Compiling a list of what makes the ideal Napa Valley vacation always starts with a great hotel. Archer Hotel is just that place. Located in the heart of downtown Napa, Archer Hotel brings casual elegance, the highest quality of hospitality and a fresh new feel to First Street Napa. Having long been considered a pass-through on the way to wine country downtown Napa is now a vibrant mix of world-class cuisine, shopping, live music venues, wine tasting rooms and luxury hotel stays. Opening its doors in 2017 Archer Hotel paved the way to introduce boutique hospitality to downtown Napa, its idyllic combination of urban energy, professional staff and unique style was exactly what the doctor ordered. Featuring 5 floors with 183 guest rooms including 39 balcony-clad suites guests are treated to their very own wine country retreat whichever room option they choose. From the Deluxe King, all the way to an Archer Den with balcony and fireplace each room comes fully equipped with everything you need to ensure the utmost relaxation. A wide array of amenities are offered during your stay at Archer from check in to check out every small detail has been thought of to guarantee the highest level of satisfaction. From handmade salted caramels upon arrival to the Nespresso coffee experience, plush robe and slippers and nightly turndown with local treats guests feel right at home with the top-notch customer service every turn along the way.

For those looking to upgrade their stay, Archer’s Dens are the Creme de la Creme when it comes to the most note-worthy accommodations on property. Sprawling sanctuaries with private balconies, fireplaces and wood plank porcelain tile set the tone for a first-class stay. Each den comes with the most inviting of atmospheres, from the separate living area fully furnished with a mid-century modern leather sleeper sofa to the blue alligator-skin Danish chairs, mango wood coffee table and a 65-inch flat-screen HDTV with a wine-barrel wood backing, there is no doubt Archer Dens were designed for the utmost of style and class. Luxury and comfort are at the forefront of every bedroom fully equipped with a King four-poster canopy bed with hidden 49-inch flat-screen HDTV, five-star bedding with plush mattress, down duvet with a comfy mix of pillows. Nightly turndown includes local treats and guests are guaranteed the most peaceful and restful stay possible.

Sky and Vine Rooftop
With the beauty of the Napa Valley surrounding you, there is no better place to take in the panoramic valley views than Sky and Vine Rooftop Bar. Located on the 6th floor of Archer Hotel Sky and Vine is Napa Valley’s only rooftop oasis, when the skies are clear and blue, this my friends is a hangout that cannot be missed. With its idyllic combination of tasty small bites, tantalizing hand-crafted cocktails, ambient atmosphere and starlit vistas we couldn’t think of a better way to spend the evening with loved ones. Comfy lounge seating with the best views in town invites guests to relax under a canopy of potted olive trees and modern rhythmic rockers are the ideal location to cozy up to the cracking stone fire pits to catch the perfect Napa sunset. Small plates are the focus at Sky and Vine, tasty concoctions that will surely invite your taste buds to want to sample one of each unique menu creation. From the Lobster Corn Dogs with pickled ramp remoulade to the Panko Crusted Peanut Prawns to Oysters On the Half Shell it is easy to see why this is easily one of the most sought out dining venues in the Napa Valley.

Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar just shared a toast at its newest addition as of August 2nd with the debut of Whiskey Bar. This exclusive, reservation-only alfresco hideaway will be welcoming whiskey enthusiasts and novices alike with a list spanning more than 100 choices that can be sipped neat, on the rocks, and within its specialty cocktails built on private barrel selections. The extensive menu, which reads as a who’s who in the world of whiskey, has been thoughtfully curated with unique and rare pours that include small vintage collections, private barrel flights and a range of approachable selections. Whiskey Bar’s cuisine will complement the savory profiles that pair well with the distilled spirit and is built around the bar’s stone hearth pizza ovens. In true Archer fashion, details big and small will round out the immersive experience, including a complimentary arrival bar snack and games to test one’s whiskey wisdom. Whiskey Bar hosts who are passionate about nurturing the perfect pour will guide guests through the experience, which showcases such rare and allocated whiskeys as Pappy Van Winkle, EH Taylor Barrel Proof, Weller Full Proof, Orphan Barrels, Elmer T Lee and Yamazaki. Global selections include Irish, Scotch (Highland, Speyside, Islay and Blended), Japanese, Canadian and American varieties. A small vintage collection features Teitessa 30 Year, The Balvenie 30 Year and Red Breast 27 Year. One-of-a-kind private barrel flights, selected via blind tastings throughout the year, will constantly evolve and serve as the base for Whiskey Bar’s specialty cocktail list with such creative compositions as The Bee’s Whisktea, Blazen Manhattan and Private Jet. With sweeping valley vistas, the 30-seat enclave is tucked neatly in the corner of Sky & Vine, the only spot downtown that boasts such a vantage point from its sixth-floor perch atop Archer Hotel Napa. The intimate space is anchored by a stone fireplace and furnished with Sonoma redwood Adirondack chairs and one-of-a-kind tasting tables and benches handcrafted exclusively for Whiskey Bar by Sonoma Woodworks. The 12-seat covered bar boasts an up-close pizza oven and golden bottle views. A whiskey haunt in wine country is a natural fit given those who seek out the destination and why, according to Archer Hotel Napa’s corporate food & beverage director, Peter Triolo “Food and beverage enthusiasts now have even more reasons to visit Napa Valley. After a day of wine tasting, gastronomes have a growing list of breweries, distilleries, craft cocktail venues — and now a dedicated whiskey bar — to add to their tasting tour.” The impressive whiskey collection will share the stage with thoughtful culinary pairings turned out from the stone hearth ovens. Sure to be shareable favorites are such savory seasonal selections including the smoked pork ribs served dry with hatch chile rub or wet with house-made BBQ sauce; the creamy white cheddar shallot mac ’n’ cheese with braised short rib; the crispy pork belly bites with fig mustard sauce; and two tempting pizzas — the white mushroom with ricotta, mozzarella and garlic; and the Margherita with balsamic, cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions and burrata. The menu also features chick-arrones, baked oysters and mussels, pretzels and pizza knots. A signature bourbon berry crisp with mixed berries, oat streusel and bourbon Chantilly cream is the perfect dessert nightcap.

Ad Hoc & Addendum
When most people hear Napa Valley the first restaurant that comes to mind is the world-famous French Laundry. It is for good reason that this association is so set in stone, Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller opened it in 1994 and has been a staple in Napa’s fine dining scene. Since 2007 the Michelin Guide has awarded The French Laundry their highest rating of three stars, making Thomas Keller the only American-born chef to have two three-starred Michelin restaurants. Because of this world-renowned fame, it is safe to say getting a seat at the French Laundry is not the easiest of tasks so naturally the brand had to expand. In 2006 Keller opened the doors to Ad Hoc, a much more casual, affordable dining venue for the masses showcasing his favorite American comfort foods from his childhood. Ad Hoc’s literal meaning “for this purpose” was derived from the restaurant’s original purpose to serve as a temporary space while another concept was being worked on and needless to say because of popular demand the restaurant still thrives today serving up the classics. With a limited menu consisting of his top-selling fried chicken, BBQ Ribs, fried chicken sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, honey cornbread, and chocolate chip cookies it was only natural that they opened the “picnic” version Addendum. Located behind Ad Hoc and (yes only seasonal) Addendum is now the spot to bring the family for a good old Napa-style picnic whilst being surrounded by the outdoor beauty that Napa is so well known for. What makes the buttermilk fried chicken so noteworthy bringing the customers in droves you may ask? Fried chicken aficionados attribute the incredible taste and texture to its 12-hour soak in a brine consisting of lemon, honey, thyme, parsley, garlic and bay leaves. The skin is then crisped to perfection after being dipped in buttermilk and dredged throughout his trademarked spice flour mixture. True to its name Addendum is the perfect addition to not only Ad Hoc yet the entire Keller franchise, it only makes sense, after all, when something is that good, you just have to make it that much better!

Cliff Lede
With over 500 wineries to choose from doesn’t it make sense to visit ones with character and a story to tell? A winery that fits that bill perfectly is Cliff Lede Vineyards. Founded in 2002 by Canadian-born Bordeaux enthusiast Cliff Lede this family-owned winery has more than stood the test of time. It all started with bringing in the talent of renowned viticulturist David Abreu, the estate replanting began and construction of the state-of-the-art winery was completed in 2005. Situated in The Stags Leap District of the Napa Valley, roughly 60 miles from San Francisco this award-winning winery produces a variety of Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux style red blends as well as offering stunning varietal wines made from the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grape varieties from its sister brand FEL Wines in Anderson Valley. It is not just about producing the finest wines in the area says one of the Lede staff members, it is also about giving back to the environment that has made this such a special place to grow our grapes. The estate’s commitment to enhancing and protecting biodiversity has earned them the Napa Green Land and Napa Green Winery certification.

This past May Cliff Lede Vineyards celebrated its 20th anniversary in style with their annual Rock Block Release Party. The backstory of the Rock Block is Cliff Lede named each vineyard block within the Twin Peaks and Poetry estate vineyards after his favorite rock & roll songs, which led to the creation of an annual “mash-up” bottling called the “Rock Block Series,” featured in the tasting room and wine club. The name of the 2019 blend, “Roundabout Midnight” is derived from Yes’ “Roundabout” in the Twin Peaks vineyard and Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight” in the Poetry vineyard. The Cabernet Sauvignon in “After Midnight” is planted in shallow volcanic soil and farmed to low yields, contributing to the wine’s outstanding structure, and providing classic Stags Leap character to the backbone of the blend. “Roundabout” is a block of Cabernet Sauvignon that contributes plush texture, exceptional fragrance, and dark, brooding flavors.

A surprise performance from Jon Anderson of Yes topped the night of amazing food, live music, and special bottles from the cellar. It was an unforgettable experience for all those who attended this special event, the perfect way to spend the day in Napa Valley!

Bouchaine Vineyards
Situated only 45 minutes from The Golden City, Bouchaine Vineyards is a winery that you don’t want to miss on your trip to the Napa Valley. Backing up to the San Francisco Bay gives Bouchaine two incredible attributes right off the get-go, a panoramic view of both the Napa Valley as well as the San Francisco Bay below. With its idyllic geographical location, Bouchaine has slightly cooler temperatures than the rest of the Napa Valley which makes for a supreme growing climate, particularly for their clones of Pinot Noir. Surprising to most to find out that Bouchaine was originally planted in the 1880s and with almost 150 years of experience you can only guess why they produce such award-winning wines year after year. The oldest continuously operating winery in Carneros region located on the southern tip of the Napa Valley Bouchaine focuses on crafting vibrant wines with the elegance of Burgundy, the vitality of California and the terroir of Carneros. With a wide list of wines to choose from including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon it is safe to say your taste profile will surely be met! Continuously practicing sustainable farming and precision viticulture this boutique-style winery has always focused on quality over quantity. Small batch production giving the people exactly what they want is what makes Bouchaine one of the top wineries to visit in the Napa Valley.

Photos by Bob McClenahan, Michael Hospelt & Alex Hayden Photography

Written by Mike Dunn