Image Credit: AP Photo/Eric Risberg
By Michele Locke
Sunlit hills of lush green vineyards, blue skies, fine red wines: Some things about wine country never change. But others do, like where to eat, stay and play. Here's a roundup of what's new and what's worth revisiting in California's Napa Valley.
A decade or so ago, the city of Napa, at the southern end of the valley, was a place you drove through. Now it's a destination with dozens of restaurants, tasting rooms and revamped or new hotels. Stroll along the riverfront – in the evening when the lights come on is the prettiest time – and check out shops and restaurants like Morimoto Napa (from Masaharu Morimoto of “Iron Chef” fame) which recently added the valley's first sake lounge. Up-valley there's Harvest Table, a new restaurant at Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer. The menu focuses on local ingredients, including the wines.
Recently opened wineries in the valley include Odette Estate, which has an 8,500-square-foot planted living roof and recently opened a new tasting room. (Appointment required.) Raymond Vineyards isn't new, but it has been completely renovated by new owner Jean-Charles Boisset. Check out the Crystal Cellar with its stainless steel walls, mirrored bar and collection of Baccarat crystal decanters. The winery tasting room can be visited without an appointment but reservations are recommended and some tastings/tours require them.