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A few trips to Napa in the past few months had me exploring St. Helena, in the heart of Napa Valley. I shared my thoughts on where to eat, drink and sleep in St. Helena in California Winery Advisor and am re-sharing it here. In the center of Napa Valley is the town of St. Helena. Eighteen miles north of downtown Napa and ten miles south of Calistoga, St. Helena is known as Napa Valley’s Main Street. Packed with acclaimed wineries and home to more Michelin starred restaurants than anywhere else in Napa Valley, St. Helena embodies perfect wine country charm. Heading to Napa Valley for the weekend? Settle in and explore St. Helena. St. Helena is home to numerous accommodations ranging in price. If you want to splurge, check out the new Las Alcobas Napa Valley, a 68-room resort offering rooms with private terraces and an on-site spa, or the luxurious Meadowood Resort. But, for a more affordable, yet unpretentious, luxurious option, select the Harvest Inn (1 Main Street, St Helena). Situated on eight acres, the Harvest Inn was first built in 1975. The property is home to 320 redwood trees and artwork is scattered throughout the property. You can enjoy a self-guided art walk through the peaceful property, swim in one of the two pool or workout in the small gym. Harvest Inn has 78 updated rooms, some of which have fireplaces and hot tubs. The Vineyard View rooms overlook Whitehall Lane’s Leonardini Vineyard and other rooms have views of the lush gardens. The restaurant at Harvest Inn serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and features menus that highlight locally sourced ingredients. Be sure to try the bacon at breakfast, a recipe created by Hector, the bellman at the Harvest Inn. The hotel hosts free wine tastings on Monday and Friday, is dog-friendly and offers complimentary car service to wineries within a three-mile radius. Add to that, Harvest Inn does not charge any resort fees. Harvest Inn really offers a great value for the price.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register. Perhaps diversity is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Napa Valley. Especially for people who live outside of Napa, if asked what wine comes from Napa, they will always say “Cabernet Sauvignon.” But, no matter how good the Cabernet is, Napa offers so much more. According to the Napa Valley Vintners, there are 45,000 acres under cultivation in Napa Valley. There are more than 34 different wine grape varieties grown in Napa County, and 23 percent of the vineyards are planted to white wine grapes and 77 percento red wine grapes. Forty-seven percent of the grapes planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, with Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel making up another 41 percent of the total grape production. That leaves 12 percent of the grapes planted to other grapes and here are six of the grapes to look out for. Semillon - Fine Disregard 2016 Milhouse Semillon, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley ($25) In 2016, there were 724 tons of Semillon in the Napa Valley and Fine Disregard produces 218 cases of their Semillon. A personal project by winemaker Mike Schieffer, assistant winemaker at Truly, and Kate Maraden, a viticulturist and plant pathologist, the Semillon comes from a half-acre block planted on the eastern edge of Oak Knoll District in 1994. The resulting wine is clear and bright with notes of lemon curd, citrus zest, tree fruits and minerality and a lovely mouthfeel that is both round and delicate with racy acidity.
Charles Krug winery is not only the oldest winery in Napa (established in 1861) but it has been owned by the Mondavi family since 1943. Since then, four generations of Mondavi’s have run the winery. In fact, presently there are three generations still working the day-to-day, including Peter Mondavi Sr. who is turning 99 years old on November 8. To this day, Peter Sr goes to work every day (including Saturdays), walking up two flights of stairs to his office.  He works a full day, with a long lunch break, and even learned how to use Facebook recently! With his motto of “a glass of Cabernet a day”, perhaps we should all heed his advice! And what’s better than a glass of Charles Krug wine. Peter Mondavi Jr.
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