Hotel Yountville

Hotel Yountville
6462 Washington Street
Yountville, California 94599
707-967-7900
History of the Area:  Native Americans, known as the Patwin tribe, inhabited the Napa Valley for 60,000 years.   They named the valley Talahalusi, or beautiful land and hunted large game and gathered native plants to survive. The Caymus tribe (for which a winery is named) was part of a larger group of native people that were known as "Wappo" or brave. In 1776, the Spanish, the first white settlers in the area, erected a fort near Napa and were the first large land claimers to "ranchos" in the area.  
 
Subsequently, many of these ranchos were sold off to settlers coming into California after the Mexican-American War.  The first Anglo-Saxon to settle in the area was George Calvert Young, who came here in 1836 and built a sawmill and grain mill, but more importantly, planted the first vineyard in the county.  After he died in 1865, the town was named Yountville in his honor. After, 1850, when California became a state, pioneers, prospectors and entrepreneurs entered the valley in the great opening of the West known as Manifest Destiny.  Many of these people became vintners, or wine growers, although a great influx of settlers came to mine silver. (The Silverado Trail, which slices through the valley, is named for this metal) The population of this area has steadily increased- from 405 people in 1850 to 140,000 today.  
 
If you are interested in the history of wine in the region, try this great web site: http://www.buenavistawinery.com/about-us/the-entire-story.  I learned that the mission grape was brought into California by Spanish missionaries- hence the name.  
 
Accommodations:  Nestled amid over 350 wineries, the Hotel Yountville is a two-story boutique resort that offers deluxe accommodations to the lucky visitor. This abode was rated in the top 25 best hotels in Northern California by Conde Nast Traveler magazine in 2013.  
 
The hotel has 80 beautifully designed guest rooms and suites that feel like home.  Most have gas fireplaces with a comfortable sitting area for relaxing after a day at the wineries. The beds are ultra-comfortable replete with sumptuous comforters and cushy pillows. There are secluded terraces or balconies to enjoy a glass of wine or read your favorite book.  The bathroom is large and modern with oversized shower, bathtub and sink. The towels are plush. Each room is a beautiful space.  There are lots of windows that actually open to let in the cool clear air of the Valley.  I love a hotel that doesn't box you into a terrarium with no real air to be had.  This is a priority to me wherever I stay.
 
In addition, the hotel offers the following in-room amenities: 42-inch LCD HDTV, laptop compatible safes, lots of snack foods and beverages and complimentary wireless.
 
Amenities: There is a large outdoor pool on site that sits in a beautiful space surrounded by some of the rooms as well as by the Hopper Creek Terrace, which is used for parties, weddings and gatherings.  
 
People can also gather outdoors at the Y-Bar terrace near the hotel entrance, which has a large fireplace and really comfortable couches and chairs.  You also have the option of cozying up on a couch or chair in front of the lobby fireplace or sit and have a drink at the Y-Bar- very intimate.  
 
Need a pick-me-up?  Visit the Spa-AcQua, a 4000 square foot piece of heaven that includes spaces for body treatments and facials, a whirlpools, heated swimming pool, hot tub, steam showers, hydrotherapy tubs and warm fireplaces for a total relaxation experience.  The Spa prides itself on its use of organic products.
 
What To Do: Before I begin, I would like to point out that the hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Yountville, which made it easy for us to walk everywhere to eat and to shop. This was great.  There are a number of storefront wineries in town, so if you would rather stay put and not get into your car to visit a winery, you don't have to- it is all just steps away.  
 
Activities Not To Miss:   Duh...  Visit the wineries, of course! There are over 350 of them!  You would conceivably need a whole year to visit every one so just use the Napa Valley Harvest Pamphlet you can pick up anywhere and go.
 
Advice on this topic:  Don't visit more than two in one day because you will dilute the experience.  It is not a race but more of a journey- so relax and enjoy your visits.
 
If you fear that drinking will impair your ability to drive, the concierge will hire a driver to take you from place to place.  
If you don't intend to drink the wine while on vacation, send it home.
 
The concierge at the hotel was nice enough to plan out our whole itinerary during our stay and I'm sure she will do the same for you! Here is what mine looked like:
 
Itinerary:
Monday night arrival: 7:00PM-Eat at Bistro Jeanty in town
 
Tuesday: 9:00-10:00 AM-Eat breakfast in hotel cafe, Hopper Creek Kitchen
10:30 AM- 12:00 PM- Drive the Silverado Trail to the Cakebread Winery in-depth tour and wine tasting
12:15 PM- Lunch at The Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena
2:00PM- Drive the Silverado Trail to the Duckhorn Winery tasting
4:30- 6:00 PM - Walk around the quaint town of Yountville
6:30 PM- Dinner at Bottega Restaurant in Yountville
7:00-9:30 PM- Napa Valley Film Festival-See film "Nebraska" in St. Helena movie house- Receive free popcorn and wine. 
 
Wednesday-9:00- 10:00 AM- Eat breakfast at Hopper Creek Kitchen
11:00AM-2:00PM- Drive the meandering Spring Mountain Road into the hills of Napa to Barnett Winery.  Take a tour and enjoy wine tasting sitting at an outdoor table overlooking the whole valley, which resembles Tuscany.
2:30-3:30 PM- Have a delicious picnic lunch from Sunshine Foods in St. Helena and take in the sights and smells of the area.
3:30-5:30- Shop in St. Helena's many interesting stores.
5:30-6:00 Drive the Silverado Trail, which smells like fermenting yeast back to your hotel, where you will take a nap and miss the film you wanted to see in town.
7:00PM-9:00PM- Walk to dinner at Hurley's in Yountville.
 
Other Activities besides drinking:
 
Hot Air Ballooning
Hiking and Cycling
Golf
Culinary Classes
Painting excursions
Film Festival in November
 
Food: Apparently, Napa is known for its food, something I didn't know but should have guessed given the emphasis on great wine. One has to eat good food accompanied by fine wine- so do not miss the wonderful restaurants, of which there are literally hundreds- that's right-hundreds in the Napa Valley.  We mostly ate in all local Yountville Restaurants and the food was superb.
 
My Rundown:  
 
Bistro Jeanty:  Absolutely the best French food I have ever tasted accompanied of course by superb wine! Perfection describes the food, wine, service and the ambience of this little gem a few blocks from our hotel.  So quaint-so lovely and HIGHLY recommended.
 
The Farmstead in St Helena:  A wonderful place to have a tasty, farm to table lunch with fresh ingredients served California style and terrific ambience.
 
Bottega: a luxurious, without being ostentatious Italian Restaurant with delicious food and wine choices served up by a world-renowned chef. Not to be missed dining experience.  
 
Hurley's: a casual, raucous eatery serving wild game specialties as well as more conventional fare in a come-as-you-are atmosphere.
 
Hopper Creek Kitchen: on premises breakfast cafe serving up unusual and tasty choices.
 
Bouchon:  An outstanding breakfast stop where all pastries and sandwiches are made on premises.  Delicious beyond description muffins, croissants, scones, breads etc.  Stand in line to order and eat at an outdoor table. Good coffee too. A town meeting spot.  There is also a dinner restaurant attached to this place that serves delicious food too.
 
French Laundry:  I, myself, did not dine here for two reasons:  One-because it was closed, and two-because I was told that reservations to eat here must be made a year in advance.  That being said, diners who had the privilege of eating here told me that it was astounding. So, try it.
 
 
Tips and Tidbits:
 
WINE TOURS:  You should definitely book an informational tour of a winery.  From my experience, you should consult the concierge at the hotel, as he/she will probably know a valuable one.  Prices vary from place to place, but so does the tour quality, so spend a little more and get a lot more from the experience. As it says in the Napa Valley Harvest Book - "A high-line choice, though more expensive, is usually a better buy."  I agree!  Here is a great link to get you started on your journey: 
http://m.napavalley.com/wineries/featured.html . The site itself is: napavalley.com.
 
WINE GRAPES: have a delicious sweet taste- They are sweeter than regular eating grapes and much smaller- They look like blueberries.
 
DRIVES:  Make sure you travel the entire Silverado Trail- It is winery after winery and it smells like a wine tunnel-fermenting yeast.
 
WHEN TO GO:  If you like warm weather and would like to see the grapes before they are harvested, then visit the area in summer or Fall. Here is a quick rundown of the weather there.
 
July is the warmest and driest month, January is the coolest month, and February is the wettest month.  Harvest time is September.
 
When we went in November, the temperature averaged 70 degrees everyday and was sweater weather at night.  It was perfect for outdoor activities.  Wineries were not crowded so you could be guaranteed to get into any one you wanted and enjoy the surroundings in an unhurried manner.  We also were there during the Napa Valley Film Festival, which we took advantage of in the evening.  It was a great and relaxing way to end the day.  Understandably, summer, when the grapes are dripping off the vine, is the most crowded season. Grapes are harvested in September, so that may be a wonderful time to see the process of winemaking.  
 
What I Think:  Now I know why the Napa Valley was on my bucket list, especially in the late Fall when the weather is cool and the grape vineyards are starkly beautiful decked out in their fall colors, but barren of fruit.  I loved the little town of Yountville because it was safe, quaint and unhurried. I felt contentment here. Maybe it was the wine, but I think it was more about a place where people are happy to have you and go out of their way to make your visit a memorable experience.  I was enamored with a town that has no fast food places, but rather quaint, unique shops and restaurants. I loved that and of course, windows that actually open to let in real air.
 
Getting There: Fly into San Francisco Airport and drive one-hour north to the Napa Valley. An easy and a beautiful drive.