Once You're There... Napa Valley
Where to stay while looking
Napa Valley is about an hour from San Francisco and even closer to San Francisco International Airport. Most of the vineyards are clustered from the town of Napa in the south up to Calistoga in the north, with Yountville and St Helena in between. "Napa Valley has an incredible selection of hotels and spas to accommodate travellers," said Robert Pursell, Sotheby's International Wine Country agent. "My personal favorites are Calistoga Ranch and Solage Calistoga."
For those who want to stay in town, the Andaz Napa (formerly an Avia hotel) recently opened in Napa's buzzy West End.
Napa Valley's proximity to San Francisco and the airport make it a top spot for vacation home buyers. "St. Helena has traditionally been the most popular city in the Napa Valley," said Pursell. St. Helena is just south of Calistoga, which is known for its mud baths and mineral hot springs, and just north of Yountville, home to The French Laundry, chef Thomas Keller's famous restaurant, considered one of the best in the world.
The City of Napa is home to many wineries, tasting rooms, art galleries and shops, and its location close to the airport make it a popular stop with travellers. "With the City of Napa's proximity to San Francisco, the country towns surrounding it, such as Coombsville, have become a popular destination for second-home purchasers," explained Pursell. "Foreign clientele tend to prefer Napa proper and its surrounding countryside."
There are more than a dozen appellations in Napa that are home to hundreds of vineyards, from commercial operations like Sterling Vineyards to cult wineries such as Screaming Eagle Winery and Vineyards in Oakville. Everyone has their favourite place to pick up a bottle or two.
Quality groceries can be found year round at gourmet stores such as the Oakville Grocer, as well as at chains like Fresh & Easy, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. "In the summertime, families shop at the farmer's markets in Napa and St. Helena," said Pursell.
For permanent residents and year-rounders, there are many schooling options in the region. "Napa Valley has a wide assortment of schools, both public and private," said Pursell. "The Blue Oak School in Napa is an ex-pat favourite."
The Bay Area has rich cultural scene and access to unspoiled wilderness and coastal regions that make it one of the most desirable places to live in the United States. "Napa Valley has a large number of second-home owners and retirees," said Pursell, "so new residents will find a welcoming community with little integration issues."
In towns and downtown areas, utilities and high-speed internet access are readily available. "Satellite and local fixed wireless providers service the outlying countryside," said Pursell.
Napa Valley temperatures soar in the summer, but are pleasant all other seasons. For the comprehensive weather updates, visit Accuweather.