Your Weekend Guide to Napa

Stephanie Davis Smith | May 26, 2017 | Feature Features National

Tradition, etiquette and family name have deep roots in California's wine country. However, a slew of restaurant, vineyard, entertainment venue and hotel debuts are bringing a touch of new to Napa Valley. As with anything, there are fierce do's and don'ts to local culture. Here is our updated list for your next trip.
A chef-driven picnic among Liana Estates vineyards


Do stay at Las Alcobas.

A regal turn-of-the-century alabaster white home that has sat on a hill overlooking St. Helena for more than 100 years is now the entry point for Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel (from $695 per night). It’s the first to open in the area in seven years. Behind the Victorian house is a 68-room boutique hotel, opened in March, with modern, clean-lined decor and design by Yabu Pushelberg, whimsical nods to horse stables, imported Italian-made Rivolta Carmignani linens, and unparalleled views of the Beringer private family vineyards and nearby mountain ranges. The hospitality of the staff is as beautiful and warm as the gaslit fire pits on each of the suites’ private patios. This philosophy mirrors the entryway, welcoming you as if to their home. Atrio, the spa here, also echoes the sentiment, and great care is taken at the beginning of each session in choosing a customized aroma and essential oil for the ancient treatments brought stateside from its sister property in Mexico City.

Don't forget to eat in your hotel at least one night.

Top Chef Masters winner and successful San Francisco restaurateur Chris Cosentino and business partner Oliver Wharton beat out many other revered culinary teams for the shot at crafting the menu for Acacia House inside Las Alcobas. While the am menu is an authentic Mexican brunch at its best, dinner is an equally revolutionary take on global cuisine. With around a dozen choices on the menu each night, Cosentino keeps it tight with one hit after another. Begin with Napa Valley lamb tartare topped in green harissa with chickpea crackers, then move on to the special of the night (it was consistently outstanding) or straight into the Kobe rib-eye cap au poivre with charred onion rings, bone marrow bordelaise and aligot potatoes.

Do try whatever it takes to get reservations at Kenzo.

As the story goes, Napa Valley matriarch Margrit Mondavi dared Capcom video game impresario Kenzo Tsujimoto to open a traditional kaiseki restaurant in downtown Napa. What started as two wine moguls ribbing each other ended up becoming a culinary coup for the rest of us. Clean, austere and quiet with a main dining area barely exceeding 400 square feet, Kenzo is an immersive experience. Put yourself in the deft hands of chef Hiroyuki Kanda, who was brought over from Japan’s three Michelin-starred restaurant Kanda for the dinner-only service from 6 to 9pm every night. Gorgeous Kenzo Estate wine bottles are paired with each kaiseki course ($225 per person). Snag one of the 10 sushi bar seats if you want to do the whole thing right.


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