Here’s a weird thing: I love wine country. But I don’t drink wine.
I know, I know. I actually adore it and still take the occasional sip. But, in my late twenties, I developed an allergy to alcohol and I can’t really drink it anymore.
At least not in the quantity I want.
And yet the bucolic vineyards and windy roads of Northern California still call to me. Maybe even more so now that I’ve moved back to the East Coast, currently cold and leafless. I love the food with its just-plucked ingredients, the relaxed vibe, the charming town squares. Plus, California grows almost as many dispensaries as they do grapes.
Which is why, this past year, for my deeply sacred annual trip with my two best friends from college, we headed to wine country…again. We’ve hung by pools in Palm Springs, devoured snow cones in New Orleans, yet we always seem to return to Northern California, seduced by its promise of luxuriously lazy days.
So, we returned once more. Only this time, we’d check out two entirely new spots, defined as much by their difference as by their related locale.
Wine country, two ways.
Interestingly, for all its opulence and indolent attitude, Napa is not big on wellness culture, at least by comparison to its Southern California foils like LA and Ojai, where ayahuasca ceremonies and moon circles are de rigueur. While I have visited some incredible spas — at the Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma, for example, and Meadowood in St. Helena — they are fewer and farther between than you’d imagine. And, despite those standout exceptions, most of the spas that do exist are far more traditional than one might imagine.
So, I was especially intrigued to check out Halehouse, Springhouse and Fieldhouse, the wellness hubs at brand new Auberge property, Stanly Ranch.