Heading to BottleRock? Here’s What’s New in Napa and Sonoma

How to have fun when you’re not at the concerts

As outdoor concerts in controlled environs start to lure people back to live music venues, by now you know that before you grab your tickets, you should be armed with your vaccination card, negative Covid status, masks and hand sanitizer. And, if you’ve watched our In My Bag: Wine Country Weekend  video with Lauren Ashley Beck you know what to pack and also what to take to a music festival. We now offer you where to stay, dine and find other forms of fun when you’re not at the BottleRock shows at the Napa Expo downtown.

Above: Welcome to Napa | Courtesy of Visit Napa Valley

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The three-day music, wine, craft brew and culinary festival will take place in the heart of the City of Napa from September 3-5, 2021. Whether you are planning to catch Guns N’ Roses, Foo Fighters, Miley Cyrus, or Megan Thee Stallion, tickets are sold out. But not to fear, BottleRock has teamed up with Lyte (their official ticket exchange partner) that allows fans to buy or exchange tickets for sold-out events. If you’re still hoping to catch one of the 80 acts, check here or look into the AfterDark series info for seeing some of the festival talent on other stages during the weekend. And, don’t forget the culinary offerings at the event are legendary from Jose Andres to Roy Choi and Michael Voltaggio.

Above: R INN NAPA Bungalow dining

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New in Napa Lodging


Now that you’re in, where will you stay?

The modern R INN NAPA is perfect if you’re looking for the privacy and charm of a townhouse within walking distance to all the downtown attractions yet with all the amenities of a larger hotel. The inn was inspired by chic European garden courtyard hotels but with updated amenities such as automatic adjustable beds, rainfall showerheads and heated Toto washlet bidet toilets.

Hot tip: book the 2 bedroom-1 bath standalone Bungalow with a full kitchen, living room, laundry room, private back yard and detached indoor-outdoor 10-seat dining pavilion.

Property amenities include a chef’s kitchen and pantry which are accessible to guests at any time with complimentary breakfast items. On weekend mornings, locally baked quiche, croissants and morning buns are served. While there is not a restaurant, the inn works with a select number of private chefs to create bespoke dining menus. for a dinner party or working lunch for up to 10 people in the art-filled dining room. For larger venues, ample outdoor space may be utilized for exclusive use of the property.The property is also available as a buyout for a maximum capacity of 34 people with a 2-night minimum.

Above: R INN NAPA Bungalow

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The hotel boom continues across Napa Valley and seems to be targeted toward more unique-boutique properties. George is a nine-room Queen Victorian inn that was originally a mansion built in 1891 and today is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Four years were spent remodeling the house to ensure careful preservation of much of the architecture but a few modern twists were added traditional B&B, amenities include a Peloton studio on the lower level and cocktail and wine offerings in the speakeasy-style living room.

Heading north, Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs, originally built in 1952 and considered one of the first resorts in Calistoga, unveiled a large-scale renovation in May 2021. The property’s new look includes a new Southwestern-inspired restaurant, House of Better and new outdoor cabana treatment rooms as part of the spa.

Around the corner, Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection and Los Angeles-based design agency, Studio Collective (Virgin Vegas) have unveiled a new redesign. As part of the $30 million dollar upgrade, eleven new cottages opened – each with views of the Mayacamas Mountains.  And, Picobar, the resort’s new dining venue is also open for business.

Above: Picobar at Solage

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Coming Soon


Also in the works, Stanly Ranch, an Auberge Collection Resort is also set to be unveiled in late 2021. The 135 open-air cottages will be set on the historic Stanly Ranch Winery estate, which has been producing critically acclaimed wines since the 19th century.

Four Seasons Resort & Residences is scheduled to open in November of 2021 with 85-rooms and an on-site vineyard and tasting room – a rarity in Napa Valley.

Above: Downtown Yountville | Photo by Bob McClenahan

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New Dining


Yountville’s new North Block restaurant, which opened in April, is helmed by Chef Nick Tamburo who joined from Manhattan’s Momofuku. With a focus on California cuisine, menu items include Shikoyu oysters with yuzu and asparagus with abalone and bone marrow.

Francis Ford Coppola, proprietor of Inglenook, announced the completion of a major renovation of the winery’s historic Pennino Salon. The tasting space, reminiscent of a private club in the 1920s, is named after Coppola’s grandfather, Francesco Pennino. The room includes a variety of personal mementos like works of art by Robert De Niro and by film director Akira Kurosawa. Visitors can spin jazz albums on vintage turntables, play their own tunes on a piano or sit down for a game of chess or backgammon.

Domaine Carneros’s new “The Art of Sabrage” experience allows private groups to learn the history, legend and technique of this dramatic ritual dating to the age of Napoleon. The experience includes four sparkling wines paired with a selection of local bites, followed by a sabrage demonstration.

Above: Biking though Solage Vineyard

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Getting Around


Following a 14-month hiatus, the historic Napa Valley Wine Train is back on the tracks taking passengers on a 36-mile round trip loop through wine country with a four-course meal and access to some of Napa Valley’s most famous wineries.

The creators of Clif Bar recently joined forces with local celebrity chefs to launch new biking experiences at Clif Family Winery this summer. The three new experiences feature biking routes designed by avid cyclists, including Chef Philip Tessier of PRESS, Chef Chris Kollar founder of Kollar Chocolates, and Chef John McConnell behind the kitchen of Clif Family. The bike routes depart from the St. Helena winery and end at the tasting room’s outdoor patio for a glass of wine and a seasonal bruschetta created by the chef.

Above: Wine Tasting at Abbot’s Passage

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Crushing Hard


Learn the magic of producing vino with Round Pond’s “Day in the Life” program where guests measure the ripeness of the grapes during a vineyard tour, partake in a winemaking tutorial, and conclude with a tasting of the estate’s olive oils.

Several events and dinners celebrating the grape will also take place, such as Carnivus Maximus on September 5, with tastings of pre-release vintages; Rutherford Hill Winery’s annual Barn Bash on September 15, with live music, a BBQ and wine pairings; and Merryvale’s celebration on September 26 with barrel samples and exclusive access to the winemaker.  Don’t miss Calistoga’s Harvest Table on September 12. A 1,000-foot-long table will stretch down the town’s main Lincoln Street with cuisine from 13 restaurants and a selection of reds and whites from more than 40 local wineries.

Above: Flamingo Pool in Santa Rosa | Photo by Stephanie Russo

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New Lodging in Sonoma


A cornerstone of the community for over 60 years, the legendary Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, Sonoma Wine Country has been completely transformed with modern amenities and design spread across a 10-acre campus including 156 redesigned guest rooms and 14 spacious poolside suites, 20,000-square-foot full-service health club, spa and fitness center, signature restaurant The Lazeaway Club, and Wild Bird at The Watering Hole pool bar. Private poolside cabanas, tennis and pickleball courts are just a few of the outdoor offerings.

Above: Flamingo Pool in Santa Rosa | Photo by Stephanie Russo

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The Montage opened a 258-acre resort in Healdsburg at the end of 2020. Here you can arrange private tasting tours to Aperture Cellars or hang out at the zero-edge pool. New complimentary programming at the property includes Friday afternoon ‘meet the winemaker’ events, an ancient oak hike every Friday morning, and Saturday brings yoga among the vines – they have a yoga zen garden on-site near the spa – but the most interesting is ‘exploring the night sky’ with docents from The Robert Ferguson Observatory to educate about and view the twinkling stars.

Above: Montage Healdsburg | Photo by Christian Horan

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Have a Picnic at Abbot’s Passage


Located on a historic, dog-friendly property in the heart of Sonoma Valley and Glen Ellen, sixth-generation vintner Katie Bundschu officially opened Abbot’s Passage Winery & Mercantile in July of 2021.

The winery offers tastings or bottle service at picnic tables in the Olive Grove, playing shuffleboard or kicking-back in an Adirondack chair. Try to reserve a curated and immersive food and wine experience that takes place in field tables amid the property’s 80-year-old Zinfandel vines. The shareable plates highlight the best of seasonal wine country fare, with grazing boards loaded with house-made pickled vegetables, dried fruits, crackers for spreading local cheeses and charcuterie. The Mercantile showcases artisanal products, hand-selected by Katie, with an emphasis on supporting female-owned businesses and sustainably made, locally sourced crafts.

And, don’t forget the wines which are predominantly small production, Rhone-focused exploratory blends that Katie grafted to a mix of varietals including Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Petit Sirah when Abbot’s Passage became the steward of the property in 2020. The resulting wines are one-of-a-kind field blends.

Above: Flowers Vineyard Sonoma

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Flowers Garden Tasting  


For sipping some of the best pinot noir, chardonnay and more recently, rosé vintages (made with that award-winning pinot noir), in a garden setting, surrounded by vineyards, House of Flowers opened in 2019, designed by Walker Warner – who also constructed Kona Village in Hawaii, among other tranquil escapes. The new tasting room also offers a ‘Bottles and Provisions’ experience on Sundays with seasonal bites that is the perfect way to end your weekend.

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