Despite a difficult two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Napa Valley continues to prove why it’s the premier wine destination in not only California, but also North America. Every year brings a slew of new and unique wine experiences, luxury hotels and resorts, and world-class dining that makes Napa the complete vacation package.
If it’s been a while since you really traveled, Napa Valley is the perfect place to dip your toes and treat yourself for lost time. From Champagne and caviar lounges to splurge-worthy, five-star resorts to cabernet that absolutely slays, here are all the new places to discover in Napa Valley in 2022.
The small town of Calistoga, on Napa Valley’s northern end, was the talk of Wine Country in 2021. Not only did the Four Seasons Resorts & Residences Napa Valley finally open after several years of delays — complete with a restaurant, spa, two pools (one adults only), a poolside cantina, on-site winery, and luxury rooms with vineyard and mountain views — but several other Calistoga hotels got a facelift.
Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Hot Springs completed a head-to-toe renovation of its 1952 hotel, turning it into a chic and nostalgic playground made for young couples, families, and visitors on a budget. While you’re there, experience a traditional mud bath — a concept that was actually born at this very hotel — or perhaps a CBD massage, and enjoy a healthy-ish meal of Southwestern cuisine at House of Better (get the Green Chile Apple Pie for dessert).
Solage made updates to its restaurant patio, pool, and rooms, plus added a killer pool bar, Pico, where you can grab duck mole tacos, spicy cocktails, and a unique guac made out of whipped avocado, pistachio, and kale dip. The Calistoga Motor Lodge + Spa, a reimagined roadside motel with a retro bathhouse and trio of mineral springs pools, added a set of elevated rooms with a view on top of its new wood-fired-themed restaurant, Fleetwood.
Few visitors to Napa have heard of the ultra-luxe Poetry Inn, perched high on a hill above Yountville with unparalleled views. Owned by the same family behind Cliff Lede Vineyards, the inn underwent a total, contemporary design refresh from locally-famous interior designer Erin Martin and not only is it incredibly intimate with just five apartment-sized suites, it has a pool, spa, and gives the larger resorts a run for their money.
Napa Valley’s third Auberge Collection resort, Stanly Ranch, will open in south Napa this year. Built on a historic, 700-acre ranch that’s surrounded by bucolic rolling hills, guests can expect the same level of luxury design and hospitality that Solage and Auberge du Soleil offer.
This trio of wineries would make for the perfect itinerary on the Silverado Trail in Napa, as they’re all within a six-mile stretch of road. There was a lot of movement in 2021 on the south end of what locals call “The Trail,” starting with an oldie, but a goodie. Burgess Cellars, a historic winery that was founded in 1972 on Howell Mountain, sadly lost much of its winery and tasting room in the 2020 Glass Fire but found a new home last year in what was formerly Luna Vineyards. Enjoy an outdoor garden tasting featuring some library vintages of Burgess wines and keep an eye out for new experiences and events this coming year, like a caviar and sparkling wine lounge.
Not far up the road from Burgess, the chill and unpretentious Bread & Butter tasting room opened last summer. Taste at a cozy, modern home where Bread & Butter Wines (one of the fastest-growing brands in America) is planning to launch a totally unique tasting experience in 2022: a wine and butter pairing, featuring artisanal jars of butter (with bread, of course) made to match specific wines.
Stop at the Soda Canyon Store for lunch and then drive a couple more miles north to Baldacci Family Vineyards, which finally completed a multi-year renovation of their tasting room and winery. This family-owned-and-run winery established in 1998 has some of the best views of the famed Stags Leap District from their massive veranda and glass-walled hospitality center called “Stag Hall.”
If you want to feel a little less guilty about all of the wine you’re sipping on your next Wine Country trip, check out the new OneHope, which is all about giving back. This state-of-the-art winery and hospitality barn set in Oakville uses wine as a vessel to raise funds for global issues related to health, hunger, poverty, and education. Book the Wine & Bites experience and before you head out, stop by the marketplace, which OneHope has stocked with handmade items from artisans around the world.
The new Four Seasons Napa Valley has its own on-site winery called Elusa, where one of Napa’s most renowned consulting winemakers, Thomas Rivers Brown, has set up shop. You don’t have to be a guest of the resort to reserve a tasting here, where both the cabernet and the setting are on a five-star level.
It’s hard to keep up with the openings happening in downtown Napa, but one to keep an eye out for is Brendel Wines, which will open downtown on First St. sometime this year. This new wine brand is bringing a fresh perspective to Napa by crafting organically-farmed, pure wines that speak to Napa Valley’s history and aren’t overpriced — we’re talking Napa Valley-made wines that range from $28-60 (run, don’t walk).
One of Napa’s most anticipated restaurant openings in 2021 came last fall in the form of a tiki bar downtown. Overlooking the Napa River (it even has a rooftop terrace), Wilfred’s Lounge offers something completely new in Wine Country. Sip Wilfred’s version of a Mai Tai or other tropical drinks, like the Blue Hawaii, Pagan Ritual, or On Island Thyme (get it?). For food, the salmon candy rangoons, spam sliders, and chicken skewers will transport you right to a virtual island paradise.
Last summer, Chef Thomas Keller unveiled yet another eatery, his sixth in the tiny town of Yountville. Outside of The French Laundry, this is the fanciest dining experience yet, celebrating two of life’s greatest gifts: Champagne and caviar. Swing by the Regiis Ova Caviar & Champagne Lounge for just that and some fun bites like deviled eggs or Wagyu tartare (both topped with caviar), snow crab legs, and truffle grilled cheese.
In early 2022, Loveski, a “Jew-ish” deli concept from Chef Christopher Kostow (of the three Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood and The Charter Oak) and his wife Martina Kostow will open at the Oxbow Public Market, serving up bagels and schmear and killer pastrami on rye. Also slated to open in Napa Valley later this year is The Slanted Door, a Wine Country outpost from the famed San Francisco Vietnamese restaurant, and a new St. Helena restaurant from two volunteer firefighter friends, one of which is a 10-year French Laundry alum, called Charlies’.
Napa obviously has its share of wine bars and while you likely have your favorites, there are three new spots worth checking out, like Ox and the Fox, located right in the heart of downtown on First St. and inside the First & Franklin Marketplace, which also happens to make a mean deli sandwich. Ox and the Fox is small, super casual, and a great alternative when the line at Cadet (just around the corner) is too long on the weekends. Don’t miss the snacks, like a goat cheese fondue.
Feast it Forward, a wine tasting collective, TV studio, and design showroom in one, expanded at the end of 2021 at its eclectic Oxbow District location to include The Yard, a music festival-inspired outdoor space with a huge stage, picnic tables, lawn games, and double-decker wine lounges made out of repurposed storage containers. The Yard frequently hosts concerts, pop-ups, and other fun events, so keep an eye on their website calendar.
Bay Grape is technically a wine shop, but since opening last year, it’s become a sort of best-kept secret of Napa’s local wine industry, known as the spot to procure obscure wines that go beyond Napa and California and you won’t find anywhere else in town. Bay Grape offers a weekly wine flight by a featured producer and any bottle you purchase can be enjoyed on their patio for a $10 corkage fee. On Sundays, that corkage is waived on all Champagne (huzzah!).
Though not a wine bar, a new cocktail bar called The Fink should be on your radar for 2022. Set to open inside The Napa River Inn, this project comes from Napa’s unofficial mayor and vintner Judd Finklestein of Judd’s Hill Winery. Finklestein founded a Napa Valley cocktail appreciation guild back in 2004, just in case anyone was doubting his credentials.
The sister outpost of Big Stump Brewing Company in Sacramento, Napa Barrel Project is a new brew pub in downtown Napa that’s focused on aging beers in barrels sourced from Napa Valley wineries (they even have a wine list featuring bottles and glasses from those same wineries). Pair either with a pizza from their menu, like the Spanish Pizza topped with chorizo, olives, and onions.
Berkeley-based Fieldwork Brewing recently moved its Napa taproom from the Oxbow Public Market to a new standalone space around the corner that’s much bigger, has a large beer garden, and for the first time, serves food.
Napa isn’t exactly known for its nightlife, but a new cardroom called Ace & Vine opened last year, providing a new form of late-night entertainment in Wine Country. Open 24/7 — yes, really — pick your poison between Blackjack, Texas Holdem, Baccarat, Three Card Poker, and Pai Gow Poker. Ace & Vine doubles as a restaurant, serving a mash-up of American and Asian dishes indoors or on a big, riverside deck.