Have you noticed? Napa Valley is shapeshifting. Despite a longstanding reputation as opulent and otherworldly, the place has begun to show a more approachable side—one that’s equal parts grace and grit. Even as natural disasters have tested the region, its welcoming spirit of hospitality shines.
Gazing into our crystal ball, we predict that 2023 will reveal more of the “real” Napa Valley, along with its escapist indulgences. The future looks bright.
As vacation digs go, you can’t get any cozier than the stylish, six-room Brannan Cottage Inn. Housed in a 150-year-old cottage built by the founder of Calistoga, the property was restored and updated with luxury amenities in the summer of 2022. Its prime location allows you to walk to downtown Calistoga in 10 minutes, or venture a little further (15 minutes) by car to find peace outdoors at Robert Louis Stevenson State Park.
Before setting off on your Napa explorations, grab a coffee at the adjacent Sam’s General Store. The popular coffee shop offers an array of gourmet sandwiches and snacks, which you can request packed into a picnic for your day’s adventures.
A culinary legend needing little introduction, Chef Masaharu Morimoto—a.k.a., the “Iron Chef”—has recently blessed downtown Napa with a second eatery. Lively and welcoming, Morimoto Asia is situated on the Napa River, just down the block from the existing sushi restaurant, Morimoto Napa. Its 170 seats are arranged in both intimate and communal tables, while its cuisine features “Far East tastes and textures” including traditional hot pot, tender dumplings, flavorful rice and noodle dishes, and more. Kick off your feast with a lychee-tini (sake, vodka, and lychee liqueur) and crab rangoon appetizer; then try the richly flavored crepe okonomiyaki, a flavorful dish that Morimoto created based on his favorite childhood meal.
A recent visit to C Casa, the beloved taco stop at Oxbow Public Market, found its former food stall empty, inducing panic that (heaven forbid) the place had closed. Turns out, they had moved to a spacious new fine-dining restaurant a few paces away. C Casa’s expansive new menu offers something for everyone. Dine on formal dishes like duck confit dressed with oranges and avocado crema; light meals like the fresh Dungeness crab salad with grapefruit; or casual eats like Mexican street corn. Drinks options abound, from a tasty grilled-pineapple margarita, to innovative zero-proof selections like a prickly pear and ginger spritzer.
Any time of day—from breakfast to cocktail hour to dinner—you’ll find a relaxed yet elegant meal at Forum, which opened its doors as part of recent renovations at Meadowood, the 250-acre luxury resort in St. Helena. Showcasing seasonal produce from the on-site estate garden, the farm-to-table restaurant offers a true taste of the Napa Valley. Start the day with pumpkin pancakes or cold-pressed juice and an acai bowl. Later, try a crispy pork belly sandwich or local chicken cooked in Lebanese spices. Savor it all on an ambient outdoor patio bedecked with twinkling lights. Ahh.
Good news: Compline, the Michelin-starred wine bar and restaurant in downtown Napa, has added a retail shop and wine club to their already wildly successful operation. Now you can bring a taste of Compline home: order the restaurant’s popular duck fat fries and burger online, swing by to pick up your take-out food, and add a bottle to pair with your take-out meal. Choose from a variety of wine styles and price points ranging from unsung indie brands to highly coveted classics, all curated by veteran sommeliers and owners Matt Stamp and Ryan Stetins.
An undisputed force in California winemaking, Robert Mondavi Winery has been part of the glimmering fabric of Napa Valley since 1966. With Director of Winemaking Sally Johnson Blum, who took her post in the summer of 2022, the winery turns a whole new page. Look for her first releases, along with exclusive events hosted by Blum, as the year unfolds.
Want to explore a range of outstanding wineries, all from the comfort of a single tasting room? A new tasting collective, New Frontier Wine Co, reflects 44 local and international brands and features winemakers considered some of the world’s heavy hitters: Philippe Melka, Michel Rolland, Alberto Antonini, Mayaan Koschitzky, and Matt Sands. Sip your way around the globe, exploring terroir from Bordeaux to Patagonia to Barossa Valley; and also enjoy local Napa Valley brands like Lithology. We recommend advance appointments for this exclusive wine tasting experience.
In a region so highly celebrated for wine, you might be surprised to find a growing number of craft spirits endeavors. Napa Valley Distillery was the first distillery to open their doors in town after the end of Prohibition, and now offers a tasting lounge on site at their main distillery, plus an outpost at Oxbow Public Market and the new ArBaretum, a vibrant tasting lounge in downtown Napa. Explore a range of fine liquor, tonics, shrubs, syrups, and bitters with the guidance of a knowledgeable expert.
Vowing to support more small businesses in the new year? Start by browsing the thoughtful collection of reading material at Napa Bookmine, which first opened nearly a decade ago and now is celebrating a new, third location at Register Square in Napa.
Also located in the heart of downtown Napa, Jeffries General offers an eclectic and elegant selection of gifts, groceries, and decor. Whether you’re looking for a quick card to send to loved ones, a bottle of wine, fresh bread, locally made jewelry, or toys to keep the kids entertained, you’ll find it all here.
With a century and a half of history behind it, Calistoga Depot has stories to tell. A new chapter opens as it launches its new commercial and community gathering space. Depot Provisions offers all the goods you could possibly need to survive a day in Wine Country: locally made cheese, charcuterie, prepared foods, and (of course) wine. As the Depot evolves in the coming year, expect to find luxe lifestyle boutiques, a distillery, and a microbrewery.
Those in the know are already savvy to Hess Persson Estate, the winery and vineyard situated outside of Napa on the flanks of Mount Veeder. Offering estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon along with a world-class art collection, Hess Persson is no mere pit stop on your wine tasting itinerary—it’s a destination all its own, worthy of a full day’s exploration. Its latest attraction is a personal tasting with in-house chocolatier Jason Collins, who will guide you and your party in making your own souvenir chocolate bar. Once you’ve had your fill of wine and sweets, wander the gallery, and don’t miss the ethereal sculptures from iconic artist Andy Goldsworthy.
Keep an eye on the Meritage Resort and Spa, which was just approved for major expansion. While it may take a couple of years for this development to unfold, it appears that we can anticipate a new hotel and residences, as well. The renovations begin with a pop-up French bistro in the summer of 2023. Stay tuned!