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Sustainable Lodging, Farm-to-Table Restaurants and Of Course Wine in Napa Valley

September 29, 2014

Leaving Lake Tahoe, we traveled west to Napa on I-50 and happened to be driving near an area where they were having many uncontrolled wildfires. In fact, we were so close at one point that we could see the flames from the top of a ridge. We learned that they actually closed the road we were on the next day! Even when we arrived in Napa, there was still a haze on the horizon from all of the smoke blowing miles away.

Our first stop was at The Meritage Resort & Spa. Just like the wine that inspired its name, The Meritage Resort and Spa is the perfect blend of wine tasting, dining, spa, and indulgence. You immediately feel like you’ve just walked into a beautiful Tuscan hotel upon entering the lobby and this Italian-inspired décor spills over into your guest room and all the areas on property. High ceilings, spacious bathrooms, luxurious beds and many rooms with private balconies or patios with vineyard views await. Relax with two swimming pools, three whirlpools, several outdoor fire places, bocce ball court and hiking trails through the nine acres of hillside vineyards. There is even a tasting room onsite – with a magnificent Estate Cave featuring the Trinitas Cellars’ award-winning wines. Even cooler if you brought the kids is Crush Ultra Lounge, the sports-themed lounge with six luxury bowling lanes and a pool table. You won’t want to leave without experiencing the full-service spa, which features steam grottos, soaking pools, waterfalls, revitalizing treatments and therapies.

And what’s even better is all of their green practices including:
• An on-site herb garden to supply herbs for the restaurants
• On-site lemon and olive trees which help lower the insect problems naturally
• Fryer oil is donated for biodiesel/biofuel
• All coffee and tea at Blend™ Café is organic and fair trade
• Lunch bags for groups are reusable
• Clear cups and to-go boxes are made of biodegradable corn
• Low flow plumbing fixtures
• EV Charging Stations for electric cars
• Programmable thermostats used in common areas
• Certain Guest Room keys save energy as the lights and air/heat turn on when the key is inserted and off when the key is removed

If you like the feel of a large, sprawling resort with all these amenities on-site, you’ll love the The Meritage Resort.

The next day we headed out for some classic Napa Valley wine tasting. I’ve often said you need weeks to really explore Napa because you can really only visit about 3-4 wineries in a day (even if you have a limo driver). Plus, depending on what region you want to visit (southern, central or nothern Napa), and if you are visiting more than one in a single day, you’ll have to account for traffic and driving time. We were able to hit about 10 or so in the 3 days we were there, and the ones that really stood out to me were: Whitehall Lane, Miner Family, Del Dotto and Castello di Amorosa. While the wines were fantastic at each of them – some other notables were: the tasting experience at Whitehall Lane (amazing charcuterie paired with each wine by their chef); the cave tour at Del Dotto (a chance to try wines by the barrel not yet released); the friendliness and lively tasting room at Miner Family; and exploring a castle at Castello di Amorosa.

It’s a good thing most tasting rooms close at 5pm because you don’t want to miss out on the amazing food scene in Napa. Places not to be missed are: Mustards Grill, R&D Kitchen, TORC, Grace’s Table, Farm, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen and if you really want to break the bank, French Laundry.

Our last night we were lucky enough to spend at the Inn on First – I did an article on this property in 2011 and it was just as amazing this time as I remembered it to be. Owners Jim Gunther and Jamie Cherry have truly outdone themselves with this bed and breakfast. If you are looking for a romantic getaway, this is the place. Jim makes all of the breakfasts from scratch with deliciously unique food and has over 130 selections in his repertoire. In fact – he even keeps track of what you had when you stayed there, so that you never have the same breakfast twice!

We stayed in the Noble Vineyard suite with gold and red toned décor, which has a luxuriously comfortable king bed, private entrance, gas fireplace, large seating area, whirlpool tub, twin sinks and spacious rainfall shower. The best part…there is NO TV! You have your own private balcony that is hidden under the branches of a large oak tree with a small cafe table and 2 chairs. Other cool things for your use while staying at the Inn…stainless steel water bottles and a picnic basket equipped with everything you need.

In 2014 they were one of thirteen businesses in the State of California to receive a Climate Leader Award from that is funded by the California Environment Protection Agency. This award recognizes California small businesses that demonstrate exceptional climate change management practices and communication. Other green practices they’ve implemented include:

• Low-flow water sources and tank-less water heater
• Kitchen waste composting, Garden composting
• Re-usable glassware instead of paper or plastic as well as stainless steel water bottles replacing plastic water bottles
• In-room recycle bins
• In-room climate control. Each room has a personal air-conditioning/cooling unit, heat source, and ceiling fans with occupancy sensors which allow for energy savings in unoccupied rooms.
• Luxury Toiletries from Gilchrist & Soames. The BeeKind® Collection features formulations, which contain no parabens, phthalates, petrol-derived ingredients, mineral oil, urea, DEA, TEA or propylene glycol, and use recyclable packaging and are free of any artificial colors or dyes.
• Household natural cleaning products that protect both the environment and the housekeepers who use them.
• Sheet and Towel Service that is certified green
• House-made snacks. This reduces unnecessary packaging/shipping; therefore cuts back on the pollution that is derived from automobile based distribution & paper waste.
• Food storage bags that are composed of clear 100% Home-Compostable cellulose product made from wood fiber, that causes nearly zero environmental impact.
• Natural cleaning & gardening products are used to keep our rooms and grounds in pristine condition.

Interestingly enough, we met a couple at breakfast that was spending their honeymoon at the Inn on First – I couldn’t imagine a more perfect place!

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