There is no better time to escape from San Francisco than in August, or as most locals jokingly call it, “Fogust.” The weather in the city is notoriously misty and chilly during the summer months. So, if you’re planning a trip to the region, be sure to book a couple nights in glorious wine country. That way, you’ll get your fun in the sun without having to unpack your fleece. Although you’ll be inland in Napa Valley and other areas, there are plenty of hot spots to sit back and relax next to a body of water — specifically, some of the most luxurious pools you’ve ever seen.
Bardessono Hotel and Spa
If you’re in need of an insanely relaxing urban oasis, you can’t beat Yountville’s Bardessono. This modern Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star retreat — the place is peppered with stress-relieving fountains and water sculptures — has a second-floor rooftop pool. On a quiet day in the middle of the week, there is practically no one taking advantage of this sun-drenched space. The skinny pool is not much bigger than a two-lane lap pool, but it is surrounded by ample space to soak up the sun. The area has terry-cloth lined cabanas covered with gauzy fabrics, wicker chairs, a hot tub for cold weather, plenty of wide umbrellas, and beautiful mountain views. Bardessono’s Four-Star restaurant, Lucy, has a satellite bar on the pool deck and, if you’re lucky, bartender extraordinaire Norbert Lopez will be manning the ship. (The expert mixologist can even whip up a mean mocktail, when necessary.) The snacks, particularly the crispy chips with salsa, sour cream and guacamole, and the housemade flatbread with two types of fresh-mashed hummus, are lovely but light enough to be savored poolside.
One of wine country’s most indulgent resorts is the Solage Calistoga. The property is dotted with individual studio-like houses that come with complimentary bikes for cruising the region. But the real summertime draw here is the massive pool surrounded by lounge chairs and umbrellas. Solage’s swimming hole is also sprinkled with olive trees that have glistening silver leaves and statuesque palm trees with thick trunks. It offers a quiet atmosphere that oozes relaxation. Solbar, the hotel’s restaurant, provides a shortened menu at the pool. A must order: The frozen beer, a frothy and light Japanese brew, the Kirin Ichiban, that is churned in a slushy machine until it’s icy cold. If it’s a hot day, the shrimp lettuce wraps with rice noodles pair wonderfully with the chilly delight.
Francis Ford Coppola
The most family-friendly of pools in wine country is at Francis Ford Coppola’s winery in Geyserville. An award-winning filmmaker, Coppola is not afraid of showing off, and he does so wonderfully at his winery and pool. When you visit, start your day with a tasting and tour of the property. You’ll get to sip several wines made on site, learn a little history about Coppola and see fascinating artifacts from his films. When you’re nice and lubricated, head out to the large mushroom-shaped pool that has a deep end for jumping in and calming fountains down the middle. You won’t have to worry about finding a lounge because all of the chaises are reserved. Parties of four can rent a small locker, known as a cabine, that houses a private shower and changing room. When you rent one, you automatically get four comfortable reclining chairs to linger on by the pool. From there, spend the rest of your time in and out of the cool water, snack on a prosciutto- and arugula-topped pizza and sip on a potent mojito made with silver rum.
Auberge du Soleil
Nestled in an olive grove on the side of a hill in Rutherford is Five-Star Auberge du Soleil. La Plage Pool and Cabana at Auberge features a turquoise-colored pool surrounded by a wooden deck and several shaded terraces. The plush chaises are covered in sunny colors and stripes that channel the French Riviera. The stunning views of the valley bring to mind Tuscany. There are plenty of places to take in these vistas, from an oversized day bed draped in sumptuous white fabric to a chair on a deck that overlooks the water. When you’re in need of nourishment after a dip, the hotel’s Four-Star restaurant is open all day and the versatile menu has everything from sautéed foie gras and lobster salad to housemade ravioli filled with local ricotta cheese.
Nestled in the hills of Calistoga is a private rustic oasis known as Calistoga Ranch. Part hotel, part residence, this sprawling Four-Star locale has a green lake, vineyard, wine cave, chef’s garden and hillside pool that is open 24 hours a day. The heated pool is a simple but soothing answer to a long day on the area’s hiking trails. The Four-Star spa also houses natural spring-fed mineral pools, a signature spa amenity and another rejuvenating way to unwind. The space, as a whole, is secluded with unfussy furniture, white oleander trees and plenty of lush green grass. You’ll feel like you’re at a wildly chic Italian friend’s weekend house outside of Florence.