When it comes to visiting Napa Valley, there is no better way to plan a weekend than to speak with a local. And when you’re organizing a luxurious getaway, it needs to be a special kind of local like, say, one who runs one of the region’s most illustrious resorts. As Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Meadowood Napa Valley’s hotel manager and director of wine and cuisine, Patrick Davila knows a thing or two about what’s happening in the area. So, with the Napa Valley near the top of many travelers’ fall and winter plans, we reached out to Davila to find out his favorite things to do, see and sip in the region.
Davila’s obvious recommendation for lodging is Meadowood. However, his preferred time of year for visiting may be a bit more surprising. “I love the spring and fall because of the way the valley looks,” Davila says, “but I love, love, love the winter at Meadowood. It feels incredibly rich and especially when it rains — it’s just gorgeous up here.”
While we have plenty of reasons of our own to join Davila in praising the gorgeous, 250-acre property, he insists a stay at the resort is unlike any other hotel experience because of three key things: “One, our commitment to the highest quality of hospitality. Two, there is not a place more beautiful. It’s incredibly secluded and exclusive. And three, the amazing collection of professionals that we have working here that our guests have access to — they are all the best in their field.” When you have a chef like Christopher Kostow overseeing the Five-Star restaurant, and tennis and croquet pros such as Doug King and Mike McDonnell on your team, you can make such a lofty declaration.
Though Davila could go on for hours about Meadowood’s many features — from the breathtaking hiking trails (“you’ll get a perspective of how massive the property is”) to the summer 2015-opening of the 14,000-square-foot spa (“each room is its own suite!”) — the Napa resident of nine years is equally excited about pointing you in fun directions off the campus.
For starters, he recommends that you walk around St. Helena’s quaint downtown and stop at his preferred art havens, the Caldwell Snyder Gallery and Erin Martin Design — both are conveniently located near Main Street. He also suggests visiting an underrated attraction, Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park. “I always take friends who come to town to the old grist mill,” Davila says. “It was built in 1846 and it’s water-powered and they are still milling! Some of our flour and polenta gets milled there. No one ever thinks about it, but everyone I’ve taken has enjoyed checking it out.”
Of course, you wouldn’t be in Napa if you weren’t looking to sample some great pours, too. As far as overlooked wineries go, Davila is fond of Chappellet [in St. Helena]: “It’s one of those families that has been making wine in the valley forever and they are very family-oriented.” Another winner is Behrens Family Winery because “their tasting room is in an airstream and they make amazing wines and some crazy blends. The majority of people don’t know that it exists.” Davila is also a fan of Schramsberg. “I love the caves there,” he explains. “They were dug like 100 years ago and they are so cool.”
After visiting the vines, Davila knows you’ll have an appetite. Though he (and our Forbes Travel Guide inspectors) advises you to make dinner reservations for The Restaurant at Meadowood, he has some other local culinary favorites as well. “The shrimp tacos at Gott’s Roadside [are great],” he says. “[I like] anything that Bar Terra makes, but they have really good bar snacks. The cocktails are really good at this new place, The Farmer & The Fox.”
As our conversation begins to wrap up, Davila excitedly stresses one last landmark that’s not to be missed: Cameo Cinema. “Everyone should see a movie there,” he adds. “It’s just one theater with the same movie showing two-to-three times a day. They have love seats and it’s family owned and it’s simply neat. It was built in 1913, but it’s been redone, so it’s modern yet historic at the same time.”