From St. Helena And The Wine Country

I’ve been inspired by last minute client pleas: I need to escape to a wine country villa, beach house, or desert casita for the weekend. I love the challenge of discovering and sharing the VV best anywhere in the world. Petite and not so petite gems within a few hours drive.

FROM ST. HELENA – the rolling hillsides of the northern wine country are brimming with villas, palatial palaces, and charming country cottages. Activities for everyone, bocce ball with the family among the vineyards, exclusive wine tasting in naturally chilled caves, hot air balloon tour followed by champagne picnic breakfast. St. Helena area exclusive options include, but are not limited to: experience the crush first hand, harvest and process grapes; Tracy Wood Anderson, CIA trained chef, will teach you to make sweet confections in her chocolate salon – or just tour the intimate kitchen and nibble the handmade delicacies. Visit the local coffee roasting café and create your own personalized blend of coffee- a great gift. Many of the villas will easily accommodate a group of 10 -12, gourmet kitchens are the norm. Bring in a chef to create a sumptuous feast or shop the local markets with a chef and design your own delectable dinners with your family and friends.

FROM STINSON BEACH – best enjoyed after the summer crowds; many of the exclusive private
homes are available for weekend rental; fall, winter and spring are exceptional seasons for the beach. Pack a picnic or order a bountiful basket of gourmet goodies dropped off on your front step, explore the coast, or just curl up in front of an afternoon fire after relishing a fabulous deep tissue massage by one of my favorite massage therapists. Luxury abounds, no matter where you prefer to land.

Winter and spring are perfect seasons for the beach and the wine country, linger over long lunches, savor delicious wines, and make time for a nap in front of a roaring fire. I have contacts for masseuse, private chefs, and if you must, personal trainers who are available on call wherever you visit.

From Santa Fe

FROM SANTA FE & TAOS – I recently spent a long weekend here with dear friends, always much going on in the high mountain country. One can wander for blocks enjoying the intimate but well stocked museums and art galleries, or shopping for giddy-up western attire.

I love lunch at La Boca, pueblo style exterior, an intimate white table-cloth New York style bistro. The tables are close, charming waiters scooting through delivering mouth watering authentic tapas. Two of my favorites: Grilled artichokes with Spanish goat cheese, orange & mint; baby spinach baked with goat cheese & onion-raisin compota, intriguing combinations, accompanied by a hearty Malbec or Rioja perfect lunch – then a siesta! Auberge Encantado, the newest Auberge Resort, opened for a year now, the Casitas were filled. Perched on the foothills offering breathtaking views of the Rio Grande, Los Alamos & Jemez Mountains. The Casitas enjoy the best views of the vast cumulus filled sky; smoke curling from the rooftop chimneys. Auberge is a quick ten-minute drive from the Santa Fe central plaza, a lovely escape from the crowds. A very special spa is on property, and the conference areas can easily accommodate a company off site. Terra restaurant serves an over the top dinner menu: house-smoked Ruby Trout- dribbled with Terra Chipotle Caviar, mmm! Two outdoor patios, featuring fire bowls, are a grand place to witness the spectacular purple sunsets or enjoy rumbling thunder and lightning flashes on the horizon.

Inn of the Anasazi, intimate fifty eight room inn is imbued with South Western charm. Located a block off the plaza makes this Rosewood Inn a perfect place to park the car and explore by foot. Pueblo style sandstone walls, suites with fireplaces, and a great restaurant.

Locations to linger – in and around the plaza: Nathalie- western wear, refined and quite elegant. This clothing and home furnishings shop was founded by a former French Vogue editor. Santa Fe Dry Goods- Chic fashionista showcase offering the best Italian designers- not for the ranch, but certainly appropriate in Venice or Rome! Packards on the Plaza- Boutique space filled with Native American crafts and fine silver jewelry. Gerald Peters Gallery- one of the best among the many local galleries. In addition to Southwest art, contemporary art is a favorite here- look for local Santa Cruz artist Tim Craighead’s work hung here.

Georgia O’Keefe Museum- her last few years were spent here and her work has become synonymous with Santa Fe. Palace of The Governors- National Landmark is now part of the state’s history museum, filed with treasures. Outside on the ample porch and on weekends, the Native Americans sell their wares. Look for silver earrings and necklaces, original art – keep an eye open for Ronald Chee, one of my favorite Navajo painters. His work can be found in several local galleries and he frequently sells from the plaza sidewalk- amiable and talented, Ron has been invited to many of the important juried Indian Art Shows.

Final lingering and soaking- Ten Thousand Waves spa, soak in the esoteric Japanese outdoor tubs, stimulating massage therapy. Summer brings the well known Santa Fe Opera – where else can you sit in an outdoor opera house on a warm balmy evening and enjoy first rate opera?