The Wine Country Inn, located on a side road off Highway 29 just north of St. Helena, was the very first bed and breakfast inn to open in California’s Napa Valley. It’s been welcoming guests since 1975, and though the rooms and grounds have been updated and the operation has grown since then, the inn still has a warm, family-run feel.
One of the biggest draws of the Wine Country Inn is its setting, right in the vineyards. Most rooms have vineyard views and you’ll find yourself looking at the vineyards (or even in them) while eating breakfast, at the pool, or relaxing in one of the secluded spaces scattered around the property. The inn also lures guests with the promise of romantic indulgence, and it delivers.
The Wine Country Inn has one of the best upgrade policies I’ve seen in Napa. When you check in, simply ask if a better room is available and staff will show you your options; you can choose to upgrade at no additional cost or stay in the room you originally booked. During my stay, my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary (when I made my reservation the receptionist asked about special celebrations) and when we arrived, we found not only a sweet personalized note welcoming us, but also that we’d been upgraded to the best luxury cabin.
Once you check in, there’s not much else to worry about it. The inn offers complimentary breakfast buffet each morning, complimentary afternoon wine and appetizers, for-purchase soft drinks and snacks on the honor system, complimentary wifi, complimentary concierge services, and – a huge perk for those who want to have a few drinks with dinner – a complimentary evening Restaurant Shuttle that drives guests to and from select restaurants in St. Helena and Rutherford. Upon check-in, guests also receive a set of passes good for complimentary tastings at many area wineries.
Rooms are comfortable and cozy; each one is decked out in a different theme (so choose based on your design preferences) and many have Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces. Our cottage had a wet bar, large soaking tub, fireplace with sitting room, patio overlooking the vineyards, and a charming country farmhouse décor. One thing all rooms have in common though is the absence of TVs – all the better to keep the romance alive, say the innkeepers.
There’s no fitness center onsite (though guests get a discount at a nearby gym) but there is a pool, common room with TV and games (where breakfast and the wine hour served), and a spa that offers massages, facials, body wraps, scrubs and other treatments. Guests can enjoy their treatments in the spa, in an outdoor tented cabana looking over the vineyards, or in the privacy of their guest room. Those who really enjoy their privacy can also arrange to have breakfast delivered to their room, for an additional fee.
The Wine Country Inn really puts the focus on the romance of Napa Valley, particularly with their elopement packages. Guests can get married in a private ceremony right on the cottage patios; the inn will take care of all of the arrangements including cake, champagne, officiant, and photography. My husband and I renewed our vows – privately and quietly – on the inn’s wooden swing with a vineyard view.
Though the Wine Country Inn is more than 35 years old, rooms have all been recently refurbished and the innkeepers have placed a large emphasis on being eco-friendly. The inn has a flock of more than 100 chickens that provide the eggs for breakfast, plus a quarter acre of gardens where they grow fruits, veggies and herbs used in the breakfast and in the afternoon hors d’oeuvres. The waste from the leftover produce is then fed to the chickens. Other food items are composted, and non-organic materials are recycled, reused, or donated. The innkeepers even bought several houses across the street from the inn and rented them out to employees to reduce their commute times (and carbon footprint) and help them spend more time with family. That focus on family comes through in the service too, with staff going out of their way to ensure guests love the inn and plan to return. Those who do return receive a discount on their next stay.
If you go:
Rates for rooms range from $235 – $550; cottages are priced at $385 – $695. All rates include complimentary breakfast, wifi, afternoon wine and snacks, and transportation to area restaurants.