Since its inception in 2000, the high-end lifestyle concierge service Quintessentially has indulged its members with tailored luxury experiences in a range of cultural fields, including art, travel and fashion. Quintessentially Wine was co-launched four years ago by Chris Orr and Matthew Jukes, one of the UK’s leading wine critics. Jukes selects the most desirable vintages and heads up bespoke wine tours each year in France, run in conjunction with sister company Quintessentially Escape. We asked Quintessentially Wines to craft an exclusive vineyard journey to the grape-paradise of Napa Valley, California—where the standard of wine, Jukes declares, “makes the French quake in their vinous shoes”—and they happily obliged. “The really interesting stuff is tucked away where even the locals can't find it,” Jukes says. “That's what makes visiting the Napa Valley such a wonderful experience.” The following itinerary, ideal for a long weekend, offers a whistle-stop tour of the region’s sun-kissed vineyards and sublime hotels, with Jukes himself on hand to bring out all the flavors of this tranquil area.Day 1:
- Arrive in San Francisco, where a chauffeur-driven car will collect you from the airport and drive approximately two hours to the heart of Napa.
- Arrive at The Carneros Inn, a resort made up of individual guestroom cottages surrounded by picturesque landscapes and, of course, vineyards.
- Tour of Plump Jack Vineyard, to which The Carneros is linked. Guests can try up to six of the current vintages, and Matthew Jukes will be there to guide you through the fruity notes of these fabulous wines.
- After a short rest and period of tranquil relaxation in the beautiful surroundings—27 acres of vineyards, apple orchards and Napa farmland—there will be an intimate dinner at The Carneros, with a menu created by executive chef Jeffery Jake and accompanied by expert notes from Jukes about his selection of wines from this enchanting region.
- Depart The Carneros in a chauffeur driven car for the Auberge de Soleil in Rutherford, a hillside resort that offers panoramic views of the Napa Valley. While luggage is transferred, guests will take a vineyard tour of the family-owned Cakebread Cellars’s Hill Ranch, and sample its renowned range of Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
- After the tasting, guests are invited to a wine-and-food pairing session at Hill Ranch. The Cakebread family has been at the forefront of organic cooking since they pioneered their organic kitchen garden in the 1980s. Their resident chefs will create four recipes designed to give you an idea of what dishes best compliment the wines of Napa.
- Return to Auberge de Soleil and while away the afternoon with the resort’s “Water Ritual”—a dip in three temperate springs overlooking the valley. Executive chef Robert Curry will then devise a seasonal six-course tasting menu, and each course will be paired with wines chosen by Jukes.
The package is priced at approximately $5,250-$7,500 per head.
- Check out of Auberge de Soleil after a last dip in the pool.
- Tour Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi’s Opus One vineyard and enjoy a tasting of the current vintage. Opus One is one of the biggest names in Napa Valley, and its founders pioneered the process of temperature-controlled fermentation and French Oak barrel aging. As the vineyard only produces one varietal, it can maintain an incredible level of quality—each vat is used just once per season, allowing individual grape harvests the time to fully develop flavor.
- Located down the road is the Chappellet Winery, the second to be opened in Napa Valley after prohibition. Although lesser-known, Chappellet produces some superior wines. Savor these heady last sips before embarking on the drive back to San Francisco.