Entries in ‘Wine Country’ Journal

Review: Embassy Suites Napa Valley

Friday December 5, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 1 Comment

Back in the day (we’re talking late 1980’s) downtown Napa was not the happening spot that it is today. My husband and I lived in the apartments next to Embassy Suites Napa Valley and would walk over to order their killer cheese bread. The bread is long gone from the Napa Valley menu – it was probably called killer cheese bread due to the artery-clogging goodness – and along with the updated healthy menu items comes a $4 million+ re-model of the entire hotel.
 

"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", hotel review

Embassy Suites hotel review. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

What I like about this property; the all-suite hotel is conveniently located in downtown Napa, so if you want to do Napa like a local, you’ll be able to walk, dine and drink without driving. You’ll need your car to explore further up valley, but if Napa is your focus, the hotel is right next to Highway 29 – the first downtown Napa exit. Additionally, as a business traveler, I love the free, fast wifi! Good water pressure in the shower of this well lighted bathroom, too. FYI, no bath tub, but there is an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, as well as a small fitness center.

 

 

The 205 room hotel is pet-friendly and charges a one time $75 pet fee. Dogs receive a goodie bag upon arrival! All rooms are suites with king or double bed options and include a desk and sleeper sofa in the front suite. The updated rooms include plenty of electrical outlets for charging your electronics. If you are a light sleeper, I recommend requesting a third floor location. My neighbors above me were walking around until 11:30 p.m. and up early the next morning.
 

"Embassy Suites Napa Valley" swans, hotel, "Embassy Suites"

Swans in the hotel courtyard. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", hotel, pool

Outdoor pool. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", swimming pool

Indoor pool & hot tub. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
In addition to a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, guests are welcomed to a complimentary reception for evening cocktails served nightly from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Breakfast is served in the atrium Monday – Friday from 6:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m., Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
 
"Embassy Suites", "Napa Valley", breakfast

Cooked to order breakfast at Embassy Suites. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", atrium

Cocktails served nightly in the atrium. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Insider Tip
In addition to being pet-friendly, Embassy Suites has lovely grounds with water features, fountains, ducks and swans. If you are traveling with kids, the birds are fed in the morning for good viewing. See if you can spot the black swans!

For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter.
 

"Embassy Suites" suite, "Napa Valley"

King Suite Pool View. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Check-In Time: 4:00pm

Check-Out Time: 12:00pm

If You Go:
Embassy Suites Napa Valley (800) Embassy or (707) 253-9540
1075 California Boulevard
Napa, California 94559

Hotel review, video and photos courtesy of Lodging Editor Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Embassy Suites while researching an article for another publication.

Napa Valley Festival del Sole

Thursday July 3, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 1 Comment

"Jamieson Ranch" horse

Jamieson Ranch hosts Napa Valley Festival del Sole

As I have stated many times on this luxury travel blog, I feel blessed to live in Northern California with its endless possibilities of beauty, musical talent, fantastic food and wine, creative artists and wellness practitioners. A wonderful example of these opportunities coming together in one location is Napa Valley Festival del Sole. This annual 10 day summer celebration takes place in numerous venues throughout Napa Valley, California with over 100 wineries participating in this July event.

 

"Cici's Italian Butterhorns" "Taste of Napa"

Cici’s Italian Butterhorns participate at Festival del Sole: A Taste of Napa

 
Festival del Sole Taste of Napa

I had the pleasure of attending A Taste of Napa last July. Festival del Sole guests are treated to nibbles, bites and sips from Napa Valley wineries and culinary creators from Northern California. One of my favorite finds from A Taste of Napa was Lafayette, California-based Cici’s Italian Butterhorns. This mother-daughter duo makes delicious handmade Italian treats.
 

 
Festival del Sole concerts

Concert goers will appreciate the high caliber of musicians and singers drawn to Napa Valley for the opportunity to perform at Festival del Sole. With concerts ranging from Joshua Bell, to the Russian National Orchestra performing in 2013 and a series of young artist concerts sponsored by Bouchaine Vineyards, chamber music afficionados to opera lovers will leave on a satisfied note.
 

"Russian National Orchestra" "Lincoln Theater" "Festival del Sole"

Russian National Orchestra takes stage at Napa Valley Festival del Sole’s Lincoln Theater


Festival del Sole Gala

The annual Festival del Sole Gala at Meadowood Napa Valley is an elegant enchanted garden affair. I have yet to attend this swank gala, as it is a hot ticket at Festival del Sole with a live auction at the end of the evening to benefit Festival del Sole and various local arts education programs. The sold-out gala requests ladies dress in white attire, while gentlemen are required to wear summer dinner jackets.

Festival del Sole lodging

As mentioned above, Napa Valley Festival del Sole is a much anticipated summer event in Northern California. You’ll want to make your Napa Valley hotel reservations in advance, as this is not the festival to drink and drive. I stayed at Napa River Inn when I attended Napa Valley Festival del Sole. Additional hotel partners include properties in Calistoga, Napa, Rutherford, St. Helena and Yountville.
 

"Grape Crusher" sculpture

Napa Valley Festival Sole blends wine, food, music & arts

 
Insider Tip:
While Napa Valley Festival del Sole is not an inexpensive affair, there are several free concerts and events open to the general public – reservations recommended. For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter and Festival del Sole @Napafest.

If You Go:
Napa Valley Festival del Sole (888) 337-6272
www.festivaldelsole.org

Article, photos and video courtesy of Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. Cici’s Italian Butterhorns photo provided. I was a guest of Festival del Sole’s Taste of Napa Valley, the Russian National Orchestra performance at Lincoln Center and Jamieson Ranch dinner. All opinions are my own.

Pat Benatar Neil Giraldo Rock Uptown Theatre Napa

Friday May 30, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

"Benatar Giraldo" "Uptown Theatre"

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo 35th Anniversary Tour at Uptown Theatre, Napa

Rock and roll is alive and well at the Uptown Theatre in downtown Napa. Musicians Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo rocked Uptown Theatre taking listeners on a musical journey that launched in 1979 (the year my husband and I graduated high school) and continues today. The hipster baby boomers have traveled together on the road for 35 years and celebrate this June with their 35 year anniversary tour.

Baby Boomers Travel

The married musicians poked fun at themselves throughout the performance, noting that they were “old and married” but they could still rock the house at Uptown Theatre in downtown Napa.
 
In a previous interview the couple said they never get tired of performing live in concert, “it’s the travel that gets us tired,” noted Benatar.
 
Guitarist Neil Giraldo sipped on water, from a red plastic solo cup, between music sets of “Promises in the Dark” “Hell is for Children” a powerful song about child abuse, “Love is a Battlefield” and “We Belong,” among other classic music hits.
 

"Pat Benatar" "Neil Giraldo"

Baby boomers Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo rock Uptown Theatre

Baby Boomers Rock

As Pat Benatar belted out “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” the baby boomer audience sang and swayed along from their plush seats at Uptown Theatre. I had heard that “there isn’t a bad seat in the house” from Marketing Manager Shelby French, but I had to see it for myself to believe it. The historic Uptown Theatre is a lovely theater for musicians to perform in, with an intimate 800 seats and fantastic acoustics, as well as the beautiful, hand-painted art-deco style ceiling.
 

"Uptown Theatre"

Discovering downtown Napa at Uptown Theatre

Discovering downtown Napa

Before the 8:00 p.m. show, my husband and I decided to drive up from the East Bay and do Napa like a local. We picked up the downtown Napa wine tasting card from the Napa Valley Welcome Center on Main Street and proceeded to sip our way through downtown Napa.
 

With over 24 wine tasting rooms to choose from and 65 restaurants, downtown Napa is a very walkable city. We sampled wine from many places and then moved onto the Oxbow Public Market for a light dinner at Kitchen Door. I love their deviled egg salad and mushroom soup! All in all, a very enjoyable evening was had in downtown Napa. Rock on Pat Benatar!
 

"Neil Giraldo" "Pat Benatar"

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo


 
Insider Tip
The warm up act was a talented young bay area musician named Roem Baur. His band that night was his electric guitar and a tambourine strapped around his ankle. This guy has quite the set of pipes and got the crowd fired up. My personal favorite, “Natural Disaster.” Expect to hear more good things from Roem Baur. For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @nancydbrown and @TheUptownNapa on Twitter for upcoming concert information.
 
If You Go:
Uptown Theatre (707) 259-0123
1350 Third St.
Napa, California 94559

Article and photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. Publicity photo of Neil Giraldo and Pat Benatar supplied. I was a guest of Uptown Theatre for review purposes. All opinions are my own.