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carry any wine you purchase and even help with shipping it home. See “More to See & Do,” in chapter 4 and “Touring Sonoma Valley by Bike,” in chapter 5.

  • Getting Your Thrills in the Skies: If you’re the thrill-seeking type, catch a panoramic ride in an authentic 1940 Boeing-built Stearman biplane with Vintage Aircraft Company (& 707/ 938-2444). Planes depart from the south end of Sonoma Val- ley. See “More to See & Do,” in chapter 5.

4 The Best Luxury Hotels & Inns

  • Auberge du Soleil (Rutherford, Napa Valley; & 800/348-

    • 5406)

      : This spectacular Relais & Châteaux member is one of my absolute favorite luxury destinations on the planet (and yes, I’ve seen a lot of them). Quiet, indulgent, and luxuriously romantic rooms are large enough to get lost in—and you’ll want to once you try out the fireplace, whirlpool tub, and pri- vate balcony overlooking the valley. Tack on an incredible spa with valley views from the hot tub and the restaurant’s terrace, and it’s pure heaven. If you’ve got the cash, this is the way to go, except, perhaps, if you can book a room at its newer sister property, Calistoga Ranch (Calistoga, Napa Valley; & 707/ 254-2800). Park yourself on your private deck at one of their uberluxury cabins within a pristine canyon; exit only to treat yourself at the spectacular indoor-outdoor spa, delicious private restaurant overlooking Lake Lommel, or pool, and you’ll be hard pressed to leave. See p. 90 and 94.

  • Meadowood Napa Valley (St. Helena, Napa Valley; & 800/ 458-8080): I love Meadowood, too, but it offers a more resort- like experience. Tucked away in its own private wooded valley, it’s a favorite retreat for Hollywood celebs and corporate CEOs who can hide out in freestanding New England–style cottages; spend days hiking the private trails or playing golf, tennis, or croquet; and follow up with a trip to the health spa and whirlpool. For those who love full-service luxury with all the fixins, there’s no better option. Indeed it’s perfect anytime of year, but I find the most magical time to come is the holidays, when the resort is quieter and romantically lit with white Christmas lights. See p. 92.

  • Cottage Grove Inn (Calistoga, Napa Valley; & 800/799-

    • 2284)

      : This romantic cluster of cottages is my top pick for doing the Calistoga spa scene in comfort and style. Each one-room

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