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Take a Jaunt to Yountville

Chef Michael Chiarello is coaxed from the kitchen at his Yountville restaurant Bottega.
Chef Michael Chiarello is coaxed from the kitchen at his Yountville restaurant Bottega.
Mitch Campbell

While some may consider life in Lamorinda to be a vacation in and of itself, even Lamorindans require a little R & R once in awhile. Lamorinda's "backyard" offers endless weekend destinations; Less than an hour drive from our home base is Yountville. One can easily make the trip in a day. But with so much to see, eat and drink, why not make it a weekend?

Visitors have their choice of eleven B&Bs and hotels. The most established in is the north end Napa Valley Lodge. Warm and inviting, the Lodge features a year-round heated pool and spa, bocce ball court and fire pit. Rates starts at roughly $300.

Further south at the Y (the intersection of Washington and Yount Streets) is the elegant Bardessono, one of only three LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum certified hotels in the country, and rated second most romantic hotel in the nation by TripAdvisor. Bardessono guests are well respected in the valley and are afforded “access.” Whether it is restaurant or wine tasting reservations, in-room spa treatments, chauffeur services, or a desire for a delicious, locally sourced, gourmet midnight snack from restaurant Lucy, staff will make it happen. Rates start at roughly $650.

If you do stay in town and wish to test your palate, the varied wine tasting rooms lining Washington Street eliminate the need for a designated driver; everything is within walking distance. A must-stop is Ma(i)sonry, the quarry-stoned farmhouse building at 6711 Washington St., that is part art gallery and part wine tasting destination. Here, you can find the perfect home accent piece while tasting world-class wines under century-old olive trees.

A block further is Girard, 6795 Washington St. Enjoy a flight of their chardonnay and cabernet-based wines at $15 per person; For those staying in Yountville hotels, the fee is waived.

Dinner options abound, with Thomas Keller establishments flanking the ends of the town center. Call three months in advance for a coveted reservation at the north end French Laundry, or wait in line with locals at his more informal ad hoc on the south side. Smack in the middle is Bottega, famed chef Michael Chiarello's 'see and be seen' spot. The casual yet sophisticated ambiance is appropriate for families, couples, and girlfriend gatherings.

With all of the eating and drinking in which you’ll be partaking, consider a long walk on Yount Mill Rd. – also suitable for a quiet, mostly car-free bike ride. Start at Yount Cross Road, end at Hwy 29, and head back again – and don’t forget to take pictures of the majestic oaks and mustard fields along the way. You’ll want to remember your perfect day.

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