Travel Tips

Luxe Lavs: Savor Spring in California Wine Country

Spring is one of the most underrated seasons in California Wine Country. The rain dissipates and the hills are blanketed in green, while the spring grapevines are just starting to bud. The tasting rooms are free from the summer crowds, and winemakers aren’t overwhelmed by the harvest crush. Angela Fairhurst and Natalie Compagno head to Sonoma in this edition of Luxe Lavs. Who doesn’t want to end a day sipping wine while soaking in a bathtub? 

MacArthur Place Hotel and Spa

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Set in the midst of wineries, historic MacArthur Place Hotel and Spa was once a working ranch with vineyards, fruit orchards, a hay crop, cattle and many prize horses used for transportation. The central building on the property is a two-story Victorian, built in the 1850’s and is said to be one of the oldest homes in Sonoma. We were thrilled when we found the Garden Spa Suites among the inn’s 64 individual rooms, 10 of which are located in the Manor House. The Garden Spa Suite’s Bacchanalian outdoor teak soaking tub is made from wine barrels and is nestled behind bamboo walls for privacy. Matching teak floors and an oval mirror reflecting the tub create an indoor feel. Add MacArthur Place’s signature Grape Seed Bath Tea, made locally using grape seeds from area vineyards. MacArthur Place isn’t just old-school: it also has 29 suites with hydrotherapy tubs and rain showers, not to mention roaring fireplaces. Forgot to bring wine with you? Not to worry. There are many tasting rooms and wineries nearby the inn, but our choice is Sebastiani Winery, over 100 years old and only a few blocks away.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

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Take a break in wine country and enjoy a great soak with an even better glass of wine at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, newly renovated to Luxe Lavs standards in 2012. The suites in this romantic luxury hotel are ideal for couples. The open floor plans’ focal point is a two-person oversized Jacuzzi tub, centrally located between a four-poster king size bed and fireplace. While in the tub together, with dimmer-controlled lighting, you can enjoy the garden view to the patio or balcony through the arched French doorways. The suites offer double-sized walk-in showers with marble and limestone bathrooms. Each suite also comes with Le Labo Body products, generous sized terry bath towels, terry bathrobes and plush spa slippers. Wine aficionados seek out this hotel for many reasons. The complimentary wine tasting daily from 4:30 pm-5:30 pm featuring local vineyards is one of them, as is the selection of wine by the glass from the bar, 38 Degrees North. Because of their ultra-modern argon system, wine can be kept fresh for a long time allowing 1 oz., half-glass or full glass pours of wines normally reserved for bottle purchase only. Break the bank and try their $750 glass of Screaming Eagle 2006 Cabernet. You won’t be disappointed.

Auberge on the Vineyard

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Auberge on the Vineyard in Cloverdale is a romantic’s dream. A Queen Anne style Victorian home that was converted into a bed and breakfast, Auberge was the first of its kind in this area some 30 years ago. There have been many marriage proposals at the inn and the Montrachet Suite is the perfect place to pop the question. The suite looks out over vineyards that seem to stretch to the horizon and the claw-foot tub is placed delicately under a Victorian fringe lamp by French doors that open onto the cabernet vines of Northern Sonoma. The rust-hued walls, rich wooden floors and French antiques envelop couples that stay in the suite. The tub fits two nicely and, when you introduce rose-scented bath salts and a fine Sonoma wine, who knows what might happen? If all this wasn’t enough for lovers and lovers of wine, Auberge on the Vineyard gives guests a tasting pass. This pass offers free tastings at over 100 wineries.

Hotel Healdsburg

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Last we head to the Hotel Healdsburg, set on the western edge of Healdsburg’s historic town plaza. The 55 guestrooms, including 6 suites, are simple, yet charming. The serene rooms feature dark pecan wood floors with Tibetan carpets and provide a tranquil setting for guests to relax and of course sip wine. Wendy Tsuji of Frost Tsuji Architects designed the bathrooms; they are over-sized, with six-foot soaking tubs, smooth poured concrete counters and Italian glass Bisazza tile. Walk-in glass showers with Frette bathrobes and Hotel Healdsburg’s own organic spa amenities complete the experience. Dining is a highlight at the hotel where guests can savor Sonoma County’s bounty of extraordinary wines and fresh seasonal ingredients at acclaimed Chef Charlie Palmer and Dustin Valette’s famous Dry Creek Kitchen. Every Thursday and Friday, the hotel features wine tastings from the local wineries from 3 pm to 5 pm, and on Fridays, local winemakers will get to try their hand at a new career under the tutelage of wine director Drew Munro. Winemakers take a sommelier class and “work” from 6 pm to 9 pm. Dry Creek Kitchen guests receive a taste of the winemaker’s own wine at the beginning of their meal, but the winemaker will be responsible for directing guests to an appropriate bottle given the guest’s taste and price preferences. Only in wine country!

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By Angela Fairhurst and Natalie Compagno for