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Top Five Best kept Secrets of Wine Country in Autumn
~by MARINA ADAIR~
A year after I was married, Sexy Italian took me on a romantic weekend to St Helena. Three weeks later, we had sold our house and became official St. Helenians. We didn’t live there long, but to date it is still one of our favorite places that we have lived. So, when I set out to write a series about an Italian family with roots in wine, it was no surprise that I choose to set it in the town that had stolen our hearts. St. Helena with its historical downtown, lamp lined streets, little cafes, and miles of rolling vines . . . I mean, what could be more romantic?
Oh, that would be St. Helena during Crush.
Today, I am celebrating the release of my new book in the St. Helena Vineyard series, Autumn in the Vineyard, which follows two rivaling winemakers who fall in love during Crush. So I figured what better way to celebrate than share with you a few of Wine Country’s best kept secrets. The Valley is world renowned for creating some of the best poetry in a bottle, but don’t be fooled, the Valley is also one of the most romantic places in the country. And here is a list of my top five favorite things to do on a romantic autumn day.
5. A Classic Pairing—with cheese
Romance doesn’t need to be candlelit and five-course dining. One of my favorite things to do on a lazy Sunday during Crush is take a drive through the Valley. The leaves are changing and the valley floor becomes fire-painted with the colors of autumn. Now, take that drive in a restored classic Packard convertible classic, which you can rent from Classic Convertible Wine Tours, and it is like taking a ride to the past. Top down, sun-glasses on, and a slow cruise up to St. Helena for a gourmet burger and a hand-scooped milkshake Taylor’s Refreshers scores a solid nine on the romance scale.
Open in 1949, this mom-and-pop burger stand serves “fine” fast-food that is delivered to your picnic-style table. My favorite is the Blue Cheese Burger, white pasticcio milkshake, and onion rings. Oh, and of course since this is wine country, they have a great wine selection.
4. The Napa Valley Wine Train isn’t really a secret, in fact it is one of the most popular tourist attractions, but what most people don’t know is they do special events, like Murder Mystery trains, local wine tasting tours, celebrity gourmet-dinners. And every Autumn they do a Harvest Moon Ride, which if you ask me is romance at its best. There is nothing to do but hold hands, snuggle close, and sip local wine while the glass domed train car slowly moves from one end of the valley to the other, through magical vineyards lit by the full moon. Oh, and there is also a five-course meal served.
3. Crush is the most exciting time of the year in the Valley, and with that comes a lot of tourists. So when we want something slower and quieter than a crowded restaurant or tasting room, we’d head to downtown St. Helena and catch a movie at the Cameo Cinema. Built in 1913 as a silent movie house, the theater is located on Main Street and is still owned by the same family. They show modern films, serve gelato to die for, and every movie starts the same way it has for 100 years, with the traditional dimming of the candelabras while the red velvet curtain opens and the movie begins.
2. Offering five Star food at affordable prices, CIA At Greystone is one of our favorite restaurants in the Valley. Situated in the Greystone Building, built in 1888, the architecture is as romantic as the food. The menu changes with the season and since everything is picked fresh from local farms, you never know what will be served, only that your meal will be a mouthful of awesome and you will feel like an honored guest in a historical stone castle. The restaurant is affiliated with the Culinary Institute of America, so the food is prepared by some of the world’s up-and-coming chefs, which means top-quality cuisine that won’t break the bank. One of my favorite items during fall is their Butternut Squash Bisque.
1. Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil is romance at its finest, which is why at the top of my list. It isn’t just the amazing five-course French cuisine, although their food is out of this world. Or the personal sommelier (wine expert) who helps you pair the perfect wine from their extensive list to your meal. Nope, what makes this our favorite dining spot in the Valley is the views. Nestled into the side of the hill, Auberge overlooks the valley floor and has some of the most stunning views in all of Wine Country.
We request patio seating starting at five pm, that way we spent a good portion of our 3 hour dinner—that’s right, a lovely 3 hour dinner—watching the sun set over miles of red and yellow grape vines, while we discover new wines, new pairings and talk about our dreams. This place breaks the romance scale.
Frankie Baudouin has a hundred reasons not to trust Nate DeLuca. First, he’s a DeLuca. Second, he kissed her—in front of the entire town—and then never called. Oh, and he’s after her land. Sorrento Ranch is Frankie’s last chance to prove to her family—and to herself—that she has what it takes to be an award-winning winemaker. And she will stop at nothing to ensure her success—even if it means playing nice with the starched, sophisticated, and oh-so-sexy Italian.
For Nate, Sorrento Ranch is more than just soil and grape vines; it was his father’s dream—a dream Nate is determined to make a reality. So when he finds himself forced to cohabitate with a hot-headed, irrational, and incredibly gorgeous Baudouin, Nate is surprised to discover that chaos could be so much fun—especially when she sleeps in nothing but lace
About the Author
Marina Adair is a National bestselling author of romance novels. Along with the St. Helena Vineyard series, she is also the author of Tucker’s Crossing, part of the Sweet Plains series. She currently lives in a hundred-year-old log cabin, nestled in the majestic redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with her husband and daughter.
As a writer, Marina is devoted to giving her readers contemporary romance where the towns are small, the personalities large, and the romance explosive.
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What’s your favorite secret romance spot?
Leave a comment below and you could win one of the 2 signed copies of AUTUMN IN THE VINEYARD that Marina is giving away.
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