fruit, flower and vegetable varieties lived.
Pitcher’s land was once part of the 1,500-acre
Wohler Ranch, which pioneered hops growing in Sonoma County in the late 19th century. Ranch owner Raford Peterson built the
mansion in the 1880s as a summer home.
“We sit on our big front porch, with its
sweeping vineyard views, with our guests and
watch amazing sunsets, sipping wine and nibbling on cheese and our house-cured olives,”
says Pitcher, who often invites local wineries
to pour. He makes both wine—mostly zinfandel—and beer as a hobbyist, giving guests a
free tasting. He and his wife, Rita Wells, have
owned the B&B, a mere 15-minute drive from
downtown Healdsburg’s tasting rooms and
restaurants, since 2004.
Pitcher’s fruits and herbs find their way
into the hot gourmet breakfasts served in the
fireplace-warmed dining room. Named for
medicinal herbs and berries, the inn’s five guest
rooms are furnished with homey touches, lots
of florals and antiques, and some have fireplaces. Raford guests also get a free wine passport for two good for complimentary wine
tastings at more than 100 Sonoma wineries.
CAVE B INN & SPA
Vince and Carol Bryan • Quincy, Washington
AFTER VINCE BRYAN, a Seattle brain surgeon and inventor of the titanium disk surgical device, and his wife, Carol, fell in love with
Washington’s Columbia Valley, they became
the first to plant vines, in 1980, in what is now
the Ancient Lakes appellation. Today, they
grow 17 different types of wine grapes at their
Cave B Estate Winery—reds close to the river,
whites a mile away.
Their wines, from viognier, semillon and
chardonnay to cabernet franc and cabernet
sauvignon, are sold in their tasting room and
statewide. The winemaker: son-in-law Freddy
Arredondo, who met their daughter, Carrie, at
a cooking school in Italy.
In 2005, the Bryans opened a luxury inn,
a gourmet restaurant that features a multicourse wine-pairing menu and a spa whose
treatments use grape seeds, juice and lavender
grown on their 500-acre property, a two-and-a-half-hour drive east of Seattle.
Located in the vineyards are 25 canvas-
walled yurts whose sky domes let guests star-
gaze from their beds; they compose the
biggest room category here. The second big-
gest: 15 spacious, elegantly decorated, stand-
alone cliff houses right across from the
vineyards. Each has a two-sided fireplace,
slate-floored bathroom with Italian marble
counter and walls, cozy living room, floor-to-
ceiling windows and a terrace overlooking the
“We wanted to offer contrasting room
types and price points for guests, and in some
respects the yurts target a younger, or young-
at-heart, demographic. It’s an unplugged
option, with no TV or telephone, that fits into
the ‘glamping’ trend,” says Carol. “This is read-
ily seen in destination weddings: The parents,
their friends and immediate families book
rooms in the cliff houses, while the younger set
books the less expensive yurts.”
Cave B is a two-hour drive or less from 90
percent of the wineries in Washington state,
which are located mostly in the much drier east.
AUBERGE DU SOLEIL
George Goeggel • Rutherford, California
OFTEN CALLED THE top luxury resort in
Northern California, Auberge du Soleil offers
an elite French country inn experience.
Claude Rouas, a French-born San
Francisco restaurateur, opened the inn in
1985, sensing the demand for a luxury hotel in
the Napa Valley. Boasting Napa’s biggest wine
cellar— 17,000 bottles; over 1,500 selections
(global, yet Napa-focused)—Auberge has a
Michelin-starred restaurant, 7,000-square-
24-hour room service, sculpture garden with
more than 100 works by California artists and
twice-daily maid service. Ramping up the
pampering quotient: Guests have free access
to a fleet of Mercedes-Benz cars.
“Auberge du Soleil is a seductive retreat
and a playground in the very best sense, whose
design was inspired by the glamorous and
free-spirited lifestyle of the French Riviera,
where life revolves around the sun and soul,”
says managing partner George Goeggel.
As befits an “inn of the sun,” the 50 spacious guest rooms are done up in terra-cotta
and creamy beige palettes; all are equipped
with a fireplace, oversize soaking tub (with
candles for romance), floor-to-ceiling windows and a terrace overlooking the valley,
vineyard or garden. Two stand-alone two-bedroom cottages also offer outdoor tubs.
A free bottle of Auberge’s own label, produced by neighbor Rutherford Ranch, welcomes guests in every guest room. A free
weekly wine tasting, which the winemaker or
winery owner generally attends, is held in
peak season. Suites also offer free wine in
minibars, and more than 40 by-the-glass
wines are served at the Bistro & Bar. Concierges
can book one-of-a-kind tastings at Napa’s 450-
plus wineries, as well as tours and activities.
“Guests are striving to find something
unique and have experiences unobtainable to
the general public,” Goeggel explains. “
Exclusivity is key to their Napa Valley stay.” C
Sharon McDonnell is a travel and food/bever-age writer in San Francisco.
Auberge du Soleil
Cave B Inn & Spa
APRIL: Napa Valley
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MARCH: Taste Washington