The first time I visited Napa, over President’s Day Weekend in 2008, I became enamored.
The lush, green rolling hills. The yellow blossoms of mustard carpeting the ground not occupied by vineyards. The gorgeous and grandeous wineries. The trailer wineries. The Napa area immediately captured me and held my interest well beyond the days I spent drinking wine.
In the years since I first visited, Napa was never too far from my mind. I had met Kiran Patel, the owner of Chardonnay Lodge, on my first trip to the town.
My best friend from childhood, Becca, and I had decided to stay at her property and were quickly taken with how adorable it was. And Kiran, well, she was just wonderful. When Becca and I checked in, she enthusiastically greeted us and took us on a tour of the rooms. They were in the process of being renovated, and Kiran was not only the owner of the lodge, but also the interior decorator.
“Each room has a theme,” she explained, ushering us in and out of a few of them. “And all of the paintings on the walls are original …”
“They are beautiful,” we had both commented.
She smiled. “I painted them.”
Over the years, Kiran and I stayed in touch. I helped her with some PR, and she always offered a room for my next visit to Napa.
Of course, when Abby, Kristin and I were planning our Napa leg of the adventure, Chardonnay Lodge and Kiran came up in my mind first.
I messaged Kiran the night we bought our tickets, and she graciously offered us a room.
After an afternoon of leisurely sipping champagne and wine around Napa, the three of us pulled into Chardonnay Lodge.
From the outside, the place is unassuming … easy to miss, except for the statue of a girl in the front lawn thick with roses, and the little vineyard on the side of the road. It looks like a motel, but, the interior of the rooms … so beautiful. So lovingly created with little touches of comfort and home (I totally dig the complimentary bottles of water and granola bars placed in baskets in each of the rooms.)
Kiran was out of town, but her husband checked us in. We were in the last room on one side, the Paris Room. Outside our door was a cute little iron bistro table and chairs set-up, next to the vineyard thick with bushels of green grapes.
Inside, we were greeted with a king bed, two flat screen televisions, a huge jacuzzi tub and, the perfect touch, a hand-painted mural of the Eiffel Tower on the wall.
It was charming, unique, even more luxurious than I had remembered.
The three of us unwound for a little bit before we decided to venture out to Oxbow Market for some wine, cheese and more wine.
It IS Napa after all.