Alexia Viola Napa Valley began with a strand of tiny, blue sapphires I brought back from India in 2010. I'd been practicing yoga and informally studying Ayurveda for years when I felt the need for a shift in my life. So a' la "Eat Pray Love", I went to India. The trip was wonderful and transformative. It also woke me to the notion that sometimes getting away helps you realize you are already right where you're meant to be. Which for me was a place was I'd been calling home for a long time, a small patch of sunshine called, Napa Valley.
Built around a river that meanders for 30 miles through semi rural communities and vineyards, Napa Valley is brimming with big ideas about old ways. The ancient craft of winemaking and home cooking and hospitality has taken on a high art here, where wineries making world-class wines by noteworthy winemakers and restaurants run by renowned chefs abound, paired with impressive vistas from one end of the valley to the other. Promoters have skillfully painted an alluring image in the minds of people from elsewhere, drawing visitors in droves at various times throughout the year, when the vineyards are looking their best and the weather is perfect for a bike ride.
I love playing tourist for the day and visiting wineries that have faithfully re-created a Tuscan castle or painstakingly mapped out a Mid-Century Modern veranda to take full advantage of their property's view across the Mayacamas. But for me, there is another dimension that is even more alluring. As much as I love the sunshine, I also adore the sweetness in the air mid January when the crocuses are already peaking their caps through the soil and the air is laced with mist and I can barely see Mount Saint Helena across the valley floor. I also love to take my runs along our country roads and in the evening I love the quiet.
And for all of the world-renowned-ness that exists here there are also lots of little secret spots where you can find something simple and wonderful, made by and for the not-jet-set among us.
Living here can feel like an existence in a whole other dimension than the one portrayed by glossy travel blogs and magazines. It's this dichotomy that makes life here so rich and beautiful. I call it rustic luxe in that it's a way of living that enjoys the luxury of profound natural beauty with a relatively undistracted way of life (i.e. simple almost to the verge of boring) that allows us the focus of working hard and making time for relaxation and reflection.