SPA-RIFFIC
To soothe you after all that wining and dining, there are spas galore in Calistoga, and in a couple of new spots as well.

Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville features faux-Roman ruins and a spa with a small workout facility, massage rooms, and sauna. Facials, aromatherapy, and four different types of massage - including a California deep-tissue sports massage - are available. There are also salt-glow body scrubs, a Vichy shower, and an Arctic algae body wrap.

Up valley above Rutherford is the venerable Auberge du Soleil, which opened its 7,000-square-foot spa earlier this year. Available to hotel guests only, the facilities feature an herbal steam and tea ritual, a four-handed massage, a rose-petal custard body masque, champagne and rose manicures and pedicures, and, appropriately enough, an antioxidant grape-seed facial, among other blissfulnesses too numerous to mention.

As for me? Give me a glass of Smith-Madrone Riesling or a Saddleback Zinfandel, sipped from a spot overlooking the verdant patchwork of Napa Valley, and I'll have died and gone to wine country heaven.



A CULTURAL EDEN

Napa Valley's new copia is expected to be the epicenter of American food, wine, and art - a synergy that noted oenophile Robert Mondavi calls a celebration of "the American passion for living well."

If renowned winemaker Robert Mondavi has a muse, her name must surely be Copia, the roman goddess of abundance and the namesake of the American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts opening in Napa November 18.

"This project is a culmination of my lifelong dream to create a center that will celebrate and study America's unique contribution to food, wine, their history," says Mondavi, the nonprofit center's visionary founder and chairman. "While there is great wine and food throughout the world, I believe that America has experienced a revolution in both these areas in the past decades - and in the arts as well - that has reverberated throughout the world."

COPIA is surrounded on three sides by the Napa River. Organic gardens and vineyards, as well as a 500-seat outdoor amphitheater, stretch to the southern edge of the 12-acre property, which Mondavi donated to the center. He and his wife, Margrit, also donated the first $20 million toward construction of the $55 million, 80,000-square-foot complex.

The Center's more than 40 wine classes include "The ABCs of Starting a Wine Cellar" and "The Carpenters of Wine: All about Wine Barrels and Cooperage." Other programs explore the history, cultivation, and uses of specific foods. Cultural education is woven into many of the courses, such as "immigrant culture and cuisine," which studies the history, arts, and cuisine of different ethnicities.

The visual and performing arts programs are drawn from a range of disciplines, including music, film, dance, art, literature, archaeology, and fashion. The Center will also offer an artist-in-residence program for prominent winemakers, chefs, artists, poets, authors, filmmakers, dancers, nutritionists, and scientists.

"I've learned a great deal about wine from working in the business for 60-plus years," says Mondavi. "I was exposed to great food since my childhood because my mother was an excellent cook. But it was not until i met my wife that I began to learn about art. It is so natural to combine these three cultural expressions in one place, and yet nobody had done so, until now."

For more information on the Center’s upcoming events and programs, log on to www.copia.org.
— Richelle Thomson