Above: Pool terrace at Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, California

In the halcyon time prior to COVID-19, I was accustomed to making regular visits to theNapa Valley. It has long been one of my favorite areas of the United States, with its idyllic landscape and benign climate, as well as some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the country. On most such trips I would invariably find time to drop by a winery, usually one that had been recommended by our Wine Concierge, Hal Oates, whose company, Porthos, is based in nearby San Rafael. Occasionally Hal would join me, having arranged a private tasting at a winery not generally open to the public. Sitting on a hilltop in the California sunshine, gazing across the rows of vines, a glass of fruit-filled Cabernet in hand, I was often overwhelmed by a feeling of blissful contentment. Now confined at home, it is hard not to feel nostalgia for pleasures that I once took for granted. At the time of writing, some restaurants and wineries have opened for outdoor dining and tastings, but it will be a while yet before the valley is fully open. However, I console myself with the thought that as travel restarts, Napa will probably be one of the first places to see normality restored.

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Above: Pool terrace at Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, California