Harvest Inn St. Helena: A Perennial Wine Country Favorite
Jun 22, 2018 06:33PM
● By Fran Miller
Blink, and you’re likely to miss it. Harvest Inn, St. Helena borders Highway 29 at the entrance to the downtown strip but is well hidden behind a grove of towering redwoods. From the road, it’s impossible to view the lush gardens and storybook-like exterior that serve to maintain the resort’s standing as a perennial wine country favorite. And fans of the unassuming, long established spot like it that way.
As newer, lavish hotels pop-up throughout the Valley – each upping the ante on wine country hospitality – Harvest Inn continues to hold its own by successfully merging past and present. The locally owned 8-acre resort, now under the Woodside Hotel Group’s management, appears on the outside much as it did when the hotel first emerged in the late 70’s. A focus on Old World elegance includes richly stained woods, an extensive use of brick and stone, and leaded glass panels. Refurbished in 2016 with luxurious upgrades, including a bank of deluxe Vineyard View Collection rooms, Harvest Inn retains an unpretentious wine country spirit highly sought after by those seeking an authentic wine country experience.
Warm and welcoming, Harvest Inn is one of the first hotels to claim a place amongst the vines. Steps from the property’s rear rooms is a Whitehall Lane’s Leonardini Family Vineyard, the end product (a bottle of Whitehall Lane red blend) of which is gifted to each Vineyard View Collection room guest. These large rooms, poised towards the verdant landscape and flanked by the Mayacamas Mountains, feature other special amenities such as snacks, juices, and a turndown goody. The non-vineyard facing rooms, known as Harvest Inn Rooms, are spread throughout the property and are tucked amongst lush gardens and foot paths that lead to various culinary gardens, private seating areas, and two different swimming pools and hot tubs. All rooms have working fireplaces and feature lush linens and marble bathrooms. Many feature patios or balconies, and some have terraces with hot tubs for two.
All stays include a delicious breakfast served buffet-style in the central lobby building and featuring an array of cast-iron pot-filled items, including scrumptious bacon that prompted an inquiry as to the specific cooking technique. This same dining room is transformed at night into Harvest Table, a tranquil dining room and a favorite spot for Napa Valley locals who appreciate Chef Spencer Wolff’s three-course ‘Napa Neighbor’ menu, served Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings. At $36, with wine pairings for $21, it’s an amazing deal for both locals and out-of-towners. Weekends find the place packed with foodies seeking Wolff’s fresh, original flavors such as his Coconut Curry P.E.I. Mussels – so delicious that one gluten-adverse guest abandoned her no-bread credo in order to soak-up the flavorful green Thai coconut curry sauce. Simple Deviled Eggs are spiffed up with red onion marmalade and a crispy pig ear. A tender Braised Short rib sits atop a sweet parsnip puree. Tiny Beluga lentils resembling namesake drops of caviar surround a luscious slice of Pacific Striped Bass topped with fennel salad.
Wolff’s dishes highlight the flavors of Napa Valley’s agricultural heritage and the wine list features an abundance of local favorites. Don’t miss the specialty cocktails – many made with ingredients from the gardens. If the weather allows, ask for a table on the shaded terrace overlooking the lush landscape – a vantage point that serves to ensure Harvest Inn’s place as an enduring Wine Country favorite.