August 19, 2022

Springswines

The Tour And Travel Enthusiasts

A 700-acre Napa resort with a high-tech ‘wellness village’ and massive restaurant opened Friday.

6 min read
A 700-acre Napa resort with a high-tech ‘wellness village’ and massive restaurant opened Friday.

Auberge Resorts Collection, the hotelier that pioneered luxury hospitality in Napa Valley 40 years ago, has staked its claim on the wine region once again with the opening of a new destination at the gateway of Napa. The 700-acre Stanly Ranch completes a full Napa Valley takeover for Auberge, which now has high-end lodging and dining locations throughout the 40-mile-long valley.

Featuring 135 cottages and guest rooms, three culinary concepts — including a 200-seat restaurant serving spot prawns and bison tartare — a high-tech wellness compound and multiple pools, Stanly Ranch is also now the closest Wine Country resort to San Francisco. Built on eucalyptus- and vineyard-dotted ranchland that has been farmed since the mid-1800s, the resort, which opened Friday, sits at the south end of Napa in the Carneros wine region, where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes thrive.

In 1981, Auberge opened its iconic hilltop restaurant, Auberge du Soleil, one of the first fine-dining restaurants in Napa Wine Country, which has earned 14 consecutive Michelin stars. Four years later, the company expanded the restaurant to include the Auberge du Soleil resort and later opened two additional properties at the north end of Napa Valley in Calistoga: Calistoga Ranch and Solage. The former was destroyed in the 2020 Glass Fire.

The outdoor patio of a guest room at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.

The outdoor patio of a guest room at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.


Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

The living room of a private cabin at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.

The living room of a private cabin at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.


Jessica Christian / The Chronicle


Top photo: The Lavender Pool at Stanly Ranch, now the closest Wine Country resort to San Francisco. Above: The outdoor patio of a guest room, top, and the living room of a private cabin, above, at the resort. Photos by Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

In the four decades since Auberge’s first Napa Valley hotel, the region’s approach to hospitality has been transformed. Luxury resorts and fine-dining options are now commonplace, with hotel rooms often fetching more than $1,000 a night.

“Today, (Napa) tourism is much more social, vibrant, participatory,” said Auberge Resorts Collection CEO Craig Reid. “I don’t think people associated farm country with a place to vacation in. It was an escape versus a proper vacation. You’d have people stay a night or two, while we now have people spend a week or two with us.”

The restaurant Bear is a light-filled, warm space under a high A-frame ceiling. Most of its tables are located outside on a terrace overlooking the resort.

The restaurant Bear is a light-filled, warm space under a high A-frame ceiling. Most of its tables are located outside on a terrace overlooking the resort.

Jessica Christian/The Chronicle

The heart of Stanly Ranch’s culinary offerings is Bear, named for the original California Bear Flag, a replica of which hangs on the side of a rustic, hillside barn within view of the restaurant. But the name also reflects the menu, designed around seasonal produce.

“There’s this misconception that bears are ferocious carnivores when, in fact, they’re kind of docile foragers and very much live within the seasons,” said executive chef Garrison Price. “They’re on a plant-based diet for the most part.”

Price, who previously worked at New York’s il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, emphasizes fermentation, dehydration and preservation techniques, sourcing many ingredients from an on-site organic farm. Some less-traditional ingredients, like seaweed and sea beans, are used as seasoning agents on oysters or with wood-fire-grilled spot prawns ($34).

Bison tar tar, farm egg, colatura, and tendon served in bison shoulder prepared by Chef Garrison Price at Bear restaurant at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.

Bison tar tar, farm egg, colatura, and tendon served in bison shoulder prepared by Chef Garrison Price at Bear restaurant at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.


Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

Farm vegetables raw and fermented with cashew miso prepared by Chef Garrison Price at Bear restaurant at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.

Farm vegetables raw and fermented with cashew miso prepared by Chef Garrison Price at Bear restaurant at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.


Jessica Christian / The Chronicle


Bison tartare, farm egg, colatura and tendon served in bison shoulder, top, and farm vegetables raw and fermented with cashew miso, above. Photos by Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

The menu also features a cedar-roasted steelhead trout served with baby leeks and charred lemon ($44), and a half-chicken with a 27-ingredient harissa sauce and fermented kohlrabi noodles ($36). Price has weaved in some Southeast Asian influences, too, like crispy rice tossed in spicy fish sauce and topped with fermented shiitakes ($18).

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and offering a heavily local wine list, Bear is a light-filled, warm space with a high A-frame ceiling and large open kitchen. The front walls open to the outdoors to reveal the interior’s centerpiece, the bar, but the majority of tables — roughly 120 seats — are outside on a terrace overlooking the resort and vineyards.

The ambience feels markedly more informal and jovial than that of Auberge du Soleil and Solage’s Solbar.

“It’s comfortable and casual but still elevated,” said Ed Gannon, Stanly Ranch general manager. “It’s ‘new Napa Valley,’ not old, stuffy Wine Country.”

Next to Bear is Gavel, a grab-and-go coffee shop serving Sightglass coffee, baked goods — like lavender morning buns and gluten-free carrot zucchini coconut muffins — from Harry Flager, the former pastry chef at Birdsong in San Francisco, and picnic items. Gavel has a large patio of outdoor tables and firepits, designed to be a gathering spot for runners and cyclists along the San Francisco Bay Trail, which runs right past the resort.

An infinity sculpture sits near guest rooms at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.

An infinity sculpture sits near guest rooms at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.


Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

Metal signs direct guests through Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.

Metal signs direct guests through Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.


Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

An Infinity sculpture sits in the middle of the property at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.

An Infinity sculpture sits in the middle of the property at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.


Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

A fire pit invites guests out to the patio of the reception desk at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.

A fire pit invites guests out to the patio of the reception desk at Stanly Ranch in Napa, Calif. Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The new Auberge Collection Resort will open to the public Friday, April 29.


Jessica Christian / The Chronicle


Photos above: Guest accommodations at the resort; metal signage provides direction; an infinity-shaped sculpture of weathered steel by Gordon Huether; a fire pit invites guests to the patio. Photos by Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

Basin Bar, reserved for guests only, is set next to the main pool, which seats 180 on loungers, swinging cocoon chairs and inside cabanas. Basin will serve light fare, including crudite with cashew-miso dipping sauce and scallop ceviche, in addition to wine and cocktails, like an Aperol spritz with a Tequila twist.

When: Opened Friday.

Where: 200 Stanly Crossroad, Napa.

Website:aubergeresorts.com/stanlyranch


In tribute to the property’s history, a ranch theme carries throughout the neutral-tone architecture, consisting of stone and wood accented by metal and glass. At the entrance, marked by a towering infinity sculpture of weathered steel from Napa artist Gordon Huether, guests are greeted by “ranch hands” — employees dressed in jeans and sherpa jackets. Smart room keys are subtly incorporated into a leather-strap bracelet.

Farmhouse-inspired cottages, of one to three rooms or suites (starting at $1,300 per night), can be connected for larger parties. All have spacious private patios set mere feet from vines. Many rooms include outdoor showers and standalone soaking tubs.

Stanly Ranch is still completing construction on its residences: 40 two-bedroom villas and 70 larger vineyard homes, which will at times be available for bookings through the resort’s rental program. The property also features several wedding and event spaces, including a 4,700-square-foot ballroom.