Luxury may not be the first word that comes to mind when considering a road trip. But after cruising the picturesque, vineyard-lined roads of Napa Valley in a Ferrari 488 GTB, I’m convinced there’s no better way to explore a destination. Through the Four Seasons Drive Experience, I toured breathtaking vineyards and farms, drove along the scenic California coastline, and discovered the remarkable culture that the area has to offer, all while enjoying a world-class luxury resort.
I have to admit, I did not consider myself much of a car person prior to this trip. As someone who lives in New York City, I rarely find myself in the driver’s seat of a car. After a few minutes behind the wheel of a Bentley Continental GT Convertible, I began to understand the hype of luxury vehicles. During the upcoming Drive Experience taking place this fall (October 29 — November 4), guests will be able to choose from an expansive fleet of vintage cars and modern supercars. While you can’t go wrong no matter which car you choose, I’d strongly suggest picking a convertible, for obvious reasons.
I was in awe of the region’s stunning terrain long before I pulled into the FS Napa Valley resort. As a Northern California first-timer, my forehead was practically pressed to the car window for the entirety of the one and a half-hour drive from San Francisco International Airport to Calistoga. When I arrived at the Four Seasons property, I was amazed by how seamlessly the architecture blended into the surrounding landscape. The stunning design continued into my Vineyard Room, which looked out on, you guessed it, a vineyard. My attention was split between the room’s fireplace, private patio, and deep soaking tub (all of which got plenty of use during my stay). After a wine tasting at Elusa, the property’s own winery, and a welcome dinner, I climbed into my cloud-like bed for the night.
Our first drive of the trip brought us to SingleThread Farm where we sipped on strawberry leaf tea while learning about the various fruits, vegetables, and flowers grown on the farm. Eating strawberries directly off of the vine was definitely a highlight from this stop, as well as learning about their commitment to practicing responsible land management to minimize their impact on the land.
The next drive brought us from the farmlands out to the coast. We went from driving through massive redwoods to driving along a windy road, about 100 feet away from a cliff leading down the the Pacific Ocean. Picturesque doesn’t even begin to describe the experience. Being in a convertible allowed us to fully take in the environment from the sounds of the whipping wind to the smell of the salt water. Our next stop of the day was Hog Island, a 40-year-old oyster farm with, in my opinion, the best oysters in town. After a shucking class, we were able to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Pro tip: the BBQ oysters with Chipotle Bourbon Butter are a must-have.
Once the driving portion of the day concluded, we were brought to the beautiful Rudd Estate for a tasting of their wine, which is crafted by their close-knit staff of 12. A property tour highlighted some of the prettiest gardens I’ve ever seen — think succulents the size of car tires and dozens of hydrangea bushes. The setting perfectly complemented each glass of wine that we tasted. Although I could’ve stayed at Rudd Estate forever, my palette was pleased to continue the incredible culinary evening at Press. Squash blossom-wrapped ricotta gnudi and cured yellowtail with preserved carrot and sea buckthorn delighted my palette. By the time the decadent Jivara chocolate crème and olive oil ice cream were served for dessert, I was ready to crawl into bed, but not without a soak in the tub first.
The following morning started bright and early on property with relaxing yoga overlooking the neighboring vineyards and mountains followed by a full-body massage at the Four Seasons spa. I could’ve spent a full day inside of the spa, moving between the steam room, various relaxation areas, and private pool and patio. I’ve never felt as relaxed as I did post-massage, wrapped up in a cozy robe and slippers. This was the perfect precursor for another day exploring the area, this time in a Lamborghini Huracan Spyder. With the top down, we cruised to Ashes & Diamonds, a winery with a mid-century approach to wine-making and architecture. For lunch in the restaurant, simple, fresh ingredients were highlighted throughout the meal — I will probably dream about the sourdough foccacia and miso-dressed salad.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent climbing through the hills of Napa in an Aston Martin DB11, visiting various local hotspots, from the charming town of Yountville to NBC Pottery, a custom crafted ceramics studio. It was a day of celebrating the arts, from the art of wine making to the stunning bowls, platters, and vases crafted and decorated at NBC Pottery. Our final stop was another architectural masterpiece, Adamvs Estate. We gathered inside the tasting room and wine library, savoring both the wine we were tasting and the thoughtful design around us, including a retractable roof and freestanding log wall sculpture designed by architect Kurt Melander.
The trip concluded with a five-course dinner at Auro, the restaurant at the Four Seasons Napa Valley. Instead of pairing wine with the menu, though, the chef designed the menu around a selection of wines. The entire meal was a love letter to wine, which perfectly rounded out my trip. Well, that and a final bubble bath in the soaking tub in my room.
I boarded my flight back to New York with a renewed appreciation for seeing a destination via car. Not only did I enjoy a variety of cultural experiences that Napa Valley has to offer, but I was able to do so in the most luxurious way possible. The Four Seasons Drive Experience extends their world-class service beyond the Napa Valley property, making the entire experience incredibly memorable. Designed for groups of two, the autumn experience would make an unforgettable early holiday gift for a partner, or an iconic trip for you and your best friend. Never again will I overlook the joy of taking a drive.