Restauranteur Charlie Palmer heeded the advice of his Harvest Inn General Manager Kevin Dimond when he bought the St. Helena lodging and restaurant property in the heart of the Napa Valley.
Dimond, who had managed Palmer’s Las Vegas restaurant, kept urging him to get into the lodging business because it gave him a built-in advantage to have guests eat at least once at his upscale restaurants. Palmer made his first foray into Northern California with the Dry Creek Inn in Healdsburg and is a partner in the Hotel Healdsburg. He owns a home in the scenic area. https://acesgolf.com/healdsburg-is-a-splendid-food-wine-and-golf-getaway/
https://acesgolf.com/hotel-healdsburg-is-perfect-location-on-the-plaza/The Harvest Inn and Harvest Table, located just south of downtown St. Helena on Highway 29, is an ideal location for a quick or extended weekend getaway to the heart of the Napa Valley. We opted for the one-day power getaway, driving up from Pleasanton in the afternoon, enjoying a memorable wine tasting at Round Pond (one of the property’s recommended wineries) and then dining at the Harvest Table that night.https://acesgolf.com/enjoy-napa-valley-wine-and-food-pairings-at-round-pond/
We started the next morning with a wonderful buffet breakfast with amazing bacon. Breakfast featured everything from lox and bagels to cereals, breads and lots of fresh fruit choices and is included in the room rate at the Harvest Table. Then we were off for 18 holes at Chardonnay off Highway 12 and then back to our valley.
The lodging property is characterized by the amazing brickwork, all done by the same Scottish mason. The intricate patterns are featured in rooms throughout the property as well as in archways over sidewalks. The mason built a unique design into each fireplace. And, if you stay in the older rooms, you actually can burn real wood in the fire place. It is ready to go with wood and matches. There are five different neighborhoods within the inn grounds.
We stayed in the Manor. Our second floor room had the bedroom with its king-sized bed in the loft. The contours of the room followed the roof line so the shower was not a typical rectangle. The room was quite comfortable and overlooked the vineyards—ideal for a glass of wine in the late afternoon or a cup of coffee in the morning.
In addition to the striking brickwork, the property is dominated by large coastal Redwood trees that provide lots of shade. The Harvest Inn team is carving out suitable spaces on the property to start growing its r own fruit and produce—much like John Ash does at the Vintner’s Inn in Windsor. Last fall, it was yet a fledgling effort that was starting to “bear fruit.”
The 110-seat Harvest Table features a small bar that complements the registration area of the inn and then patio seating on both sides of the dining room. A huge wood-burning fireplace dominates the clean décor—it is, after all, all about the food.
And, speaking of the food: We also have dined at the Dry Creek Kitchen (our introduction to Charlie Palmer who started his restaurant group in New York City). Read my report on that meal here LINK
For the first time, instead of selecting lamb or steak to match with one of the many Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon offerings on the large wine list, we followed our server’s advice and ordered the Whole Truffle Mary’s Chicken with risotto. The chicken is brined, rubbed and stuffed with truffle butter and then served with the risotto.
We opted for a fine Napa Valley cab that complimented the earthy truffle flavor and the amazingly moist and rich chicken. An absolute home run. It was $65 for two and was more than enough given that we had already enjoyed the roasted carrots as well as the crispy pig ear salad. We enjoyed the left-overs the next night, helped along by the staff that provided a bag of ice for the cooler we had happened to bring along.
The menu changes seasonally based upon what ingredients are available locally. Chef Levi Mezick has built relationships with key Northern California producers and divides the menu into snacks, starters and plates to give diners a full range of options.
The next morning, the bacon and eggs were splendid, but there were also plenty of croissants, fruit, lox and bagels and cereal so you could enjoy whatever type of breakfast you preferred. Excellent coffee and a variety of fresh juices complimented the meal.
Then, it was off down Highway 29 to Highway 12 and the Chardonnay golf course. Playing on a crisp, clear November day with the colors changing in the vineyards, it made for a great round of golf. The downside is that both Chardonnay and Eagle Vines are a good 45 minutes away from St. Helena. The precious Rutherford soil is much more profitable for wine grapes than for bent grass greens.
The same can be said for the Chardonnay golf course, which opened at 36 holes, and now has shrunk to 18 because of the value of the vineyards close to the Bay. The course was in reasonable shape and the scenery, with the grape leaves changing to hues of yellows and reds, brought out the cell phone cameras.
In the core Napa Valley, the only traditional length course options are the 36 holes at the Silverado Resort and Spa (now owned by Johnny Miller and his partners). There are two nine-hole courses. Otherwise, it’s the Napa muni course right off Highway 29 next to the community college or Eagle Vines or Chardonnay further south on Highway 12.
By Tim Hunt