Spend any time in Napa Valley, and chances are you will hear someone recount the tale of 1976. This was the year of the Judgment of Paris, when a blind tasting of two Napa Valley vintages — a Cabernet Sauvignon from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and a Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena Winery — put Napa Valley on the map of global wine destinations. If 1976 was a pivotal year for Napa Valley, then 2019 could mark another turning point in the winemaking region’s history. That’s when the Four Seasons Resort and Residences at Napa Valley will officially open its doors in Calistoga.
The Four Seasons’ entrée into Napa Valley could usher in a new era. Up until now, the region has only offered its affluent visitors boutique luxury hotel experiences and fractional residential opportunities.
“Four Seasons is bringing a globally recognized luxury hospitality brand to Napa Valley,” says Joshua Dempsey of Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley, the exclusive listing agent for the landmark branded concept. “There has never been a branded residential project featuring fee simple real estate in Napa Valley. There is nothing else like it here.”
The rarity of the project can be traced back to Napa County’s entitlements restrictions, according to Dempsey, who specializes in marketing and selling new development. In 1968, the county made a decision to promote the viticulture in the region over development growth and put a stop to subdivisions. While cities have allowed developers to build commercial projects within their own jurisdictions, Napa County itself has curbed development.
“We had been looking for land in Napa since the early 2000s,” recalls Victor Cortes, vice president of development for Bald Mountain LLC, developer of the resort. “We wanted to have a presence here and invest in the community, but finding a property that was large enough was nearly impossible.”
It wasn’t until the 2008 economic downturn, when distressed properties began coming to the forefront, that the city of Calistoga eased the restrictions to attract new investment. The Bald Mountain development team found just the right property two years later: a 22.5-acre plot nestled just off the famed Silverado Trail in the historic town of Calistoga, cradled between the Palisades and vineyards at the base of Mount St. Helena.
From the very beginning, Bald Mountain and Four Seasons sought to create a unique, whole ownership branded residential concept for Napa Valley. They enlisted accomplished resort architect John Hill and acclaimed Napa Valley interior designer Erin Martin to design the 85-key hotel and 20 private single-family residences. They worked closely to create two-, three- and four-bedroom villas that embodied the wine country lifestyle. Their efforts are reflected in the homes’ modern farmhouse style — which Cortes and Dempsey describe as “casual agrarian elegance meets modern luxury.”
“Our clients crave the Napa Valley feel when they come here,” says Dempsey. “Between the vineyard views and the design, it gives them that sense of place.”
To that end, all 20 residences feature two full master bedrooms with five-fixture bathrooms, walk-in closets, an owner’s wine cellar and luxuriously appointed dining and entertaining spaces. All the floor plans feature open concepts to ensure a sense of intimacy can be enjoyed inside the homes. Expansive glass windows and French doors frame portraits of rugged mountains and Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards. Generous trellis-covered terraces overlook the breathtaking surroundings and invite family and friends to relax outdoors. All of the homes at the resort boast vineyard views from every room. Each residence also includes a full two-car garage and spacious closets and storage for full-time residence.
“We thought a lot about the way people use their vacation homes in the wine country,” explains Cortes. “A lot of the design decisions were made with the typical wine country vacation homeowner in mind — those families who come and stay for a week, and those owners who stay for months at time and would like to keep their belongings in residence. If they want, owners can opt into the short-term rental program with the hotel.”
Cortes and Dempsey regard the unique blend of whole ownership and short-term rental opportunities with the Four Season’s renowned five-star services and amenities as “the pinnacle of casual, carefree living in Napa Valley.” Among the centerpiece amenities, six acres of estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon and a full production winery designed and operated by winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown are onsite. Brown’s interactive grape-to-glass program gives visitors an up-close experience of the winemaking process, taking them through harvesting the grapes to sorting and selecting the optimal fruit to blending and aging wine. Other amenities include a relaxing 6,000+-square-foot spa and culinary components such as an upscale restaurant with seasonal fare, a craft cocktail and wine bar and a general store a that will sell fresh-baked bread, cured meats, salads, cappuccinos and other goods. There’s also a pool, fitness center and boardroom.
Beyond the resort, Four Seasons homeowners are just a short walk or bike ride to downtown Calistoga. If they want to hike or bike, they also have the nearby 47-mile Vine Trail, a winding pathway that connects a web of wine country communities. Combined, these conveniences and comforts create a new kind of luxury experience in Napa Valley.
“The concept of luxury hospitality is changing,” explains Cortes. “People are demanding a different kind of experience now. They want to be engaged and involved in a lot of different experiences. It goes well beyond the white linens and spa.”
If the response to the Four Seasons Resort and Residences at Napa Valley is any indication, then the Calistoga-based team is on the right path. The private villas are already 70% sold — with more than a year left to finish the homes. “We expect to be sold out before completion of the project,” says Cortes. For those 20 trailblazers, 2019 can’t come soon enough.
By Dresden Scott
This article originally appeared in the winter 2018 edition of Homes & Estates, a Wall Street Journal supplement.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences at Napa Valley
- $3.5 to $5.6 million
- 2 to 4 bedrooms
- 2 to 4 baths
- 2,030 to 3,445 square feet
Represented by: Joshua Dempsey
Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley