1% Travel Guide: Poetry Inn, Napa Valley

By Joe Roberts

Joe Roberts takes us inside one of the most exclusive resorts in Napa.

Many of us get bitten by the California fine wine bug. Few of us can consistently bankroll those powerful but often beguiling high-end Napa Valley Cabernets. Even fewer of us can dip into the Napa lifestyle and live like the proprietors of one of those tasty and expensive bottles.

But if you’re fresh off a successful diamond heist, or just want to save up and live like the equivalent of a Northern California wine king for a day or two, there’s currently a short list of accommodation destinations that can give it to you; a very short list, actually, since there’s really only one name on it: Poetry Inn.

The five-room inn is the brainchild of music-loving construction mogul Cliff Lede, whose love of wine led him to establish Cliff Lede Vineyards and create his own high-end Cabernet-based foray, Poetry Wines. The Poetry Inn sits atop the hills in Napa’s Stag Leap district, directly overlooking Cliff’s winemaking property, and offers panoramic views of the valley that you’d otherwise need to hire a hot air balloon to get.

“I’ve been lucky enough in my life to stay in some very nice hotels,” explains Lede. “When we set out to build Poetry Inn, we really wanted to create something that didn’t yet exist in Napa — an environment that felt very personal and comfortable — almost like it’s your home. I wanted it to feel like you were living in the vineyards and the owner of a winery — if only for a few nights.” And apparently without the constant stress of weather, vineyard management, stuck alcoholic fermentations and annoying wine critics. Rates range from $480 (during a low season weekday) to $1,495 (high season weekend) per night.

Romance is the name of the game at Poetry Inn, where the juices are flowing both literally (the inn’s private cellar is extensive, with a focus on Bordeaux, along with Cliff’s own wines and up-and-coming Anderson Valley producer Breggo, which Lede also owns) and figuratively. Adds Lede, “I think the inn is all about romance. You can take your better half there and just escape from the everyday world. We don’t allow pets or children for this reason. I have both of the above and love them dearly, but sometimes you need a break from that, and the inn provides that — from the personal care and attention of the staff to the amazing massages.”

If the view and wine alone aren’t enough to impress your special girl, the guts of the Poetry Inn will probably seal the deal for you: designed by architect Howard Backen, each room has floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize the valley views, a wood-burning fireplace, luxury Italian linens on king beds, an outdoor shower, a private terrace, original works of pastoral-themed art, specially selected furniture in soothing color patterns and bathrooms larger than most NYC apartments (each with a valley view and employing Beauharnais Rose limestone and Giallo Reale Palladio marble). Lede has some firsthand experience with the inn’s powers of romantic persuasion: “A few days there and people find they’ve rejuvenated their relationships. We’ve heard this from so many people that have stayed. We even get a lot of locals who stay for a few nights just for the romance. What better place to bring back the passion in a couple than the inn?”

I visited on my own as a media guest but had a half dozen locals who were friends insist on making the drive up the hill to visit me just so they could see the suite for a few minutes. To quote one of them, a Napa vintner, “Dude, you’re staying in the sickest room in all of Napa right now.”

For those nursing the hangover of a night indulging in Napa Valley’s finest libations, breakfast includes three courses (usually more, because the staff are likely to also offer you a slice of whatever gourmet pastry they concocted specially for that morning) and is often attended by managing innkeeper Chris Parkes, 2003 International Guild of Professional Butlers’ Butler of the Year and voted the U.K.’s Best Tour Operator by readers of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph. A breakfast like that should provide enough energy for you to get back on the wine trail, and at any rate will make you feel like a badass for having had a Butler of the Year serve it to you. I can now personally attest to Parkes’ skills: after one day he recalled my seating and dining preferences with an accuracy that bordered on being spookily telepathic.

"If you’re an early riser like myself,” adds Lede regarding breakfast, “you can watch the hot air balloons rise in the morning; it’s beyond tranquil.” More likely you’ll be seeing those ballooners after staying up all night enjoying the epic pleasures of the Poetry Inn and basking in your temporary pseudo-vintner status. Just don’t pity those balloon riders too much, since their views might not be as good as yours…

Details available at www.poetryinn.com

About the Author:

Joe Roberts is a certified wine geek, and has been called "an original” by media maven Gary Vaynerchuk, “provocative” by the Seattle Times, and “a Robin Hood in the exclusive world of vineyards and corkings” by The Urban Grocer. His wine knowledge has been tapped by the L.A. Times, New York Times, CNBC.com, Mutineer Magazine, Publix, Palate Press, Mint.com, and Wines.com. You can find Joe regularly roasting wine’s sacred cow (and pairing them with robust, obscure red) at the award-winning 1WineDude.com. Follow him on Twitter @1WineDude.


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