From the moment I pulled into the discrete entrance to the Kenwood Inn and Spa, I felt like I’d returned to Tuscany. I almost expected the friendly Concierge to welcome me with the familiar greeting — Ciao Bella. Yes, it really feels like Italy; from the honey-colored Mediterranean-style buildings to the fountains and flower-filled courtyard. Fragrant jasmine drips from arbors and vineyard-covered hills surround the inn. Located in Sonoma County’s Valley of the Moon, the Kenwood Inn and Spa is one of the most intimate and romantic retreats in wine country.
You may never want to leave the gardens, pool, Jacuzzi, spa, or your elegant room. The 29 spacious rooms are lavishly decorated with antiques, fireplaces, velvet curtains, tapestries and feather beds.
Everywhere you go in the resort, from the piazza-style courtyard shaded by palm trees, to the coy pond, gardens or pool, you’ll be accompanied by the sound of water pouring from fountains, pools and Jacuzzis.
Definitely have dinner at the private restaurant, open to the inn’s guests only. Dine inside or al fresco by the fountain or blazing fireplace. The chef features locally sourced products from the area’s best farmers, ranchers, cheese makers and fishermen and the produce and herbs grown from Chef Steven Snook’s garden. Chef Steven Snook worked for six years with the esteemed Michelin Star-rated, British chef Gordon Ramsay in London and New York.
To build up an appetite I walked through the Chef’s gardens — flush with fruit trees, avocados, loquats, figs, pomegranates, beets, lettuce, basil, rosemary and mint. I started with a dinner salad of baby garden lettuce – fresh picked by the chef– shaved beets, vegetables, herbs, a jasmine flower and 20-year-aged balsamic vinegar with olive oil. My main course, a pan roasted branzino (fish) with soft tomato polenta and mouth-watering multi-colored cherry tomatoes were cooked to perfection.
And who can resist the Artisan Cheese Course when they are all locally produced? I selected the Cowabunga cheese with Dolce de Leche and fleur de Sel. Yes, it was over the top, especially when paired with an aged Tawny Port.
And don’t forget the wine! The extensive wine menu is impressive, to say the least. Wine aficionados know that Kenwood Inn and Spa’s extensive wine list has been recognized by Wine Spectator with the Best of Award of Excellence every year since 2009.
Take the time to sip in the bar and chat with the personable Wine Director Ann Davis who has more wine knowledge and experience than anyone I’ve met in a long time. She designed customized wine programs for many esteemed hotels and restaurants including the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. The 3rd Thursday of each month she offers a Wine and Food Event (similar to a Wine Seminar) that teaches you, through tasting and nibbling, the basic tactile sensations of paring food and wine. Reservations are required.
Relax by the pool or book a treatment at the Vinotherapie Spa. If you must leave the inn, Eric, the extremely knowledgeable Concierge can help you shape up your entire trip with driver, restaurants, private tasting and vineyard visits.
Before we checked out, we lingered in the Tuscan courtyard and indulged in a three-course breakfast. Don’t miss the KIS eggs Benedict made with prosciutto and home-made focaccia bread. What a way to start the day. It’s no wonder the Inn has received so many awards.
In 2012 the Kenwood Inn and Spa was voted one of the Top 15 Resorts in Northern California by Conde Nast Traveler, Reader’s Choice Awards. http://www.kenwoodinn.com