April Gargiulo is quite literally a vintner’s daughter. Her luscious, culty, great-smelling face oil of the same name, Vintners Daughter, is partly responsible for the big trend toward oils in skincare – and with good reason. The same botanical ingredients April loved in the vineyard turned out to be excellent ingredients for the skin too. During her first pregnancy, April was inspired to create safe and effective skincare and packed the bottle with 22 powerful herbs and botanicals.
With such deep roots in one of our favorite weekend destinations, we decided to tap April for her local’s guide to Napa Valley and loved inside scoop…
While Napa Valley definitely has its fair share of heavy food and alcohol-fueled events, there is above all else a deep respect for ‘the good life’ and all that can mean. From healthy eating to exercise to education and the arts, Napa Valley is a community that is all about keeping life and, yes, the occasional glass of wine in balance.
Morning Fuel. For me the morning begins with a green jeans juice from my friend Cristina Hudson’s juice shop in the Oxbow Market. My kids and husband are obsessed with the Cristina Cuckoo smoothie. It is made with coconut butter, hemp milk, dates, cinnamon and protein powder. She gratefully gave us the recipe and promised revenge if it ever got out. I am gluten-free and there is a delicious Mexican joint inside the Oxbow called C Casa that makes delicious breakfast tacos.
Best hikes. There are incredible hiking trails throughout Napa and the one that I find myself at the most often is Skyline Park. You pass deer, old stone remains, a gorgeous reservoir and the most beautiful views await you at the top. Not for the faint of heart is hiking Mt St Helena at the north end of the valley. You can see all the way to the ocean on a clear day. Before kids, I did this every Sunday and called it church.
Imbibe in Balance. Even for a local it is fun to visit a few tasting rooms. This is where the balance comes in. Even if you are just tasting, the alcohol can creep up in you. You have to superset: Drink one to two glasses of water for every glass of wine. Hydration is critical. Brown Family tasting room just opened up in downtown Napa. This is an awesome family making delicious wines in a tasting room that you will want to copy every inch of in your own home. It was designed by another friend, the San Francisco interior designer Catherine Kwong. Gargiulo Vineyards, my family’s winery, Promontory and Spottswoode are all winery tasting experiences worth the call ahead to make an appointment. Some of the very finest cabernet sauvignons in the world are made in Napa Valley – and these wineries live up to the hype.
Bike, Bike, Baby. A good way to get around Napa Valley is on bike. The Vine Trail runs the length of our beautiful valley – think of it as Napa Valley’s answer to New York’s High Line. It magically winds its way along a north-south axis covered in vines – and there is even a sculpture park being developed within its reach. Kelley’s Filling Station in Yountville is along the Vine Trail route. It is a gas station with really good lattes and they even humor me when I bring in my own matcha.
TAKE THE WATERS. I love to ‘take the waters’ at the historic Indian Springs mineral hot springs in Calistoga and maybe even a mud bath too. I am a big believer in the healing powers of minerals and these baths claim to cure everything from eczema to a sluggish metabolism. Minerals are also a critical part of the Vintner’s Daughter formulation because of what potent skin beautifiers they are.
Eat local. As evening comes, we stop at the local grocery in St Helena, Sunshine Foods. It services some of the most discriminating palates in the country and has the freshest, most seasonal produce you can find. We load up and grill or cast iron anything we can with just a bit of olive oil and salt. It is always easy and delicious. Occasionally local-ish ice cream, Three Twins, finds its way into our shopping basket. They make as good dairy-free ice cream as they do cow-milk ice cream. Mint chip tonight and Pilates Pro Works in the morning will make it all right.