It seems borderline masochistic, a babymoon (also known as a vacation expectant parents take before the baby arrives) in one of the world's most famous wine regions, when the mother-to-be can't drink much, if any, of the prized varietals.
But, as it turns out, Northern California's Sonoma and Napa counties are chockablock with gourmet cuisine, laid-back leisure activities and other indulgences beyond sauvignon blanc and shiraz that expectant mothers and their travel companions can enjoy.
For starters, wine and food are inseparable bedfellows, which means where there is good wine there is no shortage of tasty cuisine. When heading to wine country from San Francisco, one great option for a breakfast stop is the Boon Fly Cafe in Napa, an all-American eatery known for its warm doughnuts and perfectly made-to-order egg dishes, housed inside a red barn at the revamped Carneros Resort and Spa. In fact, for some, Carneros might just be where they choose to stay, with its stand-alone cottages, scenic pool amid the vines, multiple dining venues and spa facilities (they offer a prenatal massage).
For those looking to go farther into wine country, the Model Bakery just outside the main market terminal at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa serves up an impressive roster of breakfast sandwiches for the road.
Boon Fly Cafe in Napa, known for its doughnuts and made-to-order egg dishes, is housed inside a red barn at the revamped Carneros Resort and Spa. Photo Credit: Michelle Baran
Pregnant women and their partners hoping to rest and relax pre-baby have numerous spa resort options in Napa and Sonoma. In the northern reaches of Napa, Calistoga has become a popular spa-lovers' retreat, not the least because it houses natural hot springs. And while many expectant mothers might be abiding by the advice that they should steer clear of hot tubs and saunas with temperatures above 100 degrees, cooler pools and prenatal massages are a welcome respite for the inevitable tired legs and sore backs pregnancy brings on.
For ultimate pampering, Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort, is a calming oasis tucked into a woodsy valley a short drive from downtown Calistoga. The Auberge Spa at Calistoga Ranch could not be a more soothing venue, with natural wood and stone accents, and offers a Mother to Be Massage designed to provide maximum relief. There are also numerous scrubs and facials on the spa menu for additional
Calistoga Ranch pays such attention to detail that expectant mothers don't have to feel left out when it comes to enjoying the personal hot tubs that accompany many of the cabin-style cottages; a technician can lower the temperature to the desired comfort level. The property is also home to the renowned Lakehouse restaurant where diners can sample ambitious dishes that tout the region's famously abundant organic produce. The four-course prix fixe menu is the way to go for a lengthy and luxuriating dining experience.
Another good option for a babymoon destination in Calistoga is Indian Springs Resort, with its retro vibe and recently opened Sam's Social Club restaurant, which is a fun dining venue for some American standards with a buzzy atmosphere.
Mothers-to-be who are looking to stretch their legs can also explore many of the great nature walks and hikes throughout Napa and Sonoma. From an easy stroll among the soaring trees at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Sonoma's Russian River Valley, to the slightly more ambitious Table Rock Trail in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park in Calistoga, there are numerous options for every ability level. Calistoga Ranch has three trails on property that offer views of the surrounding wine region.
For mothers babymooning with their little ones, there are also kid-friendly choices in wine country. Calistoga Ranch has a kid-friendly pool area and hosts activities for children. But there are also family-friendly wineries such as Cline Cellars in Sonoma, where kids can feed the donkeys out back. And for those who really want to impress the younger set, Safari West is a Sonoma-based wildlife preserve that includes zebras, giraffes and cheetahs.
Rates for Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort, start at $745 per night;. Rates for Carneros Resort and Spa start at $440 per night. Rooms at Indian Springs start at $275 per night.