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Body & Soul: Wine Country Getaway

An award-winning boutique hotel in California’s Russian River Valley scores top marks as a luxurious weekend retreat

Written by Leslie A. Westbrook

California boasts many wine regions, with Napa Valley perhaps the best-known. But another favorite area lies just to the west—Sonoma County, where farms and wineries abound along a stretch of scenic, fertile countryside. 

For visitors seeking a bit of wine country R&R, The Farmhouse Inn ensures an idyllic weekend—or anytime—getaway. Recently voted best hotel in California by Travel & Leisure magazine readers, as well as eighth best in the world, the five-star boutique hotel sits on six acres in the scenic Russian River Valley. The owners, brother and sister Joe and Catherine Bartolomei, have deep roots in the area, where their family has been involved in farming and winemaking for five generations. 

Relaxation is on the agenda from the time you sink into one of the 25 luxurious rooms and suites, tastefully designed with light and airy palettes and sumptuous bathrooms, some with jetted tubs and steam showers.

Personal touches—fresh flowers, feather beds, and organic, Sonoma-made bath products—give the feeling of home (only better).

You don’t have to leave the premises for a superb farm-to-table dinner paired with local and international wines. The charming and intimate restaurant, located in a restored 1873 weatherboard farmhouse, has earned a Michelin star for 10 years. 

Farm-fresh cuisine in a Michelin-starred restaurant awaits guests at this family-owned hotel featuring luxurious suites and specialty spa treatments in Sonoma County’s wine country.

A favorite entrée, Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit, includes bacon-wrapped loin, roasted rack, and confit of leg accompanied by Yukon potatoes and a whole-grain mustard cream sauce. You can follow suggested pairings from the extensive wine list that includes local choices such as a Russian River Valley 2013 Ramey Chardonnay and a Sonoma County Viognier from Pride Mountain, plus many Spanish, Australian, German, and French varietals. Save room for dessert—delicious house-made concoctions, unique Farmhouse ice cream flavors, or regional artisan cheeses. 

There’s even a “farm-to-table” spa for an additional sense of well-being, with soothing choices such as the “Body Melt” (featuring alfalfa, lavender, and chamomile), “A Roll in the Hay” (a two-hour indulgence for couples, weather permitting), as well as personally curated spa experiences where guests customize their treatments with the inn’s spa alchemist.

If you do wish to leave your digs, you can hike redwood forests, bicycle on bucolic country roads, enjoy more fine dining and shopping in the charming town of Healdsburg, and, of course, traverse wine trails.

Should Sonoma County not provide enough wine-tasting venues (there are 200-plus wineries) or activities, Napa Valley is just 30 minutes away, the bright lights of San Francisco an hour-and-a-half south. 

Brother and sister innkeepers Joe and Catherine Bartolomei opened the now-landmark hotel in 2001 to “share our extraordinary upbringing and sense of place and hospitality with guests seeking an authentic Russian River Wine Country experience.” 

For more information, visit or call 800/464-6642.

Produced by Jenny Bradley