The owners of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards operate this oasis off U.S. 101 set amid 92 acres of vineyards. Although the namesake chef of the on-site John Ash & Co. departed more than a decade ago, the restaurant remains a crowd-pleaser, and the inn's hiking and jogging trail through the vineyards provides a scenic way to work off the calories. The inn itself is convenient to U.S. 101, yet notably calm and quiet.
YOU SHOULD KNOW An expansion that should be complete by Summer 2018 will see the addition of 34 new rooms and new gym and spa facilities. Most of the construction is taking place away from the existing 44 rooms, but until it's completed request a room closer to the John Ash side of the property.
The well-appointed if not flashy guest rooms occupy a series of two-story buildings, each with several units per floor. After the expansion, the existing rooms will be known as Courtyard Rooms, the new ones as Vineyard View Rooms. Although some of the existing rooms also have vineyard views (the rest look onto landscaped gardens fetching in their own right), the newer buildings jut into the vineyards for maximum effect. All rooms have a patio or balcony, and many rooms have fireplaces. Over time, the color scheme in all rooms will repeat the beige base tones of the new rooms, with green accents and maroon highlights that respectively mimic the color of grapevines and red wine.
The bathrooms in the existing rooms are spacious, with dark-wood vanities and dark-granite countertops. The towels are especially fluffy, and the space is well lit and stocked with high-quality bath products. A lighter look is planned for the newer ones.
A central building near the main parking lot houses the spacious lobby area, which contains the front desk and a high-ceilinged sitting area with a fireplace. Gift items are on display near the front desk, and there's an entrance to the River View Café.
Until the new spa opens in 2018, all massages take place in the guest rooms. The signature Vintners' Classic massage blends Swedish, lymphatic, and Esalen techniques. You can also get deep-tissue, Asian, and pregnancy massages, along with one designed to mitigate the effects of jet lag that involves aromatherapy.
The innkeepers describe the existing fitness center as a cardio room, acknowledging that its few machines, which include treadmill and elliptical ones, are meant to help guests get their heartbeats up for a reasonable spell rather than supply a full workout. Free weights are also available. The new fitness center will be more elaborate.
The room rate doesn't include breakfast, but you needn't stray off the premises for that meal—or lunch or dinner for that matter. For breakfast, the River View Café, just off the lobby and with indoor and outdoor seating, serves everything from beignets and steel-cut oatmeal to French toast and a hearty country breakfast of eggs, potatoes, and sausage or bacon. For lunch, the River View serves lighter dishes and full salads (Cobb or Niçoise), a pasta, a burger, and a sandwich or two (super-fine BLT). The chefs at John Ash & Co., open only for dinner, prepare Wine Country classics like pan-seared wild salmon and veal rib-eye in a two-tiered dining room with seating indoors and on a tented outdoor patio with Plexiglas windbreakers.
The Front Room Bar & Lounge at John Ash & Co. has a casual-clubby feel. The signature cocktails include a potent Moscow mule, a classy Manhattan mixed with Woodford Reserve, and the aromatic Rosemary Drop, made with Square One Botanical Vodka, rosemary simple syrup made in-house, and fresh lemon juice.
Locals often show up during happy hour, daily except Sunday. The times vary, but it's always from 4 to 6 pm and sometimes earlier and/or later.
Less than ½ mile from U.S. 101's River Road exit, the Vintners Inn lies about 5 miles north of Santa Rosa's Railroad Square Historic District and 10½ miles south of Healdsburg Plaza. Buses aren't a convenient option for touring, but ride-hailing services will help you get around if you don't have a car (which most guests do). A few wineries are within walking distance, but aside from a farm stand or two, that's about it nearby.
Guests report enjoying Sparks Steak & Seafood (7-minute drive) in Santa Rosa for steaks and sustainable seafood, Forestville's romantic Farmhouse Inn (12-minute drive) for intricate French-inspired farm-to-table cuisine, and Healdsburg's Barndiva and Valette (15-minute drive for both) for Modern American.
Head north to Healdsburg to Duke's Spirited Cocktails (14-minute drive) and Spoonbar (12-minute drive) for "farm-to-bar" cocktails using locally grown herbs and produce. The bar at Chalkboard (14-minute drive) is another hot spot for a cocktail (and a popular happy hour). To the south in Santa Rosa, check out Sparks Steak & Seafood (7-minute drive) and Jackson's Bar & Oven (6-minute drive) for cocktails and Russian River Brewing Co. (8-minute drive) for its iconic beers.
WHY WE LIKE IT
A safe bet with a convenient location, a sliver of style, and spacious rooms with comfortable beds, the Vintners Inn seduces its guests with a slew of amenities and a scenic vineyard landscape. Guests appreciate the personalized service and winery, entertainment, and restaurant suggestions the staffers eagerly supply, and with frequent online specials—on its website, always worth checking, and third-party ones—the inn often provides good value compared to pricier lodgings in nearby Healdsburg.