Typically when we’re headed to Napa Valley, the bulk of our itinerary is already predetermined—we will be drinking wine and eating great food. Surrounded by the mountains and under the Northern California sun, this scenery makes me feel right at home, celebrating all of my favorite hobbies—cooking, eating, discovering new places and reveling with friends. This valley visit definitely aims to offer a bit more than mere tasting notes—one of my besties is actually hosting the first of many milestone birthday festivities while she is in town. While my official birthday isn’t until October, she insisted on immediately dipping into the newest Auberge resort, Stanly Ranch.
Located on 712-acres of vineyards and ranch land, Stanly Ranch complements its sister properties alongside the wellness-oriented Solage and the French Riviera-inspired Auberge du Soleil. After driving 50-minutes from Sacramento on a winding road to the Ranch’s center, you’re greeted with a cluster of buildings that don’t attempt to overpower the landscape’s natural beauty. The outdoor fires, wooden finishings, and many large windows work with the surroundings instead of against it. The lavender pool centerpiece—actually a collection of two pools, a bar, and several hot spas—is set in its own valley and surrounded by its namesake plants. When in bloom, it is a gorgeous visual and olfactory display, as are the vegetable and herb gardens.
The culinary program at Stanly Ranch utilizes its unique position as a one of a kind, working ranch to create sustainably sourced and seasonally driven menus and dining experiences. Holistic and experiential, the cuisine at Stanly honors the infinite connection between the land, ingredients, makers and farmers. And today, we have a special gift for the culinary team—the Hestan Culinary squad has me armed with a beautiful Hestan Chef’s Pan to present to Executive Chef Garrison Price.
Our luncheon was at Bear, the keystone of Stanly Ranch’s culinary offering, serving to connect creation with consumption. Bear is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, each meal spotlighting a menu of inspired, elemental cooking. Low-key mornings on the terrace, give way to a buzzy lunch. Dinner is a convivial experience highlighting the ingredients of Napa Valley through techniques such as grilling and fermenting alongside more traditional preparations to enhance flavor and add intrigue.
Executive Chef Garrison Price brings a deep interest in sustainable agriculture as well as professional expertise gained from working with some of the industry’s most notable chefs at fine dining destinations throughout the United States. His career highlights include three years as executive chef of New York’s beloved il Buco Alimentari & Vineria. Prior to that, he headed up the kitchen of the botanically-focused il Fiorista. Price found inspiration and mentorship working under Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Hawaii’s Kauai Grill, and later worked as head chef at José Andres’ China Poblano. His experience as a chef has forged a deep dedication to maintaining the health of local ecosystems through regenerative farming practices. “Stanly Ranch is about telling the stories of the place and being its steward,” he says. “Everything we create in our kitchen will be a reflection of this approach.”