Beauty and the Grape in the Napa Valley

Cabernet massages and Chardonnay wraps. No, these are not the wishful fantasies of a wine lover. In the spas and vineyards of the Napa Valley and around the world, growers and beauty experts have joined together with one admirable goal: to apply the good things wine does for you on the inside, to the outside.

The (not so) Simple Grape

About a decade ago, inquisitive spa employees and vineyard owners began recognizing that something was happening when grapeseed oils came into contact with the skin. It became smoothed and hydrated. Skin looked noticeably better. Skin texture was improved, moisture was restored, and radiance returned.

To discover why, they turned to researchers who found that grapeseeds are jam-packed with powerful antioxidants, said to fight against the damaging free radicals the body makes in response to stress, pollution, and unhealthy diets-all factors that accelerate aging in the skin. It was reported that elements of the grapeseeds bond with collagen to improve skin elasticity and firmness while elements of the wine stalks produce resveratrol, which stimulates cell renewal. Further research found yet another component in the stalks that fade dark spots.

Little Package, Big Reward

Talented innovators in the Napa Valley saw the potential and "vinotherapy" was born. The Napa Valley's own Jeanette O'Gallagher was one of the first to see the promise of using wine-based grapeseeds in the spas. With experience at some of the Napa Valley's top spas, she had the opportunity to introduce grapeseed oil treatments. Clients raved. Jeanette wanted clinical support and enlisted noted Napa Valley plastic surgeon Steven C. Herber, M.D. F.A.C.S., who saw improved skin texture, decreased dryness, and an evening of the complexion.

Now, as owner of Napa Valley Spa Products, Jeanette's passion is getting the most from her grapes. With an exclusive milling process, she is able to keep the strength of the grapes elements intact in her products. Very finely milled grapeseeds impart the benefits on a very direct level. Jeanette explains, "When the grapeseed is opened up in this way, the oil right next to the hull is extracted." It's a little package with big benefits.

Grapes for All Reasons

Surrounded by abundant vineyards, wine-centric body scrubs, wraps, massages, and facials can be found on several spa menus in the Napa Valley. While each are imprinted with the spa's signature touches, they all celebrate and make the most of the grapes' restorative powers.

Body Scrubs

"Clients love the way their skin feels silky and soft after the grapeseed exfoliation," claims Tanya Wigger, owner of Napa Valley Day Spa. "Plus, the crushed grapeseeds hydrate better than pure salt or sugar scrubs, and are full of antioxidants and vitamins. " She loves using a Grapeseed Rosemary scrub for pedicures. "Warmed, it feels great on the feet, and the rosemary is stimulating and refreshing," Tanya reports.

For body scrubs, finely crushed grapeseeds blended with grapeseed oil are often used, along with a beneficial herb, like rosemary or lavender, or fruit such as guava. Spa technicians apply the mixture over legs, arms, back, and the abdomen. As it's rubbed over the skin, the scrub gently removes dead skin cells and a healthy glow emerges. The residual grapeseed oil is absorbed into the skin, conditioning and nurturing it. A quick rinse, often under a waterfall-like Vichy shower seals the deal. Skin is reborn.

Body Wraps

Combining the grapeseed oil with therapeutic mud makes for a super hydrating and detoxifying experience. Bruce Taylor, Director of Spa Operations at Amadeus Spa at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa, confirms that spa guests rave about their skin after a body wrap. "They look for an indigenous experience when they come to Napa and the wine-based therapies offered in our Grapeseed Body Scrub and Wine Mud Body Wrap really deliver results," he says.

In a body wrap grapeseed oil and toxin-absorbing French clay or Moor mud are combined. This thick paste is brushed on and warm towels or compresses are wrapped around the body. The heat helps open pores and the clay or mud draws impurities and toxins from the skin. The benefits are obvious; skin is deeply cleansed, silky soft, and revitalized.

Facials

Taking a holistic approach to facial care, spas use the entire grapeseed in their facial treatments. Loma Alexander, Spa Director for the Napa Valley Lodge in Yountville and the Harvest Inn in St. Helena, is enthusiastic about the results clients experience in spa facials. "The micro-fine freshly milled wine grapeseeds are the perfect consistency to gently exfoliate the skin," Loma says. Plus, grapeseed oil is great for balancing the skin, especially for those with T-zone troubles. It balances and moisturizes just the right amount; if the skin is oily or dry, or both."

Massages

Beyond the therapeutic muscle-relaxing benefits, massages done with grapeseed oils do even more. As Amy Wilson-Moghina, Spa Director at Auberge du Soleil contends, "The grapeseed contains a concentration of antioxidants several times stronger than vitamins C or E. In addition, this "miracle seed" seeks out and attacks the elements in skin which accelerate aging, then stimulates collagen synthesis, helping to actually reverse the signs of aging."

So the next time you think about good-for-you pampering, head for a spa that offers vinotherapy. Afterward, pour yourself a glass of fine Napa Valley wine and raise it in praise of the simple, yet perfect, grape.

Some of the finest vinotherapy treatments can be found in the Napa Valley. Here are some to try.

Body Scrubs

Cabernet Crush
Spa at Meadowood
St. Helena, 707.963.3646

Chardonnay Sugar Scrub

Spa at Silverado
Napa, 707.257.0200

Napa Valley Grapeseed Body Exfoliation

Napa Valley Day Spa
Napa, 707.258.9900

Grapeseed and Guava Body Scrub

The Spa at the Carneros Inn
Napa, 707.299.4850

Vino Bello

Spa Terra at The Meritage Resort & Spa
Napa, 707.251.3000

Body Wraps

Grapeseed Mud Wrap
Mount View Spa
Calistoga, 800.816.6877

Rosehip and Grapeseed Body Masque

Auberge Spa at Auberge du Soleil
Rutherford, 707.963.1211

Wine Mud Body Wrap

Amadeus Spa at Napa Valley Marriott
Napa, 707.253.8600

Facials
Fabulous Facial
Spa at the Napa Valley Lodge
Yountville, 707.944.2468

Grapeseed Anti-Oxidant Facial
The Bathhouse at Calistoga Ranch
Calistoga, 707.254.2800

Grapeseed Facial
Spa at the Harvest Inn
St. Helena, 707.963.9463

Wine Facial

Spa at Silverado
Napa, 707.257.0200

Massages

Chardonnay Grapeseed Oil Massage
The Spa at the Carneros Inn
Napa, 707.299.4850

Lodge Massage

Spa at the Napa Valley Lodge
Yountville, 707.944.2468

The Vineyard Crush

The Bathhouse at Calistoga Ranch
Calistoga, 707.254.2800

Warm Grapeseed Oil Massage

Auberge Spa at Auberge du Soleil
Rutherford, 707.963.1211

 

This story originally appeared on Touring and Tasting