One of Wine Country’s most notable power couples, French vintner Jean-Charles Boisset and winemaker Gina Gallo, are making a foray into the hotel business with their new venture, The Ink House.
The property, located just south of St. Helena, was built as a single-family home in 1885 by Theron Ink, who came to the area searching for gold, settled in the Napa Valley and eventually became a successful agriculturalist. It was turned into a luxury boutique inn by the winemaking Castelluci family in 2018. Elvis Presley stayed in the house in 1960, while filming the musical–drama Wild in the Country, and one of the inn’s guest rooms – The Elvis Room – is dedicated to the famous singer and actor.
Boisset and Gallo purchased the historic property in October. This is the couple’s first formal business collaboration and their first hotel but they are by no means newcomers to the hospitality industry.
“I’ve always dreamt of having hotels because I love to welcome guests,” said Boisset, who owns Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma, DeLoach Vineyards in Santa Rosa and a number of wineries and businesses in Napa Valley and his native France.
Boisset has considerable experience updating landmark Wine Country properties: Buena Vista is California’s first premium winery, and he also owns Oakville Grocery, which dates back to 1887, and the Calistoga Depot, which was built by the town’s founder, Sam Brannan. Just this week, his company, the Boisset Collection, announced the acquisition of Elizabeth Spencer Winery, which is located in a Rutherford post office built in 1872.
The French vintner is known for his penchant for the extravagant – his personal style has been described as flamboyant and his wineries are decorated with similar panache. But, so far, Boisset and his wife have refrained from making any big changes to The Ink House’s decor, only adding a sparkling Baccarat crystal chandelier (a Boisset favorite) to the dining room. Plans are in the works, however, for future transformations: The basement is being turned into a speakeasy with comfy seating, a pool table and bar (it already boasts a piano that Elvis is supposed to have played during his stay at the house) and a pool is being added to the property.
Only four guest rooms are available at The Ink House (six rooms can be made available if a guest buys out the entire property). All rooms come with vineyard views and a home-like ambiance. The Elvis Room is a little different, of course: Black and white photographs of Elvis and his co-stars decorate the walls, along with a nostalgic movie poster. There’s also a record player and a collection of Elvis albums. The Observation Tower room, located on the inn’s third floor, offers 360-degree views of the Napa Valley, including the nearby entrance to Boisset’s Raymond Vineyards.
“Even in my own house I don’t have such a great view,” said Boisset.
Guests at The Ink House have access to a chef’s kitchen where they can prepare meals, and wine is available to purchase from a well-stocked wine refrigerator. An assortment of candles, books and perfumes from the Boisset Collection are prominently displayed in the inn’s living room. A range of experiences, from yoga classes and chocolate making workshops to hot air balloon rides, can be arranged by the estate manager. Click through the above gallery for a peek at the inn.
Rates for ensuite guest rooms at The Ink House start at $850 per night. 1575 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, 707-331-4382