A longtime friend asked that we talk more about Wine Country ...this corner of paradise where we are privileged to live, and where so many foodies from around the world visit to load up on all varieties of hedonism available here … ah, the mind wanders ….

But let’s start with Art - classical, modern, sourced locally and/or globally, all now available here in Napa Valley. There is a continuum of opportunities to see great art when you visit Napa Valley. And the connection between art - including architecture - and wine is a strong one.
On the ‘pure art’ end of the continuum, the
DiRosa Preserve and Gallery comprises over 200 acres in the Carneros Appellation of the Napa Valley, centered on the renowned Winery Lake Vineyard. Rene and Veronica di Rosa were prolific collectors who actively supported Northern California artists and assembled a collection of approximately 2,000 works by more than 800 artists. Lots of very interesting pieces! Reservations essential.

And at the other end of the continuum, Clos Pegase exhibits the magnificent art collection of its proprietor, Jan Shrem, in and around the winery, designed by Michael Graves after winning a juried competition. The art collection includes works by Jean Dubuffet, Richard Serra, Henry Moore, and Alexander Calder, as well as antiquities focused on the winery's namesake, Pegasus, and Bacchus, the god of wine. Schedule a tasting and tour to include a visit deep into the caves behind the winery - and below Jan’s house! - for a complete picture of this amazing collection.

In architectural contrast, the Hess Collection is part of the winery visitor center in the century-old stone building that once housed the Christian Brothers Winery. Donald Hess began collecting art in the 1960s, focusing on a limited number of living artists whose work he supports for extended periods. Once called “one of the largest private showings of contemporary art open to the public in the United States”, it includes works by many well-known US and European artists, including Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, and Francis Bacon.

Kathryn and Craig Hall have two wineries in Napa, but the combination of art and function is most prominent at their Rutherford property, high above the Valley with incredible views. This LEED Gold winery is designed for production of small lots and showcases some of their extensive art collection, including an amazing chandelier. Reservations required.

This would not be any sort of local’s tip sheet if we failed to mention the Quixote Winery in Stag’s Leap district. Quixote combines the efforts of two very large personalities: its proprietor and Napa Valley legend, Carl Doumani, and its Austrian architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser. My first impression was “Parc Guell on drugs” ...as if.... But Carl put it best when he said "The winery is more about a philosophy of giving joy rather than impressing. I've yet to see a visitor come up our walkway without smiling. That's all I ever wanted." Yep: it does that ...thanks Carl! Not to be missed. Reservations required.

Finally, it would be an oversight not to acknowledge the pioneering efforts of Robert and Margrit Mondavi, whose passion for wine, art, and food led to the development of the now-closed COPIA Center for Wine Food & the Arts, and all those who shared their passion, and contributed their dollars and efforts to COPIA. To quote a great man, “the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” The links between wine and art continue, in the hands of these stewards, and each of us. Enjoy!