World-renown for its wine and food culture, Napa Valley's vibrant art scene is too often overshadowed by the region's raison d'etre.
Develop your taste from the palate to the palette at these art-centric wineries and tasting rooms.
Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animal/Zodiac Heads.
(Courtesy of Donum Estate)
On 200 bucolic acres, Donum Estate is notable for its chardonnay and Burgundian-style pinot noir crafted by Anne Moller-Racke, one of the region's top female winemakers. But it's also a must-visit for its high-end sculpture park, an open air gallery that showcases more than 30 installations by major international artists.
Inhale the aroma of the grapes as you wander around Artificial Rock, a stainless-steel piece by Chinese artist Zhang Wang; take an astrological journey in the Circle of Animal/Zodiac Heads by AI Weiwei, located inside a zen garden-like space; take a selfie with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkin; and play like a royal with Keith Haring's King and Queen sculpture, produced just three years before his death. More of the collection resides inside the Donum Home, including the Crouching Spider by Paris-born artist Louise Bourgeois, whose works currently appear at SFMOMA. —Anna Volpicelli // Open by reservation only by calling 707.732.2200; 24500 Ramal Road (Sonoma), thedonumestate.com.
The Gallery Bar is lined with the iconic black and white photography of Ansel Adams.
(Courtesy of Turnbull Wines)
Napa Valley's Turnbull is a landmark for lovers of architecture, design, and art, thanks foremost to its architect founder William Turnbull Jr., notable for his work on Sonoma County's iconic Sea Ranch. These days, it is the careful eye of art collector Patrick O'Dell, the winery's current owner, and his stepdaughter, 37-year-old winery president Zoe Johns, who are curating the experience.
A self-professed design nerd, Johns has overhauled the tasing rooms and garden to suit her own rustic-yet-refined taste and, most importantly, to show off twice yearly art exhibitions culled from O'Dell's incredible collection of Ansel Adams photography—one of the country's largest—inside the winery's Gallery Bar. Sip a glass of their signature Josephine Sauvignon Blanc while contemplating the black-and-white landscapes of Adams as well as the images of 20th century master Edward Weston and documentary photog Margaret Bourke-White, the first American female war photojournalist. Currently on view is Travel for Good, a selection of 60 large-format color images of indigenous people by San Francisco–based humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine. —Anna Volpicelli // Open daily from 10 am to 5pm; 8210 St. Helena Highway( Oakville), turnbullwines.com.
Hall Napa Valley
Best known for the 35-foot tall Bunny Foo Foo leaping out of the vineyards on the edge of Highway 29 in St. Helena, Hall's not-so-subtle Lawrence Argent sculpture is just one of 35 seriously whimsical contemporary pieces you'll experience as you meander through the historic winery with a glass of vino in hand. Other works include a life-size, white camel sculpture by John Baldessari and a viewfinder by Alyson Shotz, designed with roughly 30 different lenses for a kaleidoscopic perspective of the estate vineyards. // 401 St. Helena Hwy (St. Helena), hallwines.com
Located above the tasting room, Hess Collection's three-story modern-art gallery exhibits more than 20 artists in proprietor Donald Hess' personal collection, curated over 40 years. Our favorite works include the flaming typewriter by Leopoldo Maler, a tribute to his uncle who was assassinated for his political essays, and a room dedicated to environmental sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. His piece, Rock Pools, consists of large melted stones that he fired up in a kiln. // 4411 Redwood Rd. (Napa), hesscollection.com
Seated tastings on Mumm's popular terrace are hard to come by on weekends, but you can skip the line, grab a glass of sparkling from the visitors center, and take a stroll through their fine-art photography gallery instead. Wayne Levin's otherworldly black-and-white underwater photographs from his "Through a Liquid Mirror" series bring awareness to ecological issues such as coral-reef bleaching. You'll also find 27 silver-gelatin prints in the Ansel Adams Poetry of Light exhibit, showcasing some of the San Francisco native's most famous landscape photographs from Yosemite National Park. // 8445 Silverado Trail (Napa), mummnapa.com
RiverHouse by Bespoke Collection
One of downtown Napa's newest tasting rooms doubles as an art gallery. Michael Polenske, founder of Bespoke Collection (which includes Aerena Galleries & Gardens and three wine labels: Blackbird Vineyards, Recuerdo Wines, and Resolute Wines), opened RiverHouse as a place where all of his endeavors converge. Greeted by a pair of eagle sculptures (and a glass of rosé), you will be lead by RiverHouse staff on a tour around the gallery where you'll find a mix of classic and contemporary collections, such as SF native Brett Hammond's wine-themed, comic book-like canvases. Hanging just outside a Mad Men-esque man cave is an Andy Warhol piece, fittingly depicting grapes. A seated wine tasting follows, but if you make an appointment for lunchtime, you'll have the option of pairing it with an incredible bento box lunch from Morimoto ($95). // 604 Main St. (Napa), bespokecollection.com/riverhouse
If you've been searching for the perfect addition to your home that would showcase your love of wine, look no further than the $43,000 ginormous corkscrew sculpture by expert welder David Tanych, known for creating massive steel sculptures of ordinary items, such as a lock and key or a set of jacks. You can't miss the corkscrew in the outdoor garden at downtown Yountville's Ma(i)sonry, operating as part wine collective, part Aerena art gallery. The sticker shock will likely wear off after a few glasses of wine from your curated tasting experience: Ma(i)sonry staff selects three to five wines from a list of 23 artisan winemakers for you to enjoy while you browse the work of approximately 100 painters, sculptors, photographers, and artisans. Inside the stone building, you'll likely find yourself drawn to master enamelist Zingaro's colorful, large-scale mural, created with an ancient medium that allows his pieces to transform throughout the day as the light changes. Just like RiverHouse, every piece at Ma(i)sonry is for sale, but window shopping is also encouraged. // 6711 Washington St. (Yountville), maisonry.com
Instead of touring an official gallery, the art at Rutherford Ranch is consumed comfortably, as if you're simply having a glass of wine at a friend's house while admiring the art on their walls. The cozy tasting lounge, best known for its chocolate-and-wine offering, displays a collection of photography and oil paintings from a handful of different artists, plus a few pieces that were commissioned by Rutherford Ranch to convey the natural beauty of their estate vineyards. // 1680 Silverado Trail (St. Helena), rutherfordwine.com