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Walnut Creek Magazine

Palate to Palette

Jun 13, 2018 05:24PM ● By Fran Miller

'Pinwheels' by Jim Drain and Ara Peterson, at Hall

Though known primarily for superior wines and distinctive cuisine, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys are also destinations for art lovers. Several of the area’s vintners are collectors of world-class artworks that they share with the public in their wine tasting facilities, and throughout their estate grounds. It’s a natural combination – great wine, and great art. Both are capable of stirring the senses and the soul, and together, the two create a little bit of wine country magic. 

HALL: Soaring high in the sky, a striking silver sculpture named Bunny Foo Foo is one of 35 modern art pieces that welcome guests to Hall Napa Valley. Curated by proprietors Craig and Kathryn Hall, works at this art-rich winery are found in whimsical locations. The winery’s tank room is painted in splashes of red and adorned with 'Pinwheels’ by Jim Drain and Ara Peterson. Graham Caldwell’s blown glass 'Red Rain' hangs in a tasting room and Jim Campbell’s 'Exploded View' hypnotizes with its LED light displays. In the garden, a large scale sculpture by Patrick Dougherty, 'Deck the Halls,' beckons with its fantastical branches. Make sure to sip the winery’s acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon while you tour. hallwinery.com

     Hess Gallery

Hess Collection Donald Hess displays a mere quarter of his eclectic art collection at his winery’s three-story modern-art gallery, where museum admission is free and open to the public. His world-class assemblage is the result of a 40-year endeavor. Hess is known for acquiring works by lesser known artists who often rise to great fame, but he also features art world icons such as Robert Motherwell, Francis Bacon, and Gerhard Richter. Don’t miss the front-and-center flaming typewriter, Homage by Leopoldo Maler, a tribute to the artist’s uncle who was persecuted for his political essays. Be sure to splurge on the docent led tour of the full Hess Collection Art Museum, featuring works from Hess’ private collection and enjoy the complimentary tasting that follows.  hesscollection.com

              Mondavi copper sculpture by Len Urso

Robert Mondavi Winery: At this famous St. Helena winery’s entrance, a seven-foot, 3,000 pound copper sculpture by Len Urso pays tribute to trail blazer Robert Mondavi. The late vintner and his wife Margrit, an artist herself, were captivated by the fusion of art, wine, and food. Over the years, the art of Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud, and Nathan Oliveira has been highlighted. The permanent collection features  an enormous St. Francis of Assisi sculpture by the celebrated Beniamino Bufano. robertmondaviwinery.com

     Circle of Animals by Ai WeiWei

Donum Estate: This Carneros region winery boasts 30 awe-inspiring sculptures, each cleverly displayed on the massive 200-acre property. Standouts in the ever-evolving collection, scattered among the 150-year-old olive trees and organic farm, include gigantic pieces by Zhang Wang, Artuor Di Modica, Fernando Botero, and Ai Weiwei, and contemporary terra cotta warriors by Yue Minjun that stand guard over the property. thedonumestate.com

Imagery gallery

Imagery Estate Winery: When Joe Benziger founded Imagery in the 1980s, he commissioned Healdsburg-based artist Bob Nugent to design the winery’s first label. Since that time, artwork by more than 300 artists has graced Imagery bottles, each featuring a depiction of the Parthenon, the winery’s signature logo. Past labels by renowned artists such as SolLeWitt, Shoichi Ida, Goncalo Ivo, and Judy Pfaffcan be found in the Glenn Ellen tasting room. Taste at the wine bar or picnic at the al fresco tables. imagerywinery.com

                                                                                                                 -FRAN MILLER