A surprising number of Napa wineries also have art galleries on their premises. The Hess Collection Winery www.hesscollection.com, Clos Pegase Winery and Tasting Room www.clospegase.com, and Hall www.hallwines.com –more on that winery later—are among our personal favorites.
We frequently stop by Mumm Napa www.mummnapa.com to see what’s new in their gallery, which features fine art photography. This time, we grabbed a glass of their California sparkling—always choosing one that is not readily available outside the winery, like the Santana or a DVX Cuvee – and headed off to see the Graham Nash photos then on view. The primarily black and white photos focused mostly on Nash’s days as part of the band Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
Mumm’s permanent collection includes a sizable collection of Ansel Adam’s black and white photos of Yosemite and other beautiful California locations.
Mumm’s photo exhibits change frequently and you may be lucky enough to visit while they’re hosting an artist’s reception.There is no charge for admission to the Mumm gallery nor are you required to purchase wine, but why wouldn’t you? After viewing the photos, relax on their expansive verandah with another glass and enjoy the pleasant views out over the vineyards.
Hall Wines www.hallwines.com has a truly marvelous contemporary art collection and they make delicious wines, too, which were two reasons we chose to stop in. Located on Route 29 in St. Helena, visitors can’t help but notice the huge metal rabbit that appears to be leaping over the vineyards (shown above). Lawrence Argent created the sculpture. He is also the artist responsible for the gigantic red rabbit titled, “Leap,” in the Sacramento, CA airport. Hall’s owners, Kathryn and Craig Hall, were quite taken by the airport piece and had a similar one commissioned for the winery.
Guests at Hall are greeted by a whimsical flock of sheep by Francois- Xavier Lalanne and a camel sculpture by John Baldessari, both positioned close to the main entrance. Other contemporary pieces on view include a an enormous piece constructed of “temperamental” index cards by Peter Wegner and a huge wall hanging fashioned from embroidered and bedazzled textiles (read repurposed sweaters) by Nick Cave. You’ll find fiber optic art, a crazy kaleidoscope by Alyson Shotz that looks out over the vineyards behind the modern tasting facility, and many more edgy pieces to capture your imagination by highly regarded artists like Russell Crotty, Joel Shapiro, Anya Gallaccio, Jaume Plensa, Jesus Moroles, Ivan Navarro, Spencer Finch and others.
Outside, you’ll find more art including a number of structures by Patrick Dougherty reminiscent of the “Big Bamboo” installation that until recently was on display, and open for climbing, at Rome’s Macro Museum in the Testaccio. There are plenty of benches to rest on to contemplate life and watch the grapes grow. There is also a barn on the property available for private functions.
After touring the collection outside, head back in to the LEED® Gold certified building for what the Halls tout as #crazygoodcabernet—and it is. The attentive and very knowledgeable wine hosts will tell you everything you want and need to know about the provenance of the grapes, the processes used and the excellent wines you will taste here. There is a fee for tasting and several options are offered but reservations are not required.
Hall also has a well-stocked gift shop with just about anything the wine aficionado could want, including a suitcase designed to carry those precious bottles back home on the plane.
Just remember that when you’re considering shopping for wine onsite, you’re best served by buying wines that can only be purchased at the winery. Wineries cannot compete with their own distributors by discounting prices so if you can find a wine you liked in the tasting room back at your favorite local wine merchant, you are better off to wait until you get home to buy—this applies to all wineries in California.