Over the past century, the Napa Valley has grown ever more famous for its appellations. But Northern California’s premier wine country is quickly earning a reputation for heady varietals and artistic experiences, a blend of performing and visual arts worth a toast.
Celebrating its one-year anniversary occupying Napa’s recently renovated opera house, City Winery presents a calendar jam-packed with hits, including the North Mississippi Allstars on April 3 and Arlo Guthrie’s 50th anniversary tour to support Alice’s Restaurant on April 18. Silo’s calendar caters to the classic rock lover, with tribute bands booked to pay homage to Journey, Foreigner and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. The nearby Lincoln Theater presents the fourth annual TEDxNapaValley conference on April 12, and a charity choral and orchestral concert on April 24 that raises awareness about trafficked children.
You don’t have to look hard to find some of Napa Valley’s most prominent installations and public art displays. Since 2010, the jury-selected Napa Artwalk sculpture exhibition along Main and First Streets in downtown Napa has exhibited eye-catching pieces you’ll want to admire between tasting rooms. As you make your way to the towns farther up the valley, don’t miss the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville, featuring a retrospective of Napa Valley’s land and people that details the region’s history as a hotbed of groundbreaking viticulture. In St. Helena, the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum houses the world’s largest collection of work by the author and artist.
Visitors to St. Helena often know Hall Wines even if they haven’t visited the winery and tasting room. Sculptor Lawrence Argent’s 35-foot-tall stainless steel “Bunny Foo Foo” literally leaps above the grape vines, beckoning passersby into the winery. Once on property, glass of Cabernet Sauvignon in hand, it’s hard to tear yourself away from Kathryn and Craig Hall’s dynamic collection of work by two dozen acclaimed artists. Patrick Doughtery’s massive “stick art” huts, made from woven willow saplings, will make you feel like nesting right there on the vineyard grounds.
Artesa Winery features the work of artist-in-residence Gordon Huether, who has worked in-house for Artesa since 1997, creating his most personal large-scale glass, metal and canvas sculptures exclusively for the winery. “Artesa” is the Catalan word for “handcrafted,” a nice, if unintentional, nod to the winery’s commitment to the arts. Huether’s work is also displayed at nearby St. Supéry Vineyards and Winery, and in Huether’s own gallery space on First Street in Napa.
At the Hess Collection vineyard and winery, don’t miss the impressive compilation of art works that Donald Hess began curating in 1966. Jessup Cellars is known for its companion gallery, selling the work of established and emerging artists and hosting art house film shorts paired with Jessup’s finest vino.
Napa Valley Arts in April
During the month-long, fifth annual salute to arts in the Napa Valley, events such as the Yountville Art Walk highlight the valley’s colorful palette. Stags Leap District Winegrowers will host its annual Vineyard to Vintner events April 24-26, including a vintner-hosted brunch at Silverado Vineyards featuring cuisine from three-Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood.
Many of the region’s prestigious galleries, event spaces and wineries host special exhibitions. The Caldwell Snyder Gallery in St. Helena features the Warholian acrylic panels of contemporary painter James Wolanin. An exhibit at the Napa Valley Wine Train Station highlights renowned winemaker Heidi Barrett’s other talent: paintings and fine art giclées. In the “iPhonic Art: Astonishing iPhotography” showcase, Markham Vineyards in St. Helena takes special care in framing the work of Baron Wolman, longtime friend of the winery and Rolling Stone magazine’s first chief photographer. Jessup Cellars hosts a similarly fine-tuned event in its Tastemaker Series, hosting Heather Jacks, music journalist and author of “The Noise Beneath the Apple: A Celebration of Busking in New York City.”