Visiting Napa Valley means more than enjoying fine wine – it’s a full sensory experience. A feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Still the prime U.S. travel destination for savoring the subtleties of some of the best wines in the world, modern-day Napa continues to embrace its oenological heritage and culinary excellence. However, the aesthetic wonders extend to the architecture of the wineries themselves and the fine art collections that they house.
One of the most iconic wineries in Napa – Opus One – envisioned by Scott Johnson (of the LA architecture firm Johnson Fain) is a product of a 10-year collaboration between the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, Calif., and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild in Bordeaux, France. This stunning structure subtlety rises out of the earth, blending old-world redwood and modern stainless steel, juxtaposed against cream limestone. The old-world Bordeaux-style wine, produced in a “new world” California environs, pairs nicely with the structural tones of the edifice. Opus One is designed with a slight elevation for its gravity flow system, which protects the fruit flavors, thus producing some of the best wines in the world.
Set amongst a background of vineyards stretching from ancient riverbeds on the valley floor to sun-drenched hilltops, Hall Wines’ dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows in the tasting room exquisitely frame the expansive vistas of the surrounding nature and art. The composition of the LEED Gold Certified tasting room in St. Helena, designed by Architect Jarrod Denton, was engineered for state-of-the-art winemaking while being carefully crafted to house the vast and inspiring objets d’art that inhabit the environment. Proprietors and avid art collectors Craig and Kathryn Hall (Kathryn is former U.S. Ambassador to Austria) have amassed an incredible collection of some of the most internationally acclaimed artists today. Curated by Virginia Shore of Shore Art Advisory, the Hall Collections feature many commissioned pieces and works from John Baldessari, Jim Campbell, Nick Cave, Peter Wegner, and many others. hallwines.com
Perched atop Howell Mountain off the Silverado Trail is the LEED Gold Certified winery CADE. Positioned on the ridge’s edge, you get the sense you are floating above the valley. With its striking views of the Mayacamas Mountain Range and its earth-toned contemporary structure that features a striking, inverted roof soaring over concrete walls, CADE Estate Winery embodies man’s partnership with nature. Architect Juan Carlos Fernandez worked closely with former Winemaker Anthony Biagi to create a winery that embraces the “ever-changing interplay among natural and architectural spaces.” Its clean modernity consists of glass, steel, and concrete contrasted with natural light. CADE was co-founded by former San Francisco Mayor (and current Lieutenant Governor of California) Gavin Newsom, wine industry veteran John Conover, and Gordon Getty (son of J. Paul Getty). cadewinery.com
Colgin Cellars, long known for its “cult” Cabernet, is due north of the Silverado Trail, nestled in a remote location near Lake Hennessey. Its secluded location reinforces the exclusivity of this highly sought-after, world-renowned wine. Founder Ann Colgin (Trustee and executive committee member of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) personifies the art of wine. Colgin’s tenure at Sotheby’s, coupled with a visit to Napa Valley Wine Auction years ago, provided sufficient impetus to found Colgin Cellars. Colgin Estate features myriad works of art that reference winemaking through the ages. The multitude of artwork on display, the meticulously hand-crafted wines and the impeccably manicured vineyards that are an art unto themselves, all pay homage to the Colgin Cellars name. colgincellars.com
Further up the Valley floor in Calistoga, you will find the Michael Graves postmodern-designed Clos Pegase winery. Its majestic estate and picturesque grounds are said to have put Napa on the map for its architecture. With a nod to ancient Mediterranean culture, the winery merges modern and ancient architecture embodying a “timeless sensibility,” according to Graves. This structural complexity is accentuated by 20,000 square feet of caves dug into the volcanic knoll. The wine caves are occasionally the site for symphonic concerts, which add an ethereal and gothic flavor to the setting. In 2013, the Clos Pegase winery was sold to prominent Napa Valley vintner and Dean & Deluca owner Leslie Rudd. clospegase.com
Heading West to Healdsburg to the region of Pinot Noirs is the winery of Williams Selyem. Owner John Dyson was instrumental in creating the vision for the new Williams Selyem edifice, reflecting a minimalist approach to winemaking and respect for the environment. Designed by Venezuelan Design Architect Alex Ceppi of the D’Arc Group, the winery, fashioned from reclaimed wood from wine barrels, is partially buried into the hillside; the winery’s atrium features curved ceilings that create the impression of being inside a cavernous wine barrel. The landscape architecture is a perfect complement to the structure, featuring streamlined rows of rare vegetation. williamsselyem.com
The charming town of Yountville is home to some of the some of the most awe-inspiring culinary delicacies and a plethora of world renowned, Michelin-starred restaurants. Yountville is also home to Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley: a winery collective and contemporary art gallery filled with works by such artists as sculptor Jedd Novatt. The serene setting of the landscaped sculpture garden, filled with Giuseppe Palumbo, Matt Gil and Bruce Newell, are so inviting that one may want to take up permanent residence there. maisonry.com
Founded by CEO-turned-winemaker Michael Polenske (former president and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank & Trust Western Division), Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley capitalizes on the business of leisure with such enterprises as Blackbird Vineyards, the sculpture gardens located at Auberge Du Soleil (featuring more than 110 works for sale), the gardens of Solage Calistoga, and MacArthur Place in Sonoma. “Art, food, furniture, wine – these are all things that are about leisure, that give life its texture,” Polenske says.
Renowned Napa Architect Howard Backen was the driving force behind Cliff Lede and its reinvigorated craftsman-style winery. Founded by commercial construction magnate Cliff Lede, the winery grounds showcases countless works of art by such celebrated artists as Keith Haring, Jim Dine, and Lyn Chadwick. cliffledevineyards.com
Modern Napa, a remarkable, exquisite experience for the true sophisticate, wine collector, and art connoisseur. Refer to this guide, however, on your next trip north and you will discover a perfect balance of refined cultural experiences, remarkable architecture marvels, inspirational art and celebrated wines. À votre santé!
Rest and sustenance are needed if one is to fully appreciate the architectural splendor and “bottled poetry” of Napa Valley. Here are some options.
WHERE TO STAY
Bardessono Hotel & Spa
Bardessono embraces all things art and architecture. Exquisitely capturing the beauty of Napa with a sense of sophistication and modernity, Bardessono is one of the only luxury LEED Platinum Certified hotels in the country. “Eco-chic” defines Bardessono’s “up-cycled” materials, salvaged woods, rammed earth walls, and primarily solar-panel energy. The 62-room hotel and spa was designed by Architect Ron Mitchell, who worked closely with Bardessono developer Phil Sherburne.
6526 Yount St., Yountville, CA 94599
River Terrace Inn
Defined by its Classic architecture and bird’s-eye view of the Napa River, River Terrace Inn is a charming haven in the Valley Nestled along the River Trail and the Oxbow Park Preserve. Centrally located near the heart of downtown Napa, the hotel features all the necessary amenities for a truly unique Napa journey. The Terrace Café, overlooking the river, focuses on locally sourced cuisine served in the consummate Napa Valley setting. River View guest rooms are well appointed with Whirlpool jetted tubs and balconies featuring sweeping river and park views. The hotel offers unique packages including the “Poetry & Romance” and “Noble Adventure” packages for an inspired venture.
1600 Soscol Ave., Napa, CA 94559
WHERE TO DINE
Goose & Gander
The inviting ambiance and gracious staff make one feel right at home at this charming wine country restaurant owned by local Andy Florsheim. Chef Kelly McCown masterfully crafts rustic yet refined American cuisine inspired by the Napa living.
1245 Spring St., St. Helena, CA 94574
Architect Howard Backen is the man behind Archetype, which opened in early 2014. California-inspired epicurean delights are magnificently created by Chef Ryder Zetts for the true bon vivant.
1429 Main St., St. Helena, CA 94574
Lucy Restaurant and Bar at Bardessono
Named after Lucy Bardessono, this contemporary eatery with striking outdoor patio is a seamless complement to the hotel’s expressive environment. Chef Victor Scargle serves meticulously prepared field-to-fork cuisine.