An Art Day in Napa Valley

Napa Valley is one of California’s most important regions for tourism and, of course, wine, but a lot of people wonder what to do in Napa Valley besides taste wine. Actually, Napa Valley has cultural attractions because some winery owners are also art aficionados. This month’s ArtSmart Roundtable features “an art day in…” so I thought this was a good time to provide my ideas for an art day in Napa Valley (and get more travel tips for Napa Valley in my guidebook!).

1) The Napa Art Walk

Art in Napa Valley | This Is My Happiness

Downtown Napa is one of my favorite small cities in California, and the Napa Art Walk is part of the city’s charm. Every 18 months or so, the city of Napa installs new sculptures from regional artists. The art is chosen based around a theme that changes with each installation. Because the works are displayed in various spots around the downtown, you can get to know the city better by taking the art walk, starting with a brochure from the Visitors’ Center and continuing along the riverfront and then to the streets of downtown.

Art in Napa Valley | This Is My

On the Napa riverfront, a piece in the current “Metamorphosis” collection

The current art walk includes 15 works based on the theme of metamorphosis and is on display until May 2015.

Art in Napa Valley | This Is My Happiness

Liken gallery on the Napa Riverfront, next to Morimoto

While you’re there, pop into Liken gallery on the Napa Riverfront. The artist’s work is beautiful, and the gallery’s collection of unusual furniture and beautiful floral arrangements are also worth a look.

Art in Napa Valley |This Is My Happiness

2) Clos Pegase Winery

Clos Pegase, just outside of Calistoga off the Silverado Trail, is a winery and art exhibition space. The owner, Jan Shrem, has a true passion for art that he gladly shares with everyone who visits here. This starts with the winery’s architecture–its unusual design is by Michael Graves.

The art works at Clos Pegase span a history of about 400 years, but sculpture by modern masters like Henry Moore, Jean Dubuffet, and Mimmo Paladino are the standouts. More about the art at Clos Pegase here.

Art in Napa Valley |This Is My Happiness

3) Hess Collection & Winery

The Hess Collection and Winery is a beautiful place to experience art in Napa Valley. Donald Hess began collecting art in the 1960s and now shows about a quarter of his entire collection at the winery. Visitors are welcome to view what the winery calls “vivid, powerful, and thought provoking art“; the art collection is open to the public daily 10:00-5:30.

Art in Napa Valley | This Is My

The Hess Collection Vineyards. Photo credit: Sarah Ackerman on Flickr

4) Cliff Lede Vineyards

I first visited Cliff Lede because it was featured in my local newspaper as one of the best wineries in Napa Valley. What surprised me was the nice collection of sculpture.

Art in Napa Valley | This Is My Happiness

One work (above) by 20th century pop artist Jim Dine has an important position in the courtyard, where you can sit with a glass of wine, but a few other sculptures fill the outdoor space. The winery is open daily 10:00-4:00; tastings are $25 but various tours and special tastings are also available.

Art in Napa Valley |This Is My Happiness

Sculpture in the garden at Cliff Lede Vineyards

5) di Rosa Gallery

Art collectors Rene and Veronica di Rosa made the commitment to ensure that their art is accessible to the public. They now have a collection of over 2000 works, mostly by Bay Area artists. They’re displayed outside on 200 acres, where the art interacts with the landscape, and inside the large exhibition space. While drop-in admission to the Gatehouse Gallery is possible with a suggested donation of $5, viewing the rest of the art requires a guided tour. Open Wednesday-Sunday 10:00-4:00; tours cost $12-15 and reservations are recommended. More information here.

Art in Napa Valley |This Is My Happiness

Art at di Rosa. Photo credit: Chris de Rahm on Flickr.

AND YOU? Where have you discovered art in unlikely places? What suggestions do you have for what to do in Napa Valley besides taste wine?

Enjoy “a day of art in…” with these posts by my talented ArtSmart colleagues:

An Art Day in Cambridge, MA: Modernist Architecture at Harvard and MIT from Erin of A Sense of Place

An Art Day in Doha, Qatar from Ashley of No Onions Extra Pickles

Masterpieces for Free: An Art Day in Washington, DC from Christina of Daydream Tourist

An Art Day in Paris: My Own Accidental Walking Tour from Murissa of Wanderfull Traveler

An art day in Maremma at Daniel Spoerri’s garden from Alexandra of ArtTrav

An Art Day at the Kröller-Müller Museum from Pal and Lydian of Art Weekenders


You might enjoy these related posts:

Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma

 Budget Travel Tips for Napa Valley

30 Things to Do in Napa Valley


  • I’m not sure how I managed to miss this the last time I was there. Way to go, Napa! Lovely photos, Jenna. I’m due for a visit to my sister in San Francisco so I’ll be sure not to miss this on the next trip.
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  • I didn’t know Napa had so much going on besides the wine. The riverfront looks a nice wander for the architecture as well as the art installations.
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  • Alexandra says:

    That’s interesting! I like how the art walk changes, better than a permanent installation.
    Also, wine and art seem to be a good match. I don’t know why but it seems wineries like having art gardens. maybe there’s a tax break in it for them, because I’ve seen this in Italy too. There are a few important art collections in wineries that I haven’t seen as I don’t drink. Must make a point of visiting them with a drinker so i can see the art 🙂
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    • Jenna says:

      In the case of some of the above-mentioned places, the winery owners had a lot of money and also loved art and therefore began collecting art and later decided to show it to the public. So it has to do with money, but I don’t know about tax breaks. Interesting that this exists in Italy, too. I’ll have to visit some of those places on my next trip over there.

  • noel says:

    Those are all my favorite winery/galleries. I haven’t been to Napa city in awhile and wow, the changes are amazing, looks gorgeous along the river front. Hope your comment section is filled up for this post 🙂
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    • Jenna says:

      Oh, I LOVE the city of Napa and I think you will, too. I would move there if I could afford it–lots of cool things to do (especially eat and drink!) but a friendly, small town feeling at the same time.

  • Murissa says:

    There is just something about art and wine that pair so nicely together. Here in the Okanagan you’ll find many wineries with exhibits in and around the vineyard. Some have artists compete to be featured on their labels and others have an art gallery built right into their site.
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    • Jenna says:

      Nice to hear that you can see art while enjoying wine in the Okanagan. I think it’s possible to find this in just about any wine country because some winery owners become art collectors.

  • Lydian says:

    This is exactly how I would love to spend a day (or more): visiting wineries while enjoying the art around or vice versa 😉 Great suggestions, Jenna, we’re getting more and more tempted to put San Francisco and the Napa Valley on our list of future travel destinations!

    • Jenna says:

      Oh, you must come to San Francisco! And the beautiful areas of Sonoma and Napa, which both have art, too, are just a quick drive away.

  • Leah says:

    This article is so timely with my recent pass through Napa Valley. The other journalist I was with took me to see the Hess Collection, but it was closed. I’d love to return and see it and the others that you’ve mentioned. It’s such a cool area. I can’t believe I just now discovered it.
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    • Jenna says:

      Too bad that the Hess Collection was closed! You’ll have to try again on your next visit here because I know you’ll be back 🙂

  • I’ve spent a day in Napa, but didn’t experience any of these places. We spent most of our time in that region in Sonoma, with just a day side trip to Napa. Next time we get out there I think it would be good to return to Napa and hit some of this. We’re always on the lookout for local galleries, and it would be good to break up the wine tasting.
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  • Tran La says:

    It’s amazing! What beautiful sculptures! I went to Napa once, but I didn’t know these areas. My husband and I love this peaceful valley. We’ll plan to come back there to discover more.

    • Jenna says:

      There is so much to do around Sacramento! Napa has a lot more than meets the eye…it can just be hard to travel there for the day because it can be so crowded.

  • ehalvey says:

    I’d love to see the di Rosa Gallery. I like their focus on local artists.

    My trip to Napa is a bit…hazy so I definitely need to go back soon!

  • Tricia says:

    Jenna, since I know we’ll be Napa-bound at some point again (Shawn’s parents only live a few hours away and Napa weekends are a tradition in his family) I’m pleased you shared some activities that complement wine tastings. We didn’t get to visit any of the art galleries my first time in Napa, but the scenes do remind me of Santa Fe’s plethora of galleries. Looks like your little guys enjoyed these outings too? 🙂
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