Napa: More Than Just Fine Wine

Windows_to_the_Soul-Kasandra_Weinerth“Windows to the Soul” by Kasandra Weinerth of Valley Girls (Courtesy of Kasandra Weinerth)

What might surprise visitors is that many of the artists displayed at the wineries, local galleries, cafes and restaurants might also be local winery owners or vintners, such as Margrit Mondavi of the famed Robert Mondavi Winery or Heidi Barrett of La Sirena.

These women’s artwork is on display along with 10 other painters, ceramicists and sculptors, seven of which, including Barrett and Mondavi, are women, in the “Thinking Outside the Bottle” exhibit at the Napa Valley Museum (55 Presidents Circle, Yountville, Calif., 707-944-0500, ).

The exhibit, which features artistic works by some of Napa Valley’s multi-talented winemakers, viticulturists and winery owners, opened January 17 to great enthusiasm bringing out nearly 300 art and wine connoisseurs. The works are being shown through March 23.

Guests visiting the museum will take in a an impressive display of works by Kate Solari Baker of Larkmead Vineyards; Barrett; Eleanor Coppola of Inglenook; Layla Fanucci of Charter Oak Winery; Blair Guthrie of Stewart Cellars; Richard Mendelson of Mendelson Wines; Mondavi;  of Rock Wall Winery; Kasandra Weinerth of Valley Girls, and Nile Zacherle of Zacherle Wines.

“It was a great honor we were amongst some amazing artists who have some amazing wineries,” said Layla, of Charter Oak Wintery who is among the celebrated artists about being a part of the exhibit. Her colorful overlays of cityscapes, urban and architectural works are gaining worldwide notoriety.

Kasandra knew some of the viticulturists turned artists, but she was actually surprised by the breadth of winery owners and winemakers, especially well-known names, whose art hung next to her works.

“I’ve always heard making wine is half science and half art,” said Kasandra, “But I was really surprised because some of them are really well-known winemakers. To see that they are doing art too is very intriguing.”

Tapping into wine art

Kristie Sheppard, executive director of the Napa Valley Museum, got the idea to show off the other side of winery owners and winemakers’ world class talents during a showing of Barrett’s work at Jericho Canyon Vineyard during the Napa Valley Art Festival.

“She’s a great winemaker and a great artist,” said Kristie, who knew other winery artists and began thinking about bringing them together to put on display. “I wanted to offer a truly Napa Valley experience through art and wine.”

Napa is known for its world class wine and may be for its hot springs in Calistoga, but it is also a creative hot spot. May be it’s the wine, the sunshine, the quaint pastoral scenery, but the valley best known for upstaging France with its great upset in the 1970s that catapulted it into becoming a symbol of modern class, sophistication and opulence is also a hotbed of creativity.

Kristie carefully selected the artists currently on display sticking with visual artists, which is “definitely very female driven just by coincidence, not by design” she said, rather than performance art which she would have more male arts to consider.

Napa’s got talent and it’s more than in the grapes. There is so much talent throughout the Napa Valley that Kristie had more than enough artists to select.

“There are so many more that we could have included,” she said, hoping to make the exhibit an annual event due to the response.

“Wine is a beautiful art and perhaps my favorite one,” said Kristie, who believes that art and winemaking blend well together. “[The exhibit] really represents the creatively here in Napa Valley: food, wine, arts and wellness.”

Admission is free for members and for non-members. A guided tour at 11 a.m. is included with the admission on the third Saturday of the month (February 15 and March 15).

Other events of interest to attend along with viewing the artists’ works:

February 15 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Wine Tasting 101

Experience a new kind of wine tasting! Learn about your palate and discover the diverse flavors and aromas found in Napa Valley’s finest wines. This is the perfect class for a first-time wine taster or as a refresher course for the seasoned wine taster. Tickets for members / for non-members. Napa Valley Museum, 55 Presidents Cir, Yountville, Calif., 707-944-0500. For more information, visit http://napavalleyregister.com/calendar/arts/wine-tasting-at-napa-valley-museum/event_a866b05e-766d-11e3-bfa2-10604ba09cc0.html or www.napavalleymuseum.org.

February 28 – March 2: First Annual Napa Valley Cabernet Festival “CabFestNV”

Featuring more than 100 of the biggest industry names as well as the best boutique wineries, this event is designed to appeal to the novice and the expert. Through current and library tastings, thoughtfully combined wine, food and chocolate pairings, educational lectures and incomparable culinary demonstrations (with the best chefs in the world in our backyard), CabFestNV will explore the many facets of  Cabernet’s complexity and mystique. Presented by Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater.

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