Four Things to Do in Wine Country in January


An inside look at the architects’ design process, a must-visit destination for winery art and design, and stylish dining in Napa Valley, all happening in Wine Country in January.

Go inside Aidlin Darling’s design process from concept to home tour in Sonoma

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art presents “Site & Senses: The Architecture of Aidlin Darling Design Exhibition” through March 2, 2014. Through sketches, models, mock-ups, and multimedia, the exhibit shows the immersive, physical and collaborative process that SF architects Joshua Aidlin and David Darling undergo to create spaces that appeal to all the senses with respect to a unique, revered site. Such thoughtful design, according to Darling, can “not only awaken the senses, but reconnect us to place and to ourselves.” Museum exhibit is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $5 pp or free admission for Museum members. 551 Broadway, Sonoma

Photo by Ben Tanner

Museum members have an opportunity to see the architects’ philosophy realized and hear about their design experience during an exclusive Wine Country estate tour in Glen Ellen on January 25. The home tour event is only open to members. Membership begins at $35 pp, check website for details. 

Preview HALL Wines new art-centric Visitor’s Center in Saint Helena

Before the formal grand opening in the spring, be among the first to experience HALL Wines new Visitor’s Center with the HALL St. Helena Bergfeld Tour ($40 pp). Showing the best of Napa Valley history, wine and design, the informative tour encompasses the historic Bergfeld Winery, the new winery addition and a seated wine and cheese pairing in the private tasting room of the stunning new Visitor’s Center designed by Signum Architecture. Throughout the tour, you’ll be introduced to the Hall’s world-class modern art collection, much of which was newly commissioned specifically for the estate.

Photo by Tubay Yabut

SF designer Nicole Hollis created the striking interiors, notably the main tasting room where an original Hollis design 23-foot mirror-polish steel bar sets off a floating glass chandelier by light-artist Spencer Finch.

Wall art “Shield Me” 2009 by Nnenna Okora. Photo by Tubay Yabut

HALL Winery Saint Helena is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The one and half hour Bergfeld tour takes place every hour on the hour (last tour at 4 p.m.) and reservations are highly recommended. 401 St. Helena Highway South, Saint Helena

Experience the elegance of Wine Country dining at Franciscan Estate

Photo courtesy Franciscan Estate

With so many wineries and eateries to visit, it’s easy to fall behind on a Wine Country itinerary. Here’s an excellent way to stay on schedule in Napa Valley and not miss a thing. Franciscan Estate in Saint Helena opens its private dining rooms to the public for the first time with its Reserve Lunch program beginning January 10 and every Friday thereafter from 12-2 p.m. The setting is extremely elegant and quiet, and the exquisite 3-course seasonal lunch prepared by on-site estate chef Brett Young is on par with the best restaurants in Wine Country.

Photo by Annette Hanami

Best yet, the luncheon includes a range of Franciscan wines expertly paired with the dishes, such as the Cuvee Sauvage Chardonnay served with pillowy-soft gnocchi, tender crisp vegetables, and house-cured bacon. Reserve seven days in advance at (707) 967-3993, $125 pp. Franciscan Estate, 1178 Galleron Road, Saint Helena

Savor seasonal truffles and wine in an 18th century barn in Oakville

The Gleason Barn. Photo courtesy Nickel & Nickel Vineyards

As part of the 4th annual Napa Truffle Festival on January 17-20, various wineries and restaurants are creating fabulous fungi feasts, including Nickel & Nickel in Oakville on Saturday, January 18 from 11:30 a.m to 2 p.m. – don’t miss their winery tour and wines! The rustic menu prepared by winery chef Trevor Eliason – along with Michelin star chef Carrie Nahabedian of Chicago’s NAHA – will be served in the rustic Gleason barn, a ca. 1770 hay barn constructed in post-and-beam style with hand-hewn white pine and hemlock. The New Hampshire barn was spared demolition in 2001, shipped to Napa and fully-restored as one of the classic barns and Queen Anne home that make up the beautiful farmstead. The festival weekend also includes technical seminars, truffle orchard tours, truffle forages and a myco-marketplace at Oxbow Public Market on Monday, January 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check the festival website for details. Reserve in advance for the Nickel & Nickel luncheon, 8164 St. Helena Highway, Oakville.

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