Five Things to Do in Wine Country in February


Patz & Hall’s new home in Sonoma, a must-see photography exhibit at Mumm Napa, Napa Valley’s first festival devoted to Cab, and more happening in Wine Country this month.

Discover Patz & Hall’s new Sonoma House tasting room

Photo courtesy Patz & Hall

Patz & Hall has moved into a beautiful new 12-acre estate home in Sonoma worthy of their renowned vineyard-designate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. Set amongst vineyards in the emerging Eight Street winery scene in Sonoma, it’s just a short drive to both Sonoma Plaza and Downtown Napa.

Photo courtesy Patz & Hall

The contemporary tasting room, renovated and designed by SF architect Michael Guthrie & Co., has a great ease to it perhaps because it was a former residence. I especially love the main tasting room with its smooth Italian marble counter offset by two arresting fabric-covered pendant lamps from Spain. Patz & Hall’s new home has plenty of comfy but high-toned lounging both inside and on two spacious patios with views. Stay tuned for exciting art installations planned in the coming months.

Patz & Hall welcomes walk-ins but I recommend reserving the unhurried seated Salon Tasting of six vineyard-designate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines paired with expertly considered bites for $50, plus a welcome glass of sparkling wine. Since all the wines are typically made using the same techniques, the flights reveal the unique expression of each vineyard, in the case of the current Chardonnays, 2011 Carneros Hyde, Hudson and Russian River Zio Tony Ranch. The Sonoma House is open between Wednesday and Sunday from 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., with Salon Tastings offered by advance appointment at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. Walk-in flights at the tasting bar are $25 pp. 21200 8th Street East, Sonoma.

A new exhibit at Mumm Napa honoring the groundbreaking photography of California School of Fine Arts

Hats by William Heick 1951. Photo courtesy Smith Anderson North

Prior to 1961, the San Francisco Art Institute was called the California School of Fine Arts. In 1945, Ansel Adams established the photography department here, the first academic program of its kind in the country. In a new exhibit at Mumm Napa “The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts, 1945-1955” (Feb. 15-July 13), photographs from over 20 artists emerging from the department during its first decade eloquently captures – through the lens of fine art – the dawn of American life post-WWII.

Meet some of the artists at the exhibit opening and sparkling wine reception on Saturday February 15 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Reserve in advance to (707) 967-7740. All works are represented by Smith Anderson North. The exhibit will be open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Fine Art Photography Gallery at Mumm Napa. 8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford

Celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend with bubbly and fine dining during VinOlivo Weekend in Sonoma Valley

Ram’s Gate Winery. Photo by Adrian Gregorutti

Explore Sonoma Valley food and wine during the 9th annual VinOlivo weekend Feb. 14-17 with a Grand Tasting, vintner open houses and winemaker dinner at Ram’s Gate Winery.  The Grand Tasting ($75 advance) encompassing over 60 wineries and 25 restaurants takes place Saturday, February 14 at The Lodge at Sonoma from 7-10 p.m., including Bubble Room complete with local sparkling wines and plenty of crisp frites. 1325 Broadway, Sonoma 

The weekend continues with over 40 vintner open houses Feb. 15-17. Single-day or 3-day open house pass $25-50 pp, VIP ticket for early-entry Grand Tasting and 3-day open house pass $130 pp. Various locations in Sonoma Valley. 

Ram’s Gate Winery. Photo by Adrian Gregorutti

On February 15 from 6-8:30 p.m., savor a 5-course wine dinner at the stunning Howard Backen-designed Ram’s Gate Winery prepared by Executive Chef Taylr Behnam. Cost $150 pp including winery tour and barrel tasting. 28700 Arnold Dr., Sonoma

For complete details for VinOlivo weekend and to buy tickets, check the event website.

Attend Napa Valley’s inaugural festival dedicated to its most famous wine: Cabernet

Photo courtesy Lincoln Theater

Long overdue, CabFestNV is a celebration of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, kicking off with the country rock sound of Oscar winner Jeff Bridges and his band The Abiders on Friday February 28 at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville. Over the 3-day festival Feb. 28-Mar. 2, wine lovers can immerse in all things Cab, from seminars, casual “Cab on the Couch” vintner panels to two grand days of Cabernet tastings representing over 100 vintners. Cost $500 for all-access VIP pass, $125-225 for Grand Tasting passes and $55-100 for Kickoff Concert (discounts with tasting passes). The VIP pass includes concert “Cigars & Guitars” after party with rare guitar exhibit, cigar sampling and meet- and-greet with Jeff Bridges. Check the CabFestNV event website for details. Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater, 100 California Drive, Yountville   

A new Modern Art gallery at Peju Winery

Courtesy Aiden Kringen

Art has always been important at Peju Winery. Now they’ve taken their Art Gallery to a new level, partnering with Christopher Hill Gallery to showcase exciting contemporary art from the Bay Area and beyond. For Christopher Hill, who owns two well-curated galleries in the heart of Saint Helena and Healdsburg, the rotating exhibits at Peju represent a “boutique” gallery for those who’d rather sip wine while appreciating art. I found local artist Aiden Kringen’s abstracts particularly mesmerizing. All works represented by Christopher Hill Gallery. The winter exhibit runs through April 23, 2014 and admission is complimentary during winery hours daily between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. 8466 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford

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