Fine art is popping up at wineries across the country, from acclaimed contemporary installations to massive murals and stunning outdoor sculptures. There’s no better way to satisfy that familiar itch of warm-weather wanderlust then by taking a day trip to these nine tasting rooms. You can soak in museum-worthy collections while sampling mouthwatering reds, whites and rosés.
Owner Michael Lynne (who is also on the Museum of Modern Art’s Board of Trustees) has a passion for art that comes through in his curated tasting room. It’s adorned with contemporary pieces from Eve Sussman’s “Women in the S-Bahn” and Lisa Kereszi’s “The Fourth of July at the Racetrack, Salisbury, Connecticut” collections. Take in the free exhibit while sipping various bottlings, some of which feature labels adorned with works by artists Chuck Close, Barbara Kruger, April Gornik and Ross Bleckner. Opt for the Premium Flight ($20 per guest) or the Estate Flight ($15 per guest), featuring Bedell’s benchmark Long Island Merlot with the “Dancing Woman” label, designed by Eric Fischl. (The 2009 vintage was served at the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Luncheon.) The tasting room is open Sunday–Thursday from 11 am–5 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am–7 pm.
Portland-based street artist Ashley Montague recently painted a must-see mural at this Willamette Valley winery, and there’s more where that came from. Since opening in November, Chapter 24 Vineyards has hosted artists of various genres (recent shows included aerial and salsa dancers). If you can’t attend the live shows, the tasting room is the permanent home to artist Cathie Bleck’s evocative “Infusion: Chaos, Change and Emergence,” a dynamic mural depicting the geological formation of the local soil. Soak it up while sipping infusion-method wines by Willamette Valley vet Mark Tarlov and Burgundy-trained consultant Louis Michel Liger-Belair. Sample the newest Willamette Pinot Noirs ($15 per guest), including The Fire 2012, The Flood 2012, The Last Chapter 2012 and Maison L’Envoyé Two Messengers 2013. (photo by Don Conrad)
The music-loving team at Cliff Lede celebrates one of San Francisco’s most iconic bands with its current art installment, “Out of the Attic: A Grateful Dead Retrospective.” Curated by the Haight Street Art Center in San Francisco, Cliff Lede’s Backstage reserve tasting lounge displays poster prints by Wes Wilson, Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse. Be sure to try the current “Rock Block” blend, Beautiful Generation. Flights are $50 per person, Thursday–Sunday from 10:30 am–3 pm, until July 12.
Famed architect Michael Grave’s iconic structure is reason enough to swing by the winery’s spectacular grounds. However, Michael Scranton’s 1989 “Wrecking Ball” steel sculpture and a 19th-century Carrera marble fountain that once stood on the grounds of the Royal Palace of Turin, Italy, are also museum-status holdings. Enjoy the 4,000-year-old antiquities while enjoying the Connoisseur Cave Tour & Tasting ($75 per guest), which spans current and library wines served alongside artisanal cheese and charcuterie. Daily tastings begin at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm.
A haven for local art, Damiani Wine Cellars is nestled in the picturesque Finger Lakes region, featuring local artists like photographer Nancy Ridenour, who focuses on close-up nature shots (through July 12), in the tasting room. While marveling at the art, enjoy the reserve tasting ($7 per guest), and be sure to taste the producer’s flagship Meritage red blend. On July 25, stop by the Finger Lakes Plein Air Arts Competition & Festival, as 30–40 artists paint the scenic grounds on canvases to be sold later in the day at a silent auction. The tasting room is open daily from 10 am–5 pm.
A bona fide art gallery, this tasting room in the bucolic Walla Walla Valley blends fine Washington State wines with cutting-edge exhibitions. Tapestries by Chuck Close and Kiki Smith will adorn the walls through Aug. 28, while guests taste Foundry’s famed Artisan Blends developed by owner Mark Anderson, which commemorates artists he’s worked with over the years. (Bottle labels have featured works by Deborah Butterfield and Jim Dine.) You can taste any wine for $5, with the fee reimbursed with the purchase of a bottle. The tasting gallery is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am–5 pm. (Photo by Ian Boyd)The Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery | Denver
With a fresh counterculture winemaking philosophy, The Infinite Monkey Theorem’s Denver digs regularly feature local artists from the adjacent River North Arts District. Currently on exhibit is Sarah Cooper’s evocative, cathartic and heavily textured artwork, which hangs in the tasting room bar. There, you’ll find a range of wines available on tap, including rosé, Riesling, Malbec and Syrah, as well as a new dry-hopped pear cider and bellinis made with from Colorado Albariño and area peaches.
This jewel box Napa producer has a few gems tucked away in its two-floor visitor center and tasting room: an exhibit featuring photography by Baron Wolman during his stint at Rolling Stone from 1967–70 (located upstairs) and “iPhonic Art: Astonishing iPhone Photography,” submitted by artists of the Pixels online photography community (located downstairs). Round out your visit with the Rock & Roll tasting (named in tribute to Wolman; $20 per guest), featuring Markham’s nationally distributed wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cellar 1879 Blend, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. For limited-production wines, opt for the Estate Tasting ($30 per guest), which includes Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Estate Merlot. The tasting room is open daily from 10 am–5 pm. (Photo by Ken Viale)
One of Napa’s oldest wineries, Stags’ Leap Winery, has featured poet laureates, painters, sculptors and conceptual artists as part of its legendary Artists in Residence program, including oil painter Patrick McFarlin and photographer Jefferson Hayman. The art still adorns the walls of the winery’s Manor House. While visiting the grounds, embark on the 90-minute historical tour and tasting of its landmark wines ($55 per guest). Also check out the multimedia exhibition, “Richard T. Walker: the fallibility of intent.” Daily tours are by appointment only, departing at 10 am and 2:30 pm.