TOODLING PAST A VINEYARD... that's full of lovely growing grapes and photo-ready leaves can remind you that you wanted to purchase a bottle of syrah before bidding the area adieu. But many a vineyard includes not just grapes and vines but glorious, and gloriously over-sized, sculptures. Head within the main building of the winery and you're apt to see even more sculptures, plus paintings and pottery and textiles and other works of a spirit-lifting, mind-broadening nature. Seeing such works reminds you that you not only wanted that syrah, but to see some great art, too, during your getaway.
OF COURSE, the notion that wineries can also be galleries isn't especially new, but every so often events come along that remind us that grape-strong valleys can also be gallery-strong, too. There's no hinting about it: We're talking Napa Valley here, which is known for wine (as you might have heard) and numerous places where one can commune with a watercolor or series of fabulous photos. The region pauses to pay tribute to its art-making, art-displaying side each year, in one of the most awesome of local months: April.
OKAY, EVERY MONTH IN NAPA VALLEY... boasts a great deal of vivacity, but April, with its wildflowers and budding vines, goes the extra mile to astound. The astounding continues for those who dig artists and the things they make, for Arts in April keeps a full calendar of to-dos. Look to the art and gallery tours at Robert Mondavi Winery, a Printmaking and Desserts session at Nancy Willis Studio, and a mid-month Napa Valley History Tour. Tours are big during the 30-day run, as are events of a literary nature (Shakespeare's anniversary will get a lyrical shout-out). Some might call taking an arts-forward approach as a different way to "do" Napa Valley, but the visual treats around the wineries, and stand-alone galleries and art centers, are simply another fascinating prism on the larger jewel. Wine is part of that jewel, yes, and food, and nature, and the community. For the full rundown of happenings -- some are one-day-ers only, some last for a few weeks -- check out the Arts in April schedule.