Napa Valley isn’t all about food and wine; it’s also a magnet for artists and art lovers from around the world. Combining a dog walk with a little art appreciation is a great way to spend a day—and get some unique backdrops for your photos while you’re at it. Start with the 2017-2019 Napa Art Walk, called “Shifting Perspectives,” featuring 10 sculptures by artists from four Western states installed in downtown locations.
Nearby, the newly created Rail Arts District, a joint project of the Napa Valley Vine Trail, the Napa Valley Wine Train and members of the local arts community, presents a diverse selection of art (including murals) along a 1.7-mile section of the Vine Trail, a paved, multiuse path that eventually will stretch 47 miles from the Vallejo ferry terminal to Calistoga. (For now a 12.5-mile segment from Napa’s Kennedy Park to Yountville traces a parallel path between Highway 29 and the Wine Train railroad tracks.)
By now, you may have worked up a thirst for wine as well as for art. You won’t go wrong with a visit to Castello di Amarosa, a 13th-century-inspired Tuscan castle and winery outside Calistoga that is one of the valley’s top tourist attractions. There’s much to go ga-ga over here, from the backstory (fourth-generation winemaker Dario Sattui spent more than a decade building the castle from exacting medieval plans), to the richly landscaped grounds set about with statuary and wandering peacocks, to plenty of trails where you can both stretch your legs. For the price of admission ($30) your dog can join you in a self-guided tour of two levels and a tasting at the main bar.
Fine-art photography is the focus at dog-friendly Mumm Napa in Rutherford, where an elegant Fine Art Photography Gallery displays images from Ansel Adams and other top names. Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, southernmost winery in the valley, is a great first or last stop on your way in or out of the region. Dogs are welcome in the tasting room as well as on the patio, and there’s a 108-foot mural created by well-known graffiti artists to admire. Up-valley in St. Helena, Hall Wines rolls out the canine red carpet with cozy courtyards and works of arts from the family’s’ personal collection. Well-behaved dogs are welcome inside and out, although they’re not allowed on tours.
When it comes to statuary, the roadside Grape Crusher statue, on a hill just off Highway 29 and directly above the Meritage Resort and Spa, makes a great photo- and stretch-your-legs opportunity. Created in 1986 by artist Gino Miles, the 16-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a man operating an old-fashioned manual wine press sits atop a 10-foot rock base and serves as a “welcome to Napa Valley” landmark. There’s a small parking lot at the statue’s base, but for a more rewarding visit, park at the Meritage and hike up through their hilltop vineyard (the trail starts next to the entrance to the dog-friendly Trinitas wine cave and tasting room).
Photo Credit: @jackthecagolden