We stopped in Napa Valley on our way to San Francisco from Yosemite National Park. The view from that drive reminded me one of Andrew Wyeth’s painting, “Christina’s World“. I think it was the colour of the landscape. Tell me if I’m stretching…
This is Christina’s World (image via Wikipedia):
and this is the view from that drive…
It’s the colour right? And the rolling hills? But no house on top of the hill like in the painting. Christina’s World, by the way, is part of the permanent collection at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. The MoMA has an amazing collection that’s not to be missed.
I tend to take photos from the car and hope that they’ll turn out okay which some of them did. Aside from photos of vineyards, I thought this was an interesting photo. I see a face from the facade of the building – can you see it?
If you don’t know where to start, visit the Napa Valley Welcome Center located at 600 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559. They were very helpful. They also provided a map of all the wineries in the area.
So many wineries to choose from and we decided to visit Beringer Vineyards located at 2000 Main Street, St. Helena. Beringer, founded in 1875, is one of the oldest wineries in Napa Valley. The estate was designated a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Rhine House is the main house, which dates back to the 19th century, is now a shop. It is worth a visit to see some of the architectural details like the stained glass windows. Here’s an excerpt from the Beringer site: “Completed in 1884 by architect Albert Schroepfer, Frederick Beringer’s former residence is now the centerpiece of the expansive Beringer property. Exhibiting the fine, detailed craftsmanship of the period, the Rhine House has beautiful exterior stonework, stained-glass windows and interior wood paneling. When building his 17-room mansion, Frederick wanted to mimic the Beringer family’s impressive German home at Mainz-on-the-Rhine. Built at a cost of about $28,000 (with the 40 panels of stained glass accounting for $6,000) the Rhine House is a classic example of ornate Victorian architecture with its many gables, turrets and ornaments.”
See that big tree stump in the garden? That tree was alive at the time of the signing of the Constitution, as stated on a plaque found beside it.
We caught the half hour Introductory Tour which started through these double doors…
We were taken through the old winery and its wine-aging tunnels. It was very dark in those tunnels. “Rare among Napa Valley wineries, the aging tunnels of Beringer were dug into the hillside of Spring Mountain from the late 1870s to the early 1880s. Chinese immigrant workers completed the tedious and strenuous task of hand-chiseling the 1,200 linear feet of tunnel. The hillside rock acts as a natural insulator and keeps the temperature in the tunnels at an ideal 58-60 degrees Fahrenheit year-round with a humidity—perfect conditions for storing wine.” (via Beringer site)
If you are looking for something to do for a day outside of San Francisco, I think Napa Valley is a terrific option. We found the weather to be very comfortable in Napa; warm but not uncomfortable, with little humidity. Not sure if it’s always like that but it was perfect on that day when we were there.