On a road sip

We recently reached out to Robert Holmes, Winner – Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year – Produce in 2017. Robert lives in the heart of California wine country, close to Napa Valley and has previously spoken to us here on our blog about his winning images ‘First Snow’ in 2015 and ‘Air and Sulphur’ in 2016.

He updated us on the devastating fires reported and how he would best recommend helping to support California’s wine country get back on its feet:

“Fires destroy California wine country”,  as a person in Washington would say, “Fake news!”

Yes, the fires were devastating killing 44 people and burning down over 8,000 structures but only 3 wineries were completely destroyed out of a total of well over 600 in Napa and Sonoma.

Today there are areas of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County that still show evidence of the devastation but you can drive through the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma and see no trace of any damage.  Mustard is blooming between the vines and everything appears to be back to normal.

Spring mustard in Napa Valley photographed on January 19, 2018

Image above: Spring mustard in Napa Valley photographed on January 19, 2018

However, it’s not yet normal for the wineries that have suffered a dramatic downturn in visitors.  What is bad for the wineries is great for visitors who can avoid crowded tasting rooms and traffic jams for the first time in years.  Hotels and restaurants are also offering some very attractive deals making this the ideal time to come over here.

Napa Valley is a short drive from San Francisco, barely an hour north of the city.  The valley is only 30 miles long and just a few miles wide making it ideal for a day trip from San Francisco.  Napa isn’t just about great wine.  Wine is impossible to avoid- and who would want too – but there are several interesting collections of art to experience as well.

Mumm Napa Valley

Image above: Mumm Napa Valley

The Silverado Trail extends from the town of Napa all the way to Calistoga and passes through some of the best vineyards in California and among the wineries worth visiting is Mumm Napa, the American outpost of the great French Champagne house, making sparkling wine and Pinot Noir and with an art gallery showing revolving exhibits of outstanding photography including a permanent Ansel Adams exhibit.

Mumm Napa, Silverado Trail, Napa Valley

Image above: Mumm Napa, Silverado Trail, Napa Valley

Continue on to Calistoga and pop into Chateau Montelena whose chardonnay put California wines on the world map when it beat the great French wines at the legendary Paris Tasting in 1976.

Mud baths in Calistoga, Napa, California

Image above: Mud baths in Calistoga, Napa, California

Calistoga is known for its spas and mud baths but if you don’t feel like indulging, continue through town to Highway 29, head south to Saint Helena and continue through the heart of Napa Valley.

Inglenook, Napa Valley, California

Image above: Inglenook, Napa Valley, California

Just south of town is the historic Inglenook Winery, now owned by Francis Ford Coppola and Coppola’s collection of movie memorabilia provides a backdrop to an impressive range of wines.

Inglenook, Napa Valley, California

Image above: Inglenook, Napa Valley, California

A little farther south, on the opposite side of the road is Turnbull Cellars, an unimposing winery that happens to house a collection of some of the greatest photographic art in California.  The wines are pretty good too!

Before returning to San Francisco, try to make time to make a detour to the Hess Collection.  The winery is high above Napa town up a winding road that seems endless.  Once there you will find a collection of museum quality modern art including works by Motherwell, Anselm Keifer, Gerhard Richter, Andy Goldsworthy and many more.  A truly remarkable collection extending over 2 floors.

Hess Collection art gallery, Napa, California

Image above: Hess Collection art gallery, Napa, California

So go to Napa, support the community, enjoy the art and enjoy the wine.  Help California’s wine country get back on its feet.  You won’t regret it.


Get in touch with Robert via:

Website: www.robertholmesphotography.com

Twitter: @travelpix

Facebook: robert.holmes1

Instagram: @bobholmesphoto

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