The Hess Collection houses one of the largest private showings of contemporary art open to the public in the United States.
Two winemakers in Napa Valley attract visitors with more than just wine. Donald Hess of the Hess Collection and Jan Shrem of Clos Pegase vineyards offer viewing of museum-quality art. In the serene foothills of Mount Veeder, just beyond Highway 29, the Hess Collection houses one of the largest private showings of contemporary art open to the public in the United States. Hess, a Swiss entrepreneur who made a fortune bottling and distributing mineral water, began collecting abstract and figurative paintings and sculpture in the 1960s. His collection occupies a spacious wing of the visitor center, a rustic building carved from the century-old stone walls of the former Christian Brothers Winery. A glass elevator lifts guests to the soaring third story, which is bathed in natural light. Within the gallery are large, striking canvases, haunting sculptures, and provocative mixed-media installations—creations of well-known American and European artists, including Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, Magdelena Abakanowicz, and Francis Bacon.
Up the valley to the north is Clos Pegase, its name derived from the mythic winged horse Pegasus. Shrem boasts an intriguing collection of more than 300 pieces of fine art, including an impressive sculpture garden with works by modern and contemporary artists Jean Dubuffet, Richard Serra, Henry Moore, and Robert Morris. Shrem weaves his fascination with art and the Roman god of wine into his monthly multimedia presentation titled A Bacchanalian History of Wine Seen through 4000 Years of Art. Information: the Hess Collection, (707) 255-1144, www.hesscollection.com; Clos Pegase, (707) 942-4981, www.clospegase.com.
Photography courtesy JimG/Wikipedia
This article was first published in March 2001. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.