Many wineries in the Napa Valley embrace wine and art but in name and in venue, Clos Pegase Winery in Calistoga embodies the concept, which was recently recognized by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network (GWC) international jury in Bordeaux last week. GWC is a consortium of official civic and trade organizations representing the great wine regions who believe that regional culture is an integral part of the wine experience. Current members include Napa Valley/San Francisco, Bordeaux, Porto, Bilbao/Rioja, Cape Town South Africa, Mainz/Rheinhessen in Germany, Mendoza Argentina and Florence Italy. There were 56 entrants from each city for eight different categories, and the award for Arts & Culture went to the sole Napa Valley international winner, Clos Pegase.
Clos Pegase was founded on the concept of “Great Wine, Great Art” as proprietors Mitsuko and Jan Schrem have been life-long avid collectors of important works of art from the antiquities to the 20th century, featuring such well-known artists as Richard Serra, Dali and Francis Bacon. Clos Pegase itself refers to the winged horse in Greek mythology who unleashed the spring waters from Mount Helicon which nourished the vines and created the wines that inspired the Muses of the arts. The modern temple architecture and design pays homage to the Greek Muses as well as to Bacchus, whose image frequently appears on the premises. In 1984, the Schrems held a competition to design the winery and from 96 international entrants, selected the well-known architect Michael Graves. The design includes an imaginary line of demarcation which the Greek’s used to separate areas of work from areas of pleasure. When this line is pointed out on winery tours, guests unconsciously drift towards the pleasure side according to visitor center manager Cherilyn Hays.
In addition to the great works of art on display, the winery has hosted arts performances by the Harvard Chamber Choir and the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, both in its Cave Theatre. Lest you think the winery is a little stuffy, not to worry, after all, Clos Pegase is about wine and pleasure. It is one of the few wineries that still provide a complimentary tour at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm everyday for parties under 10 and a self-guided art tour for other times of the day. A popular paid tour is a “girls weekend” tour and tasting for $45 per person including a gift set, arranged with prior booking. There is also a small but shaded and scenic picnic area for those that would like to enjoy an outdoor lunch there.
The wines include fine examples of sauvignon blanc and pinot noir from their Carneros vineyards and cabernet sauvignon and red blends from the Napa Valley. Their signature wine is the Hommage reserve cabernet sauvignon which is blended from the best lots of each vintage and which bottles are graced by a unique label every year. This is a wine for ageing.
Clos Pegase is participating in the upcoming Calistoga “Winter in the Wineries” passport weekend December 4-6, 2009. Wine club member cost is $35/person, general public $40/person and can be purchased through their website.
Clos Pegase Winery is located at 1060 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, (707) 942-4981.