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Not just for tourists
These five spectacular locales offer more than just wine

  • Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy uses chestnut leaf stalks held together with hawthorn thorns for his piece “Surface Tension” on display at the Hess Collection just outside of Napa. (JOHN BURGESS / PD)

Every fall harvest season, a flock of visitors comes to Wine Country, to this food-and-wine epicenter cradled in vines.

They eat amazing fresh food made by local chefs and artisan purveyors, taste fine wines and get a feel for what goes on during crush, enjoy the lovely Indian summer weather, the accommodations, the strolling.

Why not join them?

Some wineries become visitor destinations — and not simply because they make good wine. There are other reasons to visit, things to do and see and learn that make them great goals for a fun day trip.

Here's a handful of choices and some tips for how to turn the excursions into a full, satisfying sojourn.

Visiting them will make your day.

The Hess Collection Winery, Napa

The Hess Collection is a cultural mecca, a place that houses wine and art.

The popular winery has one of the most impressive collections of modern art north of San Francisco, featuring the works of internationally known artists such as Francis Bacon, Robert Motherwell, Frank Stella and the latest addition, Andy Goldsworthy.

Many have their eye on Goldsworthy, the British artist who is an environmental sculptor. Goldsworthy's new piece on display is titled “Surface Tension.” It's a network of chestnut leaf stalks held together with hawthorn thorns.

But you not only peruse art at the Hess Collection, you also sip classy wine. In recent years, the Hess cabernets, in particular, have stood up to some of the best Napa cabs in Wine Country. And they age well, winning high marks in the recent Press Democrat 10-year retrospectives.

Founder Donald Hess, the Swiss mineral-water magnate, said winemakers and artists share the same canvas.

“I think the message of the Hess Collection is that art and wine have a lot of similarities,” he said. “To make a wine takes you 15 years if you start from scratch. An artist usually has to struggle 15 years until he has a reputation, even a very good artist ... you really have to struggle. It's the search for quality, for sincerity.”

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