There're more to the California wine country around Napa and Sonoma than just fine wines and cuisine. In fact, the abundance of wineries and food-related spots in Napa — while enjoyable — can overwhelm your senses.
The smart Napa visitor takes a break from all that drinking and eating. A good place to stop is on Carneros Highway between Napa and Sonoma, where you can visit the di Rosa Center. It's a treat for the eyes instead of the palate. At the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, you can see one of the world's most significant collections of late-twentieth-century San Francisco Bay Area art, dating from the 1960s to the present.
If you like unusual, contemporary works of art, don't miss the di Rosa Center. In fact, if you think you don't like that kind of art, you should stop anyway. It's time you opened your brain to new experiences and new ways of looking at things.
The artworks center on the personal collection of Rene and Veronica di Rosa. The di Rosas worked hard to for find emerging talent, and
However, already-established artists of the period may not be represented.
What to Expect at the di Rosa
The center sits in the middle of more than 200 acres of land in the Carneros region of south Napa County. It is housed in two galleries and an outdoor sculpture meadow.
Admission provides self-guided access to Gallery 1 and Gallery 2. You can join a free, guided tour if you like, which includes a brief visit to the Sculpture Meadow. Special exhibition tours and outdoor tours are also available. Advance tickets are recommended.
Any time is a great time to visit the di Rosa. It's good on a rainy day because much of it is indoors, but it's also nice on a sunny day when you can appreciate the natural surroundings.
You'll also find many wineries nearby. It's less than a mile to Domaine Carneros, a sparkling wine house owned by Taittinger. A nice follow up to your art tour: sip a glass of their finest bubbles on the outdoor terrace while you talk over what you've just seen at di Rosa.
di Rosa Center Tips
- Children under 11 years old get in free but know your kids: quite a few of the artworks include nude body parts or other adult content.
- When planning your perfect outfit, you should know that outdoor areas of the di Rosa include uneven paths and walkways.
- The length of the tours varies and the longest ones (which run through lunchtime) can be a bit too much for the casual visitor. If you're unsure how much you'll like it, try the Introductory tour, which lasts only an hour and a half.
- There is no food available on site, but you can bring food and non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy on the patio of Gallery 1. Be prepared to pack out your trash afterward.
- A large group with a chatty docent could go overtime. For a relaxed visit, plan your next stop as if the tour lasted a half-hour longer than scheduled.
- You'll be riding in an open jitney and walking around outdoors on gravel paths. Dress in layers, with comfy shoes.
- You can take photos (no flash or tripods), but only for your personal use.
- Leave anything large (backpacks, large bags) at home or in your vehicle.
- The only animals allowed are service animals.
- If your taste runs toward Old Masters and Impressionist painters and you can't keep an open mind, the di Rosa probably isn't the place for you.
What You Need to Know About di Rosa Center
The di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art is located at 5200 Sonoma Highway Napa, CA. The road is California State Highway 12 and is also called Carneros Highway. You can get there from San Francisco, from the west via US Hwy 101 and CA Hwy 37 or from the east side of the bay on I-80 through Vallejo.
They are open several days a week, closed on most holidays. Check the current schedule on their website.
More Places to See Contemporary Art in California
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art owns works by many of the same artists you'll see at di Rosa. Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum also has an extensive collection of early and contemporary California art. In Los Angeles, try the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown.