If You're Not Day-Drinking in an Art Vineyard, What Are You Doing With Your Life?

Photo: The Donum Estate

Photo: The Donum Estate

There have been exactly zero times when we’ve visited a vineyard in Sonoma and thought, “Ugh, what a dump.” We all know California wine country is stunning. But even with that beauty abounding, certain vineyards stand out from the crowd. Take the Donum Estate, for example. Not only does Donum put on one helluva tasting day—set in the vineyards next to a pond—the owners also display a world class large-scale sculpture collection on the property.

In the art world, there are artists that only the in-the-know crowd recognize, and then there are household names—like the ones who occasionally do fashion collaborations. At Donum, you see your fair share of each category. When you arrive, you’re greeted by a Yayoi Kusama pumpkin, and minutes later, you’re surrounded by works from Ai Weiwei and Keith Haring. The latest addition to the collection is Doug Aitken’s Sonic Mountain, which we would describe a wind chime fever dream on steroids. You can watch a video of the piece in action—do yourself a favor and turn the sound on—but it’s best experienced in person. (Full disclosure: the folks at Donum invited us out to view the collection and enjoy lunch in the sunshine. We’re already plotting our return.)

Doug Aitken’s  Sonic Mountain

Doug Aitken’s Sonic Mountain

So how do you get up close and personal with all this large scale art? Book yourself a tasting day at Donum Estate. There are two categories of tastings: a communal “Discover” tasting ($95 per person, 1-6 guests), or a private “Explore” tasting ($150 per person, 2-4 guests). Both options include “creative, fresh bites” from the estate garden and a tour of the sculpture collection. Note that Discover guests have to walk to view the art, while Explore guests can ride an ATV. (We did the walk, and highly recommend it.)

There are a limited number of tasting spots each day, so it’s best to book a few weeks in advance, especially for weekends. Walk-ins are not permitted.

If your idea of a great day in wine country is hopping between as many vineyards as possible, this may not be the spot for you: Donum tells guests to expect a minimum of 90 minutes for a tasting and art walk. (And it would be a shame to rush through any part of the experience after dropping $95.) But if you’re looking for an afternoon retreat with great food, good wine, and beautiful scenery, this place is a real gem.