“Rack & Return” Museums

Cellars are museums in their own right, cataloging the weather vintage after vintage and housing the odd, retired grape press and hand-corker. When in wine country, even the most inveterate taster occasionally must back away from the table (or tank) and put down the palette of glass, notebook and pen to rest the palate. Yet, research says it’s not the palate that becomes fatigued so much as the brain. Hence, museums on wine certainly won’t do. And, in art galleries within wineries, the scent of wine – whether emanating from barrels or from canvases permeated by vintages of fermenting must – refuses adequate relief. I’m in wine country often (wherever that may be), and I’ve collected a list of my favorite outlets for resuscitation. A good museum can do for wine appreciation and writing creativity what “rack and return” aeration can do for reduced Syrah.

Austria, Vienna – Secession Museum
Wine region: Wien
Must see – Gustav Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze: Interpretation of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and surely the finest expression of Viennese Art Nouveau.

Chile – Pablo Neruda’s Isla Negra Home
Wine region: San Antonio Valley
Must see – View of the Pacific Ocean: The back door is yards from the vast expanse of the cold Pacific with dramatic rock outcrops.

France, Dijon – Maison Maille
Wine region: Burgundy, Côte de Nuits
Must see – The Mustard Tour: Learn how mustard is made and taste it when ground à la minute.

France, Saint-Paul-de-Vence - Fondation Maeght
Wine region: Bellet
Must see – Braque’s Wading Pool Mural: If only you could literally cool your heels here before the next winery on your itinerary.

Germany, Freiburg - Museum für Neue Kunst
Wine region: Baden
Must see – Julius Bissier: Many paintings seem to include pitchers, anfore and goblets. A tribute to the neighboring vineyards? Doubtful.

New Zealand, Napier – Art Deco Capital of the World
Wine region: Hawkes Bay
Must see – The Inside Story: A guided tour of a most phenomenal town rebuilt at the end of this stylish era.

Oregon, McMinnville – Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum
Wine region: Willamette Valley
Must see - The Spruce Goose: Largest plane ever constructed – entirely of wood – and flown only once.

Spain, Bilbao – Guggenheim Bilbao
Wine region: Getariako Txakolina
Must see – Louise Bourgeois’ Maman: Towering and weighty outdoor sculpture surprisingly balanced on spindly legs that literally allows you to take in some fresh air.

Texas, Canyon – Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
Wine region: Texas High Plains
Must see – People of the Plains: See how the American Indians, ciboleros (bison hunters) and settlers survived and thrived in the harsh, local conditions. PS Don’t miss the outdoor drama TEXAS while in town.