A Tasteful Art Walk Through Downtown Napa
When Kim McGinness relocated to Napa due to her husband’s work, she immediately fell in love with the area’s Mediterranean climate, ideal as a year-round destination for outdoor activities as well as for producing its world-renowned wines. “I admired Napa’s world-class sophistication and its small-town vibe. I appreciated all the details that make this legendary destination unique,” she said. Friends and family who visited enlisted her as their personal tour guide, which led her to delve more intently into what her new hometown had to offer.
She soon discovered Napa’s Rail Arts District (RAD Napa), rekindling her excitement for public art, which she said tells the city’s story. “I love that Napa embraces, encourages, and enables public art to not only create a strong sense of community but also something for tourists to enjoy as well,” she shared. She also connected with small business owners and forged relationships with wineries, breweries, and other hospitality- focused venues. These connections, combined with her former 13-year career in corporate sales and marketing at American Airlines, her passion for all things Napa, and a thirst for unique travel experiences, led to the creation of Paper Napan Walkabouts in 2018.
Inspired by McGinness’s favorite way to indulge in the local lifestyle, experiencing the city on foot instead of by car, Paper Napan Walkabouts offers to locals and tourists an alter- native way to taste their way through Napa by way of sections of the city’s Napa Valley Vine Trail, a walking and biking trail, which in the future, will “physically, artistically, and culturally” connect the Vallejo Ferry to Calistoga, encompassing all of the Napa Valley.
Paper Napan Walkabouts began originally with RAD Napa as its primary focus but grew to incorporate stops along the way, such as some of the downtown’s historic homes, breweries, and wineries. McGinness’s goal was to create customizable walking tours that showcase the city’s culture and personality with an emphasis on authenticity, hospitality, and quality, attentively and carefully handpicking stops that are distinctly Napa and offer exceptional service.
An example of a shorter walking tour begins near the entrance of the Napa Valley Vine Trail off Lincoln Avenue at the intersection of Iroquois Street, behind The Home Index, a furniture store. From that starting point, McGinness introduces participants to RAD Napa’s vibrant urban art along the trail to the intersection with Vallejo Street, behind the Napa Valley Register building and RAD Napa’s inaugural curated mural, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door (2017)” by Polish street artists, Bezt and Natalia Rak. The tour often includes a stop at St. Clair Brown Winery and Brewery, a combination nano-brewery, winery, and culinary garden founded in 2010 by winemaker and brewmaster, Elaine St. Clair and president Laina Brown. At St. Clair Brown, participants may choose a wine, beer, or combined tasting in the garden or greenhouse. Another tour option is to cross Soscol Avenue, where tucked away off the beaten path is Robert Craig Winery Tasting Salon. At Robert Craig, participants enjoy the winery’s Salon Select Experience, a tasting of five current releases that currently features a Gap’s Crown Vineyard Chardonnay and a selection of mountain vineyard reds from the Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, and Spring Mountain American Viticultural Areas. Favorites include the Napa Valley Affinity Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, the Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, the Howell Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Howell Mountain Black Sears Vineyard Zinfandel. For more extended tours, tasting stops may also include Benton Family Winery on Vallejo Street, another urban winery, and Vineyard 29’s CRU Tasting Lounge at the Annex and Feast it Forward, a culinary studio showroom and winery collective, both located in Napa’s Oxbow District. A downtown version of the tour incorporates tasting stops at RiverHouse by Blackbird Vineyards, Ackerman Family Vineyards at the Ackerman Heritage House, Mark Herold Wines, and O’Connell Family Wines.
As Coronavirus restrictions allow and travel resumes, McGinness will offer small-group private tours for up to six people. The standard hour-long RAD Napa Express Tour is a half-mile walk and includes one tasting stop, while the three-hour RAD Napa Walkabout Tour is approximately one mile and features three tasting visits. However, tours can be customized to be up to half of a day in length. Tour prices include tastings at all stops.
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Article By: Elizabeth Smith // Photos Courtesy of Paper Napan