Culinary garden at the CIA at Copia, Napa

Savor the Culinary Garden at the CIA

Legend for the citrus trees of the culinary gardenNot only should you check out the ​​Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum when you are in Napa, you should also make a stop at the culinary garden. This gem of a cuisine garden is in front of the CIA at the Copia. While it features a variety of citrus trees on the right side, the main attraction is the 32-bed-garden. It is as educational as practical. Everything this edible garden has to offer is used by the CIA. In rare cases the website promises to offer any surplus at the Marketplace. Legend for the culinary garden at the CIAThe two gardeners Jacob Tracy and Rachel Kohn Obut show their love for the job and the sustainability of the land by ensuring crop rotation, no-till gardening, and an interesting array of local and climate related plants.  

Currently they are working on offering garden tours, summer produce and flower sales.Seed library at the CIA culinary garden, Napa

The little stone walls invite you to sit down and take in the beauty and smells. You could even bring lunch from the next door’s Oxbow public market. The only thing you are asked to not do is sample any produce. Nevertheless they do offer a seed library! Get inspired and start your own culinary garden.

I hope you will take some time to enjoy the culinary garden at the CIA.


Entrance to the Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum, Napa

Inspire your Culinary Creativity, Culinary Arts Museum, Napa

A sign in the Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum for the Culinary Institute of AmericaIf you are in Napa, CIA is short for the Culinary Institute of America. The CIA expanded its campus in 2015 when it bought part of the Copia, a museum and event venue that declared bankruptcy in 2008. Now this is the site for the Business part of the CIA. In 2017 the Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum opened. Named for the founder of Williams-Sonoma, this museum showcases his extensive 4,000 pieces cookware collection. 

porcelain boar headsA collection of rolling pinsChuck Williams through his store and cookbooks introduced Americans to French cooking and authored more than 100 cookbooks. At the museum you will be greeted by porcelain boar heads and everything you need to butcher an animal. If that is not your area of interest maybe you’ll like the 30 different rolling pins? I was fascinated  by the wall of shiny copper bundt pans. Additionally, the old mixer and mixing utensils are ingenious pieces of equipment. 

A wall full of shiny copper bundt pansAlthough by any standards a small museum, it is still worth the trip and admission is free. Opening hours are every day from 11 am to 5 pm; except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum is located on the second floor of the CIA at Copia, 500 1st Street, Napa, CA. I recommend you stop at the gift shop afterwards, if you like cookbooks and the latest and greatest of cookware.

Do you have a favorite kitchen utensil?

Sign for di Rosa with red sculpture in the back

Picnic and Art, di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, Napa

Sculpture at the upper sculpture garden at di Rosa, NapaOnce the rain is gone I’m looking forward to a picnic. A classic spot for a picnic is Napa. You can combine it with wine tastings surrounded by vineyards. If you want to step up your game, impress someone special, or just not into wine, I recommend visiting di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art.  

View of gallery 1 at di Rosa, NapaDi Rosa hosts two galleries with a focus on contemporary artists from the Bay Area. However, there is much more to discover. Located in a nature preserve within wine stocks, you walk by sculptures, an immersion of nature and art.   

Painted beans by Willian AllanWhen we visited last weekend we saw Willian Allan’s Negotiations with Eden in gallery 1. Allan was a leading figure in the Bay Area’s Funk scene in the 1960s and 70s. His fish paintings show off a whimsical trait reflected again with the painted beans in a few display cases. This playful view on art, e.g.,  lucky number beans or birds eyes painted on beans, continues in his photographs where he reveals an eye for nature’s curiosities. Negotiations with Eden is open until May 14th, 2023. 

View of gallery 2 at di Rosa, NapaGallery 2 is labeled The Incorrect Museum – di Rosa’s permanent collection with a focus on ‘beat,’ ‘funk’ and other key movements in Bay Area art history. My favorite was the house of bottles in an outside area: Mildred Howard’s Memory Garden Phase 1. You can actually go inside the bottle house! 

Sign that reads: sculpture meadow closed due to conditionsDue to the heavy rain the sculpture meadow, as well as another installation, were closed to the public. A bit unfortunate since I was looking forward to seeing the sculptures. However, while there were some sculptures on the way to the gallery 2, I can see myself returning on a sunny day with some friends, a picnic basket, and enjoying the sculpture garden and installation we missed. 

On the second Sunday of the month they also offer nature hikes through the Sculpture Meadow and up the northern side of the property. Hikes start at 10 am, advanced tickets are required.

Bottles of Mildred Howard’s Memory Garden Phase 1di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art is located on 5200 Carneros Highway in Napa, CA. General Admission is $20, senior, military and students are $17, under 17 free. Opening hours are Friday to Sunday, 11 am – 4 pm. 

Do you know of great picnic spots?