Alumni College in the Napa Valley

Adventures in Wine, Food, and Art with Professor Jean McGarry and Author Paul Chutkow, A&S '69, '71

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Sunday, August 24 – Thursday, August 28, 2014

Faculty: Jean McGarry, Co-chair, Writing Seminars Department
Special Guest: Author Paul Chutkow, Writing Seminars, '69, '71

The Napa Valley is a world-renowned center of wine, food, and the arts. It has also been the epicenter of a profound transformation in American taste and culture and the way millions of Americans eat, drink, entertain, and manage their health and nutrition.

This three-day program introduces you to “The Best of The Best” in the Napa Valley, the wineries and creators who have led the transformation and developed exciting partnerships with winegrowers and entrepreneurs from France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Croatia, and far beyond. Along with visits to several iconic wineries, and guided tours of how the finest wines are made, Professor McGarry will introduce you to the literature of American food and wine, Paul Chutkow will explain the roles of Robert and Margrit Mondavi in the transformation of the Napa Valley and American wine, and Johns Hopkins alumnus Dr. Ernie Bates will describe his own personal journey from medicine to the Napa Valley wine industry. Start to finish, this will be “Glory in a Glass.”

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Educational Program
Day One
Professor McGarry will open our program with a first taste of the literature of food and wine and explore how the cross-fertilization of French and American wine cultures set in motion the transformations of American wine and food that we have seen – and tasted – over the past 30 years.

From there, we will have a special tour of Robert Mondavi’s To Kalon Vineyards, one of the most prized wine-growing venues in the world, plus a walk-through of the new Mondavi wine-making facility. That will be followed by a lunch at Mondavi hosted by Genevieve Janssens, the director of winemaking at Mondavi and the guardian of both the To Kalon vineyard and the Mondavi spirit and legacy. Johns Hopkins alumnus Paul Chutkow will co-host the lunch and explore the genius of Robert Mondavi. Paul and Robert joined hands in the writing of Mondavi’s celebrated memoir, “Harvests of Joy.”

From there, we will go across the street to Opus One, a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and The Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Here we will see, vividly, the results of the Franco-American partnership and cross-fertilization that Professor McGarry explored earlier in the day.

Our evening includes a visit to Kenzo Estate, where the world of wonder meets the world of wine. In 1990, the Japanese entrepreneur Kenzo Tsujimoto, after making a fortune creating magical video games, came to the Napa Valley to create a magical winery, one that would fuse Japanese taste and aesthetics with America’s rising knowhow in grape-growing and making fine wines. We will taste the results for ourselves.

Day Two
Here we will focus on the evolution of American cuisine. Professor McGarry will open the day with an exploration of “The Physiology of Taste,” the French writer Brillat-Savarin's analysis of how fine wine and food affect our nose, mouth, palate and spirit.

From there, to see and taste what we have just learned, we will go to Napa’s Farmers’ Market and then to a “garden to table” lunch featuring the fruits and vegetables that we just saw growing.  After lunch, we will visit The Oxbow School, an innovative school for the arts that Robert and Margrit Mondavi launched for gifted and talented high school students in the Napa Valley and across America.

From art on the table, we move to art on the vine and art on the wall, with a visit to The Hess Collection, one of the unique treasures of the Napa Valley. The Hess Family Wine Estates brings together New World wines, a magnificent art collection, a lovely setting, and Old World graciousness. As we will see, all the different elements at Hess, as in the whole of the Napa Valley, flow together into a single word: Taste.

Day Three
Here we will see the glorious truths wrapped inside the Danish writer Isak Dinesen’s astute observation that “all the arts flow together.” And they certainly do in the Napa Valley. Once again, Jean McGarry will set the stage with a lecture on “oenophile adventures,” and then we will have a guided tour of the outdoor art at the di Rosa.

From there, we voyage (just a few minutes away) to “The Top of The World,” the Artesa Winery, an enchanting Spanish-American fusion of wine, art, architecture, and food, all set on a hilltop with a breathtaking  360-degree view of the majestic hills and vineyards of the Napa Valley.

To draw the day and the entire trip together, we will visit the home and vineyards of Dr. Ernie Bates, a Hopkins pioneer in the field of medicine and the creator of the Black Coyote Wines in Napa Valley. Through Dr. Bates, the Hopkins spirit and the Napa Valley spirit flow seamlessly together, and we get to taste the glorious result!

What's Included

  • If staying at the Napa River Inn, daily breakfast and complimentary wireless internet
  • Lectures as outlined
  • Visits and tours of six vineyards, five tastings
  • Guided tour of three art collections and an art school
  • Three lunches, one dinner, two receptions
  • Transportation as described


Choose the hotel of your liking or the Napa River Inn at the Historic Napa Mill, where a block of rooms has been reserved at the rate of $269 per night until June 24. (After that date, it will be space available.) Please contact the sales office directly at (707) 251-8550, ext. 1, with questions and to receive the group rate.

Napa River Inn at the Historic Napa Mill
500 Main Street
Napa, CA 94559
Tel: (707) 251-8550, ext. 1


$765 per person

Cancellation policy applies

A minimum number of participants is needed to operate the program. There has been strong interest in this program so reserve early.  As always we strongly recommend that you consider obtaining travel insurance.

Register online or call 410-516-0363.

Lisa Auchincloss or Marguerite Jones at 410-516-0363 or 800-548-5481