ancient art

When wine tasting, we engage all of our senses; from sight, to smell, to taste, to sound (e.g., hearing wine being poured from bottle to glass, hearing crystal glasses clinking in celebration). The finishing touch of this sensory experience happens when wine finally touches our palate. We swirl the wine around inside our mouth, activating every taste bud. Wine deliberately engages our senses in every possible way. However, the quintessential wine experience happens when we visit where it all comes alive… wine country.
With an added benefit to visiting wine country comes a glimpse into the romantic lifestyle that’s seduced so many of us who now live here, because visiting occasionally just wasn’t enough. Every day new visitors come into the valleys, taking it all in with eyes in total wonderment.

There are many within the vineyards whose fervor for art has so intrinsically intermingled with wine, there’s virtually no separating the two. They are indivisibly one. And, that’s what this story is about… the art that exists in wine country as wine’s twin sister. The art of wine interplays with the wine of art.

Wine country has drawn many artists. It’s so evident on the labels, and would seem like that is where it begins. I thought so, when I lived in Maine, but once I visited wine country, I realized the label is where it seems to finish; until, at least, the bottle is opened. Then it all begins again.

Mitsuko & Jan

Clos Pegase is a virtual testament to the passionate lives that Jan and Mitsuko Shrem have led. It’s a place to celebrate being in wine country, while stimulating all your senses with tactile and visual pleasure. The collection of fine art at Clos Pegase is a virtual testament to the passionate lives that have become a symbol of Jan’s winemaking philosophy… elevating the craft of winemaking to a fine art.

Jan Shrem’s life has been filled with a global perspective reserved for but a few of us mortal souls. Jan’s background is extremely diverse and far reaching, making him one of the few “citizens of the world,” as we know them. Born in Jerusalem, Jan then went on to live in Paris, Japan (where he met his wife), and now the United States. The cultures that Jan’s been exposed to, from his collective moving from one place to the next, have broadened his mind and palate in ways that cannot be recounted in one simple story.

What excitement must exist behind Jan’s calm, knowing eyes. And that knowing, as he and Mitsuko travel, becomes yet another art object to exhibit and share with those who visit his winery, enjoy his wines while taking in their art, and glimpse their global perspective.

Jan describes his desire for art as, “An intrinsic part of my wife’s and my character as the culture we grew up with. Both of us have spent time as artists. Mitsuko continues to create art. I’ve given up the creation process of collecting. We are driven by our passions, which define our lives.”

modern art

The art that Jan and Mitsuko have collected span periods from the dawn of ages to today’s modern impressionism.
When Jan and Mitsuko decided that they wanted to build a winery, a competition was organized through the auspices of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Jan confides that 96 architects competed. Michael Graves, the renowned Princeton architect, won the award, and was commissioned to “build a temple to wine and art,” at the base of a knoll that would then become Clos Pegase Estate Winery.

The strategic placing of art not only inside the winery, but also all around the peripherals, makes a visit to Clos Pegase an exploration that delights the senses. Jan shares that their collecting has now slowed down a bit. “We’ve been collecting for over 30 years. It’s not about quantity now, as the winery’s galleries are quite expansive. Now the emphasis is on quality pieces. We’re just passionate,” says Jan, with so much composure. The two gestures, the way he says it and what he says, almost seem like an oxymoron.

His openness and candor are expressed in the treasures that Jan and Mitsuko have collected, and are on exhibit for all to see in Calistoga, California. A visit to Clos Pegase leaves a lasting impression of grandeur and an appreciation of what it’s taken Jan and Mitsuko their entire lives together to produce.

If you can’t make the trip any time soon, you can visit the winery on-line at