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In the summer of 2016, under an immaculate blue sky and on top of a dry, windy hill overlooking the treeless, rolling vineyards of northern California, an alien structure landed. Be dazzled by Exclusive Experiences: California Artsy Vineyard!
The hill is in the middle of the Donum vineyard, within the celebrated Los Carneros viticultural area and the jewel in the crown of The Donum Estate, one of the smaller but most prestigious wineries in California. And here a gigantic 8m-high polished-steel heart was being pieced together, a newly commissioned work by the British sculptor Richard Hudson.
Increasingly, fine hospitality has become a key part of a visit to a vineyard, with celebrated chefs preparing food to show the wines off to their best advantage, and luxurious accommodation offered to extend the experience beyond a few hours. Sculpture offers yet one more lure for guests, enticing them into a more profound engagement with the landscape that gives rise to the wine. And when the vineyard owner is also an avid art collector, the project moves to another level, with the landscape, the wine and the collection evolving in harmony together.
In 2015, visitors were invited for the first time to stroll through the landscape, admiring the vines and encountering artworks such as Yue Minjun’s 2005 series of bronze Contemporary Terracotta Warriors and the iconic 1987 Corten-steel piece King and Queen by the American Keith Haring. Ai Weiwei’s 2011 Circle of Animals – Zodiac Heads stands in the center of a grove of transplanted ancient olive trees, while works by Danh Vo and Anselm Kiefer are soon to be installed.
Warburg is not the first person to have been struck by the sympathy between sculpture and the highly crafted landscapes of vineyards. Near Donum, the late Margrit Mondavi, wife of Robert Mondavi, pioneered the display of art alongside winemaking at the Mondavi winery in Napa Valley from the 1960s.
Some wineries even sell their art. In California, the Paradise Ridge Winery, overlooking the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, hosts selling exhibitions in Marijke’s Grove – four acres of wooded glens, with paths linking the life-size sculptures sited among gnarled oaks.
Visitors can take an Art and Wine tour, encountering works ranging from Jim Dine’s monumental cracked and battered Venus Bordeaux and Charles Hadcock’s serenely mathematical Torsion II – a homage to the 2009 vintage – to one of Barry Flanagan’s exuberant giant flying hares, entitled Hospitality.
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Source: How to Spend It