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April 9, 2006

ART AND WINE WITH A BIT OF TV

Over time, the connection between art and wine has often been made. To be sure, many winemakers view themselves as “Artists” and without exception these are the folks that take themselves a bit too seriously. Any winemaker worth his salt will acknowledge that they are stewarding a natural process. A course that Mother Nature will take with or without them and the winemakers job is much more about process management than it is about creating art.

Yet, art has entered into the wine frame in many other ways. Of course, the old world offers many physical places where art and wine intersect. In 1945 one well known Bordeaux producer, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, began selecting a different artwork for each vintage. Vertical collections of Mouton are as valuable for their label art as their wine. Lots of other wineries have taken works of art and shrunk them down onto a label in an effort to create "collectors pieces". But I have always found these aesthetically unpleasing as these shrunken works on labels usually don’t quite work.

I believe that probably the strongest connection between art and wine is more about the potential common ethos of artist and wine producer, than the physical combination on a label. Perhaps there could be a paradigm shift with the art imitating the wine bottle and not the label imitating the art?

For certain, great art is often not beautiful in the conventional esthetic sense, but it is always culturally disruptive. It evokes emotions, argument, discussion and in years past, even war. The recent Danish cartoons show the power of art.

Wine too offers an opportunity for expression. I find that we at the winery tend to view many aspcts of what we do much differently than most producers. This starts in the vinyard and continues through the winery and into the marketplace. We’ve been referred to as ‘hackers’ for our approach to tech in the winery and our novel approach to bringing Stormhoek to the market. This seemed natural to us, but not so to any other winemakers. We just look at things through a different filter. Our form of communication certainly has disrupted the market.

This is why when, Chris Forney of Artworks Gallery in Pasadena, California, approached us to say that Michael Kalish, had noticed what we are doing with Stormhoek and was interested in teaming up with us to create wine themed artworks, we were really interested: Michael shares our slightly off center view of the world. He is a disrupter.

Michael is a well known, accomplished artist in Los Angeles. He has been written about in People Magazine, Elle, US Weekly, Readers Digest and many other mags. He does something very special: He creates magnificent sculpture from old, discarded license plates. He visits wrecking yards and collects the plates, fixes them, sculpts, welds and paints them to create beauty from something that others discarded.

Michael takes the old and creates amazingly intricate, beautiful works that adorn the homes of the Hollywood “A” list and galleries around the world.

Michael has a “hacker” approach to art: Take what no one else wants. Manipulate it, sculpt it, create beauty and value from junk. He sees something in a junkyard that nobody else sees. For us, we have the same sort of view of the world. Whether it is how we create seriously good Pinot Grigio (a grape that is almost always blended away in SA), or how we view the on line world. We together see things that others often do no

Tonight there is an opening in Los Angeles, and unfortunately, I could not be there due to health reasons. But there are a couple of hundred people who are showing up to look at the new Stormhoek sculpture as well as a team from the CBS Charles Osgood show who will be filming and doing a feature on the creation of the Stormhoek sculpture.

We’ll post some photos when we have them from the show. Cheers to Michael, Chris and the folks at CBS for what I am sure will be a great event.

Posted by Jason at April 9, 2006 4:41 AM

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Posted by: Marlee Saunders at October 13, 2006 3:01 AM

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