If one year ago you would have told me that I was going to be part of a special collaborative event at a highly respected winery in the Columbia River Gorge, I would have politely asked you to eat your hat. If you would have then added that I would have been working at this winery for 6 months getting the know the industry at an intimately level, I would have eaten my own hat too.
This year has brought some incredible changes into my life. One of the biggest changes came from a casual request in early January for me to do a series of paintings inspired by the Wine Country of Dundee, OR for Art Elements Gallery in Newberg.. This request started a change reaction of events that led me to fall in love with wine, the wine industry, wine country and most importantly the people who work in it.
This is how my journey unfolded.
Soon after accepting this request to paint vineyards I was hooked. After painting vineyards and farmland feverishly for the first four months of 2015, it only made sense to move to the Hood River. My intention was to open my own studio gallery whilst at the same time making connections with wineries so I could show my new work in their tasting rooms.
(Of course, everyone knows that wine and art pair perfectly.)
In early June I drove up the rustic lavender framed driveway of Syncline Winery in Washington State to inquire if they had any wall space that they might let me hang my paintings. They had no wall space however, they did have a job for me in their tasting room. I looked around and realized that I had to accept their offer. I spent the next six months working in the tasting room by lending a hand during bottling and pitching in during harvest.
Down the rabbit hole I went.
By working at a winery of such quality and dedication I discovered that wine offers an incredible range of experiences to the user with it encompassing farming, science, ancient history and modern technology. The culture, culinary aspects, and intoxicating beverage transcend borders. The creative commerce and transportation, the beautiful global landscapes, and amazing people bring all this together while making them very happy.
This year been has been deeply humbling, challenging and ultimately transformative. I feel truly blessed to have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know James and Poppy Mantone, founders and owners of Syncline; Lisa Wolverton, Lauren Cullen, Melika Belhaj and Amy Martin whom I worked with in the tasting room; Brendon Simpers, Lisa Wiseman and David Sadr who work in the winery and the rest of the Syncline family. All of whom are top grade human beings that I admire in more ways than I could count. They allowed me into their world and I'm deeply thankful. I would also like to mention and honor the Syncline customers, fans, and champions that I had to pleasure to serve during the summer. You're wonderful!!!
It's my dream to open a permanent studio gallery/wine tasting room in the Columbia River Gorge next Spring. My plan is to feature my art and studio along with wines from small independent makers that create outstanding wine but need an outlet to get a foothold in the industry. I feel this would be a win-win.
Current Winery Partners
Below is a pictorial journey of my summer at Syncline and the other wineries I now work with.