Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Wine Life

The last day of the annual Plein Air Painters Convention in San Francisco was actually a paint-out at the glorious Viansa Winery in Sonoma, just 35 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. On a sun-swept 70-degree day it was a quintessential California wine country retreat and a welcome counterpoint to the bustle and blight that plague the city where I left my heart. Paint brush in one hand and a precocious little Pinot Noir in the other I painted my way through a charcuterie plate, a panini and a cucumber-lemon grass gelato before decamping for our hotel at the airport. Wait a minute. It was Peggy doing the painting and that was with a sprightly Chardonnay. I tend to conflate.

Anyway, I recommend a sojourn to Viansa on such a day. It’s best enjoyed with a three hundred of your best painting buddies as was the case on this stunning and memorable April 28.

Sitting at a table, Pinot at the ready, I inhaled a tiny measure of the life that I love. The gestalt of wine culture, the farm to table lifestyle and pura vida from the land has me hooked as it has for more than fifty years. Above the vineyards with San Pablo Bay and the Mayacamas Mountains in the distance the sweep of the vistas and the depth of its pleasures was magical.

My mission was to photograph the start to finish sequence of Peggy painting the farm across the highway from Viansa. Since the painting took a scant 1-1/2 hours she called it a field study which I gather is something less than a painting. Couldn’t prove it by me. At the time she thought it was her best of the week and later thought it was not. Eyes of the beholder.

From my vantage point at a sunlit terrace table these happened.


Don or consiglieri?

Painter Albert Handel

And in the window of the tasting room sat this prize.

Floral in window

Despite half a century of wine lust I had never heard of Viansa. It is not in the pantheon of Sonoma legends. But it’s blood line is not to be trifled with as it was founded in 1989 by the grandson of Samuele Sebastiani, you know the name, an Italian immigrant who purchased his first vineyard in 1904 after making cobblestones in San Francisco when he arrived from Tuscany in 1896. Lawrence Ferlinghetti would be proud.


Blacks Crossing said...

Paint me jealous on numerous levels, Steve. Another love story about California wine country - whatever region presents itself - and the joy of wine, food, good friends, and a lovely painter who is really good at what she does. Thanks for shooting Peggy from the start of her process to the end. Your own black and white bouquet is luscious. There are still many wineries to be explored and lots of time, Steve, so it looks like another trip to the Golden State is in the offing, que no? And, just as an aside, we opened a 2010 Barbera from Eberle that we purchased at the winery in 2014. It was divine and aged better than we could ever have imagined. I look at your blog and photographs as the snow falls outside. 20 May. Springtime in the Rockies. Thanks for the treat.

Steve Immel said...

It really does call to me.