Wending through some of the most picturesque wine country in California, Northern Sonoma County's "Wine Road", takes visitors on a sensually gratifying journey of natural beauty, sublime tasting experiences and memorable personal encounters with many of wine country's most devoted and individualistic winemakers.
Along the way are some of California’s oldest wineries, run by vintners whose commitment to tending the vines and producing world-class wines, true to the appellation, runs back generations.
Founded almost 40 years ago, Wine Road is an association of wineries and lodgings in the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys. From its modest beginning as an organization of nine wineries, it has grown into a spirited constellation of 197 wineries and 54 lodgings. It’s not actually a “road” in the sense of a single, continuous stretch of paved highway, but more of a treasure map to the many jewels nestled among the hills and valleys of a region where fresh air, fine wine and exquisite cuisine await those who traverse it.
The Wine Road's innovative, new Art Of Oak program, a labor of love began to take shape in early August when the organization started reaching out to local businesses with an idea of sponsoring a barrel. The Sebastopol Center for the Arts helped find interested artists. Sonoma County based artists, including Fog Valley Crush cover illustrator and dear friend, Nicky Ovitt transformed forty used wine barrels into works of art (painted, sculpted or turned into furniture). Super talented Petaluma-based contemporary artist Maxfield Bala and Santa Rosa's Zack Rhodes have also produced barrel art.
Twenty or so of the barrels will wind their way down to the San Francisco's big February game for exhibition. Sonoma County will be the official wine supplier at the biggest sporting event of the year. Sonoma County vintners are set to stage their own “wine lounge” inside a fan village in San Francisco. The San Francisco event takes place over eight days and is anticipated to draw 1 million visitors.
Finger's crossed that Nicky, Max and Zack's barrels will be selected for the big game exposure. Nicky's uplifting art featured in this post is for the Vintner's Inn sponsored barrel.
Each barrel has been sponsored by a business, proudly acknowledged on a plaque on the barrel listing alongside the artist's name. From there the completed barrels were sold outright for $500, or they will be auctioned on May 23rd at the Wine Road's 40th Anniversary Ruby Affair Gala.
The sale of the barrels will benefit the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, Children’s Art Programs in Sonoma County.
Artists included: Andrew Thomas, Amy Curley, Arturo Monroy, Austin Hawley, Bob Johnson, Brendon Vogel, Bryan Tedrick, Candida Saniorenzo, Debey Zito, Gary La Bonte, Hilary Williams, Jamie Kendall, John Ton, Julius Orth, Katherine Henderson, Lizabeth Kirby, Maureen Erickson, Maxfield Bala, Michael Dirk Risch, Mo Bernal, Mylette Welch, Nicky Ovit, Olivia Boyd, Paula Strother, Rob Macy, Ryan Taylor, Sonoma Barrel Décor & Design Co, Terry Schmit, Toby Johnson, Travis Kubota Ursula Xanthe Young, Zach Rhodes
Sponsors included: Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel + Spa, Cokas Diko Home, Kokomo Winery, Courtyard By Marriott, Sonoma Wine Country Leap Solutions, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Rickards Winery, ACORN Winery, Alegria Vineyards, Big John’s Market, Brad & Robin Calkins, Doubletree by Hilton, Sonoma Wine Country, Garrett Ace Hardware, Papapietro Perry Winery, Robert Young Estate Winery, Sonoma Jet Center
Find all of the barrels on display at the following locations Feb. 10th-May 10th, 2016 at: ACORN Winery/Alegria Vineyards, Alexander Valley Vineyards, Balletto Vineyards, Longboard Vineyards, Merriam Vineyards, Moshin Vineyards, Papapietro Perry Winery, Paradise Ridge Winery, Pech Merle Winery, Siduri Wines, Starlite Vineyards, Topel Winery Tasting Room, Woodenhead Winery.
This lively and committed organization has created a myriad of programs, events and services certain to enhance any visitor’s experience of the region, among them three major events: Winter Wineland, Barrel Tasting and A Wine & Food Affair .
A complimentaryWine Road map is the key to exploring the glories of the area and is also available online at www.wineroad.com. The area is nothing if not rich in history. The Russian River takes its name from the Russian fur trappers who established a trading colony in the early nineteenth century, and following on their heels were French and Italian immigrants who brought their own centuries-old traditions of winemaking to the area. Wine has been made in Sonoma County for over 130 years. Even during the Prohibition years (1920-1933) many wineries continued to make wine for medicinal and sacramental purposes.