Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Travel Log : Napa County, California

...continued from previous post.... Yet another winery we stumbled upon while driving around the hundreds of wineries and vineyards that dotted the Sonoma Valley and practically flooded Napa Valley was obviously the one that had been designed by Michael Graves, Clos Pegase. I had read about this while doing a pre-trip search for wineries that were architecturally significant and/or modern. I had not intended to stop and photo document this one for it appeared online to be a typical Graves design which incorporated garish color schemes with over sized geometric shapes that allowed for a gimmicky and forced design aesthetic. Regardless of my preconceived critiques, we pulled over and decided to see if the wine was any better than the architecture. Approaching the wine tasting rooms, the landscape was riddled with some of the most world famous modern artist's sculptures. Jean DuBuffet, Richard Serra, and Henry Moore are just some of the artists whose work grace the grounds. The entry to the tasting rooms is somewhat of an abstraction of a Greek temple. Here the architecture becomes believable and well intended. It is all about framing the view and the axis of your procession through the space. Garden courtyards are rigidly groomed in a very architectural manner. Landscape elements, sculpture, and architecture all begin to mix together and play off one another, almost in competition. It can be perceived as a bit busy. The effect of the architecture to create an experience though was quite successful. Once inside, a multitude of modern paintings and sculptures were exhibited throughout the space. If the collection had been edited to a few select pieces, and had the architecture not been in competition with the art itself, the result would have been much more enjoyable. The tables which were piled with the typical wine souvenirs and themed gifts conflicted with the fine art to cheapen the whole setting. What made this winery much different than the previous one I visited was that it was more of an object in a beautiful setting that did not celebrate the natural beauty that it sat in, but tried to take all the attention for itself. This example of bold design displayed how more can be just that, more, and too much more. The wine on the other hand was simple, enjoyable, yet a bit bland and forgetable.

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