Artistry through Wine with Argyle
By Ryan Stevens
The Willamette Valley is filled with artists who speak in an expansive array of mediums. From the subtle nuances of the bouquets that fill our swirling glasses to the expressionist canvases that tell the story of the valley’s beauty, each feature offers a glimpse into different aspects of this amazing wine country. A few years back, Argyle Winery’s Chris Cullina’s dreamed up an idea to create a scholarship in conjunction with Pacific Northwest College of the Arts (PNCA) to feature the artwork of budding young artists on a limited edition winery release called The Art of Sparkling.
“The Art of Sparkling is a meaningful evolution of Argyle’s engagement with the arts,” says Cullina, the program originator and Argyle’s marketing and sales director. “Through this collaboration, we are inviting artists into our process and, in turn, are inspired by their work. Coupled with the scholarship, it’s a program that demonstrates our passion for creative expression.”
This year’s three winning artists represent three distinct and moving views on the process of winemaking. After being verbally led through the layered harvest process, the three winning artists were treated to field trips to Knudsen Vineyards so that they could experience the world of clones, root stocks, terroir and climate come to life.
The artists were then given cart blanche over the brand and the vision of their art. As a result, the unique styles and voices of the artists were able to put restrictions aside and let their art breathe.
“We turned over the entire brand to them, giving them freedom to create without darkroom editing,” Cullina says. “They all grasped the climate differences, what we were about very quickly.”
Working in three distinctly different mediums, the spectrum of the work covered a varied expanse of topics while keeping true to this year’s connecting theme of “relationships.”
Artist Damien Dawahare’s bold woodcut of a Knudsen Vineyard old vine “overlays a representation of the water, land and air, and alludes to the climatic and land-use flux in the Willamette Valley today,” Cullina explains, while the abstract piece from artist Catherine Ross “embodies Argyle’s vineyard workers at harvest, acknowledging and elevating the role of labor in the wine industry at a time when workers face unprecedented challenges to their safety and security.”
Originally an oil painting on satin, the textured “celebratory” piece from artist Madison Camcam represents the winery’s spirit, origin and production, “right down to the bubbles,” says Cullina.
This three-year old collaboration has pushed the spotlight not only onto the blossoming talent that is flourishing at PNCA, but onto the struggles, toils and small achievements that comprise each year’s harvest.
“We’ve never seen brand presentations that were this penetrating from anyone,” Cullina adds. “These artists understood the process from soil to harvest. This year’s work focused on relationships, and they more exceeded expectations which fully honored than our 30th anniversary.”
Starting September 16, the highly sought-after Art of Sparkling set will be available both online and at the Argyle tasting room in Dundee, Oregon. Framed in a custom box, each bottle in the three-piece set will proudly bear the fruits of the artist’s labors. Inspired by the rhythm of nature, the tireless work of the vineyard teams, and the culture that Argyle has fueled to thrive, the three artists have captured the true essence of the Oregon wine country.