In late August 2006 I had an opportunity to go over the
mountains and spend three wonderful days with my friends at Lange Winery
in Dundee Oregon.
I spent the time sketching and painting the vineyards
and the vistas from their wonderful tasting room. Don and Wendy Lange
have been generous and enthusiastic sponsors for the Sisters Folk Festival
and the My Own Two Hands event for the last five years…providing
us delicious wines to serve to our patrons and guests. It was so fun
to be able to sit and sketch the vines that produce that great wine
and soak up the sun just like the grapes. I loved the idea that I’d
be able to sip that pinot noir later and remember that time again through
Wendy and I took an afternoon and drove to Red Ridge
Farms in Dayton where she introduced me to Ken and Peggy Durant—they
have a wonderful small vineyard, a terrific nursery and gardening gift
shop and an olive orchard with fresh delicious olive oil to sample!
They said anytime I wanted to come back and paint there I was welcome—ahhhh
what an invitation! A side trip to McMinnville changed my mind about
the little old town we used to drive through on the way to the Oregon
Coast in the 60’s…. a quaint town full of interesting
shops and great bakeries and restaurants has sprung up to compliment
the new wine country.
I came back to Sisters crowing about my wonderful experience – sensory
overload for a painter and terrific wines and restaurants as well.
All my painter friends were envious and I made sure that I did a fine
job of describing the visit in full detail—down to Wendy singing
and playing guitar for her dogs, Hannah and Daphne (mind you, she won
a big award a few years ago a the Kerrville Folk Festival—these
dogs know their music!)
Waiting for me in my email inbox was a note from my
friend Susan Sokol Blosser. We had met earlier in the year at a conference
in Spain. Susan has recently written a wonderful book entitled: “At
Home In The Vineyard”. It is a terrific memoir of her role in
the development of the Oregon Wine Industry. She wondered if I might
help her stage a book signing here in Sisters in January. I immediately
called her back and said I would host an event here at Sisters Art
Works. Another phone call and Brad Smith of Paulina Springs Book Company
agreed to participate and provide the books. The date was set for January
Then it occurred to me that this was a perfect opportunity
for a multi-level event…. Maybe I could talk a couple of friends
into coming over to the vineyards and painting for a couple of days
and we could have an art show to accompany Susan’s book signing… and
then—how about a wine tasting? We couldn’t just talk about
the wine without letting people experience it!
A quick email to Susan and we were invited to come on
over – things were just beginning to get ready for harvest and
maybe we could even get some shots of people harvesting the grapes!
So I made a couple of calls and we created “ The Painter’s
Posse—Sisters on the Road!”. Myself, Paul Alan Bennett,
Karen Piedmont, Susan Lucky Higdon, Mary Marquiss, and Tracy Leageld
all signed on to spend two days in the vineyards and sketch and paint!
We met at the Sokol Blosser Vineyard at 10 AM on a Tuesday.
Susan was in San Francisco doing a radio show and promotion for her
book and winery so we were met by one of her staff—Kitri. She
took us on a tour of the winery—the weather was spectacular,
warm and sunny with the fall colors just beginning to blanket the hills
and turning the leaves of the vines golden.
The place was jumping with people—the warm weather
had turned up the ripening process and the grapes were ready for harvest.
We split up and began to work – so many wonderful places to paint!
We gathered at the Sokol Blosser Tasting Room at 4:30.
Sampled some wonderful wines and got a chance to sit with Susan for
a while as she just returned from her trip. We said “adios” for
a while and went to our hotel—McMinnamins’s Hotel Oregon
in McMinnville. To clean up and change out of our “paintin’ clothes”.
The Langes, Susan Sokol Blosser and Peggy and Ken Durant
hosted our group of artists to a wonderful dinner at the Dundee Bistro
in Dundee. The food was fantastic from the historic zebra tomato slices
with homemade mozzarella cheese in balsamic vinegar to the fresh sturgeon.
We sat outside and enjoyed some lovely Sokol Blosser and Lange wines---
we went around the table and talked about each artist’s medium
and some of their experiences and then heard from the vintners about
their business and passion with wine making and the new olive oil industry
in Oregon! All in all it was a terrific evening—good conversation,
wonderful food and wine in a great setting.
We returned to our hotel and had a nightcap at the Rooftop
Bar—and agreed to meet the next morning early for another full
day of painting.
In the morning we drove out to Red Ridge Farms—Peggy
Durant is an accomplished gardener and she has worked her magic here!!!—Incredible
backdrops of vineyards, huge showy dahlias and lavender. Oak and big
leaf maples turning golden and red. I think we all were on sensory
overload with all the possibilities to paint. Fresh scones and fruit,
coffee and tea—we all threatened to just stay -- I know everyone
did at least part of their Christmas shopping in Peggy’s garden
store…and Ken and Peggy generously gave each of us a wonderful
bottle of their own olive oil—which by the way is delicious and
tastes like all things good and growing!
Red Fox Bakery from McMinnville delivered us wonderful
box lunches and we headed up the road to Wendy and Don Lange’s
beautiful vineyard atop a hill in Dundee. Looking out to the East there
is a terrific view of Mt Hood with the whole Willamette valley floor
spread out before you like a big quilt.
A tour of the place and we all began to capture images
of Lange Winery…
Wendy’s goats entertained Susan while she captured the antics of the
chickens; Karen, Tracy, and I spent some time getting up close and personal
with the vines and grapes in the lower fields, while Paul captured some wonderful
images of people working.
The daylight began to fade and so did we…. Lots
of sun and intense sketching—we packed up our paints and bid
the Langes farewell…. Drove home over the Santiam pass and were
dazzled by the vine maples lining the roadway…. we all agreed-
what a wonderful opportunity. What great hospitality. What a lot of
new images to paint.
Please come and join us in January to share our experiences,
meet the winemakers, taste a bit of the wonderful abundance of Yamhill
County and see the trip through a painter’s eye. Then book your
own trip to Oregon’s wine country!