Last year, feeling like I needed to shake things up a bit, I decided to get a part-time job and try something completely different. I sat down and asked myself what I really love, what my skills are and how I can apply them in something other than art that would be complimentary, enjoyable and educational. I love wine, people, food and learning about how things are made. I have always had a knack for hospitality as a natural host to both my students and Airbnb guests. SO, I interviewed for and got a part-time job at the Torii Mor Winery tasting room in the Dundee Hills of Oregon Wine Country. One hour West of Portland.
As my car climbed the winding 2,000 ft elevation of the south facing Dundee Hill that Torii Mor is perched upon, I thought about the Jory and Volcanic soils that comprise these dusty roads and make some of the finest Pinot Noir in the world. I remembered my previous visits to the winery for tastings and upon getting out of the car, was also reminded of the serene place that it is with its Japanese garden and inspired interior. Yes, the one hour drive to such a destination wouldl be good! And, it is!
Another bonus was that I could take Cleo to work on nice days, which doubled as an added appeal for winery guests.
I read about the history of Oregon wine country and referred to The Wine Bible and Wine Folly every time I opened a bottle. My study of Oregon’s geology came in handy in learning again about the origins of the different soils that make the wine.
Ok, so, how in the world then did an Amazon Prime Video camera crew come to visit my studio?
The Japanese Garden at Torii Mor was inspired by the Portland Japanese Garden, in fact, Torii Mor is their official wine!
Upon getting the job and in an effort to pack wine information into my brain, I mined Netflix and Amazon for shows and movies about wine every night. I came across one show in particular to binge watch on, the Amazon Series - V is for Vino. This was the perfect educational wine show that covered all aspects of wine, from the regions, grapes, fermentation, micro-climates, soil, tasting, flavor profiles and how to speed up ones vernacular or “wine-guage” as I call it.
I volunteered to use my background in promotion to help grow the winery’s Instagram account. One night, while watching V is for Vino, I decided that they needed to come and do a show about Oregon wines to taste some real Pinot Noir. So, I messaged Vince the host through Instagram and he got right back to me. This is how social media works best. You can follow Torii Mor and V is for Vino too if you want!
As it turned out, Vince loved my artwork and following it on Instagram. V is for Vino DID end up coming to Oregon to do a show about Oregon Pinot Noir just last week featuring Torii Mor’s neighbor Lange Estate Winery.
Seeing that he and his crew were on the road on Instagram, I sent Vince a message welcoming him to Oregon and invited him to visit my studio and have some Torii Mor Pinot. He surprisingly responded with an offer…”what if we did a segment about your art to go with the wine portion of the show to highlight Portland’s creative culture…?” I said ”sure!” I mean, what artist would turn down an opportunity to be on Amazon Prime right?
This opportunity came about with somewhat short notice on a Monday when I had to teach the whole following weekend but it was doable. I immediately alerted my students traveling from North Carolina and Oakland and also nearby that we may need to start our class late the first day as five hours of filming (mostly waiting) was scheduled for 6PM - 11PM.
My students Regina (right) from North Carolina and Heather (left) from Oakland were so kind to volunteer and help stage the studio once they landed and got settled. We moved some larger art in from the house to have on camera as a background and I had a little cheesy fun with it and made encaustic colors that resembled wine…a Pinot Noir, a Chardonnay and a Rose’. So much is involved in setting up and the crew was great! We ordered pizza for all and proceeded to enjoy fine wine and wait.
With my Seattle solo exhibition coming to a close, this was a well timed boost and very fun experience! I had fun sharing my process, a bit about life as an artst in Portland, and showing Vince how to sling molten wax using my wine inspired encaustic colors.
I found that I really enjoy the job at Torii Mor and will be returning this year for another busy Summer and harvest season. The job gets me out and works with my studio and teaching schedule. I enjoy the drive into the countryside for listening to podcasts and making that Sunday call to my parents. I will be there a couple of times per month through September on weekends and you can even see a few of my pieces in the tasting room. So, get in touch if you think you will be in the area visiting the wineries and let me know when, I’d love to see you! Our Oregon Pinot Noirs are truly some of the finest and Dundee Hills is one of the most beautiful destinations here in the Summer and Fall with sweeping views of the vineyards and mountains from the deck.
The Oregon Wine Country episode if V is for Vino will be part of the second season of the show which will be released on Amazon Prime some time in November. In the meantime, watch the Santa Barbara episode about Pinot Noir from the first season. I will keep you posted on the exact date the episode comes out!
As always, thanks for following and reading my blog. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below.