WALLA WALLA - The ultimate pairing of art and wine has been masterfully coordinated in an enclosed courtyard at Foundry Vineyards.
On a calm warm day artist Squire Broel pushed open the towering metal gate that leads into the "sculpture garden," welcoming visitors to the space off 13th Avenue and Abadie Street that's both an outdoor gallery and winery respite. Museum meets tasting room.
Inside the rich dark wood slats of fencing where tightly packed pavers make up a giant patio surrounded by a meandering stream of compacted gravel, at least seven sculptures from internationally known artists have been thoughtfully positioned, along with hefty planter bins full of young greenery. Tables and chairs set up throughout the space offer restful spots for guests to sip and to drink in the art at the same time.
The vision, Broel explained, is a meeting place of the two worlds, where creativity and thoughtfulness are the common bonds.
"We want this to be a place that extends that dialogue about art and wine," he said.
Broel, a painter, sculptor and Walla Walla resident whose own pieces are on display inside Foundry Vineyard's white stucco tasting room, partnered with winery and Walla Walla Foundry owners Mark and Patty Anderson to bring this vision to life.
Located along an industrial and commercial stretch that's just a right-hand turn off Rose Street, the business has transformed the still corner. Foundry employees Chris Hansen, Lee Maroon and Nora Connors painstakingly worked the tasting room's adjacent "garden" over to create the textured landscape of stone, wood and plantlife in the space over the last many weeks.
A forklift helped position the abstract sculptures - a twisted column with an ax on top, a female dress form atop a whale bone, a figure of a horse that appears to be formed from pieces of driftwood, to name a few - into place.
The journey has been years in the making. The history, outlined on the Foundry Vineyards website, goes like this: In 1998, the Andersons planted cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes on 31/2 acres behind their home. They called it Stonemarker Vineyard and initially sold the grapes to local wineries. In 2003 they held some back to create some wine that would honor the work of their clients at the foundry. That first blend featured artwork on the label from artist, client and friend Jim Dine.
Over time production increased, and plans for the overall concept grew. Mark Anderson said he knew he wanted to explore blending art and wine, but he wanted help with the execution of the winery and space.
"We've been fortunate enough to be able to acquire some pieces of value and would like to share that," he said of the foundry's collection.
Broel, a foundry client and friend, came into the picture in late 2008/early 2009. He and his wife, Amber, joined the Andersons as partners in the winery.
Early this year, Foundry Vineyards hired winemaker Ali Mayfield as another step in the process. A 2007 graduate of the Walla Walla Community College Enology and Viticulture program, she was mentored by the late Stan Clarke before learning under internationally known winemakers at Long Shadows Vintners. Mayfield worked five vintages at Corliss Estates under Kendall Mix.
"She has a fantastic fundamental understanding of where she's going," Broel said.
She also has an understanding of where the winery's headed. The roughly 800-case production winery, which will soon introduce whites to the mix, could grow to 1,200 or 1,500 cases, Broel said. He said the goal is to introduce the wines that had originally been an homage to artists into retailers and restaurants that will be in sync with the synergy of art and wine.
The idea, he said, was well received by wine and art enthusiasts dining at The Modern, the restaurant located at the Museum of Modern Art. The luncheon was held in conjunction with the opening of Broel's exhibit at the New York Center for Art and Media Studies in Manhattan. Wine served to the guests came from Foundry Vineyards.
Though the wines that day gave his lunch guests a taste of Walla Walla, Broel said the completed sculpture garden on this side of the country hints a bit more at life in their big city.
"In a way, it feels incredibly urban," he said as the buzz of passing traffic traveled over the walls of the private garden.
The space was the site of the opening night party for Shakespeare Walla Walla's "Merry Wives of Windsor" performance. It also hosted a "White on White" private release party of the winery's new white wines. Broel and Anderson expect it could be the site of future gatherings.
In the meantime, the tasting room will be open on weekends, Broel said. "Hopefully it will continue to be a pivotal place."
Artists whose sculptures are on display at Foundry Vineyards:
- Deborah Butterfield
- Jim Dine
- Charles Ginnever
- Ed Humphreys
- Marilyn Lysohir
- Brad Rude
Artworks in the tasting room:
Each vintage created at the winery features label artwork from one of the Walla Walla Foundry artists/friends. The two Artisan Blend vintages poured this weekend feature label artwork by Deborah Butterfield and Squire Broel.