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Art Meets Wine in the Finger Lakes

Plus, Napa's Fred Schrader and Kevin Buckler make the podium at Le Mans, and Donald Trump and Patricia Kluge part ways in Virginia

Posted: June 21, 2012

• One of Unfiltered's favorite intersections is that of Art and Wine, and this month its address was Damiani Cellars in New York's Finger Lakes. Wrapping up today at Damiani is a month-long exhibit of art by Finger Lakes native Amelia Fais Harnas. Making the soon-to-be 30-year-old's work of particular interest to wine lovers is the medium with which she paints: wine. We'll admit to being skeptical when we heard an artist was making portraits with wine, but color us surprised to discover that Harnas' watercolor-style portraits are … good. Harnas employs a method called batik, which she picked up from a childhood friend who learned it in Niger, Africa. It involves treating a cloth with wax and then, with Harnas' own unique spin, applying wine. It's essentially painting in reverse negative, with Harnas unsure of what exactly the final result will reveal until she melts off the wax to unveil the final product. Damiani vineyard manager Phil Arras is the star of several of Harnas' tapestries on display, most of which are still available for sale. She tells us that her first effort in this medium involved a bottle of Malbec from Cahors, France, and a few dead candles melted in a coffee tin. Most of the current wine stain images were made with wine from Damiani Cellars and Atwater in the Finger Lakes, along with some Bordeaux. Harnas, who acquired a taste for wine in her home state of New York, came to love Archery Summit Pinot Noirs while living in Oregon for three years. She's soon headed off to Paris for a few months, likely to experiment with more French wine, but for those interested in a wine portrait of their own, she's open to the idea of commissions. Click on the thumbnails below for a gallery of her work on display at Damiani Cellars.

Photograph by Amelia Fais Hanson Photograph by Amelia Fais Hanson Photograph by Amelia Fais Hanson Photograph by Amelia Fais Hanson Photograph by Amelia Fais Hanson Photograph by Amelia Fais Hanson

• Regular Unfiltered readers will recall that Schrader Cellars' Fred Schrader and Adobe Road's Kevin Buckler made the trek from Napa to France for the inaugural Aston Martin Racing Festival of Le Mans last week to compete in Schrader's rather gorgeous GT4. We received regular Schrader family updates from France, where they finished third in the qualifying round, putting Schrader and Buckler, who each had to take the wheel during the one-hour race, in good position for the championship. Heavy rains marred the competition, however, but the first all-vintner racing team to compete at Le Mans persevered. In a reportedly thrilling final-lap pass, 2002 24 Hours of Le Mans champion Buckler moved into third place, putting Team Schrader on the podium. We'll let an exuberant Buckler take it from here: “I drove as hard as I could,” said Buckler. “It was raining, we are going fast. I was sideways in all the slick corners on that last lap and drove as deep as I could go on the brakes. I really wanted to get that guy and send Fred and I home with some of the same amazing memories like I’ve had from this place. Also, this was an absolutely unbelievable performance by Fred. I mean the guy is at the top of his game in the wine world, so why take the risk … and I mean physical risk! How many people can start a real race, in a powerful Aston Martin race car, at the most famous racing circuit in the world, in pouring rain, and not fold their cards? We are doing 180 miles per hour on the Mulsanne straight-aways, three times per lap! Not only did Fred nail it, but he outdrove six or seven guys that had way more experience than him and left them in his 'rooster tails.' He did his job as my teammate and put us in a position to strike. I give that a perfect score!” (For those keeping track, that would be Schrader's third, after earning two 100-point scores from Wine Spectator's James Laube for his 2007 Beckstoffer To Kalons.)

• The former Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard in Virginia is now out of Kluges. Patricia Kluge, the model-turned-billionaire's wife-turned-billionaire's ex-wife with the biggest divorce settlement in history-turned-premium winery owner-turned-premium winery bankrupter-turned-subordinate to Donald Trump at her own winery after he purchased it, is now … well, at least not working for Donald Trump any more. Though accounts differ, Kluge either chose not to renew her one-year contract with (what is now) Trump Winery, or Trump deposed her (Unfiltered imagines this scenario played out with Trump hosting her at an estimable restaurant and initiating a thoughtful, sensitive conversation about the best interests of both parties and the assured maintenance of the Kluge legacy, as is Trump's nature in such situations). The Kluge vineyards were first planted in 1999, when then-wealthy Patricia invested $50 million and one Michel Rolland in creating what was to be Virginia's premier winery. The recession had other plans, however, and last year, the repo man came calling; formerly much pricier bottles were unloaded for less than $4. Trump bought the foreclosed property, and the respected job creator immediately set about creating a job for his 28-year-old son Eric, who now heads up the winery. (Surely Freud would have something to say about the fact that a competitor label is his mother Ivana's Legends line of wines.) Kluge's husband Bill Moses will stay on as the winery's general manager.

Morewine Bishar
Del Mar, California —  June 21, 2012 6:17pm ET
Bravo Fred Schrader and Kevin Buckler! Way to go!

David Clark
for The Wine Connection

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