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Oregon Wine Totally Overshadowed (by Eclipse)

Plus, how many bottles of Pinot Noir does it take to "paint" the Eiffel Tower? Nick Jonas crops up at Honig, and Carlos Santana and Constellation pair up to announce Charlottesville donation
Photo by: Willamette Valley Vineyards
For incautious eclipse viewers, a blind tasting followed.

Posted: August 24, 2017

After decades of sacrificing cow horns, quartz crystals and crop yields that could've been salvaged by employing conventional farming know-how, biodynamic Oregon vintners were finally rewarded by the Moon Goddess on Monday, as she blessed Willamette Valley wine country with a front-row view of the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in a century. Meteorologists, astronomers, and sun/moon/wine aficionados traveled from all over the world to celebrate and experience the “totality” as it passed over the vines.

The Goddess was most beneficent: Wineries hosted a spate of come-for-the-day and stay-for-the-weekend tastings, lectures and parties. More than 1,200 people gathered on an eastern-facing slope at Willamette Valley Vineyards to view the eclipse, enjoy wine and snacks, and jam to live music and sci-talks. Visitors to Arcane Cellars, on the banks of the Willamette River 11 miles from Salem, camped out, kayaked and generally really got into the spirit. “It was so great when right during totality, everybody just stood up and cheered for nature,” Dawning McGinnis, resident artist at Arcane, told Unfiltered via email. And then, like the rest of Americans, Oregon winemakers had to go back to work.


How Many Bottles of Pinot Noir Does It Take to 'Paint' the Eiffel Tower?

The Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany, has in its collection two Gutenberg Bibles—the 15th-century book first printed on the invention that would someday enable many thousands of grateful readers around the world to receive copies of Wine Spectator—and many other important works of print art and paraphernalia. Now, a Vero Beach, Fla., financial advisor's work will join the six centuries of art on display in the museum, made in a medium of his own invention: wine-based ink.

Rob Ottesen
The Wine-ful Tower

It took more than 40 bottles of red Burgundy, a month of experimentation to perfect the formula, and meticulous application using a stenciling technique called serigraphy, but the resulting print of the Eiffel Tower on the Seine is the culminating masterwork of Robert Ottesen's food-art oeuvre. And much as Unfiltered admires the spillwork of wine-stain virtuosos like the Kendall-Jackson Pollock of Brooklyn, David Sawyer and the Finger Lakes' Amelia Harnas, Ottesen is equally adept working with coffee-ink, tea-ink and choco-ink.

"When the ink bears a connection to the subject matter of the print, I think you're making a major artistic statement," Ottesen told Unfiltered. "I used Burgundy wine to create the image of the Eiffel Tower, because the Burgundy region is south of Paris. In the case of my [serigraph] of Big Ben, I used English breakfast tea, because there's a tradition in England of drinking tea, and of course, Big Ben is an iconic symbol of everything British." That one's in the John Jarrold Printing Museum in Norwich, U.K. Earlier works include the Taj Mahal in chocolate and the Space Needle in coffee.

A wine lover himself, Ottesen has had plenty of practice hunting down good values—a necessity when you commit that many cases to canvas. "Obviously, I was not using some of the more expensive reserves," he said. "A lot of trial and error was involved, and it took a long time for me to perfect the formula for the ink. … Of course, the final formulation is a closely guarded secret."


Nick Jonas Crops Up in Honig Vineyard for a Cause

Earlier this month, singer, producer, actor, brother and erstwhile tween heartthrob Nick Jonas paid a visit to Honig Vineyard in Napa Valley to jump-start the 2017 harvest. Clad in a leather aviator jacket (in Napa, in August) Jonas joined Honig winemaker Kristin Belair in the vineyards to taste-test sugar levels in Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

Honig Vineyard
Nick Jonas, ready for harvest.

Jonas’ visit came the day after Stephanie and Michael Honig held a fund-raising blowout to raise money for type 1 diabetes research and education―daughter Sophia Honig and Jonas himself both have the condition―which attracted around 350 guests and raised $215,000. Some of the silent-auction donors included Alpha Omega Winery, Staglin Family Vineyard, Award of Excellence winner Harvest Table by Charlie Palmer, and Grand Award winner the Restaurant at Meadowood.

The event also served as a stop on Team Bike Beyond cycling team’s 10-week type 1 fund-raising journey. The cyclists were accompanied to the winery by Napa congressman Rep. Mike Thompson. “The Honigs have been tireless advocates for their daughter Sophia and the millions of other children and families living with type 1 diabetes. Their efforts are more important than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.


Carlos Santana and Constellation Pair Up to Announce Charlottesville Donation

Rock legend Carlos Santana brought down the house last Friday night at the Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center in Canandaigua, N.Y. (Incidentally, Santana was spotted giving an Oye Como Va at the Manhattan building that houses Unfiltered HQ the following Monday.) During the concert, Santana paused to read to the crowd a portion of a letter written by Constellation CEO Rob Sands, after the drinks giant—which includes Robert Mondavi, Mount Veeder Winery, Meiomi and Schrader Cellars—donated $250,000 to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Sands family also matched the company by contributing an additional $250,000.

The donation and letter were the company's response to the Charlottesville tragedy. It “weighed heavily on the minds and hearts of our entire executive team,” wrote Sands. “This issue impacts all of us, and for me (and my family), it’s deeply personal. Our company’s history is rooted in diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity. My grandparents came to the U.S. from Russia many years ago to fight oppression and to make a better life for themselves and future generations. … As leaders within the U.S. business community, we have a responsibility to speak out and take action when such injustice occurs.”


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