Paso Glows with 60,000-Bulb 'Field of Light'; Champagne Corks Blast at Supersonic Jet Power

Plus, an Italian winemaker goes to the Emmys and tells all

Paso Glows with 60,000-Bulb 'Field of Light'; Champagne Corks Blast at Supersonic Jet Power
Clos encounters of the third kind: "Field of Light" in Paso Robles at dusk (Serena Munro)
Sep 26, 2019

Paso Robles' hottest spot is Sensorio. This place has everything: a 4,300-square-foot "wine center," a resort hotel, "amusing, mystical and kinetic experiences," 58,800 glowing color-changing fiber-optic spheres blanketing the grounds, inspired by the Australian Uluru rock formation …

The 386-acre wine and art destination is not finished yet, but its opening act is lighting up Paso wine country. English artist Bruce Munro's dreamlike Field of Light covers the undulating hills and valleys of the landscape just outside town, neighbor to the properties of Eberle and Robert Hall wineries. When Sensorio founder Ken Hunter approached Munro after seeing the installation at Uluru, it was an easy yes for the artist, who told Unfiltered that Paso's contours reminded him of the English countryside. “The installation tends to draw the landscape because you’re basically covering the landscape with thousands of stems” topped with fiber-optic spheres, Munro said. “That wasn’t intentional on my part, these are things you just discover.” The solar-powered lights bloom into colors that seamlessly blend into each other over the hills.

Sensorio
Sensorio off… (Credit: Serena Munro)

The new home for Field of Light got Munro thinking about his inspiration for the installation, which struck when he was working odd jobs in Australia in the '90s and first tooling around with plastic lighting as a potential medium. “Those years for me were really important about learning how things got made and the importance of communication with people," he said.

Sensorio
Sensorio on! (Credit: Serena Munro)

Sensorio aims to foster just such communion, which is where the wine comes in. Visitors can grab a glass of Paso wine—some of the selections from the surrounding vineyards—to stroll the shimmering fields. “We hope increasing the national and international awareness of Paso Robles is benefiting [the wineries],” Sensorio executive director Tracy Strann told Unfiltered via email; the even more ambitious wine center will open in 2021. Field of Light will be planted through Jan. 5, 2020, with more exhibits to come.—S.Z.


Bottle Rockets: New Study Finds Champagne Pops Like a Fighter Jet Engine

"Champagne" and "jet plane" may be a cherished go-to rhyme for party rock, but we figured the similarities ended there. Not so, say researchers from the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne: According to a new study, the gasses released by popping open Champagne fly out at supersonic speeds, creating Mach disks—the same gaseous puffs you see in the exhausts of jet and rocket engines.

The study, published in the September issue of the chemical physics journal Science Advances, sought to explore what, exactly, happens at the mouth of a bottle when you pop the cork, in the split-second human revelers can't see.

Dr. Gérard Liger-Belair, lead researcher and professor at the university's Effervescence, Champagne and Applications lab (which we have to imagine attracts the brightest minds in Bubble Studies) told Unfiltered via email that the Mach disks his high-speed cameras observed forming under the just-popped corks were a "huge surprise." It's "similar to what is happening with rocket plume exhausts. The conditions needed to create such shock waves are drastic, but in the very first millisecond following the cork popping, all the conditions are met."

Champagne popping
Times in the upper-right corners indicated in microseconds, or millionths of a second. The white arrow on the left points to the Mach disk. (Courtesy of Science Advances)

Liger-Belair and his team tested bottles at two temperatures, 86° F and 68° F—for the record, Wine Spectator recommends serving Champagne at around 45° F—because the higher temperatures increased the internal pressure of the bottle, resulting in more observable (and impressive) disks.

What does this mean for us Champagne drinkers? Not too much, at least until this kickstarts the trend of drinking Champagne hot. And of course, don't forget to point that bottle away from you, lest you fire a literal rocket into your face (OK, the cork itself is not flying at the speed of sound). And finally: Hey, new conversation starter! "My [biggest] satisfaction is to show how common phenomena can produce visually appealing images and bring emotion," said Liger-Belair. "There is a lot of wonderful and subtle science in a single bottle of Champagne!" Here's to plenty more research that requires popping bottles of Champagne.—P.L.


Drinking with the Stars: Italian Winemaker on the Scene at the Emmys Tells All

There are always surprises and upsets at the Emmys, but the wine wasn't expected to be one of them. For the fourth and fifth year, respectively, Napa's Sterling Vineyards and Italy's Ferrari provided the still and sparkling wines of the main event, the pre-parties and the Governors Ball after-party. "It's becoming a tradition," Ferrari CEO Matteo Lunelli told Unfiltered. This year, Lunelli shook things up a bit to give his wine a leading role in the festivities: with a 12-liter Balthazar of brut so big it needed a special decanting cradle to operate. Lunelli reported that, naturally, all the A-listers wanted to play with it.

RuPaul and Sterling Cabernet
RuPaul's Cab Race: The star gets his Sterling bottle. (Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

Throughout the night, the likes of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, RuPaul, Henry Winkler, Jared Harris and the surviving inhabitants of Westeros toasted with Ferrari brut and rosé and Sterling Napa Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The lucky winners also got personalized bottles of Sterling Iridium Cabernet 2015. "It was a joy to watch the Emmy statuette glide through the Winners' Circle to be engraved and to then have the opportunity to gift our Sterling Vineyard Iridium Cabernet Sauvignon with it," Brett Scallan, senior vice president of marketing for Sterling told Unfiltered via email.

Elisabetta Canalis and Matteo Lunelli
Italian performer Elisabetta Canalis and Matteo Lunelli with the big-boy bottle. (Courtesy of Ferrari)

Lunelli, meanwhile, was making the rounds with some special bottles of his prestige cuvée, the Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 2007, a handy icebreaker for meeting the stars. "When they discover you're a wine producer from Italy, everybody's curious to talk about it," he told us. Some high points included a handshake with Winkler (very popular guy among Italians of a certain age; "he actually knows Italy very well"), presenting a special engraved bottle to breakout Fleabag writer and star Waller-Bridge and meeting the lead actor (Harris) and creators of Chernobyl, his favorite show.—Ben O'Donnell


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