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The Art of Winemaking

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Posted: Friday, September 7, 2007 10:00 pm

We've paired wine with cheese. Wine with spa time. Wine with entrees from beef to fish. But the Haggin Museum in Stockton is pairing wine with art. Together, they tell stories of various cultures and civilizations - even Lodi's.

In "Pressing Matters," an exhibition of prints from the collection of Sterling Vineyards near Napa, the history of wine is shown in artistic representations of shifts in public opinion and consumerism.

The collection is centered around the idea that art and wine have become more accessible and are available to all people, no longer the higher class.

Picassos, Renoirs, Bonnards and Daumiers are only a few of the works featured in "Pressing Matters." Some of the lithographs are intricate black and white sketches. Others, like poster advertisements, are bright with color.

Original crate labels of various Lodi grapes line the entrance of the North Alcove of the "Pressing Matters" exhibit. The showing will run through Oct. 7. (Brian Feulner/News-Sentinel)

The earliest prints on exhibit show wine in mythological settings, being consumed by gods. Tod Ruhstaller, museum director and curator of history, at The Haggin Museum, says it was common for artists to make wine divine-like because it was perceived as a drink for the wealthy.

At the same time art was becoming affordable with the innovation of printmaking, artists were creating political cartoons and illustrating society's ideas of the early wine industry. Starting in the 17th century, most of the wine art was based on people, not just fictional images.

One new method of selling wine was with advertising. Pierre Bonnard created "Poster for France-Champagne," (1889-1891) a drawing of a woman holding a glass of champagne that fizzes to the bottom of the print.

In 1957, Pablo Picasso illustrated the effects of wine drinking in the lithograph, "La Danse de Faunes (Dance of the Fauns)." Loose sketches of naked men play horns and flutes as they celebrate life with a night of wine drinking. Holding a wine glass to his chest, one character even seems passed out on the floor.

"It just shows a celebratory nature of wine drinking," Curator of Education Lisa Cooperman said.

Other lithographs illustrate prohibition, labor and social issues.

In the North Alcove of the "Pressing Matters" exhibit a local and more recent history of wine is displayed. The Lodi Wine and Visitor's Center has worked with the Haggin Museum to represent Lodi's wine history.

Where: The Haggin Museum, Victory Park, 1201 N. Pershing Ave in Stockton.
Hours: 1:30 p.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; 1:30 p.m.-9 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month.
Admission: $5 adults, $2.50 youth, seniors, students with I.D., Free for members, children under 10 and on the first Saturday of the month.
Information: 940-6300; http://www.HagginMuseum.com">http://www.HagginMuseum.com
"Pressing Matters" will run through Oct. 7.

Kylee Denning, curator of collections at the Haggin Museum in Stockton, arranges some desert wines while setting up the new "Pressing Matters: 500 Years of Wine and Art" exhibit. (Brian Feulner/News-Sentinel)

The Haggin Museum and Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission "pour it on" for a series of casual talks about wine tasting. Thursday evenings will feature presentations on the history of viticulture, sustainable farming practices, blending varietals and (of course) tasting from the Lodi appelations.
Sept. 20, 7 p.m. - Dr. Cliff Ohmart will present "Sustainable Winegrape Growing in Lodi: Past, Present and Future." He will discuss the history of sustainable agriculture and what local growers are currently doing to farm sustainably. The Lodi Rules program is California's first set of appellation-wide sustainable viticulture standards. A wine-tasting will follow the presentation.
Oct. 4, 7 p.m. - Michael Perry, tasting room manager for the Lodi Wine and Visitor's Center, will demonstrate the Art of Blending Zinfandel. Guests will actually be able to blend their own zinfandel by combining a variety of wine. Space is limited.
Join The Haggin Museum and Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission for a free grape testing on Oct. 6 at 2 p.m.
For reservations or questions, call 940-6315.

Lining the entry way are original labels from crate barrels. Vintage markings are their own pieces of art: Designs of Jacob Knoll in Victor and Mr. Tokay for the Lodi Flame Tokay grapes.

"It's interesting to see what it's like now and what it was like then," said Mark Chandler, Executive Director of the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission.

Visitors can see up close some of the tools that were once used in Lodi's wineries, including a hand press and crusher.

In the corner, a Zinfandel grape vine is colored with shades of browns and red. Small knots poke through the twists of its branches.

Photographs on the wall show the process of constructing a wine barrel, from assembling the wood to toasting the barrel according to desired taste of the wine.

Though Lodi's wine doesn't go back for centuries, it does go back 150 years. The oldest of Lodi's Zinfandel vineyards is the 118-year-old Jessie's Grove, Chandler said.

The most fundamental change, Chandler said, has gone from producing dessert wines to table wines. Lodi is known for it's Zinfandel, but new wineries are making wines like Riesling. Lodi also underwent a change when the winemaking process transformed using laborers to do the work to machines. Also, in the past 15 years, the number of wineries in Lodi have more than doubled from eight wineries to 17.

"But even though time has passed, the issues are still the same: Enjoyment, moderation and technology," Cooperman said.

Contact reporter Lauren Nelson at laurenn@lodinews.com.



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