Sonoma wine blends with art
Are you a lover of wine, art and beautiful scenery? Then head to Donum Estate in Northern California wine country. Sonoma wine blends with art at Dunom Estate in the beautiful Carneros Valley. Over 40 stunning sculptures are set in the estates 190 acres. Curated by owners Mei and Allan Warburg, this private exhibition of art includes works by global artists including Ai Weiwei, Zhan Wang, Keith Haring, Arturo Di Modica, Fernando Botero, and Jaume Plensa.
“If you take art, put it into a beautiful landscape and at the same time enjoy it with a glass of great wine, the experience is much larger than if the three are enjoyed separately,” says owner Allan Warburg. “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”
Sculptures in the vineyards
A visit to Donum allows guests the opportunity to enjoy single vineyard estate wines, while leisurely walking in the vineyards and lavender patches on crushed granite and pebble pathways, surrounded by sculptures. You’ll need to book ahead for this experience, as the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir intimate tastings are by appointment only.
The winery began adding large-scale sculptures to Donum Estate’s vineyard landscape in 2014. Currently there are 40 monumental works installed across the 190-acre property, including Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads,” Keith Haring’s “King and Queen,” Zhan Wang’s “Artificial Rock No. 126,” Yue Minjun’s “Contemporary Terracotta Warriors,” Jaume Plensa’s “Sanna,” and Subodh Gupta’s “Soma” and “People Tree.”
“There is passion behind making and enjoying both wine and art. They both stimulate the senses and enhance the perception of this already beautiful landscape,” says President and Winegrower, Anne Moller-Racke. “It’s a powerful and distinctive experience we know visitors will appreciate.”
Private wine tastings
In addition to Donum’s fine wine and art, guests have the opportunity to visit the Estate’s hospitality space, the Donum Home. Light filters in via skylights and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors provide views of the Carneros landscape overlooking the San Pablo Bay and the Coastal Range, as well as the world-class art. Donum isn’t about large volume production. Instead, winemaker Anne Moller-Racke crafts single-vineyard, single-appellation wines from small lots reflecting each unique, premier vineyard block in Carneros, Russian River Valley and Anderson Valley.
If you prefer art over wine, that’s not a problem. Jana Shober of Elk Grove, California, came to see the sculpture garden.
“I’m not a wine connoisseur,” said Shober, “but I do really like Donum’s Pinot Noir. I’ve been wanting to come for two or three years just to look at the art, so I called the winery. They told me about this event and I was in luck!”
“They hold this event once a year,” says Sarah Mendel, who came from Santa Clara, California. “This is world renown artwork; it’s just the most incredible outdoor art gallery, really, with very famous sculptures that normally you wouldn’t get to see.”
Need to know:
Ticket information for Discover Donum, held in May, or to reserve a private tasting may be found by visiting Donum Estate or calling the winery.
Sonoma wine blends with art at Donum Estate; the annual event is held one Saturday in May, (typically the Saturday before Mother’s Day. ) This northern California wine country experience is a great value, at about half the price of a private wine tasting and tour of the Sculpture Park.
The pathways are wide, but some sculptures are located on hills and not wheelchair accessible. I recommend wearing close toed shoes (the tiny pebbles on the path were a nuisance for sandle-wearing attendees.) Bring sunscreen as there is not a lot of shade. To explore the entire sculpture park will take 45 minutes to an hour, minimum.
On our visit no food was available, although pinot and rosé ice cream was self serve in a portable freezer. If you plan to drink alcohol, bring along a loaf of bread and some cheese for a DIY tailgate picnic. Better yet, make a pit stop at “The Diner” as locals call it, just minutes from the winery at 2698 Fremont Dr., Sonoma. Order the fried chicken sandwich on the homemade biscuit. You’ll be glad you did!
If you go:
Donum Estate 707-732-2200
24500 Ramal Rd,
Sonoma, California 95476
Sonoma Wine Blends with Art at Donum Estate Sculpture Park article by Ginny Hair. All photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown.