For its third annual "Eco-Chic" collaboration, Napa Valley's Newton Vineyard has commissioned Colorado-based contemporary artist Michael Wisner to create The Element ($400), a limited-edition chiller and set of coasters. Last week, I had the chance to sit down with Wisner and winemaker Chris Millard, learn about the project, and see the design up close and personal. In one word: stunning!
Before heading into the studio, Wisner spent a week at Newton Vineyard, taking in the landscape and learning about the winemaking process. Newton is celebrated for its unfiltered wines and its sustainable, Old World approach to viticulture and production, so it was important to Wisner that his design reflect that purist ethos. Quite serendipitously, Wisner found that the clay soil in the winery's Carneros vineyards was among the top five percent of clay he'd encountered in his 20-year career, and thus the soil used to grow the very grapes in Newton wines was used to create the chiller and coaster set. When fired, the clay became an ivory-white color which he calls "nature's purest white hue."
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The V-shaped chiller reflects the shape of the rolling hills of the winery's Spring Mountain estate (pictured on the label), and the repeated pattern was inspired by the elegant and sensual shape of Newton's unfiltered Chardonnay bottle. Meanwhile, the patterns perforated on the set of four coasters recall the four natural elements — earth, water, fire, and air. There are only 100 hand-crafted pieces, and each is numbered and signed by the artist.The design, which celebrates eco-friendly practices and sustainable design, was released on Friday to coincide with Earth Day, but honestly I'm hard-pressed to think of a better Mother's Day gift than this. (Maybe it's just me, but my mama loves her vino.) If you're in the Bay Area, you can pick up a set at the picturesque Newton Vineyard — maybe bring Mom with you! — or you can order one online from afar.