In giving back through community involvement, something special has been going on at Oak Knoll Winery for years. Considered “the people’s winery” by Portlandians, Oak Knoll conducts an annual wine label art contest tied to the Portland Rose Festival Foundation, a non-profit organization celebrating everything Portland and Oregon. The festival has an annual attendance of some 500,000 people.
In 1970, Ronald and Marjorie Vuylsteke founded Oak Knoll winery, to become pioneers of Oregon winemaking, with the first winery in Washington County. They decided in ’87 to become involved in the Rose Festival, by offering unique Rose Festival wines. Through a special collector’s series of designer labels, a scholarship program was established, with students from the Oregon College of Art & Craft. Today, the second generation at Oak Knoll is humbled to continue traditions of community partnership and support.
How a winery can be part of a community:
THE ART PROJECT
From President Greg Lint, “In support of our community and local student artists, we still hold our annual competition. The winning artist receives a scholarship fund, learns the process of how their art becomes a wine label, and has public PR appearances and opportunities with bottle signings, throughout the Rose Festival season. This year was especially difficult. The theme always has to be converted into a piece of art, and in past years, it covered things that are tangible, like the Rock n’Roses theme easily became musical instruments. But, this year it was an intangible theme, ‘Making Memories.’ How does one paint ‘Making Memories?’”
This project takes experiential learnings into a valuable practical application for one talented art student, though a wine label art contest. When the winery gets the theme for the coming year, they share it with the Oregon College of Art & Craft. The following is then offered to the students:
- Using the theme, create a special edition, wine labels for Oak Knoll Pinot Gris, a Rosé, and a Pinot Noir, that best translates the theme into art.
- The theme must be incorporated into that art work. This year’s theme was “Making Memories.”
- Like any wine label designer, the students must work within specific TTB rules and regulation, thereby beginning a process only known to professionals.
This year, 20 student designs were submitted. Once the renderings were chosen, the winning student began going through the entire wine label production process:
- Works with the designers at the label producing company to follow label protocol
- Learn to take original art work and make a digital copy
- Attends all press checks
- Sees his or her final work on the wine bottles
- Attends events
o Bottles signings during the release of the wines to the public
o PR events, as the winning artist
THE ARTIST AND HER WORK
The winning artist is Drea Frost, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree later this month. Here’s her inspiration in her own words.
Drea Frost: “Working with the theme of this year’s Rose Festival, Making Memories, I set out to create work that spoke about the experiences and moments one might have in relationship to the festival. I started by documenting my favorite personal memories from the Portland Rose Festival, while also exploring historical photographs of past festivals. I wanted to not only depict my own experiences, but to also make work that felt universal and timeless. Drawing much inspiration from the smiling faces of festival-goers from fifty years ago, I began sketching out perfect moments…the best memories are ones that we share. In one of the paintings I chose to capture the memory of a nighttime Ferris wheel ride while in another, an impromptu dance along the Portland waterfront. In the third painting I was inspired by the art-deco style posters of past festivals as well as art-nouveau stained glass. Hopefully the viewers will be inspired to go out and make their own long-lasting memories.”
The 2014 collector’s series bottling of Pinot Noir 2010, Pinot Gris 2012 and Rosé 2013 are a unique and special blend of wines specifically for the limited cases produced under this label. Each bottle is individually numbered, just as an artist’s series would be. This is only the second time in the 27-year history that each variety has its own label design. The artist submitted three entries to the competition and each was in a different art medium.
According to Greg Lint: “This is so exciting. Each year we get more students submitting work. The festival’s theme always gives the students a lot of opportunity to open up and express themselves, and they’re great at it. This year we’ve had over 20 students submitting their work, which is pretty phenomenal, when you think about it. It’s not an easy task to choose the final winner. It’s also a project that I eagerly look forward to each year. It’s so invigorating to be working with the winner, taking her (or him, as in past years), through each step of creating the art and then converting it into label. It’s the practical, hands-on experience that takes them from the class room and into the real world of practical application. It’s a valuable, opportunity-of-a-lifetime lesson, which we’re so pleased to offer.”