Art, music, food and wine… A complete sensory experience… Life as it should be in the civilized zone.

There’s nothing more complete for the senses when all these elements come together.

In wine country there are many winery proprietors who understand this concept, which is why they turn their wineries over to events that please the soul through all our senses on special weekends. What makes the weekend special is whatever is relevant to the owners of any wine company.

California wineries are also discovering one of the hottest wine country artists today – Ann Rea. It’s a rare person who gives up the comfort of a secure cubicle and hits the road with only a dream clutched tight in his or her hand, and blazes new trails. It’s this kind of daring that allows for the making it, because reinventing just isn’t what the average person does with his or her life. That takes extraordinary resolve, and will therefore bring forth extraordinary results.

Ann Rea’s one of those extraordinary human beings, and is on a roll with her art for art’s sake, which all has to do with the wine industry while living and working in the Bay Area.

I went to Gloria Ferrer to photograph Ann Rea during their July Catalan Festival. Ann has painted their vineyards, and was exhibiting. I had previously met Ann through the Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association, when they held their 25th AVA celebration in December 2007. Ann had been commissioned to create Suisun Valley images for Wooden Valley Winery that the Lanza family would share with the Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association. This act of magnanimity was done by the Lanzas so that all Suisun Valley farmers could celebrate their viticultural heritage in a really classic way. This will also help all art lovers to remember how gorgeous that valley is, and why we’re all connected… Having its beauty last longer than any of us will, this is ultimately what fine art always does.

Ann Rea is the modern day Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Édouard Manet of California’s wine industry. Ann’s impressionistic art illustrations have a vibrancy that was a mark of distinction by the early impressionists during the mid 1800s, through their explosion of colors and illusory images. As much as Ann has taken it to new heights, her art is still reminiscent of that time marked by many masters who created soft illusions versus the angular, austere work of that day.

The above image is a group of Carmen Hearn’s friends, who came to the festival to enjoy great food and wine, art and music.

While at this festival, I ran into a few friends… Included are new friends Ron and Sandy Schneider. They were the very first couple to purchase tickets for the Masters of Petite Sirah event last November at Markham Vineyards that I organized with my staff of colleagues. Sandy and I had extensive communications from that point forward. The Schneiders are a couple living in wine country, and taking full advantage of all that it has to offer, including this Gloria Ferrer Catalan Festival day.

This was a day that delighted the sense for all generations. I’ve always been a big proponent of including children in all aspects of one’s life. Doing this removes the mystique and propensity for over indulgence that seems to come in the years when our kids enter college and society on their own. If food, wine, art, and music are all just a normal part of daily life, with no real overindulgences, we’re raising a more civilized, well informed society. I saw more than one comfortable mom and baby that day. This mother and child union is a perfect example of it being done “just right.”

Ann Rea ~ Art and artist in the vineyards ~ She’s part and parcel of our wine world for food, wine, music, and the arts, and it all came together so well at Gloria Ferrer.