Her E-Mail read,

hope & grace wines in Yountville – a beautiful place. It will be from March to May 2012; and, since they’d like their wine in the show, I now have four bottles to photograph – a pinot, cab, malbec and sauvignon blanc. This is an incredible opportunity, plus just being in the tasting room with the owner who was showing off my book – I sold three books.”

ON HER WEBSITE: “Enjoy the incredible beauty inside wine – the art IN wine. Taste with your eyes the hidden character in wine including hope & grace 2008 pinot noir, Opus One, Grgich Hills chardonnay and La Sirena Moscato Azul. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see if your tastes match the images.”

The exhibit is on right now. You can see it at the Edward James Courtyard ~ 6540 Washington Street, Yountville, California. Look for the hope & grace tasting salon.

Ah…. The life of a struggling artist… We’ve all heard about it and we may even be lucky enough to have a close friend with whom we share his or her creative sessions, if we’re not the one actually struggling. I have one such friend. Her name is Dr. Sondra Barrett. Sondra spent many years of her life as a biochemist, researching the cancers that ravage children’s bodies. The emotional toll always comes into play with such a career. And so, the artist inside of this scientist took over.  “When in wine country, turn to wine,” is the mantra for many of us, and Sondra became an artist in residence at Sterling Vineyards for many years.

She’s also a brilliant writer, and I mean “brilliant” in all senses of the word, illuminating what we might otherwise miss in so many aspects of our lives. After reading her book, I called her a “wine shaman.” People who are highly spiritually evolved won’t argue with that assessment, once they’ve read her book.

Today, Dr. Sondra Barrett uses her polarizing light microscope to photograph the essence of a drop of wine, giving us a Rorschach image of what can only seen by getting this deeply into the heart and soul of one’s wine.

Her images are gorgeous, and if I owned a wine company, this is the image I’d want to own in order to have the world see the essence of my wine. I realize that not everyone is in the wine business to get this romantically involved with their products, but some of the winemakers and wineries in wine country are this esoteric. They own a copy of their wine, and they get to reflect on it every time they glace upon the image that Sondra’s created for them.

This past Christmas, Sondra gave a giclée [pronounced zhee-clay] on canvas photograph to Jose and me. It’s an image of a 2006 Rutherford Grove Winery and Vineyards Spring Creek Petite Sirah. This particular work of hers was taken long before I had started the PS I Love You group, for PS producers, growers, and winemakers.  Shortly before I was to know and understand what Petite Sirah is all about, Sondra was getting to the heart and soul of it all. When I look at her work, regardless of the cultivar, I realize how extraordinary her images are, and how lucky I am to have one representation in my possession.

Also, Rutherford Grove has been a member of PS I Love You since October 7, 2008. A Pestoni family project, winemaker Andy Pestoni is the fourth generation of his family to live and work in the Napa Valley, born and raised in St. Helena. It is his Petite Sirah wine that I look at, each time I glance upon the giclée that Sondra so generously gave to our family. This winery is hands on, starting with sorting the grapes as they come in from the vineyard.

“FROM THEIR WEBSITE: There is no crushing of the grapes – whole berries are sent to the fermenter and crushed by their own weight, which produces an intense fruit-flavored, distinctive wine. Andy employs extended maceration if the vineyard block calls for it and vinifies each lot based on its characteristics.”

It then comes as no surprise to me at all that a company which cares so much about every aspect of their wine would want to know the heart and soul of it. And, they were way ahead of me on this one, getting their wine photographed, Sondra style.

I look forward to seeing this free thinker and doer’s show. Meanwhile, her Website will also give you the armchair version, if you’re not close to Napa Valley, and won’t be able to visit. sondrabarrett.com

For those who can: Edward James Courtyard ~ 6540 Washington Street, Yountville, California, hope & grace’s tasting salon.

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