Fall Newsletter 2019 – Which Rocks Are In Your Wine?

Pocket 13: Utah in Spades – 10.75 x 11 x .75″,  2019

In The Studio
When I was in Burgundy last June I became fascinated with the terroir maps that were prominently displayed at various wineries. The concept of terroir is so intertwined with geology that I immediately grokked with it and thought, “Ooh, wouldn’t I love to make one of those maps in stone?”  As is often the case when an idea burns passionately in the back of my mind, it eventually comes into being.  In this instance, the perfect collector, a geologist with a California winery, synchronistically appeared and commissioned me to create a wine map of Sonoma County.

Sonoma County AVAs – 28.2 x 22.9”, 2019

Sonoma has 17 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) which are the distinctive wine grape-growing regions within the county.  These appellations are legally defined areas based on the natural elements of each provenance.  That geology underpins a lot of these features: the soil, topography, water drainage and ground water, resonated with me as an earth scientist and I became engrossed with learning more about it.

My client was displeased with the garish and random colors of most American Viticulture Area (AVA) maps. He wanted to use earth tones embedded with geological meaning to represent the three major geological groups in Sonoma County: the Franciscan Complex, Tertiary sediments, and Miocene volcanics.  So I laid out a palette of stone slabs to see what might work in the piece.

We discussed their pros and cons and settled on a group of geologically appropriate colors that would link similar AVAs.  Dark green and grey marbles and slate suited the Franciscan Complex in the western and northern part of the county.  For the Tertiary sandstones and alluvium in the central portion of Sonoma, we chose light green, yellow, and gold limestone and marble.  The Miocene volcanics in the eastern and southeastern section looked best with pink, red, purple, and brown slate, sandstone, travertine, and marble.  The Moon Mountain AVA is designated with a very special jasper conglomerate from Western Australia.

Sonoma AVAs original palette of  20 stone options
Rather than box the county shape into a rectangle, I used its’ natural shape and went frameless – which is always an interesting effect. Then we edged the piece with a subtle grey slate border and had to celebrate with a glass of wine – perhaps a Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley AVA?À votre santé!!

In The Field
Stu and I spent most of August collecting samples for spectroscopic analysis in Nevada and Idaho.  Jumping out of the truck and smelling the sage brush is my idea of heaven.  We took the ATV to places it has never gone before and had a few flat tires as a result.  But what are flat tires to worry about when you have a den of rattlesnakes in your midst?  Flat tires, tigers, and snakes, oh my! (What kind of tigers were those?)

Nevertheless, I am always inspired by the awe of the Great Basin.  When I look at the mountain profiles at sunrise, especially after staring at spectra for hours, I see shapes that resound in my mind and eventually come out in my work. The way the clouds move across the sky is also ever fascinating.  We go out to collect rocks but come back with memories and images that fortify the spirit.

Top:Stu & Susan with our trusty steed in Central Nevada                 

 Bottom: Magical Nevada clouds

In The Exhibition Hall

We had a wonderful time at the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists meeting in Cheyenne last month.  We showed work in their exhibit hall and I gave a talk about my geological map series.  “FROM STONE TO PAPER AND BACK AGAIN: CREATING GEOLOGIC MAPS IN STONE” pulled together pictures from creating 12 geologic maps and a time-lapse video of my work in progress – the Nevada Geologic Map.  Also, the Wyoming Geologic Stone Map was generously on loan there from one of my collectors.
This is usually the time of year when I am gearing up to go to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in February.  After 15 years of exhibiting there, I have decided not to exhibit at the Convention Center this year.  I am looking for another venue in Tucson that is a better fit for my work. Ideas?

In The Gallery

It is always enjoyable to be in a show with the Colorado Mosaic Artists.  For the next six weeks you can see two of my pieces: Earth Sampler XIV: Fairy Stone, and Waves 13: Eye of the Planet at the “Origins” Exhibit at the First Congregational Church in Boulder.  There are over 70 pieces from 20 artists and it is truly a feast for the eyes.  I hope you will stop by if you are in the area!

All the best,

Find us on our Website and Facebook!



Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list