The Painted Barrel Trail will be part of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association Barrel Tasting Weekend, March 23 and 24. Local artists, some of whom are winemakers, have expressed themselves on the outside of the barrel, as well as in. Following are examples of creativity and inspiration at the host wineries.
Big White House: Jessica Carroll
Winemaker Jessica Carroll was truly inspired by all of last year’s barrels, and decided to try her hand at it. According to Jessica, “I love photography and thought trying image transfer onto the barrel would be a fun project. I have never done a project like this before. Laura (John's sister and the creator of the paintings that we put on our labels) was unable to paint it. I took photography through college; some of my favorite projects were in my Creative Photography class and centered around image transfers.”
She admits it was difficult to find a method that worked effectively for larger scale image transfers. After going through half a dozen concepts, she settled on a design that took its cue from the curve of the barrel.
“I took photos to create a 360-degree view of our patio around the center of the barrel. The winner of the barrel will get to take a little bit of the Big White House/John Evan Cellars location home with them!” says Carroll.
Charles R: Various Artists
According to Bonnie Bartlett at Charles R Winery, “Friends and I are working together on the barrel. We are using the tree from our label as the design this year. Artists are Lorraine Wells, a graphic artist and our leader/mentor, and Dorothy Maestas, a well-known Pleasanton artist. Lorraine and Dorothy are very active in the Livermore Art Association and Pleasanton Art League. Many of their paintings are in private collections. Also, Cheri Newkirk, Helene Hallett, and myself, all Livermore artists, have their artwork in private collections, participate in local shows, and love to paint.”
Bonnie says that Lorraine suggested gold with a black silhouette and scrollwork, then drew and cut out the patterns. Bonnie herself painted the base coat of gold and sealed the barrel. Then Lorraine, Cheri and Dorothy did the tracing before diving in and dividing up the painting portion, for which Mary Jane Hassman joined them. Says Bonnie, “There’s no real decision as to who painted what. We just picked up paint brushes, picked a spot and started painting!”
McGrail Vineyards: Laina Carter
McGrail’s Assistant Tasting Room Manager, and painted barrel artist, Laina Carter, returned to the Painted Barrel Trail project again this year, after having rendered a tableau of iconic Livermore locations in 2018. This year, her scene is “How to Make Cabernet Sauvignon,” which Heather McGrail describes as sort of an info-graphic.
Laina Carter is a graduate of Sonoma State University and 5th generation Livermorian, who has always had a love for art, design, and creating things. Her grandmother was a professional artist.
We asked Heather McGrail who won last year’s barrel. “I don't know the lucky winner’s name, but I do know that Laina's family called the winner and offered them some extra wine to buy the barrel for her grandfather’s barn out on Mines Road. The winner happily obliged. Laina's grandfather got to enjoy the barrel in his last few months of life: pretty special since it was his wife that passed down the artistic gene to Laina.”
Last year, Phil Long of Longevity, had hoped to procure the barrel he painted for his now late wife Debra, who had fallen in love with it while he was painting. The person who won the barrel apparently did not wish to negotiate its release to the couple. Phil hopes to paint another someday, in honor of Debra.
Murrieta's Well: Helene Marie Roylance
Artist Helene Roylance met with Lindsay Knight at Murrietta’s Well, who said she wanted the winery depicted, along with the fountain and surrounding vineyard. Roylance had never been to the winery before, but once she saw those dramatic hills behind the winery, the tall Sycamores and the gorgeous Spanish tiles, she was hooked. “I was struck by how inviting the entire property was, and how tempting it is to linger and enjoy the view. I have since discovered that it is one of the original wineries in the valley, and that its wines are made entirely from the grapes on the property. The theme is a celebration of the winery itself: its character come to life.”
This was also her first time painting a barrel, and it was, indeed a challenge. “I actually sketched out my design on a sample of my ceramics so I could plan out the features and see how to make them interweave.”
She used a giant pencil to sketch out her plan on the barrel and used acrylic paints. The challenge was finding a space where she could walk all the way around it.
Being primarily a water colorist, she wasn’t used to working with acrylics. “I felt a race against the clock, not wanting my mixed colors to dry too fast. With watercolors, if the phone rings… just come back later and add some more water! With acrylics, I can go down the rabbit hole and not want to stop painting because I don’t want to waste that perfect color mix. Even thinking about them drying made me anxious that the colors I covered with plastic wrap would not survive!”
With acrylics, you can keep adding layers of detail to the work, like the texture of the old sycamores and the tubby stray cat that chatted with her as she took reference photos.
“It is a rewarding and scary challenge to be entrusted with someone’s vision for a barrel, especially if it is being used to represent their winery. I can’t help but put myself into the work, and the features that stand out for me.”
Page Mill Winery: Melinda Salerno
Visitors to Page Mill Winery will discover a pastoral depiction of the bucolic scene at Page Mill, including vines, creatures and wisteria, rendered by artist Melinda Salerno, with a little help from her daughter. Says Salerno, “This was my second year painting the barrel for Page Mill Winery. I am always inspired by the beautiful rolling hills and vineyards surrounding this area. The cat was painted by my 12-year old daughter, Gianna. His name is Charlie, and you can always spot him when you visit the vinery. Since all the guests love Charlie, Gianna thought it would be a great idea to paint him on our barrel. She also helped me paint the vineyards.”
With a background in graphic art and design, Salerno has been leading the art program for the Livermore homeschooling community for the past four years. Melinda also spends her time painting murals and teaching art for children and adults after school. Her motto: “Think with your heart, color outside the lines” inspires students to express their true selves and unleash their creativity.
Retzlaff: Jaclyn Harris
Like Salerno, artist Jaclyn Harris works at Pinot’s Palette in Livermore. She decided to make the theme of her barrel, which she painted for Retzlaff Vineyards, the yearly changes in the lifecycle of a grapevine.
Says Harris, “It is themed after the seasons on the vine. As you walk around the barrel, it shows a vine as the seasons change.” On the barrel, you’ll see bunches of golden and red grapes, going from vine to glass, where wine of differing hues glows in a variety of stemware. A stylized grapevine motif painted in silver and blue comprises the borders on the top and bottom of the barrel. In one frame, a large wine bottle lies on its side, dripping its contents down into the scene below.
Want That Barrel?
To try winning a barrel, along with a case of wine, purchase raffle tickets ($20/each or six for $100) at each participating winery this coming weekend, March 23 and 24. Winners will be randomly selected and notified immediately after Barrel Tasting Weekend.
Wineries participating in the 2019 Painted Barrel Trail and Raffle include: Big White House Winery, Charles R Vineyards, Embodied Wines, Fenestra Winery, Garré Vineyard and Winery, McGrail Vineyards and Winery, Murrieta’s Well, Omega Road Winery, Page Mill Winery, Retzlaff Vineyards, Wente Vineyards Estate Tasting Room and Wood Family Vineyards.