Tag Archives: vineyards

Vicarious Road Trip, Anyone?

Come on along!  The Wine Vault in Philomath is now showing my first-ever Sketchbook Exhibit!

montage of sketches and maps

Road Trip and Wine Tasting!

My sketchbooks/journals and my “art bag” have become my traveling studio as my husband and I have converted to a minimalist lifestyle.  We downsized in a big way, and have visited far-flung friends and family on several continents.  Now you can flip through four of my most recent sketchbooks at your leisure as you taste fine wines and relax at the Wine Vault.  The exhibit includes wine-related and travel-related wall art, and individual sketches illustrating some of our adventures.  Archival prints and greeting cards of my sketches are also available.  My work will be on display through June, 2015.

PLUS:  The Wine Vault has announced the release of a very special new vintage – check it out at https://www.gallerynouveau.biz/index.php/2015/05/bff-more-than-just-an-abbreviation/.

Wine Vault  www.winevault.biz/
hours: Saturdays and Sundays only 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.
1301 Main Street, Philomath, OR 97370

Guardian of the Grapes

gnarled grape vine

“Guardian of the Grapes,” mixed media by Kerry McFall

The best image from our California Wine Country tour was not in a vineyard, not in a tasting room, but in a vacant lot in St. Helena, beside the city library and the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.  I was sad to see the abandoned, gnarly old vines, looking more like tortured tree trunks or driftwood than anything I would recognize as a grape vine.  This one took the shape of a skull, maybe a horse’s skull, with what appeared to be an eye glaring up at me.  This year’s new growth sprouted from its forehead like horns, thick as my wrist.  The vines were heavy with grapes – blue, amethyst, amber, green – although some were raisins already, some mashed by unseen forces.  The message was clear:  try a grape at your own peril.  I fear for the future of whoever drives the backhoe that uproots this Guardian, this Demonic Troll… beware the uprooted ghost!

Wine Country 2014 – Mary’s Peak Doppleganger

vineyard sketch

“PerryMasonVineyard”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

This small vineyard tasting room made us feel like we’d been invited to join Perry and Della for a glass of wine on their patio.  The tasting at the Raymond Burr winery is complimentary (kind of a rare thing as near as we can tell), and the gentleman who served us says that Della (Barbara Hale) still comes up for special occasions because “she’s family”.  We sat in the shade at one of the handful of picnic tables, me painting, Griff working, as we listened to an odd mix of hummingbird buzzes, roosters crowing, a mockingbird, and 1980’s pop music from inside the tasting room.


We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect temperature (mid-70’s) or a more relaxing setting.  As you can see from the photo, I took the liberty of eliminating the big conifer and the brussels sprouts plants from my painting!   As I began to paint the big mountain (almost visible in the left of the photo, possibly Alexander Mountain but no one seemed really sure,) I gasped – the silhouette is almost identical to Mary’s Peak in Oregon!  A closer look revealed that the second hump is actually another mountain behind the first one.  Still, for a minute there I thought I had so imprinted that outline on my brain that I was no longer capable of doing an accurate mountain!

Lots more vine and vineyards paintings in the works, but here is a sketch of an unexpected view at the Castella di Amoroso vineyards in Calistoga:

"Unexpected Vista", mixed media by Kerry McFall

“Unexpected Vista”, mixed media by Kerry McFall


Hazelnut Harvest

watercolor of hazelnut in casing

"Hazelnut Harvest", mixed media by Kerry McFall

Tyee Vineyards is such a lovely spot in the autumn: excellent wine, beautiful scenery, gorgeous grapes, and hazelnut orchards.  We took guests for a Willamette Valley Tour a few weeks ago, including the Corvallis Farmer’s Market for picnic ingredients, Hazelnut Hill where we had dessert first (always a good policy), Tyee, and Finley National Wildlife Refuge.  The only disappointment was Finley – see previous post – but all is again right with the world since the geese are more or less “back” at this writing (November 6, 2012).  Hoping to do a goose painting for my next post.

This piece is primarily watercolor with just a few touches of colored pencil.  I used real watercolor pencil for once, as opposed to my slightly-flimsy sketchbook, and took the time to stretch the paper before painting… it worked!  I have a flat painting!


Sketch of grapes

"Trauben - Grapes", by Kerry McFall

We arrived in Mannheim via a Very Fast Train (I was almost sad the ride was over), where we were greeted by our host Vollker, who escorted us to “the parsonage” and presented us with a set of keys.  He and Marika, another of our German “daughters” who stayed with us years ago in Atlanta, share ownership of an old parsonage with two other couples.  It is a huge brick house next to a tall brick church, full of unexpected doorways and mysterious dark stairs, and a marvelous guest apartment where we stay.  These people are the ultimate example of advanced city dwellers – they belong to a car share, so they don’t own a car, they just check one out when they need it.  They take their children to school and daycare on bicycles equipped with the trailers like we see a lot at home.  They ride the trolley or trains when they need to, but mostly they walk to the local version of our Co-op, or the Farmer’s Markets, or wherever they need to go.  And just like every other German town we’ve visited, there is a marvelous bakery every half a block.  Oh, my pinching waistband… how DO all of these people stay so fit?  Hopefully all of the walking will make a difference?

Ursula and baby Simon are with us, so once the baby is asleep, we have the wonderful intellectual discussions we remember from when Ursula and Marika were teens.  Both women are now accomplished global professionals, parents, citizens of the world, and their perspective is so intriguing, so refreshing.  They partnered with men of equal intellectual standing, who share the family responsibilities joyfully.  All that and they’re all just such fun to be with! 

I wanted to make a painting of the huge grape arbor that covers their patio/chourtyard; it’s a beautiful space behind the parsonage, below the church clock tower, almost completely roofed by a giant trellis full of juicy black grapes.  But as soon as I got out there, it began to rain.  Dang.  So I broke off a stem and brought it in the house, so instead of a landscape, voila – still life.  With “trauben”.

More from Santa Rosa

vineyard sketch

"Ledson Vineyards" by Kerry McFall, colored pencil, ink, watercolor

Ledson vineyards has a huge “castle”, complete with classic fountain and white rose trees out front.  The castle is notable here for its absence – I didn’t sketch it because I couldn’t figure out how to get situated where a) I could see it and b) I wouldn’t roast in the sun.  So I opted for sitting on a picnic bench in the shade of a huge oak, and sketching the vines instead.  Good way to spend an hour before lunch.

Sun, Wine, and Good Company: Life is Good in Santa Rosa

sketch of vineyard

"Row 1", Benziger Family Winery, by Kerry McFall

 We just spent four lovely days in Santa Rosa and saw four lovely plays at SRT (Santa Rosa Theatre)… it’s hard to face reality after all that sun and fun.  Even after last year’s winery explorations, I am in awe of Sonoma County land use planning.  McMansion developments are few and far between, although castles at the vineyards seem to sprout up like mushrooms…  There are tasting rooms around every bend!  This trip was the “dress rehearsal” for sketching hours on end – and apart from still needing a “water brush”, I think I’ve got the basics down.  I still have klutz moments when colored pencils begin rolling off benches or tables, but that’s just because I get so excited I don’t put them back in the case before I grab the next one.

This sketch was at the Benziger Family Winery, one of a handful of “bio-dynamic” wineries.  The tour was intriguing and fun, the wine was excellent, and there was a kitten playing in the shrubs.  I tried to figure out how to capture grape vines while hummingbirds buzzed around me.   Much like when I tried to sketch at the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t figure out where to look…

Here is what Photoshop thinks it could look like in a more abstract manner – I like it!

"Row 1 Again", by Kerry McFall