SANTA ROSA, Calif. (April 21, 2016) – Jackson Family Wines announced today that it was awarded the prestigious 2016 California Green Medal Leader Award for sustainable winegrowing leadership.
The Green Medal Leader Award was presented by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and The Vineyard Team (Sustainable in Practice). The Green Medal Leader award is given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates excellence in balancing the three E’s of sustainability: environmentally sound, socially equitable, and economically viable. The Leader category is the exemplary achievement in all of the three categories.
“We are honored to receive the 2016 Green Medal Leader Award and to be recognized for Jackson Family Wines’ long standing commitment to sustainability, which has been deeply rooted since the beginning,” said Katie Jackson, VP of Sustainability and External Affairs at Jackson Family Wines. “I am proud to be part of a family that is so devoted to quality, land stewardship and responsible practices and to be part of a wine community that embraces opportunities to make a positive difference. My family hopes to lead in sustainability in a way that will inspire meaningful conversations about improving how we all make wines.”
Jackson Family Wines was an early adopter of healthy land management practices since its founding in 1982 by Jess Jackson. The Jackson family’s commitment to formalize a sustainability strategy in 2008 was deeply rooted in the family’s multi-generational vision of good stewardship and dedication to innovative water and energy management initiatives.
Today, all of the Jackson family’s vineyards and wineries in California and Oregon are certified sustainable and the family pays a premium to growers for their certified sustainable fruit. At the heart of the Jackson family’s long-standing dedication to sustainability is leaving a large portion of their lands wild to preserve biodiversity, collaborating with innovative companies such as Tesla to reduce energy demand, pioneering industry-first water conservation and giving back to the communities where they live and do business. Additionally, the family implemented social initiatives to improve employees’ well-being, including a Jackson Family Wines volunteer program and foundation to serve as a safety net for employees in need. In 2016, Jackson Family Wines became the lead generator of solar energy in the United States wine industry. http://jacksonfamilywines.com
The words sustainable and sustainability are thrown around a lot but the average person still has a hard time understanding exactly what these words mean and their impacts on society in general and agriculture in particular. I would like to help clarify sustainability as it relates to the wine industry and I want to initially analyze California wine production and identify the formal process for producing sustainable wine there. The most common certifying organizations for sustainability for the wine industry in California are Sustainability in Practice (SIP), Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW), Napa Green, and Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing. Each organization has developed its own guidelines and certification process. Some wineries and winegrowers have chosen to seek multiple certifications from these bodies, as they are not mutually exclusive. Let’s take a closer look at each body and how they define (in their own words from their Websites) their certifications.
SUSTAINABILITY IN PRACTICE (SIP) CERTIFIED
Sustainability in Practice (SIP) Certified is a rigorous sustainable vineyard and wine certification with strict, non-negotiable requirements. We are committed to standards based on science and expert input, independent verification, transparency, and absence of conflict of interest. We pride ourselves on the program’s rigor and integrity, which have earned SIP the reputation as being the gold standard for sustainable certification. It’s why we can offer you great wines and you can trust that they are made in a way that protects the people and the planet.
SIP Certification is dedicated to the 3 P’s of Sustainability – People, Planet, Prosperity. We are committed to our ‘3 P’ approach, ensuring that both natural and human resources are protected, all of which means you can enjoy wine that has been grown for the greater good. We realize that how we farm impacts things beyond our fence line, so we independently verify and certify practices that protect our community, our workers, and our environment.
•Social Responsibility – We offer competitive wages, medical insurance, training, and education because each worker is a valuable resource.
•Water Conservation – We regularly monitor soils, plants, and weather, irrigating vines only when needed.
•Clean Water – We keep water clean by growing grasses to reduce erosion and filter storm runoff.
•Safe Pest Management – We introduce beneficial insects, attract raptors, and plant enriching cover crops to keep vineyards healthy.
•Energy Efficiency – We minimize tractor use to reduce our carbon footprint, and use alternative fuels and energy sources like solar and wind.
•Habitat – We create wildlife corridors to give animals access to traditional watering holes and food, helping to maintain biodiversity.
•Third Party Audit – We verify adherence to SIP’s strict Standards through third party documentation and onsite inspections.
•Improvement – We annually update and regularly peer review the farming Standards as Best Management Practices evolve with new science, technology and research.
CERTIFIED CALIFORNIA SUSTINABLE WINEGROWING (CCSW)
The Sustainable Winegrowing Program’s mission, vision and values best describe the combination of factors that motivated the California wine community to design, develop, implement and report on a comprehensive sustainability program.
The long-term mission for the Sustainable Winegrowing Program includes:
•Establishing voluntary high standards of sustainable practices to be followed and maintained by the entire wine community
•Enhancing winegrower-to-winegrower and vintner-to-vintner education on the importance of sustainable practices and how self-governing will enhance the economic viability and future of the wine community
•Demonstrating how working closely with neighbors, communities and other stakeholders to maintain an open dialogue can address concerns, enhance mutual respect, and accelerate results
The vision of the Sustainable Winegrowing Program is the long-term sustainability of the California wine community. To place the concept of sustainability into the context of winegrowing, the program defines sustainable winegrowing as growing and winemaking practices that are sensitive to the environment (Environmentally Sound), responsive to the needs and interests of society-at-large (Socially Equitable), and are economically feasible to implement and maintain (Economically Feasible). The combination of these three principles is often referred to as the three “E‘s” of sustainability.
These three overarching principles provide a general direction to pursue sustainability. However, these important principles need to be translated into the everyday operations of winegrowing and winemaking. To bridge this gap between general principles and daily decision-making, the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices workbook’s 15 self-assessment chapters translate the sustainability principles into specific winegrowing and winemaking practices.
This program is guided by the following set of sustainability values:
•Produce the best quality winegrapes and wine possible
•Provide leadership in protecting the environment and conserving natural resources
•Maintain the long-term viability of agricultural lands
•Support the economic and social wellbeing of farm and winery employees
•Respect and communicate with neighbors and community members; respond to their concerns in a considerate manner
•Enhance local communities through job creation, supporting local business and actively working on important community
•Honor the California wine community’s entrepreneurial spirit
•Support research and education as well as monitor and evaluate existing practices to expedite continual improvements
Napa Green and the region’s landmark environmental programs are the most stringent and comprehensive in
the wine industry. Focused on environmentally sound, sustainable practices, Napa Green is a voluntary program that is third-party, independently certified and meets and exceeds 20 local, state and federal land or production best practices. Napa Valley wineries and growers participate in farm-specific plans tailored to protect and enhance the ecological quality of the Napa Valley, or in production facility programs that reduce energy, waste and water use for an overall goal of pollution reduction.
History of Sustainability
Napa Green builds upon a strong tradition of environmental leadership and stewardship that began when Napa Valley became America’s first agricultural preserve in 1968 and results today in our wine region being the most highly regulated in the world:
• For every acre of vineyard land in Napa County, 1.47 acres of land are certified or pending certification in the Napa Green program.
• More than 66,000 acres of land are enrolled in the program with more than 37,000 acres having been certified.
• 18,900 of the certified acreage is vineyard land, which is more than 40% of the total vineyard acreage in Napa County (45,000 acres/18,200 hectares).
• Napa Green provides individually-tailored, sustainable farm plans to help land owners:
—Enhance the watershed by preventing erosion and meeting regional sediment discharge requirements
—Reduce or eliminate chemical use
—Restore wildlife habitat
• Independent certification is granted by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Napa County Agriculture Commissioner.
• A majority (90%) of the Napa River watershed is in private ownership and public/private partnerships making Napa Green vital to the sustainability of our community.
Napa Green Certified Winery
• Nearly 5 million cases of wine are produced by Napa Green Certified Wineries each year.
• Napa Green Certified Winery uses a set of sustainable and green business practices developed specifically for wineries.
• Participants receive comprehensive energy, waste and water assessments for their facilities, ensuring that all operations are optimized for efficiency.
• Certified wineries demonstrate a commitment to conserving water and energy, reducing waste and preventing pollution with the overall goal of reducing their carbon footprint.
LODI RULES FOR SUSTAINABLE WINEGROWING
The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing is California’s original sustainable viticulture certification program. Our certification process is rigorous, based in science, voluntary, and third-party audited. Lodi Rules certified growers make up an innovative community with a history and commitment to farming quality winegrapes through the implementation of viticulture practices that balance environmental, social, and economic goals. The Lodi Rules was designed to communicate our commitment to sustainable agriculture to wineries and the general public.
The Lodi Rules has two key components. First, the Lodi Rules promotes winegrape grower adoption of 101 sustainability practices, which we term “standards”. The standards were collaboratively developed by a team of Lodi winegrape growers and viticulture professionals, and were accredited by Protected Harvest in 2005. The Lodi Rules standards are the backbone of the program, and are organized into six chapters: 1) business management; 2) human resource management; 3) ecosystem management; 4) soil management; 5) water management; and 6) pest management. The standards meet three criteria: first, they are measurable; second, they address at least one of the three aspects of sustainability (environmental health, social equity, and economic viability); and third, they are economically feasible to implement. We believe that the Lodi Rules standards are the most thoroughly and rigorously vetted set of sustainability practices in California’s viticulture industry. All standards have been peer reviewed by third-party scientists, members of the academic community, and environmental organizations. Certified growers are required to implement a minimum of standards.
The second key component of the Lodi Rules is the Pesticide Environmental Assessment System (PEAS), which is unique to the Lodi Rules. PEAS is a model used to quantify the environmental and human impact of all pesticides applied in a vineyard. The PEAS model generates an Environmental Impact Unit (EIU) for each pesticide, which is based on the pesticide’s impact on: 1) acute risk to farm workers; 2) dietary risks from acute and chronic exposure to people who consume the product; 3) acute risks to small aquatic invertebrates; 4) acute risk to birds; and 5) acute risk to bees and pests’ natural enemies. Pesticide use by Lodi Rules certified growers must fall below a specified level of PEAS impact units.
A vineyard qualifies for certification if it meets several criteria. First, growers accumulate points through implementing sustainability practices and must sum to at least 50% of the total points available in each chapter. Growers must accumulate at least 70% of the total points available across all six chapters. Implementation of some standards is mandatory. Such standards are those that the program designers believe are imperative for sustainability. Finally, the EIUs for the pesticides used in that vineyard for the given certification year cannot exceed a specified threshold. Certification is awarded to an individual vineyard on an annual basis. Certified vineyards must pass an annual independent audit to verify the implementation of sustainability practices.
For more comprehensive information on each program, please visit their Websites:
This post initiates what I hope will be a long series of articles about sustainability and its importance to the wine industry specifically, and farming, in general. I am fortunate to work for Jackson Family Wines, a leader in the sustainability movement with a longstanding belief in protecting the land for future generations, and a pioneer in sustainability initiatives.
In striving to understand sustainability and its importance, it helps to start with a definition of sustainable farming and a comparison of the four winegrowing systems in the United States: Conventional, Sustainable, Organic and Biodynamic.
Sustainable Farming Defined
Take from the earth only what it can sustainably provide. A broad category, sustainable farming includes agriculture, economics and worker relations. It values the Triple Bottom Line of environmental health, social justice, and profit for the farmer. While no legal definition exists, sustainable farming is guided by the principle of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future generation.
An Overview of Winegrowing Systems in the United States
Conventional vineyard farming allows the use of agricultural chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, while conventional winemaking may use a broad variety of inputs, from cleaning agents to wastewater processing adjuncts.
What Does That Mean?
Unlike European governing organizations such as the AOC system in France, American AVA laws only establish regional boundaries and varietal percentages and do not govern vineyard and winemaking practices.
There are a variety of regional, state and national regulations, but no unifying regulator. For example, the DPR (Department of Pesticide Regulation) oversees the use of pesticide applications, but the EPA regulates vineyard practices relating to environmental concerns such as endangered species and erosion.
Sustainability employs the triple bottom line approach of environmentally sound farming as well as responsible economic and social practices–a whole system that considers a company’s impacts on ecological and human resources.
What Does That Mean?
Sustainability programs encourage landowners to measure and reduce their footprint beyond the farm. They enhance transparency in accounting for impacts like water and energy use, integrated pest management, and worker health, and require continuous improvement year over year. Third party auditors independently verify conformance.
Each certifying organization has its own set of guidelines that enhance transparency and require continuous improvement year over year. Common certifying bodies include CCSW (Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing), SIP (Sustainability in Practice) and LIVE (Low Input Viticulture & Enology).
In the US there are two types of organic labeling that are used for wine: “Certified organically grown grapes” (which may use sulfites in the winemaking process) and “Organic” (which may not use any sulfites in the vineyards or winery). GMOs are strictly prohibited.
What Does That Mean?
No addition of synthetic compounds in the vineyard, such as herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers. Organic wines must be made with organic grapes and vinted without any added sulfites. No synthetic clarification agents may be used in fining.
The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) oversees organic certifying bodies for wine in the US. The most common are CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) and Oregon Tilth. In many states, however, there is no organic certifying body, so producers seeking Organic labeling are certified by the USDA.
Wines farmed according Biodynamic principles (a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach that accounts for tangible and intangible forces) and vinted without the addition of any adjuncts in the cellar. GMOs are strictly prohibited.
What Does That Mean?
Biodynamic agriculture views the farm as a holistic living organism; an ecosystem complete with animals and composting. Practices follow lunar cycles and employ nine naturally-derived “preparations.” Biodynamic certification does not allow the addition of yeast, acid or sugar in the cellar, but sulfites may be used.
In the United States, Demeter (Demeter Association, Inc.) is the certifying body for all Biodynamic wineries. The primary international certifying body is known as DI (Demeter International).
Now that we have a definition of sustainable farming and an outline of winegrowing systems in the United States, we can dig deeper into sustainability and its importance to winegrowing. I welcome your comments and input.
It’s time to combine my original list of 26 with the three subsequent blog posts, and my newest addition about Leonardo da Vinci:
King chronicles the commission and execution of The Last Supper, but this book also tells the life story of Leonardo da Vinci, and expertly describes 15th century Italy. I appreciated King’s fascinating analysis of the masterpiece and the meanings of various aspects, including the positioning of the apostles’ hands. He also revealed interesting technical information, including the fact that The Last Supper was not painted using traditional fresco technique, which is the reason it so quickly deteriorated and has required much attention from restorers. The Judgement of Paris by Mr. King is also included in the original list of 26 below.
The Private Lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe (Perennial)
I have often studied the artists covered in this well-researched book and have experienced their art in museums in Europe and the United States, but I have had limited exposure to the everyday workings of their lives. Ms. Roe outlines the successes and triumphs, and also the difficult, sometimes desperate, financial, emotional and physical challenges for Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Renoir, Degas, Sisley, Morisot and Cassatt, among others. I was very much interested in her relatively positive characterization of the sometimes enigmatic Edgar Degas, as it was in stark contrast to Odd Man Out by Carol Armstrong (which is also included below in the Original 26).
Priceless, Robert K. Wittman, with John Shiffman (Broadway)
How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures
This is Wittman’s memoir outlining his creation of the FBI’s Art Crime Team and his undercover work that recovered masterpieces and historical artifacts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He did a superb job of weaving together art history, crime, suspense, and a substantial amount of personal intrigue and tragedy to create both an educational and entertaining read. The book is also illustrated with photographs of Wittman’s recovered treasures and the thieves and con men he caught. Priceless is now available in paperback from Broadway Paperbacks.com.
The Forger’s Spell, Edward Dolnick (HarperCollins)
This is the true story about forger, Han van Meegeren, and his exploits in Nazi-occupied Europe. Van Meegeren, a talented painter who failed to garner acclaim for his original work, became an expert forger and fooled many top experts and collectors. If you like The Forger’s Spell you will also enjoy another non-fiction book (listed in the original 26 below) called Provenance, How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury & Aly Sujo (Penguin Books). This book will also blow your mind. It is the stunning true story of an elaborate, years-long, con that shocked the art world. Hundreds of pieces were forged and sold (during the 1980s and 90s) before the scam was uncovered. This is a huge page-turner.
The Original 26 and Introduction:
So, I write a blog about food, wine and hotels and I’m posting about art? The easy answer is that I read most of these books while drinking a nice glass of wine. Not true. I just enjoy art history and museums and whenever I find myself in a casual discussion about these subjects, it invariably evolves into a conversation about some of the books that have influenced my interest in art. Friends frequently ask me to send them my list of books about the subject and over the years it has grown to the 26 listed below. Many of these reads are historical novels, but others are non-fiction, art history books. They are all available on Amazon, but it’s always smart to support your local independent bookshop when possible. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have. With the exception of the Thomas Hoving listings, which comprise the first five, they are not listed in any particular order, with the exception of author or artist groupings. Check out Ralph Steadman’s DooDaaa; it actually contains a reference to wine!
King of the Confessors, Thomas Hoving (Simon and Schuster)
Hoving’s quest for a treasure of medieval art—the Bury of St. Edmunds Cross
Two friends gave me this book many years ago as a gift and I, in turn, have done the same for many friends because it was my initial motivation to learn more about art history. Five of the books on this list are Hoving’s and he has written many more. Hoving (director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1967 to 1977) was a great teacher and his enthusiasm for art was infectious. He certainly had a huge ego, but in my humble opinion, he wasn’t arrogant. Hoving thought art should be enjoyed by the masses and he was instrumental in drawing larger, more diverse audiences to art museums. He was a pioneer of the blockbuster show, beginning with the King Tut exhibit at The Met. King of the Confessors chronicles Hoving’s acquisition, as an assistant curator in the 1960s, of the Bury of St. Edmunds Cross for the The Cloisters, the medieval branch of The Met (in Northern Manhattan) devoted to the art and architecture of Europe. After reading this engaging book, you will want to take the trip to The Cloisters, in Fort Tryon Park, and see the Bury of St. Edmunds Cross on display. Hoving also wrote a revised edition (King of the Confessors, A New Appraisal) that is available as an eBook. This Hoving quote from a Forbes.com interview sums up the allure of the book for me: “I wrote the original book in part because I wanted to show people the real art world, a world of backstabbers, sharks and con artists—not the salon world of tea-drinking esthetes.” Hoving was a brilliant, unique character. He passed away too soon, on December 10, 2009 at the age of 78.
Making the Mummies Dance, Thomas Hoving (Simon and Schuster)
Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Hoving chronicles his 10-year tenure as director of the Met and drops plenty of names in this fun read. Perhaps Dominick Dunne said it best: “Hoving’s cocky, conceited, self-assured account of his controversial and turbulent tenure as Director of the Metropolitan Museum is guaranteed to offend most of his former colleagues, but is fascinating reading for anyone, like myself, who has ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in that vast Central Park Palace of art. I couldn’t put it down.”
Tutankhamun, Thomas Hoving (Simon and Schuster)
The Untold Story
The story of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. Hoving explores the many colorful characters involved in this monumental discovery. He eventually was responsible for bringing the original King Tut exhibition to The Met. The book is illustrated with 32 beautiful pages of color and black-and-white photographs.
American Gothic, Thomas Hoving (Chamberlain Bros.)
The Biography of Grant Wood’s American Masterpiece
Hoving offers his professional and personal opinions of one of the most famous paintings in American art and encourages you to search for small details that would otherwise be overlooked by the untrained eye. I always enjoy spending time in front of this treasure at The Art Institute of Chicago.
Master Pieces, Thomas Hoving (W.W. Norton & Company)
The Curator’s Game
Hoving adapted a game he used to play with fellow employees at The Met into this fun, educational exercise. The book lists 215 progressively demanding details of great works of art, along with a brief written clue, and then challenges you to identify the piece with your own curatorial eye. Fun and educational.
The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone (Signet)
The Passionate Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
This page-turner was made into a movie of the same name (1965) starring Charlton Heston and Rev Harrison, and directed by Carol Reed. In addition to Michelangelo and Van Gogh, Stone also wrote a Camille Pisarro biographical novel, which I still must read.
Lust for Life, Irving Stone (Plume)
The Classic Biographical Novel of Vincent van Gogh.
Stone noted in the afterward that his main source was Van Gogh’s collection of letters to his brother, Theo. This book encouraged me to dig deeper with Van Gogh, read his letters, and many other books. Viewing his work in museums becomes even more fulfilling after absorbing the information in this well-researched book. It was made into a movie of the same name (1956), starring Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn, and directed by Vincente Minnelli.
The Letters of Vincent van Gogh Edited by Ronald de Leeuw (Penguin Books)
Translated by Arnold Pomerans
Van Gogh was a prolific letter-writer and it is fascinating to wade through his thoughts in this 509-page treasure. As mentioned above, Stone heavily depended on these writings for his brilliant biographical novel, Lust for Life.
Portrait of Dr. Gachet, Cynthia Saltzman (Penguin Books)
The story of a Van Gogh Masterpiece, Money, Politics, Collectors, Greed, and Loss
A brilliant non-fiction work by Saltzman chronicling the provenance of Van Gogh’s portrait of the doctor who tried to help him before his untimely death at the age of 37. Cynthia Saltzman has degrees in art history from Harvard and UC Berkeley. She is also a Stanford M.B.A. and was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Enough said—great book.
The Yellow House, Martin Gayford (Little, Brown & Co.)
Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles
Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin couldn’t even last three months living together in the South of France, and Gayford’s well-researched book helps explain the volatile natures of these great artists. Nice photos, illustrations and even a diagram of the layout of the house they lived in.
Luncheon of the Boating Party, Susan Vreeland (Viking)
Vreeland explores the creation of Renoir’s beloved painting in this historical novel. After I read the books on this list, I was always inspired to seek out the art. This particular piece is owned by The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.
Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Susan Vreeland (Penguin Books)
Vreeland suggests that there is a 36th Vermeer in this historical novel. She wrote this book about seven years before Luncheon of the Boating Party. You may also remember her from her first novel, What Love Sees, which was a CBS Sunday Night Movie in 1996.
The Lost Diaries of Frans Hals, Michael Kernan (St. Martin’s Press)
This novel takes you from twentieth-century New York into the life of Frans Hals in seventeenth-century Holland. A well-researched look into the life of one of Rembrandt’s contemporaries.
DooDaaa, Ralph Steadman (Bloomsbury)
The Balletic Art of Gavin Twinge
Steadman calls this a triography of his artistic alter ego, Gavin Twinge. I was first exposed to Steadman through his design of wine labels, specifically his work for Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon Vineyard. And you were wondering if I could ever work food, wine, or hotels into this list?
The Judgement of Paris, Ross King (Walker & Company)
The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism
This excellent history book chronicles the tumultuous decade between two famous exhibitions: The scandalous Salon des Refusés in 1863 and the first Impressionist showing in 1874. I also learned much about French history above and beyond art.
The Unknown Masterpiece, Honoré de Balzac (New York Review Books)
Translated by Richard Howard
“This is the story of a painter who, depending on one’s perspective, is either an abject failure or a transcendental genius, or both.” This book also includes Gambara, a novella about a composer undone by his dreams. Balzac intended the two pieces to be presented together.
The Moon and Sixpence, W. Somerset Maugham (Vintage Books)
This biographical novel is loosely based on the life of Paul Gauguin. It was made into a movie (1942) and opera (1958), both of the same name. Gauguin was an interesting character. This book helps fill in some of the gaps in his complicated life.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, John Richardson (University of Chicago Press)
Picasso, Provence, and Douglas Cooper
This is Richardson’s memoir of his time spent living with Douglas Cooper, Pablo Picasso and Fernand Leger, among many others. Lots of moving parts here. I learned much about Picasso that does not appear in other books.
The Lost Painting, Jonathan Harr (Random House)
The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece
Historical novel about the search for Caravaggio’s long-lost painting, The Taking of Christ. Caravaggio was a mysterious, troubled man who produced masterpieces of shadow and light in the Baroque period.
Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier (Plume)
The tale of the creation of Vermeer’s famous painting, which subsequently became the motion picture of the same name, starring Scarlett Johansson. Well-written, fun read.
Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper, Harriet Scott Chessman (The Permanent Press)
A short, well-written and researched historical novel about the incredible Mary Cassatt. Cassatt, in my humble opinion, is one of the most interesting and underrated American artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Provenance, Laney Salisbury & Aly Sujo (Penguin Books)
How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
This book will blow your mind. This is the stunning true story of an elaborate, years-long, con that shocked the art world. Hundreds of pieces were forged and sold (during the 1980s and 90s) before the scam was uncovered. This is a huge page-turner.
Odd man Out, Carol Armstrong (The Getty Research Institute)
Readings of the Work and Reputation of Edgar Degas
This is not light reading. Odd Man Out is a revision of Armstrong’s PhD dissertation at Princeton. This book is actually an analysis of the writings of Degas’s contemporary critics. I bought it because I am a big fan of Degas and wanted to learn more about what made him tick. Armstrong is NOT a Degas fan and proposes many contradictions in both his work and life. It is a well-written, scholarly effort and is not meant for poolside or beach reading.
Color, Victoria Finlay (Random House)
A Natural History of the Palette
This is a fascinating, extremely well-researched book about the history of colors, including their origins, and historical and economic importance. Finlay takes you around the world exploring, for example, the mines in Afghan that produced the ingredient for Michelangelo’s blue “ultramarine” paint, although he could not afford to buy it himself. You will also discover that, since ancient times, carmine red comes from the blood of insects. It is still used today in lipstick and Cherry Coke! Fun and important read, but not always a page-turner.
Seven Days in the Art World, Sarah Thornton (W.W. Norton & Company)
This treasure is “a funny series of non-fiction narratives, which reveal the inner workings of the institutions that contribute to an artist’s place in art history.” It is based on extensive ethnographic research. If you are not familiar with ethnography (I wasn’t), she explains it in the Author’s Note. This was a fascinating read for me. Thornton is a brilliant sociologist and art expert, with an engaging, casual writing style. Seven Days in the Art World is one of my top five favorites of this list. www.sarah-thornton.com
Artists’ Techniques and Materials, Antonella Fuga (The J. Paul Getty Museum)
Translated by Rosanna M. Giammanco Frongia
This incredible book, with beautiful illustration, helps explain how works of art are made, with an exploration of methods, techniques and materials. It covers drawing, printmaking, painting, sculpture, mosaic and intarsia, ceramic, glass, metalwork, jewelry, and contemporary techniques.
I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have. I’m looking forward to the next 26, and I mentioned a few of them above. I welcome your comments.
I have the honor of selling a delicious wine from Sonoma Coast called 4 Foxes Chardonnay. It is the first venture of Tigner Family Vineyards and 100% of the profits from this project go to TeamFox, the grassroots community fundraising program at the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Over 1,600 TeamFox members worldwide generate unique fundraising projects and have raised over $27 million for Parkinson’s research.
The wine is 100% Chardonnay and was aged for 11 months in 30% French Oak barrels. It is beautifully balanced with lively acidity and hints of pear and apple. 4 Foxes pairs well with a wide variety of dishes but is also a delicious apéritif wine to be enjoyed with family and friends on the patio.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time. Nearly one million people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s disease. The cause is unknown, and although there is presently no cure, there are some treatment options such as medication and surgery to manage its symptoms.
“As a member of TeamFox – the grassroots community that raises money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a board member of the organization, and most importantly the spouse of someone affected by Parkinson’s – I have been committed for years to helping find a cure for this disease,” said RIck Tigner. “It has been my privilege to support the Michael J. Fox Foundation for the past four years, and my vision for 4 Foxes was to create a good wine that supported a great cause. This is a great Chardonnay in the classic Sonoma Coast style that you can enjoy every day and really feel good about.”
The next time you see 4 Foxes Chardonnay in a restaurant or retail store, reach for a bottle; you will enjoy a remarkable wine and help a terrific cause at the same time.