How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now


On Sunday my husband and I took our son, daughter-in-law and 11 month old granddaughter to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  We specifically were going to see the exhibit “How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now”.  This is an exploration of contemporary wine culture and the role architecture, design and media have played in its recent evolution – a chance to discover wine as you’ve never see it before.  This presentation was basically showing how, in the mid 70’s, wine in California, Napa primarily, became a part of modern culture.  It developed into one of the biggest single industries in California.  If you think about how many things are affected by the wine industry it would boggle your mind.  A few businesses involved that come to my mind that are wine related are wineries, wine bars, distributors, limousine and tour companies, bed and breakfast, inns, restaurants, spas, golf courses, glass companies, cork and barrel distributors, and retail stores like Cost Plus and Trader Joes.

The museum had a number of different displays in the exhibit.  For example, there was a section with different soils from 17 specific vineyards where grapes are grown from all over the world.  For each vineyard they showed what the current temperature and humidity were, and also showed proximity to the equator and altitude above sea level.  It was so interesting to see all the different soils, rocky, clay, sand, red sand, granite etc.

Another display focused on smells.  They had a flask of wine, and a way you could smell the wine, and descriptor such as “hamster cage”, “anise”, “green pepper” and “petrol” .  Now I’ve never heard anyone describe the wine as tasting or smelling like a hamster cage and when I smelled this one, I didn’t get that kind of scent from it. 

They had a display on the different media and movies on wine.  They showed the I Love Lucy episode where she was crushing the grapes with her feet.  They also showed clips from the movies Sideways and Bottle Shock as well a commercial filmed by Orson Wells for Paul Masson Winery back in the 70’s.   You might remember those commercials for the tag line “We will sell no wine before its time.” 

There was a fantastic display on glassware both for drinking and for pouring.  Some were very unique glasses and decanters developed by different glass companies.  Some were designed for show and not very practical, but most could be used. 

They had a beautiful
display of a grape vine with the root system and all.  It was cut in half
to show you how you would graft one grape varietal to a different root system.


Fun day in San Francisco,
and a great exhibit, but the exhibit closes April 17, so hurry up and get
there. 

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