Recently I sat down with Chris Millard, Newton Vineyard winemaker, along with Bruce and Stephanie Tharp of MATERIOUS to talk wine, art and the environment.  Newton is a pretty cutting-edge vineyard that is serious about sustainability, organic farming, a commitment to nature and green design.  They were there to talk about the winery’s fourth annual Eco-Chic collaboration, a project dedicated to blending the art of natural winemaking with eco-conscious design.  The collaboration is a way for Newton to reach consumers beyond the bottle.

Each year, the winery seeks out the best creative designers and artists around the world and challenges them to capture the essence of Newton – from the beauty of its vineyards with an East/West influence to the artistry of the blending of the wine.  The Tharp’s, who are renowned artists with international exhibitions, were chosen for this year’s collaboration.

They traveled to the vineyards to experience Newton, meet Chris and determine their vision for the piece.  The Vineyard Block “Puzzle,” which is also named after Newton’s icon wine made from the winery’s 112 vineyard blocks, is in the shape of a golden rectangle, a traditional Western concept of harmony and proportion.  Intersecting lines reflect the division of Newton’s properties into vineyard blocks.  A corkscrew stored in the leg of the tray showcases a “hidden cave,” evoking the Chardonnay cellar built into Spring Mountain to conserve energy.  The tray’s removable puzzle pieces can be used for cheese trays, coasters, etc.  Only 112 trays will be made from Forest Stewardship Council certified wood and each one costs $499.

I asked Chris the similarities between wine and art because that appears to be a common theme based on several recent events in Dallas.  Chris talked about the similarities of craftsmen, winemakers and artists who design products blending art, science and technology.  The means are different, but the end goal is the same.  He also said that each year when he meets with these designers, it would be really easy to switch seats.  The subject would be different, but the conversation would remain the same.