For the owners of Donum Estate, the vast expanse of land with undulating hills, pond and vineyard provided the backdrop on which they could combine two of their passions – wine and art. Their latest art installment, “Sonic Mountain,” is likely playing tunes the couple never imagined, were it not for the high winds the region has experienced this fall.
Unveiled in September, “Sonic Mountain” is a sculpture created by artist Doug Aitken that resembles a wind chime – a giant wind chime nestled among a grove of eucalyptus trees that, when the wind whips up, waft a menthol aroma as the moveable elements of the installation knock against one another to create music.
“(Aitken’s) sculpture perfectly embodies our mission to harmoniously weave art throughout the Donum landscape and create new perspectives and experiences in unifying art, wine and the environment,” Donum owner Allan Warburg said in a statement. “We are thrilled to add this important new commission to Donum’s collection.”
Warburg and his wife, Mei, purchased the Donum property in 2014, curating a collection of 40 outdoor art installments they purchased from across the globe.
From Ramal Road where the 187-acre estate is located, a giant alabaster-colored head rises above the horizon. The sculpture, “Sanna,” created by Barcelona-born Jaume Plensa, is based on the photograph of a real person. Her eyes are closed though she welcomes all guests as they make their way up the drive to her.
Donum produces single-vineyard estate chardonnay and pinot noir from the Sonoma property as well as vineyards located in Russian River and Anderson valleys. Through a reservation-only tasting, guests can learn more about the art collection that includes works by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Louise Bourgeois, Douglas White, Gao Weigang, Subodh Gupta, Fernando Botero, Yue Minjun, Richard Hudson and others.
In October the estate released a 368-page book, “Donum – Gift of the Land” that features the first year of the Donum art collection with essays from Clare Lilley, director of programming at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, novelist Pico Iyer and wine critic James Laube.
Richard Hudson’s “Love Me” sculpture invites playfulness in a visual manner, much as “Sonic Mountain” does in an audio manner. “Love Me” is a giant heart made of polished mirrored steel with a center cavity that appears as if something tried to force its way through, not quite puncturing a hole, but leaving a bump on the other side. Visitors stand below it viewing themselves as ant-like creatures in the mirrored sculpture.
Hudson’s other sculpture at Donom, “Bib Moma,” is another work that invites discussion and interest. It is a black marble fountain of four connected breasts formed in a circle squirting water from their nipples.
Another interactive sculpture on the estate rises up from the earth in brass-coated stainless steel tubes that reflect the lavender and grasses nearby and invite visitors in to walk through. Aptly named “Maze” it was created by Chinese artist Gao Weigang. The artist considers Ai Weiwei – another featured artist at Donum – “a mentor and his favorite living artist,” according to Donum’s biography.
The sculpture called “Soma” was made specifically for Donum and, shaped as a giant wine bottle, is well matched. It is made out of stainless steel kitchen utensils with a bunch of grapes resting nearby. The artist, Indian-born Subodh Gupta, named it “Soma” for a Hindu ambrosia, a drink for the gods that “gave them vigor and immortality,” according to Donum’s website.
There is another Gupta sculpture to enjoy, the “People Tree,” which is shaped into a banyan tree and made of the artist’s trademark everyday metal objects. Stainless steel kitchen utensils such as cooking pots and milking buckets form branches and leaves, of sorts, that disappear from view at a distance becoming almost floral in shape.
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