Artists of the Earth

Dick Enthoven’s appropriation of contemporary art to further the fortunes of his Spier wine brand, is far from unique. In fact art is the new wine. Tom Riley, artist and winemaker, is the international moody face of Penfolds, the South Australian wine behemoth responsible for Australia’s first global wine icon: Penfold’s Grange.
 Artists of the Earth
In ad-speak Tom is “son of a psychiatrist and an artist, Tom was perhaps predestined to become a winemaker – inheriting both genuine creativity and a keen, inquiring mind… An award winning artist in his spare time, Tom sometimes feels that the creative lines are blurred – just as he paints with colour, he creates masterpieces of flavours as a winemaker.” Which simultaneously resolves the nature versus nurture debate and demotes Tom’s art to a commercial context from which it will battle to recover.

Posing with a moody painting and a bottle of Bin 28 in gothic black, Tom is the spitting image of Donovan, that psychedelic Glaswegian hippie from the swinging sixties that a hopelessly optimistic advertizing industry proposed as a UK Bob Dylan. While some artists of my acquaintance are heroic drinkers such as CJ Morkel, who shatters the silence of Calitzdorp as he blasts oil paintings of pornographic veggies with his .44 magnum, high on gin and talent, many wine estates return the favour.
don Artists of the Earth
Donald Hess has a 500 square-metre all singing, all dancing gallery on his Glen Carlou wine farm while the Lourensford property of retail tycoon Christo Wiese is now home to a branch of the Bell-Roberts Gallery. Even Uitkyk, that Mrs. Haversham of the Winelands, discovered some 18th century murals on the wall and restored them to their somber glory.

The sparkling tasting room was also laid out by a geomancer with a central water-filled gutter providing serious feng shui. “Oh look!” exclaimed Sir Terence Conran on a day-trip from his infamous demolition derby at the Cape Town Design Indaba a few years back “an alfresco urinal. How jolly!”