We are pleased to share with you some news about Pulido~Walker.
The Story of the Dancing Maidens
Commemorative Chardonnay Magnum
Our ten-year journey to “Pursue the Possible” in crafting exceptional single-vineyard designate wines has been guided by a tenacious commitment to excellence. This is our compass, directing every decision we make. Friends and family championed our determination and celebrated our success at each step. Season after season they gathered in our home overlooking the vineyard, part laboratory where we brainstormed, hypothesized and refined, part sanctuary where we feasted from the gardens and danced against a backdrop of stars.
The 2018 Pulido~Walker Estate Chardonnay represents many firsts for us, among them our first release of this varietal, and the first wine we’ve shepherded from raw, first-growth land to planting to bottle. The name “Dancing Maidens” originates from a Flemish tapestry that hung in the living room of our estate home. Under the gaze of those dancing demoiselles, we shared bottles and grand plans, spoke our hearts, and shook our groove things. When the house was destroyed in the 2017 wildfires, the bonds of friendship forged there drew around us like an invisible net. We felt ourselves safely held.
“The circles of friends around us weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we’re weak and dance with us when we are strong.”
Susan A. R. Kennedy
We commissioned our dear friend and painter Victoria Hanlon to create the artwork featured on the commemorative magnums of the inaugural Pulido~Walker Mt. Veeder Estate Chardonnay. The goal was not to reproduce the dancers from our lost tapestry, but to inspire a new image that evokes the opulent spirit of this wine, born of bold clonal choices and the truly magical site. Winemaker Thomas Brown describes Pulido~Walker Chardonnay as muscular, firm and structured with the purest expression of the terroir. The label art conveys those qualities through color, connection and movement, capturing the splendor and energy of this debut Chardonnay.
“This is a wine I really can’t compare to anything I’ve tasted recently. It is more citrus than tropical, with a mild honeyed quality akin to the hint of botrytis in a Sauterne or Tokay. The wine is appealingly reductive, a Burgundian trait that adds a note of white chocolate. At the same time, it comes across as broad shouldered, meaning the 2018 Pulido~Walker Estate Chardonnay will age well.”
Thomas Rivers Brown, Winemaker
“Dancing Maidens” is a tribute to the collaborative and joyfully diligent years that brought us to this place, to the flowering of an exceptional estate vineyard planted where we danced, sowing the seeds of forever friendships.
Artist Victoria Hanlon Profile
As an artist working primarily in painting, Victoria’s large-scale works are held in private collections throughout the United States and have been displayed in galleries and exhibits in Atlanta and San Diego. She holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Painting from the Atlanta College of Art, graduating in their centennial year, and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, which has provided a unique foundation for her work.
Her painting process begins with photography. Elements from her photographs are used to develop the composition, which is transferred to canvas. “Composition informs every decision,” she explains, “from the scale of the work to the color palette.” She is particularly interested in “found” compositions from the plant and animal worlds, and has incorporated the organic nature of her work into this collaboration with Pulido~Walker proprietor Donna Walker.
Our Interview with Victoria Hanlon
Pulido~Walker: How did you come to “Dancing Maidens” as a representation of this commemorative magnum for the Inaugural Estate Chardonnay?
Victoria Hanlon: From our first conversation, Donna stressed the importance of depicting human connection, and the role wine plays in cementing and celebrating friendships. Our starting point was this (slightly paraphrased) quote from Susan A. R. Kennedy: “The circles of friends around us weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we’re weak and dance with us when we are strong.” The label image of five women dancing in a circle captures this energy; they’re embracing life and one other.
PW: So much of your work focuses on the natural world: plants, animals, birds. Was making a painting for this inaugural wine release a departure for you?
VH: Both in terms of subject matter and medium, this commission was a bit of a departure from my previous work, which as an artist is always welcome. An important goal for this piece was to communicate movement, activating the dancers as well as the entire image by balancing color, the scale of the dancers, and negative and positive space. And then, rather than begin with photography, we began with a concept translated into a digital sketch. While I work digitally on composition, my typical medium is oil on canvas, and this project was solely digital, from start to finish.
PW: Tell me about the “Dancing Maidens” color palette.
VH: We worked from photographs of the Napa Valley harvest, drawing upon the spectrum of colors from the earth, sky, vines, and grapes in the Autumn light to suggest the palette. And because the image is smaller, the intensity of the palette was also an important choice. Working together, we refined the final color palette and adjusted the temperature and saturation, injecting a visual energy to the composition and the dancers.
PW: Are there parallels between art making and wine making?
VH: Artwork begins with a concept. Decisions are made regarding composition, design and palette to express and reinforce the original concept. Once this foundation is in place, the artist can let go and allow the delight and surprise of the art-making process to happen. I would imagine something very similar happens in the process of winemaking, with the natural expression of the terroir and the emotion of what is created.