Art and Wine Go Together

Andy Skaff at Wolfdale's,
enjoying wine, showing
his plein air works
Art and wine just seem to go together. I see art in tasting rooms and wine festivals everywhere. My son Martin is the proud curator of an original Andy Skaff, and so naturally we attended the reception for plein air painter Andy Skaff at Wolfdale’s Restaurant in Tahoe City recently. While there, I tasted through Wolfdale’s nice wine-by-the-glass offerings, and asked Skaff why he thought art and wine were so integrally linked.

Andy paints outdoors
in his Tahoma studio
at Lake Tahoe
“There’s clearly a lifestyle connection ,” he said. “Consumers who appreciate a glass of wine also are consumers who appreciate the arts. I like to show my paintings in an atmosphere of fine wine and food, because just like wines are flavorful and nuanced, my paintings are pungent and saturated with color.” He paints with intent and concentration every day, and often has a glass of wine at 5 o’clock. “If I’m still painting then, it’s fine. If I am drinking a glass of hearty red wine, it will put me in a winter or fall frame of mind. If a pinot grigio, then I think of a hot summer day.”

High August Clouds

For Andy, the Sorelle Bronca Prosecco di Valdobbiandene DOCG Italy, brings to mind his work “High August Clouds.” “ A warm summer day, a nice bubbly wine, a good day doing hiking or painting or whatever you love to do … this is a wine I’d enjoy then,” he said. This Prosecco is a light sparkler, an extra dry wine from the Veneto region of northeast Italy. Prosecco grapes are blended with a small amount of Perera, Verdiso and Bianchetta grapes, all indigenous to the Veneto region. Straw yellow in color, bright flavors of pear, nectarine, vanilla and almond. A long satisfying finish. $9 a glass.

Late Summer Start
(Barbara Keck's fav!)
 The Campagrande 2010 Orvieto Classico DOC Italy matches the mood of Skaff’s “Late Summer Start”. In this work, there are yellow tones in the emergent leaves and the nearby meadow. “I remember a fresh green scent as I did this painting,” said Skaff. The wine itself is yellowish with green highlights, and aromas recall flowers, pineapple, banana. Fresh and fragrant, savory and soft, pleasurable and easy to drink. 12 percent alcohol. $8 a glass.

The best-selling red wines on Wolfdale’s wine by the glass list are two fruit-forward California wines.

River Blues III
Skaff’s work “River Blues III”, one of his favorite works of the last three months, is a perfect pairing with the Steven Vincent 2009 Pinot Noir. “This is a Pinot Noir painting. I use considerable deep burgundy in this work, and the reflections in the water on this part of the Truckee near River Ranch during late afternoon in the summer show high summer colors.” This Pinot Noir is a beautiful dark ruby color, with tastes of blackberry, clove, cinnamon. Beautifully balanced with 50/50 grapes from Sonoma and the Central Coast, resulting in soft tannins. 14.2 percent alcohol, $9 the glass.

October Morning Light
An all time favorite for many, The Prisoner from winemaker Orin Swift, has a predominance of Zinfandel. The taste and aroma bring to mind a winter theme, says Skaff, and so his “October Morning Light” work is evoked.

“This painting is the richest painting I have on display at Wolfdale’s; it is very pungent, back lit and intense.” The Prisoner is a deep ruby-hued wine, almost opaque, with aroma and taste of black current, cherry, cassis and dark blackberry. It’s a massive wine on so many scales…at 15.2 percent alcohol, this yummy blend is deceptively easy to drink, so go slow. $15 the glass.

Through January 2012, Andy Skaff’s art is on display (and for sale) at Wolfdale’s, 640 North Lake Boulevard, Tahoe City. (530) 583-5700. You can also see Skaff’s work on his website at

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© 2011 Barbara Keck

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "Wine Adventures" in September 2011.

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