Written by Amber Nicholson. Edited by Carly Petrone.
Although there were no actual vineyards at the 28th annual Art and the Vineyard, many Oregon wineries showcased the fruit of their vines in the form of pouring wine after wine.
21 Oregon wineries set up tables inside Alton Baker Park this past weekend (July 2nd-4th) for the annual Art and the Vineyard festival, benefitting the Maude Kerns Art Center. Festival goers (over 21) could pay for tastes at each table, purchase a glass of wine and/or even get a bottle. “It’s an open festival,” Michael Fix (co-owner of and winemaker at RainSong Vineyard) explained. “It is not like other festivals where there is a confined wine garden. We (early festival organizers) petitioned the OLCC to allow us to have an open festival so that people could walk around and enjoy the art while sipping a glass of wine.” Fix cited this as being one of the reasons why he enjoys this particular festival so much.
In fact, Art and the Vineyard is the only festival that Fix and is wife Merry (who co-owns RainSong with Fix) set up at. Considering they have been a part of Art and the Vineyard for 23 years now, they decided to pass along the table duties to their children this year. “Our kids are starting to take over, all we have to do is the schmoozing,” Fix chuckles. When asked what their best seller was, Fix quickly replied “Our Oregon sparkling wine, always. Every year.”
According to the Art and the Vineyard website, the festival was the brainchild of Rotarians 28 years ago. The first festival was held at Forgeron Vineyards (which is now Lavelle) and moved to the park 23 years ago. When asked what Michael Fix would change about the festival, he reminisces about the early years. “In the beginning, it was a regional festival. It only showcased wines from our area. It wasn’t open to the whole state, it was really local.” Fix mentioned that he “…feels it (the festival) lost a sense of intimacy when it became open to wineries all over the state.”
Fix noticed that certain local wineries were not present this year, King Estate Winery, Sweet Cheeks Winery and Lavelle Winery being three of them. When contacted about why they were not a part of this year’s festival, Austin Kumm (visitor center manager at King Estate Winery) said “It is a really busy time of the year for us and we had significant scheduling conflicts. We are big fans of the festival and hope to participate down the road.” (Sweet Cheeks Winery and Lavelle Winery were unavailable for contact.)
No matter what other wineries will be his neighbors at the tables set up at Art and the Vineyard next year, Michael Fix will be there “schmoozing” with his wife and a smile on his face.