Essentially it was a terroir project, when I was asked to make a project in Sonoma, the invitation initially came because my work often deals with landscape.1 So, the invitation wasn’t actually to make wine, it was to make a project in response to the landscape. And then of course I went up there, and I was like, “Oh, look, there’s all these vines everywhere.” And Sonoma was interesting to me also in that point, because it wasn’t a monoculture. Napa to me is much more of a kind of monoculture in terms the industry there now mostly being wine.2
Whereas in Sonoma there was still farming, there’s still some other stuff going on. There were different times — they were still some fruit-orchids and different other — evidence of other industry. But I saw all the vines, and I’d already made some eau de vie, some apple schnapps at that point. And in terms of some of my kind of logic about how the art world functions, often you — people judge the success of a show not so much at a certain level on the work, but on the event. So, you go to an opening and you’re like, “Yeah. That was a really great opening” because they had cocktails or they had beer or whatever they had, in terms of how people talk about these things or used to talk about these things, and who’s there.
Sometimes it’s quite hard to actually get people to tell you what the work was, what they actually saw. You can’t really see the work in an opening anyway often, there are too many people there. And in my case, often the work gets destroyed or damaged at the opening. So, openings are something that I already have a quite ambivalent kind of attitude or relationship with. So, I was excited when I saw the vines, and I was like well, why make a sculpture as an object when I can make wine? I can just cut to the chase and make the wine. And I was excited about that, the logic of wine making, the more I found out about it is quite similar in terms of how I set up the process in many of my more sculptural works in that, I set up a process — I set up a set of rules, and then I don’t interfere, like when all the chocolate — when all the nose prints became on the wall in the gallery in Vienna, I didn’t go in and paint them all out, I just left it.
If a flower falls down from a flower installation at the opening, it stays on the floor for the rest of the show, it doesn’t get mended. The piece has started. So, I liked the idea that a bottle of wine or wine is a living thing, that even when it’s in the bottle — we have this idea that once it’s in the bottle, it’s safe, that it’s kind of halted. It isn’t, it keeps changing. And so, you open the bottle, and sometimes it’s corked, there’s nothing you can do. But you can’t tell by looking at the bottle if it’s the right time to open it or if it’s the wrong time to open it. You just have to take a chance. So, I kind of like that fatalistic logic. It excited me.