Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grapes & Glass Art Design Tours - at Annieglass Studio, Watsonville, CA

I searched for “Made in USA” this past weekend and became acquainted with a well known, local, Smithsonian Artist and entrepreneur, Annie Morhauser or, most people know as, the Annieglass production studio in Watsonville, 310 Harvest Drive. (one half hour south of Santa Cruz, one hour from San Jose).

I have seen glass blowing artists many times – two recent trips were to Vecchia Murrano in Venice, Italy and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.  Wow, what a discovery and a local gem nearby!   Why is this local glass art so different?

Annieglass Production Studio in Watsonville, CA

Summer of Love: Annieglass Studio Tours

A must see right now is the Annieglass Summer of Love, featuring grapes and glass – yes, wine tasting and a glass studio tour which is available through Labor Day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. You may go on their free glass art studio tours at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on these weekend days and then taste wine with one of the (fabulous) local winemakers from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. (fee for tasting) (831) 427-4260

Update:  Pours & Tours is still available - please call Annieglass to find out who is the current tasting vendor at the wine bar.

Annieglass Production Studio

The insider secret that I found on my trip – is that Annieglass is not made by the common method of glass blowing which I know – Annie developed a process called “slumping.” Starting with a sheet of flat glass that is cut into a circle, the glass is melted in a ceramic mold in a kiln to take shape.

I won’t go into the technical artist details here, I will let the experts tell you in their own words.  Information is on the Annieglass website and these tours have in depth, excellent information.  (Sorry, no pictures were allowed to be taken inside)

Note:  Even though individual tours is fun, I enjoy going with private small groups because of you learn so much from everyone's curiosity and questions. 
After my guide showed me the glass plates they purchase, I watched Joseph actually cut a small piece of glass by hand. Joseph walked me through the entire studio (15,000 square feet) and explained about each of the machines, tools and equipment; where Annie and the other artists make the individual glass art pieces during the week.

Each piece is inspected when it is finished and has an authentic signature etched with name, number, and date.  Not just an artist, Annie is also a business woman who employs a expert team of artists year round along with other valued employees to make their production goals. Annie continues to share her stories of how she started her business today.

I went without preparing my beginning research this time and learned "in the moment" of this how this was a different process.  Annie's first piece that she created in her studio in 1983, was a simple circle of glass with a 24k hand painted gold rim before firing in the kiln, titled Roman Antique. This actual process you discover on your tour ensures each piece is dishwasher safe and with chip and tarnish resistance.  

There is another Annieglass store in downtown Santa Cruz for shopping if you don't have time to drive to the studio.  Of course, glass art enthusiasts already know Annieglass is sold at many luxury retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdales. You will also find Annieglass in prominent hotels and restaurants like the Bellagio Hotel and Casino and Ritz Carlton. Yes, there is a piece on exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

Can you name 2 famous people which have Annieglass in their private collections? 

Don't Forget the Wine Tasting, Windy Oaks Estate

During my visit, I found this fun and unique story of this local winery. There were Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines from Windy Oaks Estate in Corralitos, CA. One of my favorites, 2008 Estate Pinot Noir, Cuvee, was awarded 91 points, 2011 Gold Medal, beverage Tasting Institute, with a bright fruit flavors.

Windy Oaks Estate, Corralitos, CA

I had a private conversation with the Assistant Winemaker (yes, he is a son of the Winemaker) about the crush process, the acres where their grapes are located (two locations nearby), and the global history trail starting in the central USA of how this family of tech workers started the winery. Windy Oaks Estate just opened their new tasting room – Saturdays from 12–5. (831) 786-9463  I will return for a second story.

Just another fantastic trip of discoveries 
off the beaten path ~ The Fun Tour Guru 

*This is not a sponsored post, I simply followed up on news which I received and went to see for myself. I even became a buyer with my new knowledge.  Although advertisers are always welcome!

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