Allan Warburg, the owner of Sonoma’s Donum Estate, has spent the past five years installing a world-class collection of international sculptures throughout the property, marrying art and wine in the rolling vineyards of Sonoma Valley.
Originally from Denmark, Warburg lived in Beijing for almost 30 years, and his collection has been inspired by the Chinese capital’s vibrant art scene. ‘In the late 90s and early 2000s, art in China had been very controlled – then suddenly they were given this freedom. You could feel something being unleashed at that time. It was an explosion of creativity,’ he says.
The giant works in the vineyards reflect the mix of Warburg’s cultural experiences, the combination of eastern and western sensibilities. Some he has bought – such as Ai Weiwei’s striking Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads and the Louise Bourgeois Crouching Spider – but Warburg and his wife Mei are now concentrating on site-specific commissions.
Warburg has acquired just under 40 sculptures for the estate since 2013, and has acres of land for more. His latest commission is a work from American artist Doug Aitken, whose wind chime is made up of 360 pieces, some 3m tall. He came with a ‘completely blank piece of paper and spent six hours walking around’ before inspiration came to him, Warburg says.
It seems that, to Warburg, the beauty of Donum is this experience of combining landscape, wine, and art.
‘When you’re in the beautiful Sonoma landscape, and you put in some beautiful art, and you’re having a great glass of wine, those three things are so much more powerful together.’