SONOMA, California — Lavender drifts in on a breeze and soaks in everywhere here so deeply that even the soil smells sweet. The Donum Estate, perched on the curvy banks above Sonoma Creek, is high enough that the view from the rear porch of the main house is uncluttered in nearly every direction.
The estate, which spans more than 200 acres, is more than a vineyard. It's also a sustainable and organic farm. If that didn't draw enough attention, Donum is also home to more than 50 publicly accessible outdoor sculptures, one of the largest accessible private collections in the world. The Donum Estate also became the stunning backdrop for a week to showcase the sculptural elements and artistic inspirations behind the all-new INFINITI QX60.
"For the past two decades, our passionate Donum team has been committed to our mission of producing the finest Pinot Noir in California. During this time, we've witnessed a natural progression as The Donum Estate has brought to life this delicate balance among wine, land, and art that has made it an international destination. For guests to come, walk the land, drink the wine, and discover our art collection – the experience we offer is a cultural pilgrimage," says Donum Chief Executive Officer Angelica de Vere Mabray.
The Donum Estate begs for eager discovery at every turn while visiting the remarkable estate. The art collection features artists from 18 countries spanning six continents, including Yayoi Kusama, Louise Bourgeois, Richard Hudson, and Ai Weiwei.
Surrounded by the rolling grapevines and sculptural masterpieces, head of INFINITI Design Taisuke Nakamura talked through his inspiration for the all-new 2022 QX60. Nakamura virtually accompanied media and guests on their journeys to the region to discover the minimalist design of the new 3-row SUV, especially his influence from Japanese minimalism, sometimes called "ma."
Separate from Western concepts of minimalism, ma embraces empty space in an additive capacity — providing space for contemplation and an emphasis on harmony and balance to realize a unique sense of simplicity. Taisuke drew inspiration from Japanese architects such as Kengo Kuma and Tadao Ando, renowned for their expressive but subtle style.
Nakamura and his team set about crafting a vehicle that delivers INFINITI's take on modern Japanese luxury, carefully sculpting the QX60's sleek exterior to exude a sense of Japanese elegance, where beauty is derived from simplicity. The serene interior drew inspiration from natural elements like ripples on still water, the soft bends of saddle leather, and open-pore wood, all while balancing technology with beauty. This balance of natural elements with technology is immediately recognizable when stepping into the QX60's cabin, where the wide, open instrument panel features intricately quilted leather that flows around a large central touchscreen. A similar balance is equally as noticeable when strolling the sustainable wine operation and sculptures of Donum Estates.
Catalan artist Jaume Plensa's "Sanna" stands tall at the entrance of The Donum Estate, a sculpture of a Swedish girl that's elongated and more than 30 feet tall. The girl's face, eyes closed, has an ethereal quality that carries throughout the grounds and creates the most dramatic of driveways.
The Donum Collection made its art available in 2011, with each piece playing with scale, perspective, and materials to evoke emotion.
It's an emotion that's overwhelming and a sensory experience that's daring. Each turn reveals a new perspective on the art and its viewer. For instance, Richard Hudson's daring "Love Me," a 25-foot-tall, mirrored heart standing atop a hill at The Donum Estate.
"It's looking at you as you look at it," Hudson says.
Hudson says that the reflective heart reflects up to "infinity towards the sky" and nature's bounty nearby.
That bounty is award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines that are grown organically and responsibly harvested. The wines are fermented with yeast local to the ranch, and each vine is fed with organic compost and compost tea, prompting the vines to better use nutrients indigenous to the soil.
That sweet-smelling soil is the literal and figurative ground for a daring concept: It's an intersection of fine wine, art, and sustainable farming that the estate wears proudly.
With its sculpted lines shining in the midday sun, the all-new QX60 played both a momentary sculpture and honored guest within the impressive grounds of The Donum Estate.