The Saffron Garden
Quick: What do Rockford, Illinois, Dubuque, Iowa, Portland, Oregon, Delray Beach, Florida, and Yamhill, Oregon all have in common? According to our favorite fount-o- knowledge ChatGPT, nothing. But in fact, each of them boasts a Hoichi Kurisu-designed Japanese garden, in the case of Yamhill, housed on the grounds of our own Saffron Fields Vineyard.
Many times over the past year, we’ve introduced a broader idea of terroir, let’s call it Cultural Terroir. Of course, most of you are wine lovers and understand terroir as the soil, exposure, and climatic conditions that give unique character to each wine. We like that, partly because we think the terroir of the Saffron Fields’ site is extraordinary.
Cultural terroir, as it turns out, is not a new term. It’s the idea adopted by restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and wineries of creating elements that make their venue or their product uniquely delightful. We like to think that there are many elements that contribute to the cultural terroir of Saffron Fields, and the gardens are foremost among them. Autumn is the perfect time to appreciate the design elements that wonderfully blend the immediate surroundings with the spectacular view of the rolling Yamhill-area hills.
As you saunter from the tasting room, glass in hand, pause first to contemplate the koi pond framed by the view of the gray-blue coastal mountain ridges. Looking down past the reflection of the water, you will spot the colorful darting flashes of yellow, orange, black and white as the koi slice through the water. Some of them are native to the pond. Others were shipped from far away. Contemplate, if you will, the packing and shipping of a giant Koi. Delivery has not been without occasional heartache and trauma.
Cross the bridge to the island, a favorite photo spot for soon-to-be or newly married couples. Here, you are treated to an encompassing view of the gardens, pond, and tasting room.
If it is early enough in the season, you can admire the lavender as you cross back from the island. Newly replanted, the lavender is thriving, adding an abundant splash of color, and filling the air with a lush relaxing scent that pairs well with any wine.
As you wind around the island, stop to admire the stunning pair of ceramic sculptures recently acquired from sculptor Katy McFadden. You may have noticed them even as you drove up the road towards the tasting room. There they stay at all hours and all weathers, admiring their own view of the pond and the coastal hills.
Pass on, and the path will take you up again to the lily pond, which is the personal domain of Tale Teller, a striking sculpture in stainless steel and stone by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. Hoichi Kurisu specifically designed this section of the garden to envelop the sculpture. This pond is also a great place to play a game of Spot the Bullfrog. The child in all of us can delight in the dozens of eyes that pop up between lily pads.
Finally, amble back up to the tasting room. Breathe deep and let the cultural terroir envelop you as you order a second glass of wine.