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The Mind's Vine

Wine is a rich and complex phenomenon that touches on an extensive array of other subjects, which include art & history, religion & mythology, geography, politics and sociology, science and sensory perception, tradition & modernisation. This complexity is the inspiration for the mind’s vine, which was commissioned for Tokara Wine Estate.


Wine culture has a long history, which is manifest in religion and mythology, as well as representations thereof in art history. Winemaking in South Africa is connected to the history of the Cape and its colonization, as well as the emergence of the “new world”. Local winemaking stems from European methods, the grafting of Vitis Vinifera and the general adaptation of terroir. Local wine production is part of the legacy of colonialism in the region, brining about the transformation of its people, the land and its biodiversity. Ironically, even though winemaking has substantially transformed the region, it is the local terroir that in fact determines the characteristics of the end product.


There is an ethos or mystique inherent in wine and its appreciation. Of all the senses that are employed in wine-appreciation, smell is arguably the most ephemeral, complex and significant. The significance of scent in wine-appreciation lies in its function in taste but more importantly, in its evocative yet elusive summoning of memory through scent-association. This elusiveness can be seen as metaphorical of the human condition, specifically with regards to the deficit between language and perception. The enticing struggle to place all the characteristics of a wine could be equated with our struggle in using language as a means of expression or of translating emotion into communication. 


The delicate branches that create the structure of the sculpture move and vibrate in response to the wind. This responsiveness of the complex sculptural form was inspired by “The Emperor of Scent”, a book by Chandler Burr, which tells the story of Luca Turin’s theory of olfaction.



The four vines that comprise the mind’s vine represent the four senses of sight, smell, taste & mouth-feel, which are inherent in the appreciation of wine. They also represent the four aspects of the winemaking process, namely terroir, fermentation, finishing & maturation. The branches of the mind’s vine bare thousands of words, creating a visual representation of the mystical complexity of wine, as well as a meandering documentation of the history and culture of wine. The various sentences that run along the branches are extracts from the history of the Cape and the region, mythology. The words in upper case placed among these sentences categorise the spectrum of descriptors that are used in wine appreciation.

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