One of the most unique fundraisers on the Santa Barbara County calendar each year, Vino de Sueños combines the worlds of wine and art to benefit the families who toil in the region’s farms every day. Organized for the 12th straight year by People Helping People (PHP), the November 9 event — which runs 3-6 p.m. at the Marriott in Buellton with tastings, food, and music — features bottles by Brander, Dierberg, Stolpman, and many other wineries that are adorned with original artwork by a who’s who of professional painters.
Impressionistic oil painter Renée Kelleher, who moved to the Santa Ynez Valley a quarter century ago, is one such artist. This year, her painting “Field Office” will be the label for a wine made by Rick Longoria. Below, she explains how she got involved.
When did you start painting agricultural scenes? From the time I set up my studio, I began painting these workers who bent over the crops all day, every day, down the road from our little ranch, or who tied the vines in the vineyards and harvested the grapes seasonally. This industry could not survive without them, so I wanted to honor them in this way.
Because of this interest, when I was asked to paint for Vino de Sueños perhaps six or seven years ago, I donated a painting of field workers for the wine label. It was what I was enjoying, and it felt right to support the work of PHP in this way.
What did you paint this year? This year, I did a painting of the group of women workers who seem to enjoy their team and their work. I could hear them laughing and chatting as they tended to their picking and packing. They had blue- and white-striped umbrellas keeping the yellow squash shaded as it was being packed for market in the wagon behind the ever-moving tractor. I titled it “Field Office.”
Why do you support People Helping People? To see the difference PHP makes for so many families is simply heartwarming. These people working our fields are our friends who labor for us. This is a small token of my gratitude to participate in this annual fundraising event. I find the artwork sells every year and allows me the chance to donate all proceeds to PHP.
See vinodesuenos.com for more details and tickets.