Mixed-Species at Maize Valley Winery


Today I’m a beauty blogger. It’s not what you think. I have no product suggestions or insight into spring color palettes. I’m talking about the natural beauty of wood. My weekend was permeated with it and it simply has to be written about.

I spent a day with Dan planing boards to complete the mixed-species wall paneling being installed at Maize Valley Winery in Hartville, Ohio. They are constructing a 4-season pavillion with large doors that will open up to the vineyards in warm weather. In cool weather, the view will focus inward, with no less interest and charm, as the space is lined with the rainbow striations of mixed-species wood.

Single-species has its purpose and place. It allows the eye to glide over the mostly monochrome surface, enjoying the sheen of light evenly distributed, and then the eye comes to rest or focuses elsewhere.

Mixed-species invites the eye to continually engage, to dance, bounce and twinkle. To focus first on the ripples in a piece of curly cherry, then the golden flecks of the adjacent quartersawn oak, and on to the black webs of spalt in a nearby maple board. It reminds one of the forest itself. With many kinds of trees living alongside each other, varied in size, with the light catching them in different ways.

The boards I helped Dan to plane for this project originated in just such a forest and had come to be stacked in the barn of his father’s tree farm for years. Sawn long ago, well-seasoned by now, awaiting their moment and a customer with the vision to create not just a wall, but an experience. Their moment had come, and as the planer peeled back a millimeter of each rough, dusted, seemingly unpromising board surface, hidden secrets were revealed in the form of spiraling grain patterns, streaks of purple and green, a faint blush indicating red oak, a stronger blush heralding cherry. I imagine holding up a glass of red wine against those rosy tones and seeing the resonant interplay of color.

To complete the effect of rustic elegance at Maize Valley, Dan and his team have also installed live-edge bar tops along opposing walls, where one can set down her glass of wine for a moment, run hands over the surface, lean in for a closer look at the wall panels, then glance out to the vineyards, taking it all in. And this is what wood ultimately does, creating an experience speaking to all the senses. Maize Valley’s customers this summer are in for all kinds of treats.