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Fire and Vine: The Story of Glass and Wine Opens July 3 at The Corning Museum of Glass

Press Center

April 15, 2021
Special Exhibit Explores the Ways Wine and Glass Have Been Deeply Entwined for Centuries, Around the World and in the Finger Lakes Wine Country

On July 3, 2021, The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG), located within New York State’s Finger Lakes Wine Country, will open Fire and Vine: The Story of Glass and Wine, a special exhibit exploring the deeply entwined relationship between wine and glass. Presenting the art, history, and science of how glass touches wine as it travels from the grape, to the bottle, and to the cup on our table, the exhibit is largely drawn from the Museum’s own holdings, the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass. Fire and Vine will also demonstrate how the combination of wine and glass has figured into social gatherings for thousands of years from the lavish feasts of Ancient Rome, to the polite society of 1700s Britain, and to the essential experience within our food culture today. The exhibit is organized by Katherine Larson, curator of Ancient Glass at CMoG. 

Katherine Larson said, “It is easy to forget that the empty glass cups, pitchers, ewers, and bottles in museum display cases once held lush and luxuriant wine. For Fire and Vine, we have brought together objects that tell the story of how, for more than 2,500 years, the strength, impermeability, and versatility of glass have played an important role in every step of a wine’s journey—factoring into the production, distribution, sale, and ultimately the enjoyment of this intoxicating beverage.”

Fire and Vine will feature a display of dozens of wine glasses from around the world, representing the many styles, tastes, and occasions where wine was part of the festivities. Highlights of the exhibit also include a rare 2,000-year-old fragment of cameo glass depicting a grape harvest, a still-sealed bottle of wine found in an 18th-century shipwreck off the coast of England, a 17th-century Italian document describing an “almost unbreakable glass jar” that could prevent wine from spoiling, and a set of antique French hydrometers for measuring the alcohol content of wine, among other fascinating objects pulled from the Museum’s permanent collection, as well as from the collection of the Museum’s Rakow Research Library, most of which have seldom been on display.

The story of glass and wine has particular relevance in the Finger Lakes of New York State. The Finger Lakes is the home of U.S. Bonded Winery No. 1, established in 1860, and where cold-climate European vinifera grape varieties—like Riesling—were first introduced in eastern North America in the mid-20th century. Concurrent with the growth of Finger Lakes wines, Corning, New York emerged as the “Crystal City,” widely recognized as a world leader for its accomplishments in glass artistry and innovation. Independent, entrepreneurial winemakers, and glass artists have found a mutual home in this region, building on historical tradition with new creative energy that makes Corning and the Finger Lakes Wine Country a hub for the entwined industries. Recognizing this important shared history, the exhibit will also include objects on loan from the Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery and Pleasant Valley Wine Company, the oldest winery in the Finger Lakes Region, including sealed bottles of historic vintages from these notable wineries. The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum will also contribute to the exhibit.  

“Two of the most powerful stories in Finger Lakes Wine Country’s history center around wine and glass. The story that’s not often told is how imperative glass is to wine, so the Fire & Vine exhibit is exciting in that regard,” said Laury Ward, President of Finger Lakes Wine Country. “Finger Lakes wines continue to receive global recognition for our high quality, cool climate varietals. There is no denying our winemaking legacy would be incomplete without our history in glassmaking to complement it.”

In addition to Fire and Vine, CMoG will present the groundbreaking exhibition In Sparkling Company: Glass and the Costs of Social Life in Britain During the 1700s this summer. Opening May 22, the exhibition presents the glass objects that delighted the British elite, the exhibition examines how those goods defined social rituals and cultural values of the period, while also illuminating a darker side of history—how the British upper class benefitted from enslaved and indentured labor to create and pay for their glittering costumes and jewelry, elaborate tableware, polished mirrors, and dazzling lighting devices. The exhibition is organized by Christopher L. Maxwell, Curator of Early Modern Glass at CMoG, and will be on view through January 2022.

Visitors to CMoG this summer can explore the permanent collection (including the finest examples of glassmaking spanning 3,500 years), see a live glassblowing demonstration in the Amphitheater Hot Shop, and make their own piece of glass in the Studio.

About The Corning Museum of Glass

The Corning Museum of Glass is the foremost authority on the art, history, science, and design of glass. It is home to the world’s most important collection of glass, including the finest examples of glassmaking spanning 3,500 years. Live glassblowing demonstrations (offered at the Museum and on the road), bring the material to life. Daily Make Your Own Glass experiences at the Museum enable visitors to create work in a state-of-the-art glassmaking studio. The campus in Corning includes a year-round glassmaking school—The Studio—and the Rakow Research Library, with the world’s preeminent collection of materials on the art and history of glass. Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York State, the Museum is open daily, year-round. Children and teens, 17 and under, receive free admission.