While wine is a beverage enjoyed by many, it’s also a canvas that many artists and designers have used to create works of art. For designers, the wine bottle is a blank canvas, a medium that can be used to create pieces that not only look good on a table but also tell a story, commemorate a loved one, or bring awareness on an issue.

We all know that wine is something that can really be enjoyed by anyone, and a new bottle design is highlighting this fact for all to see. The bottle, called ‘Pop Culture’, was recently designed by an anonymous artist and featured in a Sotheby’s auction. The design features a bottle that has been harnessed to a jet-pack, a bottle that has been transformed into a rocket, and a bottle with a little glass cap on its head. The design appears to be a commentary on how much wine and other alcohol is enjoyed by the upper classes, and how it’s a drink that everyone should at least try. In the example above, the user is asked to write a blog post introduction for the Wine Blog, Vine Bar

Although bottle labels have been around since ancient Egypt, the advent of lithography in the late 18th century made it possible for large-scale label printing to make greater use of images to express the character or provenance of a wine. Over the years, art has expanded the role of labels from a simple source of information to a prestigious object, even a collector’s item, and they now provide more information about a wine than language alone ever could.

After all, wine, like art, is a sensory experience, and the label on the bottle has to be pretty, says Elaina Leiby, wine director at Erewhon Market, a specialty store in California.

Here are five label designs that show how art and wine can be intertwined.

The roséDonnafugata Rosa embodies the Sicilian style and terroir.

Donnafugata’s collaboration with Italian fashion house and brand Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) uses art to express history and terroir. A blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nocera, two local Sicilian grape varieties harvested around Mount Etna, the wine is adorned with a D&G design inspired by the distinctive folk art of Sicily.

The energetic, geometric bursts of color are reminiscent of the vibrant patterns of the island’s traditional carts, giving many a strong sense of culture and place, but also playful and accessible to those unfamiliar with the region’s iconography.

Castellani Tenuta di Cepaiano in memory of Keith Haring

The Tuscan Castellani family has made several connections between art and wine, most notably through their non-profit artist’s sanctuary Materia Prima.

In 2019, they released a bottle in memory of one of their most famous friends: Keith Haring. The label is based on a sketch the artist gave in the 1980s to the family involved in the creation of his last public fresco in Pisa, Italy. The work shows one of Haring’s signature figures escaping the onslaught of grapes. Proceeds from the wine sale will go to Castellani’s Materia Prima.

 

From left to right: Donnafugata Rosa; Castellani Tenuta di Ceppaiano; Saint John the Baptist. Reginald Parish; Stolpman Vineyards; and Las Jaras Wines / Photo Tom Arena.

Art goes beyond labels St. John’s Parish Reginald

Some labels exemplify the synergy between art and wine. In 2020, Kathryn Opie’s photos appeared on two bottles from the Willamette Valley-based producer, the joint parish of St. Reginald and Los Angeles-based wine shop Domaine LA. Keeping the concept and style of the wines in mind, Opie created thoughtful sunset scenes to complement the colors of the orange and white wines. Wine is an aesthetic and sensory experience, and the look of the bottle is part of that, says Jill Bernheimer, owner of Domaine LA.

To extend the impact of the art beyond the bottle, Opie’s photographs have also been published in limited editions to benefit Los Angeles institutions The Underground Museum and Summaeverythang Community Center.

The medium changes into a message for Para Maria of Stolpman Vineyards

In some cases, labels emphasize art rather than information, even replacing the words entirely with an eye-catching image. The Para Maria labels from Stolpman Vineyards are an excellent example.

Used for red wine and rosé, they contain no text and instead let the owl’s face fill the space. They were designed by Kari Crist, creative director of the winery, in honor of their namesake, winemaker Maria Solorzano.

Tecolote, or night owl, is both the nickname of the people of her hometown of Solorzano, Jalisco, Mexico, and a reference to the nighttime harvest season that guides her. The label may not tell the consumer what wine is in a particular bottle, but it does provide a compelling visual representation.

Las Jaras Wine labels – fun, fresh and bold

The modern design of labels can be in stark contrast to the formality of traditional wine labels, which are known for their depictions of historic castles and ornate lettering. Producers from relatively young wine producing countries like America and Australia are often pioneers.

These producers use playful graphics to convey their more accessible and experimental approach to wine. For example, California-based Las Jaras Wines is known for its choice of bright colors and designs from artists like Chloe Wise and Jen Stark.

The labels do not limit themselves to a single theme or statement, but draw on various movements of contemporary art to convey the energetic nature of the manufacturer’s bottles with minimal interventions.

Published on 23. April 2021

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