Gary Taxali
Raise a Glass - Wine Stories from the Field
Last summer, I was contacted by James Silver who is the General Manager of Peconic Bay Winery & Nautique Wines which is a small winery on the east end of Long Island.  He wanted an existing piece of art of mine called "True Believer" for one of his new hard apple cider labels.  The art was originally conceived for Aimee Mann's album @#%&*! Smilers but I decided to go another direction for this illustration for her, yet liked the idea, so created it for my gallery show Last Year's Winner at Magic Pony Gallery in Toronto.  I kept Aimee's song title in the art because I loved it so much.  James fell in the love with the image and wanted it for his label.  Vandana (my sister and agent) and I agreed to license the art for the label.  (For those who know my philosophy on stock, I don't actively promote it but when I do sell an existing image, it's for the same price as a commissioned piece - I learned this from Brad Holland.)
The apple cider is really great!  If you're in the area, drop by James' winery and peruse his other selections.  It will be worth the trip, and this year, I plan to do it myself. 

Here is another label I created for Redemption Wines in California 2 years ago.  The winemaker, Chris Cutler had a brief stint with some partners who nearly sunk his business and luckily, he revived the company and aptly named it Redemption.  This was a really fun job.  Chris wanted the family crest in the art and it worked out great for me because I love collage so much and having beautiful graphic elements like that always helps me to make a picture sing.  This is a 2007 Monterey County Pinot Noir.  Delicious!

All of this started about a decade ago with the amazing Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz.  Randall Grahm, winemaker genius extraordinaire, has been a big part in my career.  Over the years, I have illustrated over 50 different labels for him and it was an amazing career marriage.  Randall gets me.  Most (if not all) the labels below were art directed by the amazing John Locke.  John also gets me.  He has since left the winery and calls me now and again from bars from reaches of this planet.  Cheers to you, John!
The two directly below were some of the first I illustrated.  Here you have the Contra Costra County Mourvedre next to the Empire Vineyard Zinfadel - very hearty wine, that Zinfandel!

Below is the strawberry infused 2001 Monterey County Freisa.  What a controversy this bad boy was.  In the wine world, critics make or break a wine.  One critic called the Friesa "Totally Repugnant", another called it, "Immensely Appetizing".  Can you do something with these quotes, asked John?  "Of course!".  Here you have it.  The first wine in the world depicting a kid picking his nose and eating it.  The winery LOVED it!

Another Freisa.  Strawberries can be blue, right?

The 2000 Le Monstre.  Also one of the first labels I did, and very popular with the winery.

Below are the labels for the Pigato and the Riesling.  Bonny Doon would send out pairs of wines to their wine club and often, I was asked to connect  the imagery to the bottles.

Here we have another pair.  First the Barbera...

...and then the Grignolino.

Below is the 2002 Carignane.  Very complex and heavy bodied, earthy wine.  "The rock", as they called it.

To this day, John tells me his favourite label I illustrated was the 2001 Sangiovese Propaganda.  I made up a ficticious Revolutionary character for this one.  I forget the exact translation, but we had someone at the winery translate a phrase for us in Chinese characters.  It made sense, trust me!

Bonny Doon's flagship wine is a Chateauneuf de Pape.  True story;  for some reason, there has been lots of UFO sightings in the Chateauneuf de Pape region in France.  So much that in 1954, the City Council of Chateauneuf de Pape declared an Ordinance preventing UFOs from landing on their soil.  Bonny Doon thought this was hilarious.  Maybe the UFOs are doing something to the soil to make this amazing grape?  It's a mystery but the fact remains that the resulting wine is spectacular and the other result is that any time I would include UFOs on the labels, it was a thumb's up from Randall and John.

Below is another UFO themed label for the 2004 Cigare C.  This wine packs 46% Mourvedre, 24% Grenache, 24% Syrah and 6% Cinsault.  The result is 100% awesomeness!

This Muscat has the nickname, "The Nose".

A couple of whites below.  First is the Aurora with all smiles.  The Viognier below that, was a lot of fun to work on.  Randall accidently sold the wrong vine cutting to another vineyard and they wanted to sue him for it wasn't a real "Viognier".  They settled out of court and this was Randall's "FU" to the whole thing - as you may or may not know, how the flip off someone in the UK is with that "V".  "V" for "Viognier"!  This wine single handedly made me fall in love with white wine.  Forget the Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays, this is the stuff!!

Ka ching!

Below are a pair of Northern Italian varietels that were released together, the Nebbiolo/Barbera and the Sangiovese.  The winery wanted me to illustrate a ship crashing against the rocks and so I thought it would be funny to couple it with a guy who's ice cream just fell off the cone...


The above illustrations are © 2011 Gary Taxali ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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