Wine View: Art and wine are a perfect fit

Andy Warhol's label art for the 1975 Chateau Mouton Rothschild.


Wine and the world of art are a perfect fit. While some may say that winemaking is a craft, others, myself included, put it plainly in the category of creatives. Both are symbiotic. They share an affinity.

Wine is often depicted in both secular and religious paintings. From Renoir, Monet and Cezanne to biblical references of Jesus and the wine press.

After the end of the Second World War in 1945, Baron Philippe de Rothschild started a tradition of commissioning artists annually, using their labels as canvas, to create illustrations of their own imaginations. This has continued to this day with artists from across genres. From Jean Coctu to Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol to Prince Charles, Lucien Freud and Jeff Koons, to name a few, all have created what are now collectorʼs items.

Randall Grahm of Bonnie Doon fame in California has done the same with his quirky sense of humour and love of play on words. He has garnered many accolades for his wines over a 35 or more year history. I remember when his Cardinal Zin came out. It was such a wonderful play on words yet captured our imaginings for the cross reference to a biblical term and the incredible artistʼs rendition. Humour. Randall was radical!

He too has artists that he collaborates with each with their own stylings and fun machinations. Even a fellow from Toronto, Gary Taxali.

In Niagara, our own Henry of Pelham Estate have been supporters of the arts.Bobbi and Paul Sr. Speck, parents of the Speck brothers, have a long affiliation with artists. As it says on their website: “During the 1970s, our parents offered free studio space to a number of Canadian painters and sculptors who passed through the Annex area of Toronto, where we lived growing up. We now proudly display their art throughout the winery buildings and offices, including upstairs from the tasting room, and invite our visitors to enjoy their work.”

More recently, November of last year, 13th Street Winery opened their first art gallery on their vineyard site.The Manns, like the Specks, are also supporters of Canadian artists from painters to sculptures, and all have a home in Niagara.

Lakeview Wine Co., in honour of the 50th anniversary of the McMichael Canadian Art Gallery in Kleinberg and to celebrate our Group of Seven Artist, have labels depicting their incredible interpretations of our distinct Canadian landscapes.

Then thereʼs Rudy Kurniawan who appeared on the wine auction scene as a young, hip guy with loads of dosh, a wealth of wine knowledge, Burgundy in particular, with apparently good connections. Check out the documentary Sour Grapes.

Another cohort, Hardy Rodenstock of the book The Billionaireʼs Vinegar claim to fame, was selling bottles of wine from great vintages as well as bottles owned by President Thomas Jefferson.

Now, these two “artists” were part of a different kind of art….the art of the scam!

Hereʼs to the spirit of adventure!


Jacqueline Corrigan is a Certified Sommelier (graduate George Brown College Sommelier Program); a Member of the International Sommelier Guild; and a graduate WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust – Britain).

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