After three decades in the limelight, Kenwood Vineyards Artist Series Cabernet reigns as a supreme marriage of fine art and fine wine.
The artistry displayed on the bottle and within makes each new Artist Series release an event, and every Artist Series vintage a prime collectible. Yet the people at Kenwood Vineyards have always seen the Artist Series collection as a work in progress, with each vintage a unique opportunity to excel.
A key to the success of the Artist Series is a wine every bit as compelling as its label. Drawing primarily on hillside vineyards in the Mayacamas Mountains, Kenwood meticulously crafts each Cabernet Sauvignon to be an ultimate expression of the vintner’s art. Over the years, the Artist Series Cabernet has evolved in style, but never wavered in quality.
The Artist Series originated in 1978 when Kenwood Vineyards – then in business only eight years – commissioned local artist David Lance Goines to create an original work to grace its first Reserve-style 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon. The idea was to create an elegant, distinctive package that would showcase outstanding art.
The image Goines created featured a beautiful naked woman on a vineyard slope. When the 1975 “Naked Lady” label was submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for approval, Kenwood received the following reply:
“The drawing of the young lady must be deleted. More specifically, the Bureau regards the picture as ‘obscene and indecent’ under regulations 27CFR 4.39(a)3.”
Only 228 bottles with the “Naked Lady” label were permitted to leave the winery. A second, tongue-in-cheek label featuring a skeleton in place of the young woman also was rejected. The label eventually approved showed only a grassy hillside with a stream running by, but the notoriety and rarity of the original design launched the Artist Series in a big way.
During its first decade, the Artist Series focused on works by contemporary artists. The 1987 vintage broke with tradition by featuring a painting by Joan Miro, and in the years since, the Artist Series has presented art by other important artists from the past, including Pablo Picaso, Henry Miller, Alexander Calder, Tamara De Lempicka and Vincent Van Gogh. The 2004 vintage features “Peace Woman,” a work specially created for the 30th anniversary by artist Shepard Fairey.
The works range in style from impressionist and romantic to modern and abstract, with Kenwood Vineyards redesigning the label annually to enhance the presentation. The variety of dimensions, shapes, orientations and backgrounds adds drama to the Artist Series package and reinforces the unique character of the collection.
‘Peace Woman’ Focuses on Nurturing Side of Humanity
Fine wine and street art may not be a typical combination, but Kenwood’s 30th legendary Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon masterfully brings them together on the wine’s commemorative label, featuring work by famed artist Shepard Fairey.
Although a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon seems like an unlikely canvas for Fairey’s bold and edgy works of art, the 2004 Artist Series succeeds in capturing the quiet power frequently expressed in his paintings and projects.
The “Peace Woman” is a symbolic representation of the peaceful, nurturing side of humanity, perfectly complementing the complexity and contrasting nuances of the Cabernet Sauvignon, which has a delicate balance between bold flavors and subtleties of Sonoma terroir.
Considering himself a populist, Fairey – sometimes referred to as the “Andy Warhol of today’s generation” – is known for his works which range from absurdist propaganda to clandestine street art and commercial projects. Fairey’s signature portrait of Andre the Giant is recognized in the fully-fledged OBEY campaign as a symbol that questions the slogans and images facing society on a daily basis. The well known “Hope” posters with the iconic Barack Obama illustration strewn on walls across America indicate the prevalence that Fairey has created with his poignant images. His work combines a formidable palette of international, historical and artistic references exemplified in his bold, graphic imagery, which inspires critical thinking among its viewers.
Each vintage of the Kenwood Artist Series has become a coveted collectible, illustrated clearly by the Robb Report sale of the series’ 25-year vertical for $100,000.