There’s an aging chestnut of wine knowledge you hear from time to time, and likely from the lips of old timers (or those who long to be one someday). It goes something like, “You know, the lamer the label, the better the wine.”
We reject this withering bon mot here at Sprudge Wine, and indeed, have found quite the opposite in our enthusiastic consumption of wines around the world. In this day and age in which we’re spoiled for vinous choice, taking a chance on a charming label can sometimes lead to delicious discovery. And moreover, beautiful label art is so often born of collaboration between small winemakers and the artistic members of their community and personal circle. The label you put on your wine says heaps about who you are as a winemaker—it’s a wonderful facet of the worldwide natural wine scene, which we intend to celebrate in this here new feature series on Sprudge Wine.
Up first: he makes the wine, she makes the labels, and together the final result is nothing short of art. Dan Rinke’s work with Oregon’s Johan Vineyards has drawn global accolades, but it’s the small sub-label of wines and ciders he produces as Art + Science that have stolen our hearts. That owes no short balance to the eye catching original artwork that graces each Art + Science bottle, created by Kim Hamblin. Husband and wife teams in wine are nothing new, but this is one of our very favorites for pure expression—inside the bottle and out.
As told to Sprudge Wine by Kim Hamblin and Dan Rinke.
Tell us a little bit about Art + Science.
We started the label in 2011 with a Syrah and Pinot and branched into cider in 2013. We expanded the farm in 2012 with the purchase of a neighboring property and decided to plant an four-acre apple orchard, with plans to expand to 15 acres next year. We currently forage for most of the apples in our ciders, door knocking and stalking fruit has become a pastime for Kim [Hamblin] in the Fall. All of our products are wild yeast fermented and bottle conditioned with little to no additives.
What was the motivation behind Symbiosis?
Since Dan [Rinke] is a winemaker by trade, he’s been itching to try a combo. He thought the peppery undertones of Grüner Veltliner would be a delicious combination with cider.
Describe the process of making it.
The Symbiosis is 50% Johan Vineyards Gruner Veltliner 50% foraged apples, co-fermented on the gruner skins and fresh pressed apple juice for 26 days, then aged in a 600L acacia barrel and one french oak barrique aged for 10 months. The Gruner brings weight and texture and the cider brings a crisp effervescence, creating a refreshing symbiosis. Wild fermented and bottle conditioned in the ancestral method, 104 cases produced.
Who designed the label?
Kim did! She’s an artist working in cut paper, so she creates a piece of art for each label. The silver dots on the labels are actually little nails in real life.
Tell us about the label in your own words.
Our wine labels are all anatomical images and our cider images are birds, so we decided to combine them in this label with a play on symbiosis. This label was one of those works of arts that has happy unintentional characteristics. The apple shape was an accident as the birds ended up looking similar to the seeds of a sliced apple. If you look at the label upside down, it actually looks like the face of an owl. I love it when stuff like that happens, truly symbiotic.
Is this bottle still available?
Do you have a favorite place we could pick one up?
In Portland wine shops, either Division Wines or E&R Wine Shop and for bottleshops, we love Belmont Station.
Label Wine is a feature series by Zachary Carlsen on Sprudge. This is the first of the series.