It was just our fourth year of making wine when we debuted the Aries label with the 1989 vintage. We named it Aries, not just after the mascot of the Carneros region, but a nod to the silliness of some well known wineries of the era that named their wine with the first letter an “A” to win the pole position on alphabetized wine lists. So was the sophistication of wine marketing in the ’80’s. And, since we trademarked the name, we saved the world from horror-scope wines! Thank you very much…
Back then, the sub-ten dollar beverage was adorned with a fun, illustrated label drawn by a friend from art school that depicted a dancing ram with grapes and leaves flying about. The wine was a response to a vintage that challenged the young winemaking team with the rare rainstorm during harvest that resulted in a more straightforward iteration than we would have liked. We felt it was the honest approach to not put it out at the full price of the RSV Pinot Noir.
Never the one to be comfortable with the pretense of wine, I wanted to have some fun. So we decided to poke fun at the silly merging of languages (English and French or Italian) on some American wines and the lengthy back label descriptions that said a lot of nothing. So I put as many words of different languages on the front label and wrote a nonsensical back label with each sentence in a different language. It was my dadaist punk middle finger salute to the wine elite. Needless to say, we did not win label approval and had to redesign it to the point of concept dilution.
Like us, the Aries label would grow up over time and, over the past three decades, it would make its appearance sporadically as we developed young vineyards or if an anomaly, like a heat wave, occurred during harvest that produced a tasty wine but was a departure from the RSV style. The current vintage has evolved into a much more serious wine than those early iterations. The label now adorns an ancient illustration of a ram and comes from our organically farmed vineyards with selections that are stylistically more friendly with earlier drinkability than our other Pinots… Oh, and it does go with Lamb!