Missouri Winery Seeks Label Art
Annual competition at Les Bourgeois puts art on the bottle
“Works of art are judged on technical merit and need not be wine related,” said Les Bourgeois’ marketing director, Rachel Mills. Last year’s winners included a dizzying photo dubbed “All in Perspective,” by Brandi Majerle; a still life with typewriter, “Royal Quiet Deluxe,” by Rachel Krause and a charming pet portrait, “Bleu,” by Hollis D. Taylor.
The fact that all three winners last year are Missouri-based is strictly coincidental, Mills said. As organizer of the competition, Mills prepares a presentation of all the entries. As in a blind tasting, the judges do not know who produced the art. Mills estimated last year they evaluated some 200 entries “from all over the world.”
The judging panel gathers at the winery before noon to view, discuss and whittle down the competition. Mills did stress a single-subject limitation. “There’s no way we can get approval for a nude,” she said.
Founded in 1991, Les Bourgeois invested $2 million in 2010 to become Missouri’s third-largest winery, with an annual production of 51,000 cases. Its biggest sellers tend to be from Native American (Norton, Concord) and hybrid grapes (Vidal, Vignoles, Chambourcin.)
After the winning selections for the Collector’s Series are chosen, they’ll be incorporated into labels, applied to the bottles and debut at a gala June 13. Guests will sample the wines, meet the winemakers and the artists, and have first crack at purchasing the vintages, which typically are limited to 100-case bottlings of each varietal.
The Collector’s Series, Mills said, is sold only at the tasting room and to a very limited selection of key local accounts. Since the art is incorporated into existing TTB-approved labels, new certificates of label approval are not required.
Because of the limited distribution and a cohesive package design, Mills says she doesn’t believe the original artwork dilutes the brand or confuses consumers. Last year Les Bourgeois redesigned its packaging for the first time since 2005, adopting bottle styles to better reflect the style of the contents (e.g., a tall, slender blue bottle for its 100% Vignoles, which she likened to a German Riesling.) All Les Bourgeois wines are closed with cork from Amorim.
An artist’s point of view
Hollis D. Taylor, a high school art instructor in Tuscumbia, Mo., was one of the winners last year, the first time she’d entered. A specialist in commissioned portraits of pets, people and places, Taylor painted the endearing portrait of a Texas canine, “Bleu,” who graces the Collector’s Series 2011 Traminette.
Since the 2012 competition, Taylor has teamed with Les Bourgeois to exhibit at a benefit for the local humane society. The winning bidder at that show “just called me” to commission another painting, Taylor told Wines & Vines.
She’s enjoying another perk from the competition: a three-month exhibition/sale of 13 works at Les Bourgeois, which continues through January.
Taylor is a long-time fan of Les Bourgeois. “It’s a beautiful little winery on top of a hill overlooking the Missouri River, with a bike path below. It’s a good stopping place,” she said.
A winner her first time out, Taylor is entering again this year. “They have had winners repeat in multiple years,” she noted.
Artists may enter as many as five individual works. Winners will receive a $100 gift certificate at Les Bourgeois and a case of “their” wine. The deadline is Dec. 31; winners will be announced March 1. For complete submission instructions, visit missouriwine.com.