From soup to fine wine
The Cuvaison–Andy Warhol Connection
When contemplating fine wine, Andy Warhol (1928–87) is not the first thought that leaps to mind. A preeminent figure in the visual art movement of Pop Art, which revolutionized the art scene in the late 1950s, Warhol reinterpreted popular products and figures, forcing the viewer to acknowledge the highly recognizable in a different manner. His mediums of expression were vast: commercial illustration, painting, printmaking, photography, silk screening, sculpture, film and music.
No doubt more familiar with the three-martini lunch than with a bottle of good wine (he admitted his preference for Jack Daniel’s), Warhol nonetheless found himself seated at a dinner party in Heerbrugg, Switzerland, in the early 1980s next to his hosts and art collectors Alexander and Christina Schmidheiny. The couple had recently purchased Cuvaison Estate Winery in Napa Valley, producing premium handcrafted wines. Proudly pulling the cork on a bottle of Cuvaison wine for his guest, Schmidheiny asked Warhol what he thought.
“What a lousy label!” Warhol replied.
Challenged by the Schmidheinys to create something “worthier,” Warhol took Polaroids of grapes in a variety of patterns, and then created more than 50 unique silkscreen prints in vibrant colors for Cuvaison’s labels. And while Warhol’s work sells for some of the highest prices fetched in the art world, these labels were apparently soon forgotten, languishing for years in the back of a drawer.
Recently unearthed, and 35 years since their commission, the labels are finally making their debut. Cuvaison collaborated with The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to create collector’s box sets of wine for only three of its vintages. Warhol’s artwork for each wine label in this limited edition was hand-chosen by Cuvaison, The Andy Warhol Foundation and the Schmidheiny family, all mindful of their obligation to both Warhol fans and fine wine connoisseurs.
The recently released first Andy Warhol by Cuvaison Collection includes one bottle of 2014 Chardonnay from the Carneros Estate, and one bottle of 2014 red Bordeaux blend from its Brandlin Vineyard on Mount Veeder (78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec and 7% Cabernet Franc). Both wines are produced in miniscule quantities from the best fruit harvested from their respective Napa Valley vineyards, and packed in a box adorned with Warhol’s designs. Releases in 2017 and 2018 will follow.
The not-for-profit Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which distributes grants in support of the creation, presentation and documentation of contemporary visual arts, will contribute the proceeds it receives from Cuvaison to its endowment.
To celebrate the launch of the collection, Cuvaison is exhibiting the original Warhol artwork in their tasting room’s intimate gallery via Christie’s New York, including 10 original Warhol screen-prints. Visitors can view the exhibit until January 2017 by reservation.