Label art, typography, bottle shape, foil design and other elements used to differentiate one wine from the next gives graphic designers an interesting challenge, especially with new wines: Create the package that makes people want to try this wine for the first time. (
Rita LeBleu / American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, January 27, 2014 12:00 PMCollecting and appreciating wine can be anything you want it to be. “There’s no right way and wrong way,” said Tim Andreas, who designed a special room in his Graywood home to not only store wine, but also to sit and enjoy it with guests. The quest to find out more about wines began as part of Andreas’ heart-healthy quest after a heart attack.
For homeowners who are planning a new build, the idea for setting aside such space has to be done early in the design process. “You’ve got to have an area that you’re willing to dedicate. You’ve got to have the space itself,” he said.
Next comes the decision about how the room will function. Overall, the Andreas home plan lends itself to entertaining. The courtyard, which has a pool, outside kitchen and gardens, connects to the kitchen/family room area via a series of working and nonworking French doors. A large bar, an ample dine-in table and plenty of other seating make this a comfortable gathering place with plenty of room to mingle. The wine room is adjacent to this space.
Making its dimensions seem even larger are the oversized-glass and wrought iron double entry and window. So, even with the door closed, which helps keep the temperature and humidity constant, wine samplers can see everything going on in the kitchen/family area as well as out onto the courtyard.
Much of the wine room area is dedicated to seating, yet storage is ample — enough for 800 bottles.
The ability to regulate the temperature and humidity is key for storing wine. The Andreas estate is a “smart home,” which, among many other things, means that a special computer setting for lights, temperature and music for each room is available. Andreas planned for extra insulation in the room’s walls and ceiling. There are also extra air vents. A special wine cooler keeps the whites at 45 degrees Fahrenheit and the reds at 58. According to Andreas, some would argue that temperatures should be exactly that. Others argue for their favorite temperature within about three degrees of that setting.
Careful attention was given to the planning for various bottle designs and even the variety of wine glasses. Andreas separates champagnes, dessert wines and in general, keeps his special occasion, aging and pricier wines separate from other varieties.
The room has a rich, masculine tone. The custom wrought iron and glass door is fashioned with clusters of grapes and leaves. This design is also used in the corbels, the trim and in the beautiful cabinet door and drawer pulls. The countertop is covered with onyx that includes green marbling. The cabinets are alder. The walls have a faux finish reminiscent of leather.
For seating, Tim’s wife, Tammy, a decorator, used the
greens and purples associated with grapes. The 80-inch long by 42-inch deep Pierre Sofa from Z Galleries could work with any style room, contemporary or traditional, she said.
“We chose a Latimer Alexander Cannes thistle fabric,” she said. “Cannes Thistle is an elegant velvet texture with a rich luster to its colors — this one is a deep, rich purple. Cannes is a contract grade velvet that works beautifully in settings where high traffic is a consideration.”
She opted for custom chairs that would represent the uniqueness of the wine room. The Hancock & Moore’s Grigsby tufted club chairs are covered in an Adrian Jade crocodile-embossed top-grain leather, according to Tammy, who added, “Hancock & Moore’s leathers are selected for a natural appearance, with distinctive markings that impart unique character. Their distinctive, beautifully grained woods are all ‘Grade A.’ Before a piece is stained or a special finish applied, the wood is hand-sanded more than seven times, which makes it almost silky to the touch. We chose the ‘Marseilles’ wood finish for its distressed markings and gold rubbed edges,” said Tammy.
The coffee table is made from an antique door from India. Under the glass are various stones (sometimes referred to as coasters) from vineyards that Tim and Tammy have visited.
There are two large vineyard-themed paintings in the room. But the real art, according to Tim, is in the wine — the appreciation of the subtle differences on the palate and of the eye. This art includes the beautiful foils (the tops of each bottle that can be seen when bottles are stored on their side), the typography, the labels and even the various bottle shapes. (Andreas keeps and sets some of the foils aside to be used in mixed media artwork.)
A couple of the labels resembled William Morris designs. The Dom Perignon Andy Warhol collector edition labels peeked brightly from their shelf and enjoyed a few minutes of fame during the interview. The Brazin wine bottle had a modern-looking illustration that resembled a squat, thick-trunked, leafless tree, created from only a few words written over and over again. Andreas explained that it represented old vines, which are thicker and more knotted and snarled than younger vines. This affects the taste of the grape, thus the wine.
The most beautiful example of “bottle art” was the 750 mL bottle from the California Meeker vineyard. The room’s special lighting bounced off the bottle’s shimmering colors and textures. A closer look revealed two handprints created with various acrylic paint colors, including gold. According to Andreas, the Meeker wine makers mark certain vintages with handprints. These handprints signify the passing of the bottle “from our hands to yours” and represent the care and attention to detail by that vineyard.
Andreas admitted that what he knows about wines only scratches the surface of the wealth of information available and that his interest is mostly in California wines at this time and even more specifically, what pleases his palate.
He did have a couple of French wines and rattled off the names without a hitch, including Chateaneuf de Pope, which he said means “house of the pope” and came from the Rhone grape-growing region where the pope, at one time, lived.
About American wines, he told the story of Miljenko Gergich, a 90-year-old California wine maker who was the first to challenge French wine makers to a blind taste test in 1976. Not only did an American wine win, but an American chardonnay, Zolo.
Tim and Tammy shop at Hokus Pokus and pick up wines they haven’t seen locally when they travel. One of Andreas’ most recent finds includes a Napa Valley 2010 Dominus — purchased before Robert Parker, a well-known wine expert according to Andreas — gave it a score of 100. (Andreas was not only pleased because the score will cause the value of the wine to go up. It also means that now he feels free to consume the 1995 Dominus that he’s been aging.)
That bottle of Dominus and some of Andreas’ other wines would be considered costly by many. When asked to recommend a wine that the average person would find affordable, he named the Brazin Zinfandel, which he considers the Andreas’ “house wine.” It’s served at large gatherings and costs about $15 per bottle.