Review of 99 Bottles of Wine

99 Bottles of WineAs promised, here is my review of the book, 99 Bottles of Wine, supplementing my pre-purchase review a few months ago. You may already know that the author, David Schuemann, is owner of CF Napa and the designer of the labels shown in the book. While many of the featured labels are also on the CF Napa website, it’s such a pleasure to get away from the computer and sit on the couch with a beautiful book. For that reason, I highly recommend it. And for the stories.

My previous post, “Every Winery Has A Story,” talks about the stories behind a brand. Such stories make up the bulk of the copy in 99 Bottles of Wine. I read every word of them, but I may be the only one to do so. Most people will be happy to pick and choose among the 99 accounts. But everyone will look at the fine photography, so very fine. The book is professional through and through, with bigger-than-lifesize bottles showing off their unique labels.

If you are a label and packaging designer, you may be wondering if you should buy 99 Bottles of Wine for your library or a comparable book that predates it: Icon: Art of the Wine Label by Jeffrey Caldewey and Chuck House. Sorry, but I can’t help you here. Both books are awesome and full of inspiration. They are not redundant, though I must admit I feel extravagant having both.

What’s missing in these two books are answers to our questions about the nitty gritty details of the business of designing wine labels. Questions like: How many rounds did it take before a design was accepted? Who was the illustrator of that lovely piece of line art? Could that be digital printing?? These details aren’t offered, I suppose, because they would date the material; as it is, the books are timeless and first and foremost, artistic.

Mercy wine label artFortunately, in the generous culture of the wine industry, I find people are ready to share details when asked. For example, when I went wine tasting in Carmel Valley, my first stop was the highly-recommended Mercy Vineyards where vintner Mark Dirickson himself was hosting. Mr. Dirickson told me how his designer presented over a dozen concepts for his label but he fell in love with the winged lady shown here. I asked who his designer was and he answered, “The man who wrote the book!” He was referring, I quickly found out, to Icon. But now we have another “man who wrote the book” with Schuemann. And that’s not the end of it. There are more stories to be told and labels to display. Furthermore, there’s a “woman who wrote the book,” too. I’m speaking of Tanya Scholes who authored The Art and Design of Contemporary Wine Labels, next on my list to enjoy, possibly with a glass of that enchanting Pinot Noir I tasted at Mercy.