Vines & Equines
by Ursula Beck
By using the image of a horse on the outside of a bottle of wine, the marketer reaches into our subconscious to tell us something about the complex experience offered by the wine within. Sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words, and representing equine beauty can get your attention and transmit powerful messages of gracefulness, fiery temperament, long pedigree, supple behavior and more. In fact, the associations evoked by equine images are so similar to that of the taste of a fine wine that our language has evolved a dual vocabulary to describe the admirable qualities of each. Some words equally at home in describing equine and wine qualities are: full bodied, elegant, refined, noble, breed, character, finesse, silky, smooth, supple, terroir, lively, well balanced. According to Leskincaids wine vocabulary, “Breed – Similar to good bloodlines and handling, as in racehorses: the result of soil, grapes and vinification techniques that combine to produce depth and distinctive character in a wine.”
Here are some examples of the winery’s descriptive language that expertly makes use of the attractive qualities attributed to the horse.
Chateau St. Michelle Winery, located in the state of Washington, comments about their merlot wine called 14 Hands. “Our vineyards were once home to wild horses that roamed the starkly beautiful hills and drank from the mighty Columbia River. Fourteen hands in height, these tough little horses were revered around the world. The terrain that gave them endurance and spirit now feeds our vines. Our 14 Hands wines share the soul and intensity of this unbridled freedom.” The label for 14 Hands wine was created from a pastel painting titled Wild Horses by artist Cynthia Sampson-Files.
Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards in Paso Robles, California, states, “Wild Horse was named for the wild mustangs that roamed east of our estate. These horses were descendants of the first Spanish horses introduced to California. The name Wild Horse has grown to evoke images of the free, unbridled, and dynamic spirit which is manifested in our constant exploration of wine grape varieties and winemaking techniques. It is this spirit of adventure which can be found in all Wild Horse employees, from the vineyards to the tasting room.”
Clos Pegase Winery (Clos - the French word for an enclosed vineyard and Pegase – the French word for Pegasus) was founded by Jan Shrem. The winery grounds host a sculpture garden that includes some of the world’s greatest twentieth-century works of art. The name of the winery, Clos Pegase, reflects the mythological beginnings of wine. Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology, was believed to have given birth to wine and to art when his hooves unleashed the sacred spring of the muses. The water irrigated the vines and inspired the poets who drank of them. Reproduced on the winery’s label is Shrem’s favorite painting from his extensive art collection, the famous Pegasus, circa 1890, by Redon.
Author Ursula Beck is the director of The Taos School of Equine Art in Taos, New Mexico. If you would like to learn more about creating all types of equine art, contact The Taos School of Equine Art for a free catalogue of their workshops: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.taosartschool.org.