Wine in the WildImagine sipping a glass of South African Pinotage while riding on the back of an elephant. Or...
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At first glance one recognizes that Imagery Estate Winery gives new meaning to the art of winemaking. With innovation and unconventionality at the core of its principals, Imagery takes risks in winemaking practices, and succeeds.
Contrary to the demands for mainstream wines, in 1985 Winemaker Joe Benziger embarked upon a mission to craft small quantities of uncommon varietals. “I had grown up drinking Cabs and Merlot, so the first uncommon varietal I tasted made a huge impression. I knew then I wanted to make wines people talked about,” Joe recalls. In 2000, Imagery wines found their permanent home at Imagery Estate Winery in Sonoma Valley.
Today, Joe and his team tend to the 20-acre Imagery Estate as well as the neighboring 40-acre Sunny Slope Vineyard. Imagery, though, is fortunate to not be limited to just the grapes of Sonoma. Joe works directly with Director of Grower Relations Mark Burmingham to find the best possible grapes for Imagery’s rare wines. Rare may be an understatement with varietals such as Mourvedre, Lagrein, Tempranillo, and White Burgundy being produced in a place known for Cabernet and Merlot. Still Imagery wines remain ever-pleasing to the palate. It is the hands-on, innovative approach that makes this possible. This is especially true of the Biodynamic practices at Imagery, an environmentally conscious system that allows grapes the maximum amount of flavor.
At Imagery creativity doesn’t end with the wine inside the bottle. In fact one of the most artistic aspects appears on the outside of their bottles—on the labels. Artists from around the world have been invited to design labels for Imagery wines. The artists are given total creative freedom. The only requirement is that each artist includes an interpretation of the Parthenon symbol, which serves as the winery’s signature. More than 150 contemporary artists from around the world have created original works that end up on a bottle of Imagery wine. All are on display at the Imagery art gallery. “Each person’s response (to art) is unique,” says Joe, “much like an individual’s relationship with wine.”
This article has been provided compliments of Touring & Tasting magazine.