Behind the Labels

Art in the bottle leads to art on the bottle...

Our winery name, Ancien, was chosen in homage to those who have toiled the land in pursuit of vinous perfection for the last 8,000 years. The beautiful art on the labels on each of our bottles reflect the reverence we have for the rich traditions in winemaking, traditions that should not be forgotten. There is, of course, a story behind both...

While working an internship in France early in his career, Ken had the opportunity to travel through Burgundy. The age of the vines and the depth of tradition in this part of France was especially inspiring for someone who had grown up on the West Coast of the US – where the oldest buildings are not much older than 100 years. While traveling along the famous Route des Grand Cru in the north of Burgundy, a sign caught his attention. Leading the way to Roman ruins, where ostensibly the first grapes were planted in the region, the sign simply read “Les Anciens” or “The Ancients”. The seed was planted.

Several months later, an art show in a trendy morning spot near downtown Napa featured the work of local artist Jim Hubert. His work immediately caught Ken’s eye and the vision of the label with Jim’s art quickly coalesced in his mind. Jim’s work, often referred to as “Naive Art” in style, portrayed simpler times. He was inspired by time spent in the Peace Corps in Latin America and his travels through Southern France, Spain, Italy and Northern Africa. The bright colors and references to the simplicity of farming life were appealing, fun, and fundamental. Ultimately, Jim was commissioned to paint the first work: “Dionysus in Harbor” that is used on the Carneros Pinot Noir label. As time passed and the Ancien portfolio grew, Jim subsequently painted an appellation specific label for each new wine. Each label is inspired by some aspect of the vineyard or the appellation of origin and incorporates a reference to ancient wine culture.

Sadly, Jim passed away in 2015. He is sorely missed, but the vibrancy of his art continues to bring smiles to our faces and encapsulates both the reverence to tradition and the enjoyment of the moment that wine brings to us. We updated our label after Jim’s passing, a big part of that was enlarging and further highlighting his work and its part of what Ancien is. Cheers to you, Jim!

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