Category Art Pieces

Italian Varieties made in California Wine over at Le Metro

Awesome Pack of Wines at Le Metro

The new Le Metro month of wines is getting ready to launch. This is a special one. Aaron has up’d the ante on hard to find, yummy wines here focusing on Italian varieties that have been made in California wine. These are special varieties, and some of my favorite wines coming out of California too.

Here’s a preview of the accompanying zine that I illustrated:

le-metro_Vol-X California Soil, Italian Soul

If you would like to learn more, order just this month’s Le Metro, or subscribe, Aaron would love to hear from you.

He mentioned they have a few extra packs for sale with this month, so if you’re interested, get on it! They’ll sell out quickly.

To check out Le Metro:


Slurping Syrah with Le Metro: Vol IX in print and packaged!

Le Metro Vol IX

As some of you know, I illustrate the monthly collection for Le Metro: Wine. Underground. It’s a ton of fun. Aaron Epstein selects the wines, the theme, and the tagline, and then sends me the info and I get to draw up a piece to bring together yummy wine with a sense of wine education.

With Vol IX though I’m especially excited as the collection Aaron selected focuses on Syrah, with a six-pack of truly special wines. Several of them have gotten recent attention for their quality in both SF Chronicle, and The New York Times. It’s remarkable the Le Metro team was able to secure them. Great work!

Here’s an image of the illustration for Vol IX. Aaron has been kind enough to be sure to send them to me.

Le Metro Syrah Vol IX

Aaron informs me that Vol IX is available to order in small quantities, so if you’re interested, get your butt on over there!

Here’s the link:

Thank you to Aaron Epstein. It’s a lot of fun to work on this with you every month!


I just finished a super hefty month of January work wise by getting in some freelance writing I couldn’t be more excited about. Keep an eye out here for article announcements once they’re in print.

Hope you’re all doing well!

Between Five Bells 2013 H-Cote Label

New Labels (by me) for Between Five Bells

As some of you know, I designed a label for Between Five Bells’s 2012 H-Cote Red blend. The label was complimented too by Australia’s Wine Business Magazine. Winemaker David Fesq asked if I’d develop a label for the 2013 as well. I just received quick shots from him last night of the wine coming off the bottling line.

Between Five Bells uses design work by Nick Feltron on their Geelong wines to showcase harvest information for the wine in graphical form. The goal is to be transparent. In expanding to a wine from the Heathcote (thus, H-Cote) region they decided they could keep with the transparency-on-label idea while asking me to come from another approach. Fesq asked me to develop the visual tasting note on label instead.

Here are images of the wine. So fun to see it coming off the bottling line! The second photo shows the three Between Five Bells 2013 wines together.

bottling line

Between Five Bells 2013 wines

from left: B5B H-Cote Red, B5B Geelong White, B5B Geelong Red

Thank you to David Fesq for the images!


Bubbles over at Le Metro this Month

Drawing Bubbles for Le Metro

Le Metro bubbles pack

image from Aaron Epstein

Le Metro Vol VII just came out complete with an illustration of the Methode Traditionelle process for making sparkling wine.

Aaron put together a really fun collection of bubbles for December. I think it’s their best collection yet.

He also asked if I’d be willing to do the food pairings for this round. As a result the set of wines arrived weeks in advance. To celebrate the process a number of us got together with a pile of foods we love to sample and sip alongside. Our favorites became the suggestions for this month’s Le Metro.


POST EDIT: If you’re in the San Diego area, Le Metro is about to throw a fantastic bubbles event to celebrate their project, and the season.

It’ll take place at the Chuck Jones Gallery in the Gaslamp District this Saturday, December 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. They’ll be pouring a wash of great bubbles.

For more information read up on it here:


To check out Le Metro:

To read more on Le Metro:
A conversation with Aaron Epstein, the curator:

The illustration work I’m doing with them:

Drinking Le Metro Pinot: A Conversation with Aaron Epstein

Le Metro: Wine. Underground. Volume VI

As I mentioned here a few weeks ago, I’ve just started doing monthly illustrations for a wine subscription service that provides 6 bottles a month, along with a record-sleeve sized art poster complete with account of the collection and food pairing suggestions.

As the new collections are released, I’ll post a brief update here letting you know it’s available. Usually the post will be as simple as that. This time I thought I’d talk with the Le Metro club curator, Aaron Epstein, to find out more about where he’s coming from in designing each set. I have no involvement in the wine selection, I simply illustrate the project once the wines are selected, so I thought it would be interesting to find out more.

Le Metro Pinot Vol VI

Le Metro Vol VI: Shade of Pinot Noir

After moving from New York to San Diego with his young family, Aaron Epstein wanted to work towards opening a wine store in California. The project proved daunting as legal constraints in the Southern portions of the state are thorough. In the meantime, Epstein focused his attentions on connecting to the wine community through the area, as well as tasting North through the growing regions of the state.

Enter Protocol Wine Studio.

Business partners Tina Morey, and Eric Guy began a project several years ago focused on supporting wine exploration, and culture in the border city, tracking developing trends, and resources that could assist education and access in the world of wine. The venture includes a Studio space that offers a meeting place for those passionate about wine, with tasting and study events as well as a physical location from which to launch regular online #winechat ‘s and Skype tastings. The duo and Epstein hit it off and began brainstorming.

Over time Epstein realized his dream of a wine shop was more expensive and time consuming than suited the everyday reality of his family life (he and his wife have recently celebrated the birth of a boy — Congratulations again!). Instead, Epstein approached Protocol with the idea of a monthly wine club and the question of how to do it differently.

I asked Epstein to explain his goals with the club to me.

Each month of Le Metro revolves around a particular theme. “I want to strike a balance between artistic elements, themes that are seasonally appropriate without being cheesy and obvious.” As an example, Vol VI focuses entirely on Pinot Noir–a wine that’s pleasant without heavy to drink as the temperatures cool, and also happens to pair beautifully with Thanksgiving foods. The fruit forward, low tannin combo of the wine carries well against heavier flavors of butter-rich foods (and my favorite mashed potatoes).

As another example, in December, Vol VII will offer 6 bottles of different bubbles. “December is bubbles, because that is appropriate. People want bubbles to celebrate the holidays, but the materials included on the poster and food pairings are there to encourage people to enjoy bubbles other times of the year as well, and with food.” (You might want to get on this one — I got to suggest food pairings for the set, and taste the wines in advance as a result. Dude. Whoa. Yum.)

Another goal of Epstein’s and Protocol is to build community. The team bring in different wine professionals each month to design the food pairings specific to the wines included in each set. They also host online twitter conversations with wine writers and consumers around each theme, Skype tastings with people in other locations when desired, and physical tastings in San Diego. In this way, Epstein explains, Le Metro is ultimately also about friends–incorporating involvement in the project with friends already established, and connecting to new ones.

Finally, I ask Epstein to explain to me how he selects the specific wines for each month. “I spend a great deal of time thinking about the balance of each box,” he says. “I want at least one wine each month that surprises, whoever you are, but not more than one that you’d potentially hate. The collections are for people that love wine, and are willing to learn. The overall balance is on what’s fun, on what we can learn, and what’s delicious.”


To check out Le Metro:

To check out Protocol:

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Le Metro Illustrations: Argentina Express

New Illustration Project

I am now illustrating the monthly collection from Le Metro — Wine. Underground, a wine subscription service with rotating themes from all over the world.

Tasting, Traveling, Drawing Argentina

As some of you know, I just got back from Argentina and have a ton to share about wines there. When I take trips to any wine region I make a point of sandwiching the trip, both before and after, with tastings from that region. It helps calibrate my palate to the place, and gives me more insight than I can get only traveling. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

In the midst of preparing for the journey to South America, my friend Aaron Epstein gave me a call to see if I’d be interested in doing some illustration work with him. It turned out he had a month on Argentine wine, and thought I’d like to warm up with his collection before leaving.

Le Metro — Wine. Underground.

You see, Aaron started this cool new project called Le Metro, that could be thought of as a wine club, a subscription service, or a way to travel yourself through wine. For each month, Aaron curates a six-pack collection revolving around a particular theme.

He opened with “California Underground” pouring through the lean-focused new heroes of California wine like Wind Gap, and Scholium Project. But in other months he’s turned to (red and white!) Sancerre, Corsica, and Sicily, among others. What I like about the project is the opportunity to focus your palate in on genuine pleasure around a theme you’ll enjoy but don’t get to predict.

Each collection includes not only the six-pack but also a record sleeve size poster with art on one side, and an account of that month’s theme, wines, and suggested food pairings done by a different winemaker or aficionado each time on the other side. Each collection is also available in a single purchase format.

The art is where I come in. Enter Argentina.

Argentina Express

For Le Metro’s Volume V, Aaron focused in on wines from Argentina, presenting six distinctive choices from throughout the country (only one is Malbec!).

I choose the projects I want to take based on believing in what they are up to, and wanting to work with the people involved. In this case, getting to work-play with a friend of mine around something we both enjoy is a treat.

Aaron gave me free reign on the illustration so for our first collaboration I chose to draw up tasting notes on one of the iconic wines inside.


Achaval Ferrer takes the prize for helping showcase quality wine from Argentina. His Quimera offers Bordelaise substance, with Argentine focus, giving the earth and spice unique to his region in the structure and texture possible with a Bordeaux blend. It seemed appropriate to start the collaboration with Aaron there.

So, keep an eye out for a monthly illustration announcement on Le Metro’s collection here. I’ll be illustrating for them on an ongoing basis. I have no input on the wines Le Metro features, and don’t even know till he tells me what they are. My work is just to illustrate the theme once it’s selected.

The Le Metro team includes Protocol Wine Studio, and Mother Sponge design as well. Mother Sponge does the awesome design work on the collection’s poster. Together Le Metro and Protocol have been doing fun #winestudio Twitter chats, Skype tastings around the country, and Pop-Up events in San Diego.

(psst: Keep an eye out for a major bubbles tasting down in San Diego from these folks. But don’t tell Aaron I warned you.)


Check out Le Metro’s Subscription service here: and on Facebook:



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Australia’s Wine Business Monthly Features Between Five Bells Wine Label

Australian Wine Writer, Max Allen, sent out a tweet this last week about Between Five Bells H-Cote Red, and the label I drew for it.

Australia’s Wine Industry Magazine, Australia’s Wine Business Magazine releases a weekly feature of the important news events for the industry that happened in the week prior.

Thanks to Allen’s tweet, my Between Five Bells’ label was included as AWBM’s pick for “Beautiful Thing of the Week” with the caption “Max Allen tweeted this photograph of a beautiful wine label. There’s a bit of negroni about it.”

Here’s a bit of a screen capture.


Check it out here:

Thanks to David Fesq and Chuck Hayward for giving me the head’s up!

Thank you to Max Allen, and Australia’s Wine Business Monthly for the mention!

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend!


Between Five Bells Heathcote Blend: New Labels

David Fesq of Between Five Bells, a small production label out of Victoria, Australia, was kind enough to send me some snap shots of their bottles with a brand new label just applied yesterday.

The Between Five Bells H-Cote is an unusual red blend of Nero d’ Avola, Negroamaro, Riesling skins, and a bit of Shiraz. With such a unique approach, Fesq wanted a label that would give insight into the wine itself. He asked if I’d design a label for him inspired by my drawn tasting notes based on my taste experience with the wine. Lucky me! I had so much fun with this.

The wine will be released in August (B5B is imported to the States by Vine Street Imports in Philadelphia).

Take a look:

label close up

the label close up before bottle application

bottles all in a row

on the bottles

view from the top

from the top

Thanks so much, David! I can’t wait to see the bottles in person.

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