The stories behind Orin Swift’s quirkiest wine labels


A labour of love, the label for Abstract took three years to compile and three weeks to create. Phinney ripped the 230 images that make up Abstract out of magazines bought at airports during his travels. Inspired by a collage an Italian designer had tacked up in his living room, Phinney thought his own version might make for an arresting wine label.

Featuring everyone from Elvis Presley, Earnest Hemingway and Tilda Swinton, to Paul Weller, Marilyn Monroe and The Queen, having amassed a sizeable collection of portraits, Phinney placed them together on a large table in his office that he sealed off so his work wouldn’t be ruined by a gust of wind – he decided not to glue them down.

In case tragedy struck, he took a picture of the developing collage each night for reference. The easiest part was photographing the work – all he needed was a ladder.

Like the collage, the wine inside the bottle, a blend of Grenache, Petite Sirah and Syrah, is made up of 100 different components sourced from multiple vineyards in multiple appellations throughout California whittled down over the course of a few months during multiple marathon tastings.

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