It might be what's inside that counts, but when it comes to wine, the label on the bottle is sometimes the selling point.
"I'm ridiculous," says Whistler artist Lisa Geddes. "I buy wine for the label and I'm lucky if the wine is good."
Soon it could be her ethereal painting of a pastel fairy in the woods that draws buyers to a bottle of '07 Riserva Brunello from winemaker Mario Bollag's vineyard Terralsole in Montalcino, Italy. The piece is slated to be printed on labels for bottles that will be shipped to stores later this month. "I had been thinking about it for quite a long time, but I spent several weeks trying to put images together. Typically his wines have a woman on the label and he wanted a mystical, magical quality to it," Geddes says. "It was a lot harder than I thought."
The opportunity to paint the unusual canvas began in Whistler during a dinner at Araxi last November. Geddes and her husband where having a conversation with the sommelier there and she ended up inviting them to a small private dinner in the back where Bollag and a party were dining.
"Samantha, the sommelier, had been to his vineyard and studied (there) and was a guest there. I was joking around and I said, 'Oh so do you have other guests there too?'" Geddes says.
Turns out, he and his wife, Athena, do host visitors. So the couple decided to seize the opportunity and travelled to the Italian vineyard for a vacation. There they discovered that Bollag is an art fan and almost always recruits artists from Haiti to design his wine labels. "When he found out I was an artist he wanted to see my work on the Art Junction (the Whistler gallery that represents her) website," Geddes says.
When she showed him some pieces featuring butterflies and cocoons he realized her work would be perfect for the Riserva Brunello. Geddes' label is inspired by a legend about the land the vineyard lies on, next to a (now non-existent) creek called Milk Spring where, legend has it, breast-feeding women would visit to make their milk supply more plentiful. The area was also said to be populated by wood nymphs and fairies.
While the images might not have been difficult for Geddes to paint, the small size of the canvas was a challenge. "I worked in graphic design years ago, so I had an idea of what would work well on a small label," she says. "I typically work much bigger."
With Bollag's approval, Geddes decided to donate the original canvas to the Red and White Ski Patrol party on March 7, which is serving as a fundraiser for a patroller whose young son is suffering from leukemia. Geddes and her husband — whose own son faced a battle with cancer a few years ago — are also donating their bottle of the '07 Riserva Brunello.
"(Bollag) wanted to do something for children's hospitals, so when I asked if he minded if I gave the original (painting) to the auction and the Riserva Brunello he said, 'Absolutely. Please do.' He was fully supportive of the idea," Geddes says.
The fundraiser is $15 at the GLC, beginning at 7 p.m. with a live auction at 7:30 p.m. and music by the Whiskey Chiefs to follow.