Rhones of personality: Collin Cranor of Livermore's Nottingham Cellars has a knack for crafting Rhone-style wines of distinction, so it only makes sense to put a face, literally, to those varietals. The winemaker's new brand, Vasco Urbano Wine Company, showcases these exceptional Rhones with a caricature on each label that relates to or represents the varietal.
The inspiration came from a book by Anne Marshall Homan and Richard W. Finn: "Vasco's Livermore, 1910: Portraits from the Hub Saloon." It's a collection of caricature drawings by Urbano Lorriero, an Australian artist who traveled through Livermore in 1910 drawing the town's people. Cranor wanted to capture and tell their stories while representing his wines: The crisp 2013 Grenache Rose ($24) is called Speck, named after a soda shop owner who traipsed through town selling ice on a horse-drawn carriage. The wines are available in the Notthingham Cellars tasting room or at the Wine Steward in Pleasanton. Details: www.facebook.com/vuwine.
Doodle that label: Always wanted to sketch your own label? Scratchpad, a new brand from Buellton-based Terravant Wine Company, allows wine lovers to draw their own label at the time of purchase. Each bottle of Central Coast wine -- they offer a 2011 chardonnay ($13), 2012 sauvignon blanc ($11) and 2011 pinot noir ($15) -- has a blank label and comes with a charcoal pencil so that you can write or draw whatever you want on the bottle. Lorde lyrics? A dinosaur? Self-portrait? Up to you -- and all Instagram worthy. The wines will be available in July. Find out more at www.terravant.com.
Seo's summer sippers: Want to preserve our planet? Drink wine. Well, specifically, green living expert Danny Seo's new Philosophy Wines. The author and nationally syndicated columnist (who was born on Earth Day, by the way) has partnered with Patianna Organic Vineyards in cool-climate Mendocino to release two screw-capped beauties: A fruit-forward 2011 Zinfandel (80 percent old-vine) and a lemony 2012 sauvignon blanc. They retail for $19.99 and are available at www.philosophywine.com.
-- J. Yadegaran, Staff