Southern Gothic Wine

by E. Charrow on 02/20/2009 | 2 Minute Read

Editorial photograph

Southern Belle Shiraz

Editorial photograph

Poor Thing Grenache

Editorial photograph

Didely Bow Riesling

The truth is if James Jean designed a garbage bag I would probably be completely in love with it.  These wine bottle designs for The Greatful Palate keep in the tradition of James Jeans artistic style while still addressing the concerns of the brand.


worked with the Grateful Palate a while ago on a series of wine

labels, and they are finally available for sale. The theme was Southern Gothic, and I brainstormed some concepts

with owner Dan Philips and designer Beth Elliot. They gave me a lot of

creative freedom, and the typography was expertly done by Jeff Keedy. There are little bits of foil printed in the intricate framing


I researched the imagery and stories from the region

and time period to get inspired: some immediate triggers were kudzu, sprawling oak

trees, and antebellum images like the Southern Belle.

"Southern Belle" was created to resemble fine china. One tradition of

Southern Gothic literature is to subvert traditional stereotypes of the

antebellum period. The element of hypocrisy plays a huge role in these

characters. I also have an interest in exploring gender issues, though

subtly, in much of my work. The first bottle is the "promiscuous belle"

wielding her deadly charms on her suitors, the second bottle is the

"mourning belle" with all the skeletons of the past emerging from under

her dress, and the last bottle is the "homemaker", who tries to contain

and control appearances on the estate as if it were a doll house.

"Poor Thing" depicts a forest populated by a trio of characters

representing thwarted desires, draped with kudzu. A bloated cupid draws

back his bow, perhaps in an effort to protect the angel from a hound

that has become a hunter. Meanwhile, the oak trees are weeping while

witnessing this sad romance, redolent of the heat and humidity of the


The "gut bucket" blues became the inspiration for the "Didley Bow"

series. I always liked the idea that music could be cobbled together

from the simplest of materials, so the characters are all connected to

something elemental, if not being elemental themselves. Being somewhat

of an amateur musician, I used colors that were evocative of the music,

acidic yellows and reds, in addition to bruised purples in the line


These wines are finally

available at $39.95 per bottle, and you can purchase them by contacting

the Grateful Palate's retail manager, Tim Coles, at 707.673-9339, or by



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