Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The origin of the "Red Zeppelin" name.
My first Red Zeppelin wine was released in 1991, as I have noted in my previous post on the "False Zeppelin." The name is indeed a pun on the rock band, but it only arrived in my brain after a jetstream of consciousness derailed my train of thought (ha!) about another wine label. Many people seem to think that Bonny Doon was the first California winery to have silly labels. (In fact, Thomas Kruse in neighboring Gilroy was first.) The now-famous label above, first used on a 1984 California Rhone blend, wittily if a bit preciously relates the tale of the village of Chateauneuf du Pape's 1953 ordinance banning the landing of UFOs in local vineyards, the purported result of a cigar-shaped "flying saucer" scare. As something of a skeptic in these matters (I'll relate my Roswell tale another time) I considered the tale, and it seemed to me that the stereotypically excitable Frenchmen were suffering from postwar stress syndrome; indeed, unconsciously recalling an incident from the Great War. The Germans used rigid airships extensively in WW1, though the technology wasn't up to the mission. One large Zeppelin raid on London was hit by unexpected high winds (perhaps the then-undiscovered jetstream) that blew the dirigibles astray; some crashed in France, one was never found. The crash of a huge airship, filled with hydrogen gas and containing toxic metals, into a valuable vineyard just before harvest would be terrible indeed: explosions, mangled vines and twisted wreckage, the Germans stuffing their faces with Grenache . . . . I saw it all clearly, as through an overfined Marsanne. And then the name came to me: Red Zeppelin. As I was already interested in adding Rhone varietals to our lineup at Jory Winery, I knew I had the name for my new wine. As for the label design, Rick Tharp and I thought we would have a little fun; but that's a tale for later.