May 17th – In 2012, Winemaker Ian Blackburn released 123 cases of single vineyard 2009 Beekeeper Cellars Rockpile Zinfandel. A 95-point, 3-puff (collectible) review from The Connoisseurs’ Guide (#1 scoring Zin of the year) was followed with a favorable report from James Suckling. The stage was set for a bright future for this new and ambitious Zinfandel brand… the 2009 vintage sold out inside its first 30 days of release and the buzz was palpable.
The press and international coverage came at a cost as the label made international news and was flagged by Domaine Romanée-Conti as having “the spirit” of the famous wine in the label. Blackburn, a burgundy buff himself, agreed that “the spirit” is shared by many and agreed to change the label going forward.
The 2009 vintage of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, widely known as one of the greatest wine producers in the world, now sells for upwards of $30,000. The Beekeeper, originally released at approximately $60, climbed in the collector’s markets over the $125 mark shortly its original sale. Auction results in 2016 valued the wine over $200 and recently closed at all-time highs, selling at $400 a bottle. The 2009 remains the only bottle of Beekeeper Cellars to carry the original art work.
In 2010 the new label released with great success. Ian was in search of a design that conveyed his passion both for Zinfandel and for a worldwide appreciation of the classics. Font specialist Peter Greco, a teacher at Cal Arts and noted street artist in downtown Los Angeles Arts District was hired and produced the new label in pencil. Graphic designer Greg Barnett generated the CAD art to be printed direct to glass. The finished package won a gold medal at The Los Angeles County Fair in package design and carries this label today.