The relationship between nature and culture is often defined in terms of difference as well as convergence. Sometimes, mutual feedback occurs between environment and product – both combining to balance natural and cultural creations.
Stones Wine is one of the unique blends of nature and culture. Of nature: the rocky, mineral-y Napa Valley soil of five vineyards, creating combinations unique to the creation of great wine. Of culture: bottled in hand-blown vessels with hand-crafted zinc labels, often painted with abstract art designs. These diverse elements have been envisioned, then created by Lawrence Fairchild, founder of Stones Wines.
Each Stones Wine is made available only five times per year. In addition, his Perrarus Collection of large format Cabernet Sauvignons ($3,500 – $11,500 per bottle) in hand-blown glass bottles and designed with abstract artwork, are available by lottery only, limited to 1 per member.
Perrarus — Latin for rare and exceptional– represents a blend of the best of Mr. Fairchild’s three single-vineyard products from Stones No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. Each Stones label design–Stones No. 1, Stones No. 2, Stones No. 3, and Stones Longitude • Latitude — is hand-illustrated before it’s hand-pressed in zinc and applied to each bottle. The Perrarus 2 vessel features a one-of-a-kind commissioned artwork by renowned artist Cédric Boutillier, and each label, is uniquely marked and numbered: only 350 bottles will be made available.
The Stones Wine portfolio currently consists of four bottles of wine that have been considered art pieces as well. Stones is a portfolio of limited production Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines sourced from five distinctive Napa Valley vineyards. Stones No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, Longitude – Latitude bottles currently sell for $375 at release; Stones Chardonnay bottles currently sell for $175/bottle.
Each bottle reflects the taste of Mr. Fairchild in art and design, the wine and bottle being a perfected combination of the nature of each terroir and the culture of great art. It is a rare occasion when tasteful design becomes designer taste.
JustLuxe recently interviewed Lawrence Fairchild, a native Nebraskan, as he discusses multiple dimensions relating to his visionary ideation, his evolving brand, and recent consequences of the environmental challenges that have affected Napa Valley.
JL: In Willa Cather’s notes at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, is her statement that those in the Midwest have a unique intimacy with the land —also, an intimacy that pulls you back and pushes you forward. Please let me know how you understand this, as you are the recipient of a midwestern upbringing. Where in Nebraska were you raised, and what type of land education and sensitivity have you brought to your wine brand?
Mr. Fairchild: I grew up on a large farm in a small town, north of Omaha, Nebraska. Our work ethic on the farm defined how we lived, and basically how I live now. I knew about soils from having lived and worked there for so many years and then went to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and studied soils and growing components. But, oddly, I always had this passion for art and design, even when studying soil composition. I was the only person I knew back then who was reading GQ and was fascinated by fashion, art, and all the design that went with those disciplines.
As time moved on, I realized that creating a great wine brand that combined the most unique design and artistry WITH creating the best fruits that soils can produce was marrying my passion for art with my education and life experience with soil. So here we are.
JL: The name of your winery is called Stones – is it because of the quality of the soil – full of stone and schist—that enhances the taste of wine? Please discuss the origin of the name.
Mr. Fairchild: Cultivated soil is the key to growing the best of everything, including grapes. We have five neighboring vineyards in the heart of Napa Valley wine country that are meticulously tended to produce exceptional wine. But our soil, like many great soils that produce grapes, is rocky, and somewhat gravelly. Our wines reflect the marriage of rock with a minerality that defines our land. From that, we have perfected growing fruit from stone. Thus, our name.
JL: Your building of this wine brand — in its hand-crafted bottles, individual zinc labels and pricing allows Stones Wines to define a certain consistent level of UHNW. It is no surprise then that you have also built a club — where the members receive the first choice of the new offerings. How successful has that club been? What are the further details of this venture?
Mr. Fairchild: The Stones Black VIP Membership, limited to 500 of our wine clients, was created for two purposes. The first was to create an easier method for our special members to receive automatic allocations of the Stones wines upon release, versus having to “look out for” the next offering, some of which sell out within hours.
Stones Black provides a special service that guarantees that our members will receive all of our wines. Additionally, as we are a high-touch organization, Stones Black provides our Members First access to Stones & Perrarus special events, such as Michelin Star dinners and experiences. Covid has moved a number of these events to 2021, but all are entirely sold out as our members are anxiously waiting for a great 2021.
The most desired Stones Black membership benefit is our Library Wine program. Any member can purchase an additional 3-bottle set of any wine within five years of release. So, if they are down to their last bottle, they can have another on the way.
JL: Lastly, how do you see Stone Wines as having to adjust to the changes that the recent fire damage has produced in Napa? This is an important question, as I would like this article to be one of how great wine and great art survive even the most unfortunate of circumstances.
Mr. Fairchild: We ended up only harvesting 20% of our grapes for 2020. A difficult decision, but quality is our only measure when determining which grapes would make the cut due to smoke taint. Fortunately, the Chardonnay came out early and was perfect. We chose to pick from only one vineyard block which was showing nominal to no smoke taint. The other vineyards unfortunately did not make the cut.
Our 2018 & 2019 vintages are world-class wines and will be the best of the decade. These vintages will carry us through the shortfall which will occur in 2023. We will continue to be more high-touch than ever and post Covid, engage with our members as much as possible. We also have the exclusive Perrarus hand-blown glass edition and the re-release in 2023 of the now famous Perrarus 1 Astrolabe Label. The future is exciting.
Lawrenc Fairchild, Perrarus wine with Astrolabe label.