Tattoo You: Hate Points? Get Some Body Art!

Vinted on August 10, 2010 binned in commentary, wine news

I don’t normally read press releases that are e-mailed to me (usually they are destined for the Delete key), but this one hit my (perpetually overflowing, groaning from the strain and taxed beyond all logical, sane measure) Inbox last night and it caught my eye for reasons that will appear obvious in just a minute.

First a bit of background: A few days ago, the Mutineer Magazine blog pointed out a unique contest being held by Washington producer Hedges Family Estates, in which they (HFE, not Mutineer) were offering magnums of HFE wine and other culturally-minded prizes to seven contest winners who would be chosen after submitting mission statements for the terroir of the Red Mountain AVA on Hedges’ Facebook page.

Oh, yeah – and also agreeing to tattoo the Red Mountain AVA symbol (a red triangle with sunbursts surrounding it) somewhere on their bodies.

No, I am not making this up.

In any case, it was substantiated by the press release that I received last night.  What really struck me, though, was not the call to ink (I’ve certainly got nothing against tattoos, and in fact have been waffling on getting my own for about, oh, four or five years now), but that the AVA tattoo itself was being proffered as an act of rebellious defiance.  Against the 100 point wine scoring system…

Apparently, the tattoo also symbolizes some sort of personal (and henceforth indelible) manifesto against the evils of the 100  point scale.
From the press release:

As part of their war against the 100-point system and the impending doom of truth in wine, Hedges Family Estate (HFE) has reached out to like-minded souls across the country and asked them to join a new society called the Guardians of Red Mountain.  As part of the initiation, they will have their bodies tattooed with the symbol of the Red Mountain AVA (American Viticultural Area), where the HFE vineyards are located…

Apropos wine scores, Hedges says, “Winemakers whose families have been making wine since the Gauls have been forced to chase scores with bigger and riper wines, and put aside their desire to make place specific wines with balance and finesse.  It’s wrong.  Quantifying a subjective experience is simply not logical.

Personally, I haven’t decided if this is awesome, insanely stupid, or both.  Something tells me that I am gonna love what you folks think about this, though!  I’m certainly not enamored with the point-scaling wine judging system, and I adopted my current wine rating system only after much deliberation and accepting of the wills of the collective 1WD readership.

But still… this all strikes me as a bit… much.

I mean, if you like HFE wine that much, or if you love Red Mountain to the point of obsession, then by all means tattoo away.  But I’m having trouble seeing how inking up your bod with the AVA’s logo is somehow spitting in the face of conventional wine criticism.

Whaddya say – is this a stroke of marketing genius? Or a sad commentary on how far people are willing to go for a magnum of Washington wine?  Or am I just an ink-envious curmudgeon?  Shout it out in the comments!

(images: Hedges Family Estate, LIFE)





  • George R Perry

    I don't know if I'd go with marketing genius, but I certainly agree with the sentiment behind the thought. The 100 pt system is flawed by design and I certainly support any group or winery that is trying to push through getting away from it. Kudos to HFE and I'd love to see who ends up getting the tattoos.

    • 1WineDude

      Hopefully they follow up with video coverage of the tattooing ceremonies!

  • Nick Perdiew

    Hey, this is awesome. It's like boarding a ship and throwing tea into the ocean. Actions like tattooing speak louder than words.

    • 1WineDude

      Technically, the calculation, I believe, is

      1 picture = 1K words


      • El Jefe


        1 word = 1 millipicture

        • 1WineDude

          HA!!! El Jefe, in rare form once again!

  • Sherman

    Have y'all seen the Miracle Whip commercials about how trendy, cutting-edge and rebellious they are? I laugh every time I see one of these gems in their recent marketing campaign to distinguish themselves from — mayo! As much as I love Red Mountain and most of the Hedges Family wines (thinking of opening a bottle of 3 Vineyards but now maybe I have to wait until I get the HFS crest tattooed to show that I'm worthy?), this strikes me as *striving* just a bit too much to be cool.

    And, as we all know, once you *try* to be cool, you ain't — let the wine speak for itself, do some more consumer tastings and get the wine in their mouths. Make a convert the old-fashioned way — convince the consumer of the worth of your product by how good it tastes, not how cool and bleeding-edge (pun intended) your marketing hype may be…

    • 1WineDude

      Sherman – That miracle whip thing is kind of like Bisquik talking about being new and super cool. Last time I thought about it (never until now), people don't want their condiments to be cutting-edge…!

  • winehiker

    I think people are going to be needling each other over this issue for years.

    • 1WineDude

      winehiker – you didn't… oh man, you so did… :)

      • winehiker

        > rim shot! <

  • Tamara Belgard

    Completely ludicrous. I can think of much better ways to wage war against the 100 pt scale, not sure how a tat's gonna help with that. That secret society's not really so secret anymore.

    • 1WineDude

      Tamara – now that I think about it, wearing a tattoo indicating your membership to a secret society is kind of like wearing a button that says "Member of Secret Society…" Of course, it depends on *where* you put the tattoo, I suppose…

  • El Jefe

    I know a great way to fight the 100 point system. Stop using it and stop referring to it.

    You're welcome.

    • 1WineDude

      Hey Jeff – I'm just the pond reflecting the stone, brother!

  • Ashley V Routson

    I happen to like the 100 point system. So I am getting a tattoo of Robert Parker flipping the bird to the red mountain on my back.

    Okay, just kidding. I have a needle phobia. Oh, and a rating wine phobia. And a Robert Parker phobia. And … yeah. Not gonna happen.

    Tattoos are a little extreme. Stone Brewing Co. is a good example of getting people to do something weird for a cause — they have a bi-annual "DieHard" charity drive where they challenge people to donate money and die their hair for charity. It's pretty rad. And REVERSIBLE.

    — Ashley

    • 1WineDude

      Ashley – HA!!!! Excellent!

  • asley v routson

    Not bi-annual … every two years they do it … not sure what that is called

    • 1WineDude

      Twice a year, or every two years – both are termed "bi-annual" so… it's confusing! :)

      • winehiker


        Actually, "biannual" is the correct term to describe an event that occurs every two years – so Ashley was right the first time! "Semiannual," on the other hand, is the term to describe an event that occurs every six months or, more loosely, twice a year.

        • 1WineDude

          You *would* side with the cute girl instead of me, wouldn't you…

  • Christophe Hedges

    My dear humans:

    This is not about HFE. This is about a statement of honor for a specific geographical area. Terroir is not ratable, since no terroir can ever be perfect, any numerical assignment below "100" is also pointless.

    A secret society, perhaps, for now, just the beginning of a group in favor of terroir wine over market driven wine. With the beneficiary being the Red Mountain AVA, I would like to be idealistic in that our ceremony is the start of our own "Chevalier de Tastevin" marketing group. Secret only in conversations behind closed doors, yet exposed to the public in image to display our passions of this tiny area . I realize a tattoo is permanent, yet so is the land we farm.

    It is time for the geography of wine to once again be more important than the brands that use it.-

    • 1WineDude

      Christophe – thanks for chiming in!

      "It is time for the geography of wine to once again be more important than the brands that use it."

      Now *that* is a sentiment that I can get behind! Not enough to get a tattoo, but certainly enough to vote with my wallet in terms of buying wine! ;-)

  • Gregory

    Sounds to me like something Ravenswood has been doing recently, where people who tattoo their logo get free tastings for life (or something along that line?). While Ravenswood's was a bald marketing move, at least it wasn't cloaked in some sort of holier-than-thou "movement" that is not so much anti-100 pt ratings, as it is pro-rating the oaths we swear and those ideas being literally branded into the flesh of "dear humans." When will the oft-opposed wineries and wine publications ever be satisfied with consumers' desire to buy and drink their wine in their own way? As long as it's bought and paid for, isn't that enough?

  • RedMtnGuy

    That is not the Red Mountain AVA logo. That is a part of the Hedges Logo

  • Matt Mauldin

    I think it's awesome. And also insanely stupid… but that makes me like it even more. That design would make a cool tattoo…

  • RedMtnGuy

    The Red Mountain AVA has no official "symbol". That is a portion of the Hedges Family Estate logo.

    For Reference:

  • Steve Heimoff

    Dude, I am living proof that when it comes to tattoos and the 100 point system, it's not either/or: It's both! By the way, HFE is desperately seeking publicity — same as most other wineries. To paraphrase Samuel Morse: What hath Murphy-Goode wrought?

    • 1WineDude

      Very true, Steve, about the tattoo! :-)

      I suppose we are all seeking publicity in some way, shape or form – or should I say, we seek it in the hopes that it will become profitable!

  • Ron Washam, HMW

    Yeah, I know, let’s take the meaningless 100 point scale and change the conversation to the meaningless terroir debate. That well get us in the blogs.

    I wonder how many 95 point scores would change Hedges’ opinions?

    And isn’t a wine blogger with a winery tattoo the very definition of “dweeb?”

    • 1WineDude

      Ron, I wasn’t sure that “dweeb” had an official definition but I like your proposal!

  • Robinson

    Lyrics to… Red Mountain Wine

    Ain't got no worries
    Ain't got no home
    Ain't got nobody
    to call all my own

    But I'm satisfied with nothin' to do
    but bum for a dime for some red mountain wine.

    Some women love me
    sometimes they don't
    some recognize me
    sometimes they won't

    House in Carolina
    and a barn in Tennessee
    Boxcar in St. Louis
    and a Jail in Old Waukee

    To those of us (of a certain age) here in Northern California,
    Red Mountain will always be fondly remembered as the $2 a gallon wine first made by Carlo Rossi.
    Show up with a couple bottles and you had all you need to start a hell of a great party.

  • 1WineDude

    Robinson – touching lyrical prowess! Might wanna work on the ending.


  • Chris

    Hedges Family Estate is one of about a dozen wineries located on Red Mountain, and is one of probably well over 100 in Washington that use Red Mountain fruit. The claim that this is about the terrior of the AVA is grossly overstated, when it is not supported (apparently) by any of the other AVA alliance members and the logoed tattoo is part of a HFE trademark.

  • Justyna

    Reading your post ..I think you are very confused or you cannot decided ? I am from Old World country and for me Terrior means everything people culture soil etc..

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