Wine Tags

Don't let the graffiti fool you

Like many before him, Robert Plata had the bug to make his own wine after working at Wally's Wine & Spirits. But he knew that if he wanted Plata Wine to stand out in an overcrowded marketplace, he needed an edge: graffiti.

Plata, a born-and-bred Angeleno, loves graffiti art almost as much as he loves wine. And since he knows some of the best artists in the world (many hail from L.A.), he commissioned two to tag his labels: Chaz Bojorquez, the godfather of East Los Angeles "cholo-style" graffiti, and Man One, who owns the Crewest art gallery Downtown.

Made from Paso Robles grapes, the wines are just as bold as their labels. The juicy, medium-bodied 2007 El Jefe de Cultura Blue Label is an extremely drinkable Cabernet-Syrah blend with lots of cherry and blackberry fruit. The bigger 2007 El Jefe de Cultura Reserve is a hand-selected blend of the best of the Cab and Syrah barrels. The 2008 Rosé of Syrah has deep pink color and smooth fruit flavor, and it's one of two rosés poured at Bar Bouchon.

By combining the two art forms–graffiti and winemaking–Plata has tapped into two markets. "There are people who don't even drink wine collecting the bottles," says Plata. "And then there are the serious wine drinkers who just think these are great wines."