Lance Cutler spent fifteen years as winemaker/general manager for the historic
Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma, California. Named Winemaker of the year in 1983 at the
Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Lance concentrated on producing wonderful, full-bodied red
wines. He almost single-handedly brought humor into the fine wine business inventing
Fortune Corks, Time for Wine Hats, and the fabulous Gundlach Bundschu poster
series. With his group, the Sonoma Valley Wine Patrol, he masterminded the hijacking of
the Napa Wine Train and the kidnapping of Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic Airlines.
Lance also produced wines under his own label, called The Cutler Cellar, from 1985 to 1993. Sadly, he has retired from commercial winemaking, choosing to focus on a new career as a writer. He satisfies his need for winemaking with the private, non-commercial guerrilla vino. While managing The Cutler Cellar, Lance created and produced a series of five posters. They remain among the funniest marketing tools ever seen in the wine business.
Posters and Cards
Click to see full image
This was the first Cutler Cellar poster. Inspired by a famous poster entitled
"Expose Yourself to Art", it features classic two-shot photography, printed
seamlessly by photographer Ron Zak. Using crisp shadow and light effects, it has an Ansel
Adams feel to it. Lance has never revealed the name of the model.
This second Cutler Cellar poster was shot in Lances private wine cellar, and
features Lances daughter Dawn. Lances hospitality is legendary in Sonoma
Valley. An accomplished cook, dinner guests are led to the wine cellar and told to select
any wine that strikes their fancy. Chuck House designed all the posters in this series,
and creates a sophisticated effect by using gold print, the large scripted "E"
to begin the text, and the rich black to frame the photo.
|Never one to shy away from politics or controversy, this poster was created in direct
response to the New Prohibitionist movement that peaked in the early 1990s. All the
characters are friends of Lances including his landlord as one of the judges, and
local winemaker Claude Berthoud as Lances attorney. The reporter taking notes is
Dennis Patterson whose Ben Franklin Press printed all of the posters in this series.
|New Orleans was the single largest market in the United States for The Cutler Cellar
wines. In 1990, Lance was made an honorary citizen of New Orleans in a ceremony at the
City Council chambers. He sponsors an annual party for New Orleans waitstaff called the
Waitstaff Ball. This poster was his thank you to all of the waiters who supported The
Cutler Cellar in New Orleans.
|This last Cutler Cellar poster features Lance in his now famous wine cellar. When
questioned about the propriety of the pose, Lance replied, "Theres just
something about the picture that makes me laugh." This poster was designed by Bob
Johnson, the great wine cartoonist and illustrator.