I’ve run across some bottles of wine with Braille labels on them over the years, and when I found out that the woman who’s been running programs for senior citizens at Renaissance Court ever since I started leading memoir classes there was retiring today, I thought a bottle of wine might be the perfect gift. Pat O’Malley is not blind, but a Braille bottle from me would be unique, meaningful, celebratory, and, most importantly: something she can enjoy in her retirement. I put my talking computer to work and unearthed a handful of winemakers who produce wine labels in Braille:
- Michel Chapoutier, a well-known winemaker from France, claims to be the first to use Braille labels on wine bottles
- Lazarus Wine is produced in Spain with the help of blind winemakers, so Braille labels are not just a nicety, they’re a necessity
- Galant, a Czech wine producer, uses Braille labels designed in Moravia
- Pyrotech produces wine bottle labels in Braille that are endorsed by the Institute for the Blind
- Azienda Ciavolich in Abruzzo, Italy came out with wine labels in Braille thanks to the collaboration and assistance of the Pescara chapter of the Union Italian Ciechi (Italian Association of Blind People)
- Fox Creek Wines received help from the Royal Society for the Blind in Australia to put out bottles marked in Braille and in large print, too.
Not a single American wine in the bunch, sorry to say. The Lazarus wine from Spain sounded particularly intriguing. Blind people interested in working at Lazarus learn the Sensorial Winemaking method by successfully completing one course on “viticulture, winemaking and wine tasting” (offered by The Spanish National Organization of Blind People) and a second “Sensory Course” (taught at the University of La Rioja). If any of you blog readers out there have tried Lazarus Wine, I’d love to know what you think, and where you found it!
In the end, when it came to choosing a wine for my friend who is retiring, I went with Chapoutier — it was the only one available off the shelf here in Chicago. I left Pat’s gift on her desk on my way to leading my memoir-writing class Wednesday. When she caught up with me later on to say thanks, Pat said she knew who that bottle was from the minute she sawfelt it. Cheers!