Sparkle and Wine

When you come across an inspired idea that has come to fruition, you know it. The exquisite sterling silver wine charms of the “Wine to Behold” Collection by Julie Hagel is a brilliant example of this axiom.

The seeds of these creations were planted some years ago, in part, when Julie worked at an organic winery with her former husband. She discovered not only the enjoyment of drinking wine, but also the care and feeding that went into growing different varieties of grapes. As she learned about the magic alchemy of fermenting these gems into vino, Julie’s appreciation of good wine deepened.

Just as one cannot create a vintage wine overnight, the concept of Julie’s wine charms remained in the background of her imagination, forming and reforming over time. The natural beauty of the Finger Lakes and an increasing appreciation of the fruit of the vine mingled with her innate talent for design. The flourishing wine industry had begun to blossom in the Finger Lakes and like many, Julie and her friends and family began to discover and enjoy wine tastings and tours. These special times begged for something to remember them with, thus “Wine to Behold” charms were born.

This sparkling collection of artisan jewelry – the motto of which is “Fashion Your Passion” – is a perfect blend of design, function and information rolled into a beautiful sterling silver orb. Designed to be worn as a piece of jewelry or to adorn the stem of a wineglass, the line currently consists of three collections. The Finger Lakes Collection is a series of five charms depicting the larger wine-producing areas of Seneca, Cayuga, Keuka and Canandaigua lakes, and a Finger Lakes charm with the four larger wine producing lakes on its face. The Red Collection features Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Lemberger. The White Collection consists of Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Viognier.

Here’s where the fun starts. As you look closely at the attractively etched sterling charm, it’s finely detailed work stands out against an oxidized, darker background. This by itself has an old world charm, but when you understand that each tiny etching has its own meaning, you slowly begin to smile.

Every wine variety charm has four components: a taste-worthy symbol, which denotes a common flavor profile; a noteworthy design, which represents history or a fact of the wine or grape; the initials of the variety of wine; and a sparkling gemstone that reflects the color of the wine or grape. The shape of the stone is determined by the color – red wine is signified by a square and white wine is indicated by a triangle. The Finger Lakes charm itself sports a round stone.

For example, the Chardonnay charm has a delicate oak leaf (a common flavor profile due to being aged in oak barrels) and a thistle (the history of the name Chardonnay is French for “thistle”). The initials CHD are etched at the bottom, and the color of the stone is champagne to reflect its light golden color.

Another example, this one from the Red Collection, is the Merlot charm. The tiny plum is the symbol for the plum undertones (flavor profile), and a blackbird represents the history (Merlot is the word from the Old French for “young blackbird”). MLT is engraved at the bottom for the name, and the stone is a dark garnet to depict the deep red shade of the grape.

Each charm is designed by Julie and handcrafted and hand-finished by RW Jewelry Manufacturers of Rochester, and everything about the collection is certified “Made in the USA.” A detailed video featuring the intricacies of the making of a charm is shown on her website.

The “Wine to Behold” charm line is currently expanding to include other wine varieties and even specific wineries. The response to Julie’s work has been wonderfully positive, and she has begun to interact with the wine and food community by becoming part of various events, including Lucas Vineyard’s German Fest in Interlaken and the 4th annual Cork and Fork wine and food tasting event in Seneca Falls, which features an ever-growing number of local food and wine offerings.

The future of this endeavor is as bright as sunshine falling on the gently sloping vineyards. Julia has focused on the Finger Lakes Region because it’s her home, but now she’s looking to conquer the Long Island/Hudson River Valley Region. Beyond that, the world’s wine regions beckon. If “wine is sunlight held together by water” (Galileo), this collection captures that essence, and is fondly remembered long after the last sip is gone.

For more information, visit Julie’s website winetobehold.com, or follow her at facebook.com/WineToBehold and at twitter.com/WineToBehold.


by Marguerite Abbot