Candice Norcross started her career as an artist inspired to create objects of beauty. Her vision, her imagination and her skills created beautiful containers for fine wine and changed philanthropy on the Central Coast. Candice’s etched bottles helped to raise millions of dollars for charities in San Luis Obispo County. They preserve the history of our finest Central Coast wines.

Contributions to San Luis Obispo County Wine History

Transformed the graphics of the paper label on a wine bottle into an etched work of art on the front and back of the wine bottle of any size.

Designed bottles as marketing tools for outstanding varietals made by local winemakers.

Commemorated the collaboration of winemakers blending cuvées at wine celebrations and events.

Designed vessels that commemorated famous vintages for local wineries.

Impacted local county, California, and national philanthropy by creating new strategies for fundraising.

Etched unique bottles to commemorate events such as the Central Coast Wine Classic and the Napa Wine Auction which enabled both organizations to raise millions of dollars for charitable causes.

Created wine bottles that became highly sought after as collector’s items and were often auctioned off to raise funds for charity.

Transferred the images of great works of art such as the Boating Party by Renoir the surface of a Wine Bottles or a Tiffany Glass Window, creating new visions of historic works.

Commissioned to design gifts and awards to individuals in the wine industry on bottles filled with wine.

Worked with painters and sculptors to transfer their paintings and designs to etchings on glass surfaces.

Provided the music and movie industries with commissioned bottles to publicize new films and great musicians.

The Legend: Candice Norcross

Candice is an artist–creative and fearless in her pursuit of beauty. She has worked for over 40 years in the graphic, commercial, and textile arts. She is an artist who can draw almost any image with a remarkable sense of design. When she applied her skills to the surface of glass, she opened a new chapter in the wine history and philanthropy of San Luis Obispo County.

Candice learned the art of etching from a glass artist in Lompoc. Candice was able to create her own designs in his studio. She has a special gift for working on glass. Her works are considered “fine arts” and have been exhibited at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Her Christmas ornaments on the Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington DC.

In 1994 Candice set up her own studio behind her home on the Nipomo Mesa. Candice had developed a philosophy that anything can be reproduced on glass. She started marketing to potential etching clients in the fast-growing wine industry on the Center Coast. Candice’s first order came from Sunstone Winery in Santa Ynez.

Her etchings recreated the labels of wine and champagne bottles on the front and back of bottles of all sizes. She soon had seven employees who worked as a team to learn each step in the process of etching. It takes over six months to train an artist with the necessary skills. Some employees specialized in one aspect such as sandblasting. Others learned each step to encourage creativity.

Philanthropy on the Central Coast and Candice’s life changed dramatically when she met the late Archie McLaren, Executive Director of the Central Coast Wine Classic. Archie and hotelier Larry Shupnick started working with the local NPR radio station in 1985 to create an annual wine event to raise funds for KCBX. Archie’s passion was wine; he wanted to introduce wine lovers, collectors and international winery owners to winemakers on the Central Coast. He believed that the wines of the Central Coast could hold their own when compared to any wines of the world.

Archie was a master of marketing; he brought the Central Coast wines and winemakers to the attention of the media, worldwide collectors and wine critics and winemakers through the Central Coast Wine Auctions, barrel tastings, educational seminars, and wine dinners. Archie saw winemaking as an art and wanted to pair artists with fine wine. He was also an art collector whose collections included local artists on the Central Coast such as sculptors Tim Llyod and Crissa Hewitt, painters James-Paul Brown, Gary Conway, Carissa Chapellet, and Colleen Gnos, Archie and international artist Yuroz developed their own label and collaborated on a single vintage of Pinot Noir.

For years Archie had commissioned local artists to make the wine awards presented at the Central Coast Wine Classic. Archie was inspired by Candice’s work. He asked her to participate as an artist, designing the bottles of wines to be auctioned for charity at the annual event. Candice’s career and her fame grew as she learned to recreate wine labels in meticulous detail for generous donors and to design new artworks for Classic Cuvees, blended wines, on large bottles. Candice etched each of the annual Wine Classic Commemorative wine bottles filled with local wine and auctioned at the KCBX and Central Coast Wine Classics to raise money for the radio station and over 100 local charities.

As the Millennium approached, Candice was inundated with orders. Her beautiful work inspired local wineries to commission Candice to design and create bottles of every size to celebrate the new century. She etched over 1500 three liter champagne bottles for Schramsburg in Napa. Charities approached Candice to design bottles for wines of exceptional vintages to be auctioned nationwide.

Candice decided to use her profits to open a retail store in 1999. The Northern Cross Galleries were located in a newly constructed plaza on Dana Street in Nipomo. In addition to her art and etched bottles, Candice sold local wines, party accessories, and gifts.

Business continued to grow as local wineries realized their vintage wines could be commemorated in beautiful bottles, presented as works of art. These bottles can be seen in the collection of the Wine History Project. Many of the bottles were included in the exhibit Wine Becomes Art at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art in April 2019 and the Dallidet Adobe in May and June 2018. A permanent display can be found in San Luis Obispo at the offices of the Wine History Project.

Candice’s list of clients includes those who have impacted local and California wine history: they include Adelaida, Arcadian, Artiste, Atlas Peak, Au Bon Climat, Baileyana, Beckmen, Brophy-Clark, Byron, Calzada Ridge, Cambria, Chappellet, Clos Mimi, Cold Heaven, Costa de Oro, Curtis, Domaine Alfred, Eberle, Fiddlehead, Firestone, Grey Wolf, Hartley-Ostini, Kynsi, Laetitia, Lane Tanner, Laverne, Lindemann’s, Martin-Weyrich, Meridian Vineyards, Midnight Cellars, Mumm Napa Valley, Pacific Ridge, Peachy Canyon, Presidio, Qupé Vineyards, Ross di Paso, Rusack, Saucelito Canyon Vineyard, Schramsburg, Seven Peaks, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Stephen Ross, Sunstone, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Talley Vineyards, The Vineyards at Royal Oaks, Tobin James, Tolosa, Villicana, Wedell, White Hawk, Wild Horse Winery, Windemere, Windward, Wolff Vineyards, Zaca Mesa, the Napa Wine Auction and many more.

The meticulously etched and painted wine bottles originally were only seen by Wine Collectors, hidden in their Wine Cellars and refrigerators. When wineries began to create limited bottled editions of Vintage wines, they found the public loved the bottles as art objects containing the precious wine. As the wine auctions in Napa and the Central Coast gained a following, the wines in bottles that Candice created began to sell at higher prices, enhanced by the beauty and creativity of her designs.

In addition to this work, Candice’s specialty became the hand-painted reproductions of original and master paintings. The Wine History Project’s Collection includes The Boating Party by Renoir, The Kiss by Gustave Klimt and a beautiful Tiffany Window on Magnums, Jeroboams and Imperials, the larger sizes of wine bottles.

Candice has etched very special bottles for her own collection celebrating her son’s birth and her father’s favorite western hero, Davy Crockett.

The entertainment industry discovered her talents and commissioned her to create bottle artwork for such films as Sideways, the Gangs of New York, The Aviator, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles.

Music lovers will find Santana, Louis Armstrong, Madonna, Billy Joel, Joe Crocker and the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival among her clients. Art Collector Steve Wynn and Pope John Paul II, as well as local private collectors, have sought her artwork for special occasions. The Wine History Project Collection contains a Jeroboam made for Santana which is on display in our offices.

California charities from the San Diego Zoo to the San Francisco Museum of Art have commissioned Candice to design bottles for fundraising. Each organization allowed Candice the creative freedom to design her works of art.

Her bottles are now collector’s items whether filled with wine or air.

Candice is married to her high school sweetheart and retired in 2018 to Paradise California. Her new home and studio escaped destruction in the Camp Fire, the single most destructive fire in California in 2019.

The Process of Etching Wine Bottles

Click to view gallery.