Art, wine and Torrey Pines

The box set of wines from The Library Collection.

Del Mar winemaker Brian Schmaltz has completed his “opus”, eight years in the making.

With his boutique wine label Library Collection, a pairing of great art and wine, Schmaltz’s goal when he first started in 2012 was to be able to produce a box set of six volumes of Napa Valley Cabernet vintages, all bottles signed by the label artists. That vision is finally complete with the release of a limited set of the six wines in a specially-crafted wood box: “It took some discipline to save 24 bottles of each vintage each year,” he said.

“Overall I couldn’t be happier with the box layout and design,” Schmaltz said. “It represents a culmination of my life in California, 40 years in the making.”

Schmaltz, a member of Torrey Pines High School’s class of 1998, moved to Napa after college to pursue his career and ended up becoming immersed in the wine industry. A mechanical engineer by trade, Schmaltz teamed up with Robin Akhurst, a winemaker at Napa Valley’s Apsara Cellars and Swanson Vineyards, to create a limited, small production wine every year. Each vintage or “Volume” features a unique artist’s work on the label.

The Library Collection acquires its grapes in Oakville in Napa Valley and all fermenting and storage is done in St. Helena—Schmaltz moved back to Del Mar in 2016.

For the Library Collection box set, Schmaltz was able to reunite with fellow Torrey Pines classmate Mac Hillenbrand for the box top artwork—Hillenbrand also designed the label for the Volume III artwork which features 9th Street in Del Mar.

Inside the Library Collection box set.

The box is an original marquetry wood inlay depiction of Torrey Pines State Beach. The piece was created from wood from about 18 species of trees either individually stained with tinted shellac or left in natural wood tones, cut piece by piece and painstakingly assembled and laminated to plywood before being varnished.

“I’ve been working for about five years to develop my skills to be able to make this marquetry wood inlay depiction of this place I consider so unique and special,” said Hillenbrand. “The Torrey Pines trees along the upper ridgeline only grow in two places in the world, both of which are here in California.”

In addition to 24 limited edition box sets, Library Collection’s current release is a 2018 Volume VI Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Volume V, Chapter 2 Sonoma Rose de Noir with fresh aromas of strawberry, cherry blossom, rose petal and crisp apple.

Schmaltz said he isn’t sure what is next for him and the label as 2020 is, unfortunately, a lost vintage due to fire conditions in Napa Valley.

“I think it’s likely best to take a breath and crack a bottle of bubbles to enjoy the moment,” Schmaltz said. “Who knows what the future holds, but after this year I’m looking forward to the journey.”

Only 24 boxes are available of The Library Collection set. To learn more visit