I once read that there are nine facets to every iconic brand. And while it may seem exhaustingly difficult to create an icon from scratch, it’s much easier to delineate how and why an already-iconic brand has achieved its emblematic status.

Icons are singular and rare; they stand out in a crowd. One can be singular, like David Bowie donning his Ziggy Stardust persona while oozing musical talent. Or you can be rare, like a pre–World War II bottle of Champagne. In certain cases, you can even be genuinely unique—as when Sir Peter was inspired to establish the Knights Valley’s only winery.

“For a winery, it all comes down to the label. One tiny rectangle of paper has to encompass all the above as well as the promise of what’s inside the bottle.”

The next crucial factors are authenticity and realness. It can be lonely at the top, and if consumers don’t feel like there’s something authentic behind a product, they’ll move on to the next option. While a brand ambassador cannot touch and know everyone in real life, he or she can tell the story, and the story has to be genuine. Many products—great products, even—come from faceless companies and entities (dare I ask, who is LVMH, actually?), but icons are more like people. They remind us that legends can emerge among us. Beyoncé practiced her scales and dances just down the street from where I live now, in Houston, on her way to greatness.

When an icon tells you their story, it is with an abundant self-awareness, sharing who they are with you in such a way that, even if you cannot pinpoint what exactly makes them so special, their self-confidence also gives you confidence in them and in your decision to choose them over all others. It’s magnetic.

With this self-awareness comes the ability to tell an emotionally rich and layered story. It’s funny—so many of us are already emotionally rich and layered, but we don’t always understand how to express our stories in a concise and meaningful way. Something about Sir Peter finding a plot of land in California, living his own destiny, and creating this winery as a representation of that vision, shows that his story is our story, and even, ironically, a quintessentially American success story.

Historical documents reference the inception of the label design, including the iconic poppy created by Chuck House. The original design of the label remains intact.

Icons are innovators, constantly trying to propel their craft forward, forward, ever forward. If they do not continue to innovate, their industry and their story stops. It all comes to an end. The Michael family’s “100 × 100” plan addresses this challenge both simply and straightforwardly. Their no-frills approach is elegant and easy to understand: dedication to family and knowledge that their work can only be done over generations.

The family is admired not just within but even outside the wine industry in which they have become decorated leaders.

Last but not least, an icon is unequivocally recognizable: Coca-Cola’s red, Nike’s swoosh, Apple’s clean design, Barbie’s packaging. This may be the hardest aspect of icon status to attain—that moment when all your rich layers of meaning, ethos, and embodiment of principles become one single visual representation. And, no, I’m not talking about Sir Peter’s Panama hat (though it’s a close second). For a winery, it all comes down to the label. One tiny rectangle of paper has to encompass all of the above, as well as the promise of what’s inside the bottle. This pinstriped frame on paper the color of parchment is simple, yet it tells us that there’s something long-lived inside. The strength of the main font signals how important the family legacy is and hopes to be, while the absence of any abstract impressionist art or splashes of neon color tells you that these people know exactly who they are and what they are doing. There’s a resounding identity there. And the red California poppy honors the dream, the sunshine, and the brand’s magnificent destiny.

If you’ve tasted the wine, you already know. All you needed was the visual cue and the remembrance of taste. Peter Michael Winery is iconic.