Sunday, August 30, 2009

Braille Wine Labels - Catering to the Blind

People with visual impairments drink wine too, but reading the label can be a problem. It has been scientifically proven that people with visual impairments have a heightened sense of taste and smell, which makes them excellent wine tasters, but not being able to see/read the labels poses a problem. The video below tells the story of how one wine-maker is changing the wine-tasting experience for the visually impaired. In my opinion, these are the innovations (however simple), that wine producers should be taking into account to increase market-share and show that they are truly thinking.

allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"

Friday, August 28, 2009

Winelabelreview sits in on Wine Library TV

I sit in on an episode of Wine Library TV with Gary Vaynerchuk ( , from the Roger Smith Hotel in NYC. Maybe I should have plugged winelabelreview a little, but I'm a professional and didn't want to steal any "Thunder". Artist Damon Tommolino is on my left (your right). His website is

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Banknote hits the WineLibrary

Just an update for all of you. Pete Nixon from Banknote Wines alerted me that his wine (The Vault, Red Blend), with its beautiful labels that I blogged about earlier this year, has been picked up by Gary Vaynerchuk's Wine Library. Congratulations Pete!
Tasting notes are as follows:"The Vault is an intense blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, limited in production and hand-crafted from only the finest Napa Valley vineyards. Only 585 cases produced. TASTING NOTES: Aromas of ripe blueberry, red currant, and black cherry are spiced with tobacco box, cassis, and a touch of clove. The smooth, rich palate follows with flavors of cream de cassis, cherry preserves, allspice, vanilla, and espresso. The long, persistent finish and exquisite balance make this wine extremely versatile in food pairings." -Winery

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sort This Out Cellars

Rich reviews 3 labels created by Jeff Munsey at Sort This Out Cellars. Labels were submitted by Felicia Alvarez. Follow them on twitter @stoc and @winefinesse. The title to this post is a link to their site, so check it out for more of their really cool labels! Labels reviewed in this episode include Zin City, Rockabilly Red and Vino Nostra. Thanks to the whole crew at Sort This Out Cellars for their submission.

Monday, July 6, 2009

WBW #59 - An Homage to Kushi no Kami.

Richard over at hosts this months theme for WBW. Saké, "rice wine"! As a saké beginner, I went to my local wine store and perused their infinitely small saké selection (shame). As a label lover I looked for the most interesting label, and I have to admit, there wasn't anything that interesting. I was tempted to take trip into NYC to Sayaka Saké Shop (one of a mere handful of "saké only" shops in the US), after looking at their selection online. They have tons of really exotic labels to choose from, but alas, impromptu gallivants into the city for saké are not in my schedule...but one day will be. So I settled for Momokawa Pearl Saké for three reasons. One, the label was one of the more interesting ones available, and it was in a handsome blue bottle. Two, the label said it was a "fruity" saké that should be served chilled, and I wanted to see what that tasted like (most of the ones I had tasted previously were served hot, which I learned is done to mask the impure taste of an older saké, and generally tasted like rocket fuel). Three, it was a true "Nigori Genshu" (antique style, unfiltered) saké, and if I was going to do saké, I wanted to do it "old school".

I brought the bottle to my Thursday art studio night at my friend Pete's house. I usually bring a bottle of wine that nobody has ever tasted before, and this night was no exception. Everyone seemed a little put off by the saké idea, but after my encouragement speech about it being served chilled and it was fruity, I was able to convince a lot of people to try (after all, wine is a social event).

After shaking the bottle and pouring, people were surprised to see, first that I shook the bottle, and second that the saké was not clear, but instead cloudy; milky if you will. "Unfiltered", I told them. Again I was pelted with pessimistic looks. We all tasted together. We'll...fruity was not the first word to cross any one's lips. Reactions such as "creamy" and "salted pineapple" came to mind for many who imbibed. I personally agreed. It was a salty taste with hints of coconut/pineapple (kind of like a salty Malibu Rum with milk). Many did not go for a second sip, but I finished my glass. I used wine glasses to enforce the idea that it was a wine-like beverage. In the end, my glass was coated with the remnants of "rice pulp" which was not very attractive, but I was glad to have tried something I had never tried before. The taste seems to be an acquired one that I will continue to pursue, but in the filtered version from now on.

Thinking back now, I did try a cold filtered saké in a local Japanese restaurant a couple of months ago that was extremely enjoyable. It was a Junmai Daiginjo Jyudan Jikomi. It tasted like sweet flower petals, malty and lemony all at the same time. It was also very fulll bodied as I remember (almost dessert like). In comparison to the Momokawa it was much better, for me.

Kushi no Kami, so I have learned is the ancient god of saké, and I would hope that he is pleased that we are all blogging and reading about his beverage. I have also learned from Beau at Saké that saké is declining in popularity in Japan as it is seen by the younger generation as an older style drink (although there are many saké breweries that are dead set on carrying on the tradition). It seems that the Japanese are instead embracing "real" wine from all parts of the globe. The labels on saké are beautiful (kanji lettering is steeped in tradition and such a graceful art form), and a trip to Sayaka is definitely on the agenda sometime during the summer. If anyone wants to join me and my fellow artists (twitter: @artstudio85) on our next pilgrimage into NYC for gallery hopping and a stop into Sayaka please let me know via email or DM me on twitter @winelabelreview. Thank you Richard for a great topic, and I look forward to reading the rest of the articles on this topic.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Mutt & Lynch Wine Label Design

I have submitted a design for the Mutt & Lynch Winery wine label contest, sponsored by Dog Art Today,

The winning entry will be made into a label for Mutt & Lynch Winery's limited edition wine that will debut at the winery's Dog Days of Summer on August 8, 2009. This annual event includes wine tasting, dog themed art, and vendor booths to benefit the Healdsburg Animal Shelter. Dogs on leash welcome.

The Wine Label Contest winner will receive one case of the rare and exclusive wine, a featured spotlight on Dog Art Today, and an invitation to attend the Dog Days of Summer in Healdsburg, Sonoma County (travel and accommodations not included.)

Wine Description: A Dry Creek Valley Meritage, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that is aged in 100% French oak for 18 months. Only 500 bottles of this rare and exclusive wine will be produced. The wine will retail for $25 a bottle, with 10% of the sales benefiting the Healdsburg Animal Shelter.

Voting runs until midnight PST, Friday, June 19, 2009. Please take a moment and click on the title of this post and place your vote for old #13.

Artwork Explanation: This is an artwork that was created exclusively for the label contest, it is not a previous work of mine that I have regurgitated for the sake of entering the contest. I included two dogs to represent the two vatietals used to create the wine, and I have put them on and next to a French Oak barrel to represent the barrel used for the aging process. I have also left the work untitled because I know that Mutt & Lynch are infamous for using clever word play for the names of their wines (so I left it up to them). In addition, I left adequate spacing on the top and left so that when text is added, it would not interfere with the artwork.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW) #58: Label this one "Too Heavy"

Nothing like waiting to the last minute to put a major production together for (WBW)- Wine Blogging Wednesday at 10:00pm EST. After having all the planets align for what would have been one hell of a video blog, it happened...but it just didn't happen. I had the wine, I had the props, I had the music, but what I didn't have was the where-with-all to realize that there are restrictions on file size when it comes to uploading video. My WBW episode clocked in at a hefty 20 minutes and a 1.2GB file, (just a tad over the limit). I had so much juicy and pertinent information that I just couldn't stop sharing the knowledge. There was wine, music and dancing and I guess I got a little carried away with it all.

After trying to eliminate segments with editing to get it down to 1GB, it just wasn't possible (and I wasn't going to do a two-parter). Every minute was filled with great information and compelling video, but alas it will "never" be seen. I also had my first guest on the show as well as a surprise ending, and it will all be done again (within the limits of cyberspace video) and presented in a non WBW format. The video blog recorded last night WILL appear on the Lost Episodes DVD that will be released sometime in the distant future. HA!

My apologies go out to the wine blogging community for trying to be an over-achiever, the winelabelreview fan base and my sincere apologies to Katie Pizzuto at (aka @gonzogastronomy on Twitter) for not starting sooner and knowing my limits. I will however make mention of my results from WBW #58 in the next video blog. Again, I - am - sorry!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Banknote Wine Company

Leaving comments on other people's sites/blogs is a very useful tool in social media today, especially when your name links back to your own site. Thus is the case of how I got in contact with Pete Nixon. Pete commented on an episode of Wine Library TV a little while back and I clicked on his name to view his link. I found that Pete was the owner of Banknote Wine Company and his labels were absolutely fascinating. I immediately reached out to Pete to do an interview, and he gladly agreed. The following
is what transpired during our very detailed interview.

WLR: When did you decide to become a wine producer? What factors played a role in your decision?

BNWC: Initially it was more of a subconscious decision to get in the wine business that started over 10 years ago. My other life is a graphic designer; I’ve been in the wine label design business for the last 15 years, helping start new brands for up and coming winemakers. When I’m designing these new wine brands, it helps in the design process to take ownership of the projects and think of them as if they were my own brand, to treat them the way I would if I was the winery owner. Thinking that way long enough I guess evolved from just a design process into a serious interest in a future way of making a living.
The conscious decision to actually take the plunge into the wine business was a few years ago, it was basically the realization that my three biggest hurdles actually were achievable. It was the perfect convergence of finding, 1. the winemaker, 2. a good source of fruit, and 3. the capital to bankroll the company, all at the same time. During a meeting with a client and friend, winemaker William Knuttel, talk turned to the dream I had of starting my own brand. I explained my ideas of the brand and what I was someday hoping to achieve. After a few hours of discussion (and a few glasses of Zin), William graciously agreed to make wine for Banknote and to help my dream turn to reality. William has years of winemaking experience (Chalk Hill and Saintsbury to name a few), and he also has lots of great sources for excellent fruit, two of my biggest hurdles solved. The financing was the easy part, I borrowed it!

WLR: How long has BANKNOTE been in production?

BNWC: We did a small run of Zinfandel last year in select markets, mainly just to test the multiple label concept, but aside from that, the 2006 Napa Valley red blend “The Vault” is our first official release.

WLR: How did you choose the name BANKNOTE WINE COMPANY?

BNWC: Coming up with the name was the easiest part of this whole process. I came up with the concept of using banknotes for labels years ago, long before I decided to make wine. At the time it was just a design idea I thought I was going to pose to a winery, I didn’t bother thinking of the name, since the wineries usually supply me with that part. So when I decided to make wine and use the banknote concept for myself, the name “Banknote Wine Company” kind of just fell into place. They say you should use your name as your brand name, but my last name is Nixon, so I figured that wasn’t really the best option.

WLR: Why did you choose Zinfandel as the base of your blends? Do you have any plans on expanding your selections to other varietals?

BNWC: I chose Zinfandel as the base of the blend because that’s what I like to drink. I’m a huge Zinfandel fan, I also love Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, so those are the 3 varietals I chose to make up my blend.
Right now my plan is to focus on the Napa Valley red blend, but I’m not totally counting out other varietals in the future.

WLR: Did you have to apply for any special permission to use the images on your labels?

BNWC: No, because they are all so old copyrights don’t apply. Images fifty years old or so are public domain, let alone 150 years old. I was a little concerned ttb (the governmental agency that has to approve all wine labels) was going to have some issues with my labels, since some of the labels mention states, but luckily they all passed.

WLR: You offer twelve different label designs, how did you select the ones you offer?

BNWC: I have been collecting banknotes for many years as a hobby, basically I started with the favorites from my personal collection, and then weeded out the ones that just didn't work for one reason or another. Either the colors were not right, or the design didn’t work that well within restrictions of my layout, or else they didn’t reproduce as well as I had hoped.
Certain banknotes look great for the sake of art, but just wrong as a wine label. Bright green or pink type looks great on some banknotes, but you wouldn’t want it on your dinner table at a fancy restaurant.

WLR: How would the number of label designs you offer be affected if your wines were sold in retail?

WBNC: They are sold in retail in a few wine shops. There is some concern whether customers will get confused when they try to find the wine again, and the label they originally saw might not be in stock. However I have faith that my customers will figure out that the wine is the same, only the labels change. It is however an experiment. The multiple label concept has never really been done before to this extent that I’m aware of.

WLR: Have the original banknote designs been altered in any way? If so, what did you do to them?

BNWC: No, I only cropped them to fit the bottle in the most interesting way I could. I also slightly adjusted the colors, since many of them were too dark, but I didn’t change the art, they were perfect as they are.

WLR: Do you have any information on the original artists who created the banknotes you use? What is the history behind them?

BNWC: No, I don’t know anything about the artists, I wish I did. I’m guessing they were employees of American Banknote Company, which is the company that printed most of the banknotes of that era.
I’ve always been blown away by the amount of detail in banknotes, and the fact that the artist was engraving the illustrations into a steel plate at 100% size is just amazing. I can’t even begin to imagine the concentration, steady hand and talent that must have been necessary to complete such a beautiful piece of work.
If the original artists are watching up there somewhere, I hope they are happy with the fact they can now add “wine label illustrator” to their resumé.

WLR: Has the current economic situation in the United States had any influence on the sale of your wine? Do you think people are influenced by the label design?

BNWC: Sales are slow for everyone right now, but things are getting better. I have several new distributors picking up Banknote Wine in the near future, so sales are not a worry for me. My distributor in New York is selling Banknote really well.
I’m sure people are influenced by the designs in one way or another. I’m hoping some people will want to buy several bottles because they want more than one label to take to a party or give as a gift. But I’m sure some “serious” wine drinkers will think it’s a gimmick and not even try the wine. You can’t please them all; I just hope the majority are influenced in a positive way.

WLR: Is the wine getting any reviews?

BNWC: The Vault just won Double Gold “Best-of-Class” from the 2009 SF Chronicle wine competition, the very first contest I entered. It’s the largest competition of American wines in the world, so I had some tough competition. Best-of-Class means it was the judges unanimous favorite of all the Double Golds in my category of Red Blends, so I was pretty honored to get such a prestigious award.

WLR: How and where can people purchase your wine?

BNWC: The best way to purchase Banknote wine would be from my website,, I can ship to most states without any problems.
I would also be happy to email a current list of wine shops in your area that carry Banknote Wine, just send me an email through my website.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An Open Invitation

winelabelreview invitation to show from Richard Ritter on Vimeo.
I am accepting submissions of wine labels "on bottles" for review on the show. You can e-mail me at so we can discuss the details. Hope to hear from you soon!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wine Blogging Wednesday #57: California Inspiration

For this edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, I have chosen a wine label from California that was part of my inspiration for beginning winelabelreview. For years, my memories of wine labels in the local wine shops where I grew up had boring illustrations of noble chateaus set in majestic vineyards on rolling hills in the countryside. Or, they had no illustrations at all, just the name of the winery in some sort of fancy script font (possibly embellished with a coat of arms or a flouncy initial). Yawn. One label seemed to blend into the next and there was no distinction. I am aware of the history, honor and tradition behind those boring labels, but times change and so should the labels.

I'm a "progressive" and I feel that as we (insert social network platform here) into the future, maybe some wine labels can modernize as well. I'm not talking about getting cheesy/cutesy with the design, just more up to date. Hell, if you don't update your label design how are you ever going to have a throwback label design (see Pepsi Cola)? Anyway, I'm going on a slight tangent here.

My choice for "California Inspiration" pokes a little fun in the ribs of the traditional wine label. My choice is Bonny Doon's Le Cigare Volant. According to Bonny Doon, it is named in honor of the cigar-shaped alien craft banned by decree of the village council of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in 1954, "the Flying Cigar" pays homage not only to the wines of the celebrated appellation, but to all forays into the world of the magical and unknown.

I love this label design. The chateau is invaded by the alien aircraft, a subtle unexpected spin is put on the mundane, tradition meets the future, it's what I'm all about! It is the creation of Chuck House, who has worked on other Bonny Doon labels such as Old Telegram, Pacific Rim Reisling, Muscat Vin de Glaciere and Ca' del Solo. Chuck is from They are a powerhouse in packaging design with a sizable portfolio of truly amazing artwork. My inspiration, my "cigare volant".

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who puts the wine in swine?

We NOW know who had the first case of Swine Flu, what the Swine Flu is, where the Swine Flu began, when the Swine Flu first broke out and why it keeps spreading ... but how is the Swine Flu affecting the wine industry??? To tell you the truth, I really don't know, but I thought the wine world should be included in the media blitz somehow. So, for entertainment purposes only I now give you a small collection of wine labels that feature adorable little piggies.

I found this image (at left) on the net. It was a trial project for Fyffe Family Vineyards.

These labels are pretty comical. My favorites are "Flying Pig" and "Pig in the House". I wonder if the sale of these wines is being affected by the Swine Flu, I can't truthfully believe it is. I tried to find a wine with an "S" on the label (for swine) but had no luck. The only wines I think might be affected by the Swine Flu may be ones that state, "...pairs well with pork."
I've had the El Jamon Tempernillo before and remember it being pretty good. I think I'll enjoy another bottle of it for #winewednesday on Twitter today!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Labels: Does funny equal bad?

Why may I ask do funny or clever wine labels conjure up ideas that the wine inside the bottle is sub-par? Does an unpronounceable name or an illustration of a fancy schmancy chateau make the wine inside any better? Many people do, but I think not! In my humble opinion, labels are the voice of the winemaker to new or uneducated wine consumers. "Pssst....pick me, pick me, no pick me". Packaging keeps small and new wine makers "in the game". When you can't compete with reputation, you can at least try to compete with looks.

Be it an event, special occasion or gift, labels help us make a selection. Sharing wine with the people we love only helps the matter further. Choosing a label that fits the occasion or event we are going to, shows that we care and took the time to find something that made sense. Anyone can grab the foo-foo label or the one that costs a little more than we wanted to spend, but the person who comes in with the bottle that has a label that makes people smile or giggle will probably be the one they remember. If the "clever label" wine is a bust, at least the label did its job ... and if it's good... then it's that much easier to remember when you see it again on the shelf. On the other hand, if it's a "not so memorable label" and the wine stinks, then you run the risk of buying it again without even knowing it. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me're so damn common looking that I couldn't tell the difference.

Today I walked the aisles of my local wine shop and asked people if they thought the wine I was holding in my hands was good. The first bottle I picked up had a fancy name and an elaborate family crest on the label. 3 out of 4 times I got a response along the lines of, "It looks must be good" or "I don't know, it seems like it should be good by the way it looks". They were influenced by the label on the wine, (by the way, it was a dirt cheap bottle that shall remain nameless, and I have tried it before, and it's not very good, according to my taste).

I then held up a bottle with a picture of a cute goofy looking dog on the label and repeated the process. The answers changed a little bit and people's expressions changed as well. I got responses such as, "It's cute...give it a shot" and "I wouldn't trust it, I think I'd try something else". Goofy dogs = poorly made wine? I happen to like the wine and buy it often, (but that's just my opinion).

All in all, you never can tell. Labels should show the creativity and attitude of the people behind the wine. The process of making wine is creative in and of itself, so why shouldn't the design of the label on the bottle follow in the same vein? Sometimes I think winemakers put so much thought and effort into the wine that they run out of steam when it comes to the label ... or maybe they just can't express themselves visually. Wine is a journey ... and labels are like the road maps we follow. Sometimes you just want to get where you want to go ... and other times you don't care and just want to take a ride. I'm all for taking a ride. Wine is passion, and the passion should show in everything connected to the wine, especially the label.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

winelabelreview Video Blog #2: Stephen Hall/Fulcrum Wines

winelabelreview Video Blog #2 from Richard Ritter on Vimeo.

Artisit Stephen Hall talks about his art career and his involvement in the creation of the label for Fulcrum Wines. You can see more of Stephen's work at, and you can check out the wines from Fulcrum at Be sure to contact Stephen via his site and tell him how much you enjoy his artwork. You can request pricing on his pieces as well. Fulcrum Wines are available by mailing list and in select restaurants only. Join their mailing list via the website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Video Episode 1 Stags Leap Vineyards

Rich explains the meaning behind the Stags Leap name and gives you information on the artist who created the label artwork.
winelabelreview episode 1: Stags Leap from Richard Ritter on Vimeo.

Monday, April 6, 2009

LOOK! The opening clip for upcoming episodes!

winelabelreview intro from Richard Ritter on Vimeo.

This is the intro for upcoming video episodes on this blog. I am looking for suggestions for the first couple of labels I review. Submit your choices in the comments below.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dynamic Wine Labels...COOL!

Dynamic Wine Labels from andrerib on Vimeo.

Dynamic Wine Labels....COOL! Use your mobile phone's camera to find reviews, ratings, prices and locations to purchase the wine bottle in your hand. The QR Code is the link to all the information. It could also be removed and stored in an album. What are your thoughts?

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Future of Wine Labels?

Check this video out. I was very impressed. This is gettinig interesting!
Dynamic Wine Labels on the Google Phone from andrerib on Vimeo.

The labels stay where they are in NY.

New York wine shops and liquor stores were awaiting the news on whether or not there would be legislative action to allow super markets and other establishments that sell beer, to include wine to their list as another sellable item. News came today that the answer is no. The proposed bill would have raised millions in state revenue to help alleviate the state deficit. Instead, only wine shops and liquor stores will be allowed to sell wine in NY. Wineries in the state were happy to hear the news as well.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Purple Teeth Cellars: Fun Serious Wines

I was recently reunited with a friend of mine from high school via Facebook. Jill Consor as I new her back in the late 1980's has become Jill Consor Beck. I learned that Jill and her husband Marc are wine producers, which totally took me by suprise. I became a fan of Purple Teeth Cellars and had to find out the story behind the name as well as the label design.
WLR: Tell me when you two met, where you both came from and when you got married.
PTC: We met on vacation in July, 2002. I was in NYC and Marc lived in Seattle. A lot of wacky things happened along the way that got us to 2006, when we got married.
WLR: When did you two decide to produce a wine? How did the conversation go?
PTC: In 2007, we decided that we wanted to take our interest in wine to a new level but one that we could do together. We also knew that we didn’t want to be full-time winemakers because we wanted to run the business the way we wanted to, and not be burdened by cutting corners just to make numbers. Wine for us is fun, and it is critical that it remains that way. I'm sure in the initial conversations, we were drinking wine which may have help faciliate the process. [ahem] We had to decide on a name. We settled on Purple Teeth Cellars because while we enjoy premium wines, we are not formal people. We wanted people to have a laugh when they saw our bottle. And given Marc’s propensity for his teeth to turn purple, it was a perfect name. Since we tend to favor reds, the name seemed to be a perfect match. The name was a piece of cake in comparison with coming up with the label design!
WLR: Who created your label design, (if it wasn't you, how much input did you have in the creative process)? What was the process like?
PTC: Our initial design was created by Andrea Vasata, a very close family friend that has a strong interest in this kind of thing. It was very iterative. Lots of back and forth. The problem was that when people heard the name ‘Purple Teeth Cellars’, they tended to laugh and smile as they could relate to the name. It was very challenging to come up with a design that elicited that same response. You want to keep the goodwill built up with the name in the design, and not have a ‘drop-off’ where folks are disappointed. We had a number of rounds and presented options to our family and friends, who fortunately are well versed in giving us honest feedback. The 1st 2 designs we came up with didn’t work. We had feedback ranging from “I feel like the logo is for a dentist’s office” to “It wasn’t what I was expecting given the name”. Clearly if we wanted to do "this" right, we had a lot of work to do.
WLR: What was the inspiration for your label design?
PTC: As mentioned above, we were running into some challenges coming up with something that was in sync with the name. I was talking to my sister and she just blurted out something along the lines of “What about mimicking the style of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ album cover?”. Andrea really liked the idea and that’s when it all started to come together. Andrea got us about 90% there and then we had a professional designer tie up the loose ends. It was a truly a team effort, including everyone giving us feedback. We’re really happy with the label for Purple Teeth Cellars, and have received a good deal of positive feedback on it.
WLR: What kinds of wine do you produce, and where are they sourced and manufactured?
PTC: We took a trip to the Rhone in France in 2004, and it was definitely a “game changer” for us in terms of appreciating wine and learning what we liked and didn’t like. So based on that trip and our subsequent experiences, we decided that we were going to focus on exclusively Rhone-style varietals. These include, but are not limited to, Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre, Couniose, Roussane and Viognier. We currently produce a Petite Sirah from Eaglepoint Ranch in Mendocino County (CA), a Syrah from Alder Springs Ranch in Mendocino County (CA), and a Syrah from White Hawk Vineyard in Santa Barbara County (CA). We bring our grapes into San Francisco and manufacture our wine using a shared facility which really helps keep down the costs for Purple Teeth Cellars.
WLR: Where can people get a bottle of your wine, and where can you ship to currently?
PTC: Wine shipping is probably the most frustrating part of this business. The laws are archaic and are not geared towards helping small winemakers get a foothold in the community. As such, we only sell through our website – We can only ship within the US and to certain states. If you go to our website, we have an option where you can check if we can ship to your state. We can ship to most, but there are still a few holdouts like PA and MD. We’re trying! We did just get approval to ship to AZ, CT, MA, NJ and OH!
WLR: If you produced a white varietal, what would you calll it?
PTC: Now that is top secret. We do have a name in mind though. But you’ll be one of the first to know once we do it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vayniac Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Label Design Winner

The label pictured here is the winning label of the Vayniac, Napa Valley Cabernet Suavignon 2007 label design contest hosted by http://CRUSHNET.COM in conjunction with Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library, The label was designed by Jonathan Seeds who is a graphic designer and fellow blogger (
Jonathan is a very talented artist who created several design possibilities for the label. This design is classic and very elegant. The font choice is sleek, seductive and well balanced, which from what I have read and heard from people who have done barrel tastings of this wine is a perfect match for what is inside the bottle as well.
The Vayniac Nation group, as they are called on have created this community wine with a great deal of passion. The Vayniacs are an extremely loyal and dedicated group who take thier winemaking seriously.
Keep an eye out for this wine's release this summer. You can order this wine at . And again, congratulations to Jonathan Seeds for his creative contribution to this effort, as well as everyone who took part in the label design competition and winemaking process.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Washington State Labels in the News

The Senate is now considering a bill that will make it mandatory for Washington State wines to have at least 95% of the fruit in them to have been grown in Washington State. This must be clearly stated on the label. Up until now, only 75% of the fruit and other ingredients in the wines had to come from the place or origin indicated on the label. The Houses' vote was 95-0 in favor of the bill. It is now up to the Senate to pass it.

If the bill passes, labels will have to be redesigned in order to comply with the new law. This may be a catalyst for some new designs as well. We'll see how things pan out. What are your thoughts on this topic?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This label is a contender

This label is a contender. Back in February 2009, Wine Library TV host Gary Vaynerchuk announced a contest to design the label for his Vayniac 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, that is being produced by CRUSHPAD in California. I am proud to say that this is my label design. I submitted nine designs in all and this one was chosen to be one the top five finalists. For this design I chose to use text only, but put a twist on it by making it more of a design element by applying a mirror image. Gary closes his most passionate wine program on the Internet with the saying, "You.....with a little bit of me, we're changing the wine world." Hence the words "You me" in the design, as well as the font size change. I chose the red for the obvious reason, and the background color to make it stand out on the shelf, if it's chosen as the winner. I have another label in the top five as well; it's a design resembling a football jersey. I have asked several people their preference between the two designs, and most have chosen the one pictured here.

So, how do you get this label to be on the bottle you ask? It's up to you, the reader. YOU can vote for me by doing the following:
1.Go to
2.Register on the site.
3.Use the search box in the upper left hand corner to search for "Vayniac Nation", don't forget to choose GROUP from the drop down box underneath.
4.Click on VOTE HERE by Gary's picture on the top. (It's small so look closely)
5.Vote for my label, smile, and know that you just did someone a huge favor!
Voting ends March 8, 2009, so please vote soon. Feel free to tell your friends to vote as well. You can and should watch WineLibraryTv at , and you can learn more about the wine making services of CRUSHPAD at
. Thank you all!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New York Wine Expo 2009 - best in show

After visiting the New York Wine Expo on Saturday February 28, 2009 at the Jacob Javitz Center, I walked back to Penn Station with my two "complimentary" wine glasses in hand (which I later found out were not for the taking), thinking of all the wines I had sampled, but more importantly all of the great wine label designs I had seen. While riding the train I was able to review the notes and photographs I had taken during the show. I had a good idea of which labels truly had an impact on me, but reviewing my photos solidified it for me. The following labels (in no particular order) were some that I found to be either eye catching, innovative or just plain cool.

Brooklyn Oenology's BOE 2005 Merlot is a very cool label. Brooklyn Oenology is located in Brooklyn NY, where else, but they source their fruit from the North Fork of Long Island. The winery's philosophy about their label art is to choose artists from the local urban area, either from word of mouth, galleries or even right off the street. This label art was created by Bert Hewener-Esenherz born in 1961 in Berlin. You can learn more about his work at . The warm color scheme and silhouette of the city skyline really pop. All of the labels from this winery are excellent, but this one just did it for me. The labels peel right off for easy archiving. You can check out the other amazing labels from Brooklyn Oenology on their website at They would make awesome gifts for the wine/art lover you know or just be cool to own as a piece of original art, hey you never know!
The next label is from Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue, NY, Bedell's owner, Michael Lynne, former Co-Chairman and Co-CEO of New Line Cinema and Executive Producer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is raising the bar in label design. The family commissions artists whose pieces they own in their own private collection. These artists are rock stars of art from the local New York area, such as Chuck Close who created the label artwork for Bedell's 2006 MUSÉE , and Barbra Kruger who created the label artwork for the 2006 TASTE RED label pictured here. The Monroe-esque image is captivating with the word taste in red that is classic Kruger. You can learn more about Barbra Kruger at her website . You can also learn about Chuck Close at, .

The next label of note from the expo was from a winery from New Zealand called INVIVO. These guys mean business. They had a staff on hand that was knowledgeable, well put together and ultra prepared. I was drawn to their exhibit space due to their very simplistic yet highly impactful logo design. The bottles in a group made quite a statement, and would be hard to ignore in a wine shop, and would look very impressive in a cellar or wine rack. The story behind the label is this; they invited iconic New Zealand fashion house Zambesi to design the beautiful and unique Invivo label. "The design was in part inspired by the face of a ship's compass-rose indicating the points of direction or navigation as the wines will be emanating from diverse wine regions within the country. It also seemed appropriate to symbolize a focal point of excellence which culminates in the art of the Invivo winemaker. So the mark also represents a coming together of the grapes, the vintner's art the the essence of Aotearoa-New Zealand. Like many symbolic marks there is more than one notion of reference." - Neville Findlay, Zambesi. You can check Invivo wines out at You can also check out Zambesi at

The last label I would like to mention is from a producer in California. The name is Fulcrum and their label and packaging is extremely classy (not to mention their wine is top notch as well). Their wines are available by mailing list only, so get on the list ASAP (also check if they can ship to your state). The label/bottle seal was designed by New York artist Stephen Hall. After the wine is bottled, it is carefully wrapped in tissue and secured with a seal depicting an acrobat juggling. His image embodies their guiding principle of balance. To view more of Stephen's spectacular work, please visit You can get on Fulcrum's mailing list and view the full image of Stephen's artwork by visiting
So there you have it, it wasn't planned at all, but three of the labels I chose were produced by New York area artists. That should be something wine producers make note of. I wasn't the only one impressed by these labels either. Plenty of people I spoke to at the New York Wine Expo had similar opinions. I actually spoke to a young couple from California and explained what I was doing and they directed me to the Brooklyn Oenology exhibit space.
Upcoming entries to this site may include interviews with Bedell Cellars (so we can get the inside scoop on their labels) as well as Stephen Hall whose artwork appears on the Fulcrum packaging.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blog #1 - The Beginning

Our blog is coming, please be patient. Check back frequently to find out.

In the meantime please answer our first question:
"Does the LABEL on a bottle of wine influence your purchase?" Please include your opinions and any stories you have about how a LABEL influenced you. I look forward to seeing them and responding to your posts.