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 MUS√ČE , 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.