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.


  1. Great article! Thanks for writing on PTC!

  2. the site is extremely informative with a great aesthetic!!!