In the winemaking industry, age and history take on an outsized importance. Old vintages and long-tenured wineries receive prestige and interest from experts and collectors, and this can create a very intimidating field for new entrants to join. Of course, that doesn't mean ambitious entrepreneurs interested in starting vineyards should simply back off and give up. Instead, they have to think of new and exciting ways to brand themselves, foregrounding their new and exciting appeal.
Album cover aesthetic
One example of a young vineyard taking on a unique and compelling look comes from Napa Valley. Architectural Digest's profile of the striking Ashes & Diamonds winery highlighted the brand's take on label design, which involved a collaboration with Brian Rottinger. Rottinger is more famous for his work in music than wine, and this collaboration outside of the industry has given the vineyard a bold, unique look.
The labels for the wine are monochromatic, and feature prominent text art instead of photography. The brand is a cornucopia of pop culture references. In addition to the album-design-styled label, each bottle's cork features a poetic quotation seen in the film Ashes & Diamonds, the vineyard's namesake.
Bold gold makes the sale
The Adelaide Review gives out awards to the best wines from its region, as well as a side award for the bottle with the best design. This year's Hottest Label winner could serve as an example to other up-and-coming vineyards in its ability to convey a lot of personality with a minimal design and some well-deployed gold leaf. Hahndorf Hill Winery won with a combination of abstract shapes and simple, readable text.
Andrew Downer, from the Adelaide Review's panel of judges, explained that Hahndorf Hill's "design consideration" helped the label stand out. The company was design-oriented and its paper and foil stock made a strong impression. Furthermore, the judges were happy with the way the label has helped the brand make progress with its overall image.
A key branding element
When a vineyard wants to define its values and brand image, the most direct way to do so is to give special consideration to label design. Bottles on shelves are the public face of a winemaker, and a young company that wants to stand alongside its longer-tenured peers can commit itself to bold graphic choices and eye-catching looks. This doesn't always mean a taking maximalist approach with a host of colorful photos – both of the above examples err on the side of minimal and have worked well as branding tools.