The Design Inspiration Behind an Iconic Wine Label
The process of creating an inspired design
The label on a wine bottle is indispensable to its identity. It serves not only to indicate its name, but also its physical and historical context; the brand’s essence and its producers.
In order to have a label that truly represents those aspects of a wine, the creative process has to be unique for each label. After all, our eyes are just as much a part of this sensory journey as our sense of smell and taste.
The label’s purpose isn’t merely to provide information about the wine’s origins, age or caste: it also tells a story about the wine through its graphic presentation.
We believe that sharing the historical and sentimental richness that guides our creative process gives the consumer a greater appreciation of the label design, and the wine behind it. Here, we will explore the design inspiration behind three iconic projects: Quinta da Vacaria, Valle de Passos, Casal de Sta. Maria.
The Travelling Spirit of Quinta da Vacaria
Quinta da Vacaria is one of the oldest estates in the region (its first register dates back to 1616).
For 400 years, the superb Port wine produced here has travelled the world. It was, however, kept anonymous while it was sold in bulk to buyers from all over the world at Douro’s river mouth, who then bottled and labeled the port wine with their own names and labels without a single mention of its origins. Many of these brands became well renowned for reselling this excellent product even though they had nothing to do with its production.
Thanks to a law that regulates Port wine production, farmers are obliged to keep one third of their production. Now, Quinta da Vacaria is proud to have one of the largest and most valuable stocks of old Tawny Ports, which were only finally bottled at their origin and labelled with their own brand in 2016.
We wanted the label for Quinta da Vacaria to honor that legacy of nearly half a millennium of sea travel, false identities, and mysterious origins.
We drew inspiration from ancient maps, old navigation tools used by the sailors, and compass roses to create a powerful and evocative V, surrounded by intricate graphic elements in gold, offering a rich contrast with the artisanal paper’s deep blue.
The four-bottle collection- aged 10, 20, 30 and 40 years – is within a single box inspired by a vintage suitcase, clearly alluding to this brand’s past and its travelling spirit.
A Woman’s Role in the History of Wine at Valle de Passos
Valle de Passos is a project that praises the centuries of wine history of Trás–os-Montes- a region that has existed for longer than Portugal has been a country.
Visiting the vineyard of Valle de Passos is like returning to the past. Here, you can find the real historical treasures that the Romans left here, including the world’s largest collection of ancient Roman wine mills. This is where they produced Passum, a sweet wine that is said to have seduced the Roman Gods, and was the only wine that women were allowed to drink.
The name Valpaços came from Passum, and that’s the town where you can find Valle de Passos and the design inspiration for the brand’s concept and image.
Our design inspiration came from diving into the breathtaking Roman history and culture of this place, and learning more about the mother-daughter team who lead the Valle de Passos project. This immersive experience led us to the idea for the final image and identity of the Valle de Passos wine, combining elements from the past and the present.
The elegantly classical labeling contrasts with the colorful capsules, elevating the entire packaging with this pop of color. The embossed images of Roman women, dancing and holding hands has both historical gravitas and joyfulness. We wanted the label to showcase the connection between female characters as a central element to Valle de Passos, in both past and present.
The Eternal Love Letter from Casal de Sta. Maria
Located on the historical region of Colares, on the hillside of Serra de Sintra, the Casal de Sta. Maria vineyards sprawl over a formidable scenery by the sea, on the westernmost point of continental Europe.
These vineyards were planted in 2006 by the Baron Bodo von Bruemmer, who was 96 years old at the time. The Baron wanted to fulfill his dream of producing premium quality wines; wines that dignified the region by fully expressing the unique landscape of this estate, and the Baron’s passion for it.
“It´s never too late” was his life motto, and it’s reflected on the wine produced by the Baron. We wanted that motto to live in every back label of these unique wines. When we redesigned its image, we wanted to pay homage its identity and its noble character.
The Baron prides himself in having two DOC Colares wines in its portfolio: a Malvasia and a Ramisco planted in sand. Our design inspiration was sparked by the great classics of this region. We wanted to pay tribute to the history and tradition of these rare wines.
To expand this meritorious portfolio, we also created a delightful new rosé. We named it Mar de Rosas, so we could share the beautiful love letter in the shape of a garden: Von Bruemmer planted five thousand roses when his wife passed away. This wonderful memorial continues to embellish the garden of this estate that stretches out over the sea.
How do we go from design inspiration to finished label? Discover more about the design process here.