Wine label design: the history behind the label
Using a Wine Label Design to Create Context
The wine label does more than just offer information about the wine. It creates a context for the product itself, and frames the entire experience.
In order to build this context, we must create a sense of place and time with each label design. We want to communicate the rich, unique story behind the wine. After all, the flavor of the wine is largely a result of its environment and origins, and the more you can place yourself in this context, the more you can appreciate the unique notes of the wine.
The Process of Designing a Wine Label: An Immersive Experience
Materializing a client’s vision into a design that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also clearly communicates the brand’s values and history– that’s a challenge that every designer faces. The ability to creatively and successfully execute this challenge is what separates award winning design from the rest.
But to do this requires a symbiosis between brand and design team. To ensure that the end results exceed the client’s expectations, the creative process must be a fully immersive experience with a high level of collaboration and communication between the two parties.
In fact, communication is what’s really at the heart of the matter: the client communicates the story of their wine to the designer, and the designer finds a way to communicate that story, through graphic representation, to the consumer. The closer design team gets to the brand, the producers, and vineyards, the stronger the context and connection they will be able to build with the end consumer.
The history behind three of our wine label design projects
Below, we’ll walk you through the journey we took in order to reach the final design for three of our projects. We hope that understanding the history behind the labels will give you a greater appreciation of the designs and the brands they aims to represent.
Founded in 1836 in the district of Santarém, Companhia das Lezírias is one of the greatest and longest-running agrobusinesses in Portugal.
In harmony to their numerous businesses within the agriculture and livestock industries, they also assume an educational and conservationist role as an institution. They frequently collaborate with universities and other conservationist initiatives focusing on the Portuguese fauna and flora found on the Companhia das Lezírias territory.
One of these projects is called TytoTagus, a project set on studying and preserving a particular species of owl with a declining population: the Barn Owl. During their efforts analyze these birds’ behaviors and assure they had all the necessary conditions to reproduce, a symbiotic relationship between these majestic nocturnal birds and Companhia das Lezírias flourished. Companhia das Lezírias takes in and looks after the owls, and the owls in return protect the wine crops from pests and plagues in a sustainable and environmentally safe way.
This was the story we chose to tell, both with the concept and the name given to the wine: Tyto Alba.
To create the stylized and mysterious image for this wine, similar to the Barn Owl, we based our design on one of its most striking features – the heart-shaped frame around its face, with its contrasting gold and white.
The wooden boxes where the wines are kept are inspired by the nesting boxes used in this conservation project – and they can be used for the same purpose once they are done transporting wine.
This way, the symbiosis between Companhia das Lezírias, their vineyards, and the barn owl is reflected on the branding and packaging of the Tyto Alba wine.
Álvaro Martinho, born and raised in Covas do Douro, became involved in the winery business of the Douro region very early on. In 1997, he was part of a team of agronomists responsible for modernizing and streamlining the viticulture of one of the most emblematic brands in this sector – Real Companhia Velha.
His estate is in Cumieira, an excellent location made almost entirely of ancient vineyards.
Maquia is the name of one of his wines, a word which means profit or payment. Its production is extremely limited, and it reflects the unique character of this region wonderfully. It is extremely smooth and elegant wine, that could only come from one of the oldest and most famous vineyards in the Douro region. Maquia embodies en entire life fully committed to wine, elevating it at his own expense.
The label for this wine, made with such dedication and the commitment of a true veteran of the Douro wine industry, had to translate that same level of uniqueness and closeness– both to Álvaro Martinho and the surrounding nature.
We used the texture of the vine leaf to give a tactile attribute to the wine label and reinforce the connection between the wine, its nature, its origins and history. The typography is sober, with reddish metallic nuances so the intensity of the words written on the label isn’t lost.
Cooperativa Vitivinícola da Ilha do Pico
The Cooperativa Vitivinícola da Ilha do Pico (The Pico Island Winegrowing Cooperative) is formed by 250 wine producers that, as the name suggests, have their wineries in Pico– an island in the Azores archipelago where you can also find the highest pico (peak) n Portugal.
This union of winemakers has allowed the Lajido vineyards in reclaiming it’s prestigious place in the wine industry. These Lajido wines come from a very distinct terrain; it’s uncommon to find a wine cultivated so close to the sea, and at the same time shielded from the harsh Atlantic winds by the volcanic hillside it grows on. These unlikely vineyards, which make the best of the unique soil conditions created by the volcano and the moderate sun exposure, are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
With this wine label, we wanted to rekindle that sense of pride in joining forces and creating a brand of unique wines – a brand that carries within itself all the tradition and honor of this island. We wanted the label of every bottle to carry a bit of the history of adversity and overcoming obstacles through working together, and carry a bit of Pico throughout the world. And what better way to represent this great pride than with an illustrated version of the great mountain?
The illustrated peak is surrounded by clouds, to better demonstrate the peculiar origins of this wine. Additionally, most bottles were accentuated by red detailing in the framing of the label, with the exception of the 10 year old D.O. Pico, where the white typography was placed directly over the dark, nearly opaque glass used for the bottle.
Want to read more about the creative process that goes into each one of our label designs? Check out this article.