Seriously Cool Wine Labels

February 22, 2016



Care for some wine? Will it be white or red?


That question is so passé. With the new Seriously Cool wine presented by Southbrook Vineyards, oenophiles (and design snobs) can now choose which label they like the best.


Laura Wills, principal and creative director of Toronto-based studio Messenger, has long been designing the wine labels for Ontario’s Southbrook Vineyards, which produces organic wines from Niagara-grown grapes.


For the vineyard’s offshoot Seriously Cool series, she has created six different label designs — three for white, three for red — so consumers can mix and match or collect them all. The labels are the latest installment in Wills’s Awesome Series project, which started in 2012 as personal work and uses bright colours to spread happiness.


Bill Redelmeier, proprietor of Southbrook Vineyards — Canada’s first certified biodynamic winery — says the new wine family was uniquely suited to be part of Wills’s colour-me-happy project. “With the last couple of really, really tough winters, we couldn’t make enough organic wine to supply the demand. So we wanted to come up with something branded very differently,” he explains. “This wine is appealing to someone who is not necessarily looking for organic, but still looking for delicious, sustainable wine.”


First up: the name. When Redelmeier hosted a chardonnay tasting in the United Kingdom six years ago, he titled it the Seriously Cool Chardonnay Tasting. “Bill and I have been thinking about the name since then, when he asked me to keep it in the back of my mind as something we might use for the vineyard one day,” says Wills.


It’s quite a distinctive name considering the vineyard’s other offerings include Triomphe and Poetica. To further differentiate the new non-organic blend, Redelmeier and Wills opted to focus the branding on the Seriously Cool name, with “from Southbrook” appearing on the back of the label. This way, it’s still included as one of their products, but there are visual cues that separate it from the usual Southbrook Vineyards lineup.


Wills says knowing the Southbrook Vineyards logo, set in Gotham, would not be on the front of the bottle opened up new opportunities for the copy. “I chose a typeface that would take a minimal amount of space and not fight with the pattern,” she says. The black box surrounding the word mark is a high-gloss varnish to create contrast against the geometric patterns.


Wills drew the patterns herself and likens them to wallpaper — some will have greater appeal depending on personal taste. “We use a lot of pattern and colour in the other Southbrook labels, and defined those colours by the varietal,” she says. She applied the varietal colours in the Seriously Cool labels, accented with the orange and pink tones prominent in her previous Awesome Series projects. Says Wills, “We can’t quite replicate the original fluorescent in the digital printing process, but the printer we use has an expanded gamut allowing us to do brighter colours.”


Each case of red and each case of white contains four bottles of each design. “Usually when you do a family of wine labels, you run them all together, so a different varietal goes on a different roll,” explains Wills. “But now, with variable digital printing, I can print a series so they come off the press consecutively.” They can be bottled and cased the same way, making production logistics easier.


Wills says bringing a graphic label like this to the Canadian wine shelf was a welcome opportunity. “As a packaging designer, it’s interesting for me to see patterns come into more labels for food and beverages. Seriously Cool will be fun and playful for people,” she says. “It used to be that everyone had pictures of their chateau on their wine labels. Now, it’s exciting to see people reach out to more alternative storytelling methods.”


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