Category Archives: design

Ad Hoc Wine Labels

Cadillac Red wine label - wandi

Grape harvest started for one of our clients today, and that somehow got me thinking about wine labels.

Cadillac Red back label - wandiWe’ve been making our own wine for several years. The first vintage came from cab franc grapes gleaned from a vineyard on Castle Road, not too far from where we lived at the time. We dodged the hounds of the Baskervilles (long story) and came back with enough grapes to make a few cases. It actually turned out surprisingly well – especially considering it was a first attempt.

This was the label that went on that first vintage. Well, the main one anyway. Tom comes up with labels to match the occasion and must have turned out a million plus by now for our various wines and various parties and dinners and people.

He’s also done a number of labels for legit wineries, but it’s the ad hoc ones for the homemade wine that are on my mind today.

Red Door wine label - wandiThe second year we made cab from grapes we picked high in the Mayacamas Mountains. We were lucky to get those grapes, even if Carmenet wasn’t going to use them because the vines were affected by phylloxera. There were plenty of them, and for us they worked just fine.

That vintage sported an unknown number of labels while it lasted. And it lasted quite a while. Very late season harvest generally means pretty high alcohol so it ‘kept’, as they say. And changed for the better over time.

Aviation Red wine label - wandiAnyway, here are a couple of the labels from 2000. As you can see, the themes for our ad hoc labels are pretty much all over the place. That’s the fun of being able to do your own – and having an over abundance of ideas.

Aviation has been a recurring theme, however. Tom is kind of into aeroplanes. (You can find out more about that on the Marin Aero Club blog: It’s serious stuff.)

And then there were the labels that were more about the occasion or the person of the hour than the wine. This one went on some bottles of syrah and was created for our friend, Flying Ace George Benson (that’s him in the picture, although Photo- shop put him in the plane).

George Benson Carpe Hora syrahThe trouble with special commemorative labels is that people feel compelled to save the bottle – and not drink the wine – and that’s just a shame.

Because there will always be another harvest and another vintage and another occasion for an ad hoc label.

Carpe hora.