In last month’s blog post, Put a Bird on It, I focused on the importance of label design. This month, I share a case study from a southern Oregon winery—DANCIN Vineyards. All it took was a candid observation from a guest in late 2015 to prompt Dan Marca to completely upend the label design he had used since his first vintage in 2010. And while the original design—based on a thoughtful and thorough branding process—had worked beautifully in the past, DANCIN’s wines had evolved, and it was time for the labels to catch up.
Fast-forward to today, and the iconic images of a ballet dancer in a “wine dress” exquisitely capture DANCIN’s brand of understated elegance. As Dan likes to say, “It’s all about the wine.” He’s gotten enthusiastic feedback on the labels from his guests, wine club members, and wine buyers.
But what was the comment that got Dan to rethink his branding?
Well, it happened one day while Dan was in the tasting room with two guests visiting from the Bay Area—a restaurateur and husband of a wine judge. As he walked them through the winery’s array of Chardonnays and Pinot noirs, one commented frankly that “the label doesn’t prepare me for the elegance that’s in the bottle.”
As Dan considered the original splashy, colorful label, he agreed. “I was happy to have that feedback,” Dan said. “We are always talking about how to improve—how to make the guest experience the best it can be.”
The original label design featured part of a watercolor image of Dan and Cindy, his wife and partner, dancing. You wouldn’t know that at first glance, though. All that showed on the label was a flourish from the bottom of Cindy’s long red dress on a gold and green background, meant to represent the vineyard floor. A nod to the owners, the name DANCIN was prominent in blocks of red (DAN) and green (CIN) to illustrate—as Dan notes—that he and Cindy “are polar opposites.” He describes himself as a red Type A born in New York City, while Cindy’s a green Type Z from Southern California.
In the back of his mind, Dan says he had always been concerned that the colors were “too autumny.” So he was ready for a change.
With wine names like Pas de Chat, Pas de Deux, Chassé, Adagio, and Ballerina—combined with the comment that the label didn’t prepare the consumer for the elegance of the wine—the design team honed in on an image of a ballet dancer with a wine “dress.” The idea was fanciful and met Dan and Cindy’s criteria: authentic, elegant, and unique.
The process to go from a pretty good to an exceptional label was time-consuming and required hours of conceptualization, photography, graphic design, and finessing each element of the design. If there’s one thing you can count on Dan for, it’s understanding the purpose of every action he takes—from his wines to his tasting room with tableside service to the design of the new label series.
The color of the wine dress is consistent with the color palette of the wine in the bottle. It’s printed with a textured spot varnish that makes it look wet. The dancer’s movement matches the spirit of the wine. With the Syrah label, for example, it’s clear the wine will be bold in its elegance due to the texture and thickness of the Syrah skins—much more so than the Pinots and Chardonnays, and therefore is named “Danseur” (a male ballet dancer). The new labels assert that the “wines are primarily named after movements within ballet, a form of dance wherein dedication, discipline, and balance are integral to the grace and beauty of the final performance.”
The passion of the dancer matches Dan and Cindy’s passion for DANCIN wines and the hospitality-focused destination winery they’ve created. The desire to delight customers runs deep. “Whether you are enjoying our wine at our winery, at a restaurant, or at home, we wanted the bottle and corresponding label to become part of the dining experience,” Dan explains. “It’s about delighting your senses as you savor the moments in time.”
Advice for wineries thinking about changing their label? “Take your time. Think it through. Look at options. Sleep on it,” Dan stresses. “Your label is a reflection of your brand. It’s a window into your heart. The process is exciting and time-consuming. And remember, it’s long-term.”
Ready to Refresh?
If you are ready to give your wine labels a fresh look more reflective of your brand, give us a call at 541.601.0114 or contact us today. We look forward to helping you capture the beauty and elegance of your wines!Your label is a reflection of your brand. It’s a window into your heart. Click To Tweet
- The bottles are all genuine Italian or French glass sourced from the original producers of each bottle design (not knockoffs) because Dan values staying true to the varietals he’s producing.
- On each label, the dancer is either touching the ground while en pointe or suspended in the air. Both cast a shadow on the ground, which represents the connection between the wine and the earth, capturing the sense of place and the transformation of the vineyard activities and its corresponding terroir into wine through the celebration of the wine dress.
- The seven dots on the capsule represent the seven distinct Pinot noir clones planted on the estate. On the capsule, you’ll also find DANCIN’s signature phrase, “Dance like no one’s watching.”
- The name DANCIN comes from combining the names of owners Dan and Cindy Marca. The name makes sense on more than one level, Dan says, because “every vintage is an annual dance in harmony with nature and humanity, with vines and wines. It includes all the partners that show up during the season (be it good or challenging)—perfect temperatures, freezes, adequate precipitation, drought, hail, birds, or even bears. It’s time and place, captured in a bottle.”
Understanding the labels on the wine bottle is as important as picking the right one for your occasion. Good post yet again.
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