The Stories Behind Local Wine Labels
Written by Shelby Seward
Winemakers spend years preparing their grapes for harvest to ensure the best possible bottle of wine. While the wine itself is most important, the bottle and label come in at a close second. Thought and research goes into determining just what goes on a label. After all, that is usually the first thing a shopper notices when out wine shopping. While some lean towards the artistic, others let their names be enough to grab attention. I visited a few local wineries to get some insight and hear the stories behind the winemaker’s favorite labels.
Rio Grande Table Wine
Rio Grande Winery, just south of Mesilla, first planted grapes in 2004. They opened their tasting room five years later. Their wine label depicts the Organ Mountains. “I wanted it to have a historic feel to it, so I chose a lithograph done during the 1852 expedition of the New Mexico border lands,” says owner Gordon Steel. Visit the winery out on scenic Highway 28 for a real life view of that Organ Mountains scene on the label.
At Amaro Winery, it’s the label on their Mission wine that stands out. “It was chosen to really show the heritage and tradition represented by this grape variety,” explains vintner Bernd Maier. “The Mission grape was brought to New Mexico by the Spanish and planted along the Rio Grande. These grapes were originally planted in the proximity of missions built by the church.”
If the name isn’t descriptive enough, just turn to the label. The bright colors and the church on the label make it an eye-catching one that also tells a little history.
The Consequence of Zin
At Shattuck Vineyard just south of Truth or Consequences, label inspiration comes from the surrounding environment, like the views of Caballo Lake and the bordering towns with fabulously captivating names. Virginia Snyder, a partner in the vineyard, is in charge of label design. She points to the Zinfandel label as her favorite. Since Shattuck grows about 400 Zinfandel vines, this wine has special meaning.
While creating the label, Virginia knew it needed to grab the attention of consumers and be something they would remember. She says, “I began playing with the word Consequence and Zinfandel and that’s when the Consequence of Zin was born. I had the idea of the Zorro movie at the time, so I knew the label with black and red would make the bottle look unique and professional.”
Since this label came out they’ve had plenty of positive feedback, including “drinking a bottle of this will have consequences.” A very true review as the 2014 Zin’s alcohol content is higher than 16%.
St. Clair Winery uses a few different labels for their varieties of wine. Daniel Gonzales, creative director at the winery says the D.H. Lescombes is his favorite of St. Clair’s labels because it bears the family name. Daniel says, “It stands for, and is a culmination of, six generations of Lescombes family winemaking.”
Look closely at the back of the label to see what he’s talking about. It reads, “Six generations, three continents, one passion.” The front of the label bears the family crest. “The crest itself is holding the family name portion and the wine information portion together as a statement that each exists along with the other, as each wine that bears the family name is part of the ongoing legacy of the Lescombes family,” Daniel explains.
El Gallo Loco
At Black Range Vineyards in Hillsboro, owner Nicki O’Dell says the label on their red chile wine, El Gallo Loco, is her favorite. The calligraphy artist crossed the two L’s in “Gallo” making them appear as two T’s, cleverly changing the word from cat to rooster. Nicki says, “Since the calligraphy work is lavish, we have a crazy cat logo looking suspiciously like a crazy rooster. Either way, it has been fabulously popular.”
Viva La Roja
Heart of the Desert winery is currently working on creating a cohesive label for all their different varietals to create consistency and brand awareness. They’ve chosen a black label with a bright red heart emblazoned on it. Remi Gibbs, director of sales and events, says, “It was important for us to be bold, stylish, and memorable, and also to let people know what they should expect from a bottle of our wine even if they’ve never tried it before. Descriptive terminology was key.”