Label of the Month: Richwood Winery’s Lady Sipper
(Publisher’s note: This article is the first installment in a monthly feature about noteworthy or award winning wine labels from Midwest wineries.)
Winery owner Micheal Bullock thought he had a great name for a white wine that he wanted to market to women: Lady Slipper. Aside from the soft shoe connotation, Lady Slipper orchids are the state flower of Minnesota, the home state of Bullock’s Richwood Minnesota based Richwood Winery.
Much to his chagrin, Bullock learned that the name “Lady Slipper” had already been taken. As Bullock and winery art director Michelle Wang discussed the rejection of their preferred name, they had something of an epiphany. Dropping just one letter from the brand name they originally wanted produced an intriguing new name: Lady Sipper. Ironically, the new name and label design went on to be a top seller for the winery and it also won the best label award at this year’s Cold Climate Conference in St. Paul.
The name Lady Sipper created all kinds of graphic possibilities, according to Wang. After searching stock photos on the internet, Wang found the photo that was ultimately used in the award-winning label. “It took a lot of photoshopping to get the picture the way we wanted it,” she said. “In the original photo, the model’s face was full of piercings and those had to go in order to get the sophisticated look we wanted.” The exotic model is also consistent with the personality of the wine which contains blue agave. (Blue agave is the plant from which Tequilla is derived.)
One of the more arresting aspects of the label is the illusion of motion in a still image. To create a sensation of movement whereby the model’s eyes draw the viewer down through the glass, Wang said that she broke the picture into three pieces; head, torso and hand. She then positioned the wine glass and the model’s body parts so that the viewer’s eyes move diagonally from the upper right corner of the label down to the stylized Ridgewood logo which is consistent in all the winery’s labels.
“We get a lot of comments about the label at tastings,” Wang said. “Women of all ages seem to like it.” Wang thinks that part of the graphic appeal of the label is the neutral color palate which is calming and peaceful. ‘We tried the label first with a red background, but it was way too sexy,” Wang said.
Even without the red background, the label does have a risqué quality. Wang said that reducing the opacity of the photo contributes to the desired smoky, sensual feel. Dialing down the brightness also lends a sophisticated, urbane air to the label which is meant to convey the smooth taste of the wine. The label has a glossy finish and a foil laminate which positions Lady Sipper as a quality wine.
Wang says she favors label designs that are uncluttered. “We left a lot of white space in the Lady Sipper label,” she said. “As an artist, you always have to resist the urge to say too much; it’s better to keep designs simple.”
Richwood Winery, which produces about 1,700 gallons of wine per year, sells Lady Sipper at its tasting room and self distributes the wine to approximately 30 retail outlets in Minnesota including six locations in Minneapolis. The label is printed by Planet Label in Wausau, Wisconsin. Wang said the label can be used on a mechanical bottling line.