What style of wine label – traditional or modern – is best? There is no absolute answer but there are many other complex questions to ask before making any decisions.
The traditional label often features a sketch of a chateau or vineyard, the name of the winery and a plethora of information about the wine. It may also display historical references from the winery’s heritage such as a crest or coat of arms. Many people respond to this style because they associate quality with tradition and they want that experience to be conveyed on the label.
The modern label on the other hand tends to be bold, colourful and graphically simpler by comparison. Many feature animals or other peculiar characters that inspire creative brand names. Humour is another popular influence.
Traditional design tends to be used by Old World producers. The modern approach is most evident in wines from Australia or California. This is not to say there is no crossover. There are many successful examples to the contrary. The producer needs to understand the expectations of their customer and position the wine accordingly.
My challenge in updating the packaging for Cantina di Negrar’s Classico line was twofold. First, maintain the sense of tradition that reflects the prestige of the winery. Second, create a more modern impression with striking shelf appeal.
One element of the previous packaging was maintained – the winged lion, symbol of St. Mark and a prominent figure throughout the Veneto region of Italy where Negrar is located. It is also the symbol of the winery. The background of the label and capsule feature a swirling grapevine pattern defined by a subtle black tone-on-tone effect – a traditional detail presented in a modern way. The brand name is gold foil stamped on bands of bold colour in rich hues to command attention.
You’ll notice in the image above that there are two versions of the design. This is to differentiate levels of quality. The Bardolino and Valpolicella are lighter wines. The vine background is cropped behind the product information and printed in black and grey. For the premium Ripasso and Amarone wines, the background pattern covers the entire label and is created with matte and gloss varnishes over black ink.
There is an expectation of tradition from Italian winemakers. Consumers equate age-old methodology with quality and look for visual cues on the label that satisfy that belief. But for shelf presence, the characteristics of modern package design are stronger. The new design for Cantina di Negrar’s wine packaging successfully marries a traditional foundation with a pop of modern dynamics.