The Fableist Wins Best in Show

After prize for Best Series Design, small Paso Robles winery runs away with top honors

by Kate Lavin
wine packaging conference fableist
Encore Glass submitted The Fableist to the Series Design category at the Wine Packaging Awards sponsored by Wines & Vines magazine.

Yountville, Calif.—The Fableist Wine Co., a 3,000-case winery from Paso Robles, Calif., won the Best in Show prize Wednesday at the third annual Packaging Design Awards. TV personality Leslie Sbrocco announced the winners of five juried categories plus the People’s Choice award at the close of the Wine Packaging Conference organized by Wines & Vines magazine.

Encore Glass of Fairfield, Calif., submitted six bottles of The Fableist for the Best Series Package Design category, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Tempranillo. Each of the bottles is named after a different fable. The Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, is titled “The Ant or the Cicada,” and both creatures appear in detailed illustrations on the label, with copper foil used to highlight a pattern on the cicada’s wings and make the winery name pop. The back label cites Aesop’s Fable No. 373 and includes an interpretation of the fable as it relates to the bottle of wine created for the end consumer: “Now accept the gift of The Fableist, which has been toiled and moiled over in an attempt to give both weary ants and shiftless cicadas piece of mind, and a belly full of warmth.”

Five judges representing the confluence of the wine retail, wine media and design fields selected Gold, Silver and Bronze medalists in the categories of Best Alternative Format, Best Classic Format, Best Luxury Package, Best Redesign and Best Series. The judges awarded the Best in Show distinction to their favorite Gold medalist.

In summarizing The Fableist, winery partner Curt Schalchlin said, “My partner Andrew Jones and I have spent the majority of our adult lives in the wine business. We like to tell people that pretty much every fable or life lesson is something we can both relate to the world of wine.”

The panel of judges appreciated the detailed drawings on each label and the correlation between the fables that inspired each wine in the series.

Alternative Format
The Alternative Format category was open to any packaging not in a regular glass bottle. Entries included cans, boxes, pouches, cartons and more. Packages were judged on their visual appeal, design functionality, appropriateness for the price segment and creative utilization of the alternative packaging format.

The winners were:

Gold: Element Cellars of Angwin, Calif.
Silver: Earth Wise by Delicato Family Vineyards
Bronze: Tangent Winery of San Luis Obispo, Calif.

In a description included with its entry, Element Cellars said the winery chose a wood crate to highlight the idea that quality wine deserves a quality package. The bag-in-box format was utilized because it keeps wine fresh for up to a month after it is opened and reduces the packaging carbon footprint by as much as 80%.

Judges called the wooden box “very creative” and “a show-stopper.” According to the panel, “The package absconds traditional bag in box while also telling an interesting story.”
One judge said the packaging “ends up looking like a more expensive product.”

Classic Format
The Classic Format category had the most entries and ranged from small boutique wineries to large producers. Classic glass bottle format entries were judged on visual appeal, design functionality, appropriateness for price segment and creative utilization of the classic bottle format.

The winners were:

Gold: Cooper & Thief Cellarmasters, entered by Bruni Glass of Fairfield, Calif
Silver: Odd Lot by Scheid Family Vineyards of Salinas, Calif.
Bronze: V. Sattui of St. Helena, Calif. for its 15-year Port

The information included with the first-place entry said bourbon-barrel-aged Cooper & Thief takes its name from the tools of the trade. The word “cooper” is synonymous with the meticulous craft of barrel making, and the wine thief has long been used to steal tastes of wine as it is aging. From the shorter, broad-shouldered bottle to the wrap-around whiskey-inspired label, we are disrupting the wine shelf and communicating to the consumer that we are something different.

Our judges said this package made the best use of the bottle format to convey a message, and the information on the label was very well organized. One judges said the package design served to make a clear connection between the wine and bourbon barrel aging. And finally, they dubbed the design “slightly retro with a modern twist.”

Luxury Package Design
The luxury design category was open to any wine packaging format that retails for $50 and above. To be successful, packages needed to be designed to compete and on high-end restaurant wine lists and in fine wine shops against luxury wines from around the world. Packages were judged on their visual appeal, design functionality, appropriateness for the price segment and quality of packaging materials used.

The winners were:

Gold: King Estate, entered by Affinity Creative Group of Mare Island, Calif.
Silver: OneHope, entered by Unionpack of American Canyon, Calif.
Bronze: LA VITA by Bargetto Winery of Soquel, Calif.

King Estate, a leading pioneer in Oregon wine country, engaged Affinity Creative Group to help commemorate their 25th anniversary of wine production in the Pacific Northwest. The client was determined to make a statement around this special occasion. Affinity responded by creating a metal label that conveys luxury, exclusivity, and craftsmanship. Made of embossed pewter, the label is hand applied to each bottle. The project incorporates many principles of luxury branding and packaging, including use of layers and textures.

The attention paid to the metal label paid off with the judges, who noted: The medallion is very distinct and conveys luxury while clearly speaking of a celebratory anniversary. The overall design is elegant, clean and to the point. Judges appreciated the quality materials used and the “25” emblem on the capsule.

Best Package Redesign
Judges reviewed the original wine packages and redesigned packages side by side. Entries were judged on the successfulness of the redesign, visual appeal, design functionality and appropriateness for the price segment.

The winners were:

Gold: 25th anniversary bottle from Sterling Vineyards by Treasury Wine Estates
Silver: August Ridge of Creston, Calif.
Bronze: Galen Glen of Schnecksville, Pa., entered by 3Seed Marketing

As a part of an overall brand reposition, Sterling Vineyards set out to own and amplify the color silver by using its most important marketing tool: its label. According to the winery, the medallion coin highlights Sterling Vineyards’ architecture and consumers’ experience at the winery. A label printed entirely on metallic foil was the first of its kind for the printer and required many trials and new techniques.

Judges appreciated Sterling’s return to its roots and highlighting the name Sterling with its label color. The elegant visuals remind consumes how regally the winery sits above the Napa Valley, and the slope is indicative of the gondola ride consumers take to visit Sterling in person.

Series Design

Entries to this category consisted of two or more pieces created to work together as a whole. Packages were judged on the cohesiveness of the series, their visual appeal as a series and as individual bottles. Judges also rated packages based on their design functionality and appropriateness for the price segment.

The winners were:

Gold: Fableist Wine Co., entered by Encore Glass of Fairfield, Calif.
Silver: Omen Wine entered by Atlas Wine Co. of Napa, Calif.
Bronze: House Wine, entered by Precept Wine of Seattle, Wash.

Each wine in the winning series represents a different Aesop’s Fable. Curt Schalchlin, co-owner of Fableist said, “My partner Andrew Jones and I have spent the majority of our adult lives in the wine business. We like to tell people that pretty much every fable or life lesson is something we can both relate to the world of wine.” The numbers correspond to the Perry Index Number for each fable.

wine packaging conference raymond people's choice
Attendees of the Wines & Vines Packaging Conference selected the 40th anniversary bottle by Raymond Vineyards for the People's Choice Award.
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