Wine and Vines Pretense

From Promo Piece to Real Brand!

Designer Dreamscapes:

Creative wine packaging concepts are out there, but not all find a home

By Jane Firstenfeld

Speaking at the Wines & Vines Packaging Conference in August, Mill Valley, California based designer Jim Moon decried the industry’s resistance to innovation. Later, he recalled the time one of his design dreams came true.

“2008 wasn’t a good year. The economy was in a nosedive, and customers were not buying wine. With inventories stuck in warehouses, the last thing vintners considered was new package design.” The reality of this stirred Moon to action. He created a self-promotion piece “that captured the look and of the economy and gave it a counterintuitive name: PRETENSE. I wanted the package to be as irreverent as possible,” he said.

The package features a rolled-down paper bag; the name mocked that stereotype. My expectations were modest, Moon said. Capture attention, generate a few smiles, and maybe vintners would think of my services.”

A previous client saw the promo piece and picked up the phone. Carl Doumani had worked with Moon years earlier, when he was planning a promotion to mark Stags’ Leap Winery’s 100th anniversary celebration in Napa. They had also worked together on building all the branding for Doumani’s new Benton-Lane Winery in Monroe, Oregon.

That package, featuring a rare American stamp, is still available on retail shelves. Doumani had penned a note to the designer, “We get great comments on our postage stamp wine. No one knows our name, just the label.”

With a history of successful collaboration, Doumani saw the Pretense mock-up and made a call. Within months, full wrap Pretense labels were being applied to Doumani’s 2006 Solano County Petite Syrah. “A promo piece gave birth to a real brand,” said Moon.

Even though finding a home for a quirky design is not always in the bag, sometimes designing dreams do come to life – and to market.

Read Jane Firstenfeld’s entire “Designer Dreamscapes” Story.