The Winery at Wolf Creek branded corks.

THE WINERY AT WOLF CREEK

A study in terroir

In anticipation of nearly four decades in business, we helped Wolf Creek completely refresh their identity, covering everything from signage, packaging, online presence, and retail materials. The existing branding was feeling dated and not comprehensive enough to continue shouldering the winery’s growth, which would have been reason enough for a refresh, but on top of that the business was still recovering from a devastating fire in 2017 that required rebuilding the event rental space, offices, and part of the production area and cellars. A new start at this point in the winery’s history made sense.

services provided:

identity
print
packaging
digital

Wolf Creek logos

Color palette.

Wolf Creek typography

Typography.

"The View" from The Winery at Wolf Creek.
Aerial view of the Barberton Reservoir at The Winery at Wolf Creek.

Barberton Reservoir (Wolf Creek). Property and event photos courtesy of The Winery at Wolf Creek.

First Steps

Known for its beautiful setting (perched atop a wooded hillside overlooking a reservoir fed by Wolf Creek), it seemed only natural to draw inspiration from the winery’s surroundings. We took high resolution photos of textures around the property — sandstone boulders, weathered barn siding, rough sawn planks — and created digital versions we could use as graphic elements. The color palette was also influenced by the winery environment: different grape varieties, the shifting colors of the waters, distressed and aging oak barrels, the founder’s canoe hanging from the rafters in the cellar. For the primary logo, we extrapolated a running wolf from one of the businesss’s original logos and streamlined and stylized it. Inspiration was also found in the winery’s archive of old labels, which were referenced in new collage artwork.

Animation of textures from photos to vector graphics

Textures, created from photographs of found materials on the winery property.

Samples of historical collateral and labels used as reference for the rebrand.

An early brochure and labels used as reference for the rebrand.

Rebranding the Wines

The wines at Wolf Creek are crafted in three tiers: Proprietary, which tend to be more fruity and sweet, at the lower end of the price range; Varietal, which are single varieties produced both from grapes grown on the property and sourced from other vineyards; and Estate, which are exclusively grown from Wolf Creek grapes. The owners have had the most fun with labels and names for the Proprietary series, which are favorites of customers as well. Since a good portion of the business has shifted to wholesale, new labels needed to stand out better on a retail shelf, a tall order considering the sheer volume and variety of clever and colorful label concepts they would be competing against.

Together, we came up with punchy new copy for the labels and decided on a collage approach for the artwork. There’s a subtle feminist theme running through the set (Paula Bunyan, a bombshell dame chalking up revenge on men who done her wrong, a 50s bride insisting on a pre-nup, Eve with a snake tattoo). The logo and text on the front labels were minimized to let the art do the talking. Names were overlaid in copper foil. While the new artwork was cropped inside a curvy diamond-shaped die cut for the labels, each wine’s collage was crafted with large uses in mind as well; posters were designed to decorate walls of the tasting room.

Wolf Creek Proprietary wines
Wolf Creek Proprietary wines

Proprietary series labels lineup.

Blind Faith and Blue labels
Exodus and Original Sin labels
Redemption and Scarlet Letter labels
White Lies label

Proprietary series labels.

The Winery at Wolf Creek Original Sin framed poster on wall and closeup detail of print.

A poster showcasing the collage art, and a full-size detail.

The Varietal series is where the textures and color palette were allowed to come to the fore. Red wines were indicated with purples, whites with golds and browns, and blushes with bright pops of magenta and pink. Copper foil was used for the pawprint logo, floating on top of the artwork like a seal, finished off with a creative die cut shape.

Wolf Creek Varietal wines
Wolf Creek Varietals wines

Varietal series labels lineup.

Varietal labels

Varietal series labels.

Finally, the Estate wines were represented by a single label template, in reserved charcoals with a swash of texture and the full wolf logo lockup in copper foil. For a nice surprise and touch of humor, we printed the back of the label with artwork showing “The View” looking down the hill towards the vineyards and reservoir and a curious goat.

Wolf Creek Estate wines

Estate series labels lineup.

Estate label
Estate label back

Estate series labels with printed back side.

Nouveau

One additional label was created for Wolf Creek’s annual Nouveau release. Based on the French tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the wine commemorates a winemaker’s first harvest of the season and is celebrated worldwide on the third Thursday in November. Invitations are sent out for a swanky Nouveau Release Party. Two leaping wolves bookend an understated “nouveau” on a field of charcoal. Nouveau is the tuxedo in the closet of the brand.

The Winery at Wolf Creek Nouveau bottle and label closeup.
The Winery at Wolf Creek Nouveau Party invitation.

Nouveau label and invitation.

The Great Room

The new Great Room rental space still had bare walls. We borrowed antique viticulture books from the winemaker’s collection, scanned interesting diagrams and illustrations, and turned them into large framed artwork. For the entryway wall covered in barrel staves, we designed a powder-coated steel wolf sign lit from behind. A large decal of the wolf mark was applied to the wall behind the bar.

The Winery at Wolf Creek Great Room framed art on wall.
Examples of Great Room poster artwork for The Winery at Wolf Creek.
Great Room Wolf Sign
The Infamous Goat Derby

On just about any day of the year you’ll see animals at Wolf Creek. It could be deer or wild turkeys in the vineyard, an eagle fishing the reservoir, chickens or the occasional donkey, or, most likely, goats. In fact, the winery is so well associated with goats that an annual Goat Derby is held on the first Saturday of May, the same day as the Kentucky Derby. The resident goats are dressed in numbered silks and raced up the hill to the winery, where thousands of patrons have donned their best derby attire and placed their bets, which go to local animal charities. We designed a Goat Derby logo that can be updated each year with the date (in its eleventh year as of this writing) and used on programs, signage, merchandise, and ribbons for winners of Best Derby Hat.

The Winery at Wolf Creek Goat Derby t-shirt and VIP lanyard.
Deanna Troutman and guest with goat at The Winery at Wolf Creek's annual Goat Derby.
And Everything Else

In addition to wine labels and unexpectedly popular goat events, the new branding was applied to just about every customer touchpoint for a consistent experience, from stationery and gift cards to wine and drinks menus, signage, case boxes and hang tags, merchandise of all sorts, all the way down to the corks that go in the bottles. Hang around long enough in the tasting room and you might get branded, too (be right back, we’re pitching temporary tattoos to the owners).

The Winery at Wolf Creek tasting room menu.
The Winery at Wolf Creek gift card and motel keychain.
The Winery at Wolf Creek embroidered ball cap and branded case boxes.
Wolf Creek stationery
The Winery at Wolf Creek branded wine glasses and logo stenciled on barrel.
The Winery at Wolf Creek outdoor signage.
Closeup shot of a staff member pouring wine at The Winery at Wolf Creek.

Updating the winery’s branding was a challenge we took seriously. With nearly four decades in business, we didn’t want to alienate a valuable long-time customer base. And we wanted to make sure that the existing brand equity the owners had worked so hard to build up over the years was preserved. But at the same time we wanted to appeal to a wider, often younger audience. To strike the right balance, we worked with the business to roll out the new branding on a timeline that eased in the new while gracefully retiring the old. It was the right approach for a business so tied to the cycle of seasons and used to the idea of practicing patience while aging a product to maturity.