Smudgy Illustration, Clear Label Standout

Rustic. Simple, Primitive bordering on Crude. (The label…not the wine in the bottle.)

Today the market is flooded with impressionistic grapevine images. But in 1995, Bogle’s Old Vine Zinfandel was one of the first. A real head turner. And I gotta tell ya, burnt orange and red always get me going. It was love at first sight.

The original OVZ label

The original OVZ label


I marveled at the designer’s chutzpah in using an illustration so abstract and smudgy, so gnarly and stubby you had to look hard to find the grapevine. Then I overheard a winemaker praise the way it captured the essence of head trained vines in winter. The gnarly gash in the center describing the vines hunkered down in the last harsh weeks before spring. The words “old vine” looking as though they had been scratched in with a blunt stick.

Soon after the Bogle OVZ label came out, it seemed like many other gnarled and knotties followed. Was this the beginning of a new genre of label design? Certainly it was not the first illustration of a head trained vine. But it seems that this abstract gestural style was a breakthrough from the plethora of expected vineyard engravings. A burst of imaginatively drawn labels ensued and with it, a freshness and immediacy to wine label design.

I gave Jody Bogle a call. She said they loved the way the label evokes the long life of the vines. The rustic painting brings to mind the old world, hand crafted way they make the wine. They had not seen the vines represented before in this way, although they are reluctant to say it had never been done.

The label first appeared in 1994 when they produced 25,000 cases. Like the wine, the label has legs. It graces the 2007 production of 120,000 cases. Little has changed in those 13 years. Bogle updated the label with a more elegant look in 2002. The illustration was reduced in size and the typography took a more classic sophisticated turn. The paper was changed from gloss to a more refined matte finish, blending in with the bottle and making the illustration pop. The glass was upgraded to a more sophisticated less chunky shape.

Today, as I scan the aisles at a local wine store, I’m still in love with this label. That smudgy, gnarly vine continues to tell the story of  Bogle’s Old Vine Zin after all those years.

The refreshed OVZ label

The refreshed OVZ label


Thank you to Jody Bogle, Chris Catterton and Kurt Arens of Bogle Vineyards.

Label design by Auston Design Group

Illustration by Nancy Willis

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