Inspired by the creative muse who often takes hold of her subjects at night, BRAVO Design inspired a group of winemakers at Kleine Zalze to create their own labels for their ‘secret’ nocturnal vinfications. The result? An example of what is possible beyond the realms of the expected and the ordinary.
Kleine Zalze is a well-established and popular South African wine brand. It is best known for producing a range of wines, ranging from easy-to-drink to the more serious, with wine labels that are classic in design, conveying the reputable standing of the liquid it encases. However, an opportunity to promote the experiential wine batches of Kleine Zalze’s winemakers presented an occasion to showcase the brand’s more contemporary nature with labels that were as distinct as the wines it had to promote.
“The winemakers were instructed to go ‘play’ in the cellar. To experiment and push the boundaries of winemaking,” explains Brenden Schwartz, owner and creative director at BRAVO Design. These wines were collectively called Project Z: with cellar practices that involved prolonged skin-contact, natural fermentation, lees-aging in amphora and solera methods, this project truly captured the creativity of the winemakers in the cellar – and now the aim was to dress the bottles in a way that would reflect the winemakers’ creativity.
“The wines are phenomenal, and we knew that the personal investment of each of the winemakers had to pull through into the branding aspects of the wine,” says Brenden. To achieve this, BRAVO Design did the (almost) unthinkable: BRAVO relinquished control in design, instead allowing the winemakers to take the lead in the conceptualisation and drawing of their own labels. Allowing the winemaking team to own the full process of the creation of the first wines to be released in this range.
“The idea was liked, but also feared,” laughs Brenden, “but we knew these wines needed something unique, something different to any other Kleine Zalze label – or any other in the industry, for that matter.”
It was a big leap of faith, and also an exercise in boosting confidence: “The idea was accepted, yes, but the winemakers were full of self-doubt. Would the work they deliver be good enough?” reveals Carina Gous, Marketing and Sales Executive at Kleine Zalze, who headed the project.
BRAVO, assisted by artist Theo Paul Vorster, held a 3-day workshop during which winemakers could brainstorm and give creative expression to their label designs. The group landed on the idea of the ‘secret 7’ as inspiration for the labels, referring to exceptional animals that secretly roam the night – just like the winemakers who ‘secretly’ tended to their experimental wine batches at night.
“To achieve consistency with all the labels, and the different animals, it was decided to have all these animals illustrated within a circle, which became the golden thread connecting the six wines in the range,” explains Carina.
With the artistic guidance of Theo, winemakers were taught the skill of linocut: they conceptualised a drawing of the nocturnal animal that resonated with them personally, and over the course of the three days, spent hours delicately carving the intricate details that would ultimately become the print for their labels.
“It was a truly transformative experience,” recalls Brenden, “as the drawings and linocuts started to take shape you could see the heart and soul of the winemakers manifesting.” In the end the self-doubt in the winemakers was transformed into a truly proud feeling. “The winemakers couldn’t believe the result,” says Carina.
The first print of each of the linocuts was used to create the respective black-and-white printed labels. With the designs being so detailed, the labels received very little in terms of added embellishments: it stays true to the original hand-printed linocut printing techniques which allows the artworks to remain the hero.
KLEINE ZALZE PROJECT Z
The collection of wines in the Project Z range was launched into the market to much acclaim. Wines n the range have all earned scores upwards of 90+, and the labels have added to the appeal of having the full range of six wines, instead of a single bottle.
“People have been blown away by the labels,” says Carina. “There is a real honesty to the labels, they have soul,” adds Brenden, “it just goes to show, that design isn’t always about design but understanding what you want to do. Sometimes what is right for the brand is found outside conventional borders.”
The BRAVO way: Everytime
“BRAVO was phenomenal,” says Carina, “they were there from the start, really coming onboard as a strategic partner. They understood what was needed from the get-go. Brenden has so much knowledge of art and wine, insight and understanding. It contributed to the project’s success.”
Read more on the Wine Collection here.