While many Midwest wineries have special edition wine labels, Elk Creek Vineyards’ Carey Chen Riesling is unique both for its renditions of sea life and for its unique clear label printing approach. Elk Creek Riesling is the top seller of the five wines that make up the Carey Chen Marine Collection. Other wines in the Marine Collection include a Concord and a Pinot Grigio.
Elk Creek Vineyards, one of Kentucky’s largest wineries, is located in Owenton which is one hour from three cities; Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati. The winery was established during 2003 by Curtis Sigretto, who also founded Halloween Express Corporation. Elk Creek Vineyards produces 50,000 gallons of wine annually, which is the maximum allowed by Kentucky law. Elk Creek also has seven tasting room locations in Kentucky shopping centers.
How did a wine label depicting dolphins and coral end up on a wine label from Kentucky? The idea for the Marine Collection labels grew from Sigretto’s passion for salt water sport fishing. While attending sport fishing tournaments in South Florida, Sigretto met renouned marine artist, Carey Chen. Chen is one of the top artists of underwater scenes in the U.S. and the Caribbean. The artist’s popular paintings and murals are known for their blend of bright colors and attention to detail.
Chen says the partnership with Elk Creek came about when he and Sigretto conjectured that fishermen might be attracted to wines with marine art labels. As Chen told Midwest Wine Press, “Since I had a following with my marine art and merchandise, we thought the relationship with Elk Creek would work well with art shows and stores that carried my products and artwork.”
Brad Allnut, Elk Creek Vineyards lead designer & marketing director, says that Chen takes orders for the Marine Collection wines when he is displaying his art for sale and Elk Creek fills those orders via mail. Currently 100% of the wine with Chen’s labels is sold via direct shipping or at the Winery’s tasting room.”We’d like to sell the Marine Collection in retail stores, but we currently sell every bottle that’s produced ourselves,” Allnut said. Overall, Allnut said that Elk Creek sells about two-thirds of total wine production at its tasting rooms.
The relationship between Chen and Elk Creek also has a charitable aspect. Chen said he and Elk Creek Vineyards regularly donate some of the revenue from the Carey Chen wine series to help the Billfish Foundation and Coastal Conservation Association preserve the oceans and the marine environment.
“One of the most interesting things about the Carey Chen Riesling is the process it took to separate the artwork.” Allnut said. “Originally the acrylic marine painting was all one piece of artwork. The three dimensional effect on the label was created by separating the fish from the coral background.” (For a more detailed picture of the wine label, visit Elk Creek Vineyards and hover the mouse over the label picture.)
According to Otto Knop at Innovative Labeling Solutions (ILS), the label printing provider for Elk Creek, a process called “sandwich printing” creates the three dimensional effect for the clear Carey Chen Riesling labels. Sandwich printing is conceptually similar to the construction of a deli sandwich: The marine background and the back of the label are the two pieces of bread. In between the two pieces of bread is the “meat,” which are the layers of white and opaque ink. This allows the two pieces of marine artwork (the bread) to both be readable at the same time. All of Elk Creek’s wine labels are printed on ILS’s HP digital presses. ILS is headquartered in Hamilton, Ohio in a 65,000 square foot facility and works with around 300 wineries, 20 distilleries and 100 breweries. In regard to the Elk Creek label, Knop said, “the Riesling label was printed on clear BOPP labels in a 4-6 color process with white layers in certain spots. It was finished with a Pearlescent varnish.”
Rebecca is the owner of Bauerhaus Design, which specializes in building brands for Midwestern wineries. For more information visit Bauerhaus Design at www.bauerhaus.com