Barrel + Ink: Drink up these enticing collaborations!

Yes. No. No. Maybe. Definitely not. No. Yes. No. Maybe. I guess I could take a chance…

That is my mental process when I am strolling down the wine aisles at the store trying to figure out what bottle of wine I want to purchase. Admittedly, I am only looking at the wine labels and trying to discern how much I will enjoy a bottle of wine based on the typography, interesting vineyard name, and level of cleverness present on that tiny 3 inch x 3 inch canvas. What’s worse (or better depending on if your perspective is mine or the vineyards), is that I have HUNDREDS of labels, er, bottles of wine to choose from.

But let’s be honest with ourselves here: Unless you have decided to educate yourself on the various wines, vineyards, and grapes out there, most likely you’re picking your wine based on a label. It is indeed a lot like judging a book by its cover and we’ve all been hoodwinked by that process in the past. So what is a customer to do?

Enter Barrel + Ink, a San Francisco based company that “pair designers and winemakers together to create exceptional, limited-run wines.” The idea is that winemakers and designers are makers in their own right and oddly their individual processes intersect on a regular basis, but perhaps without a ton of intention. Often the marketing of a wine is separated from the actual vineyard and perhaps doesn’t truly embody and pay homage to the winemaking process. Barrel + Ink decided that missed connection was an amazing opportunity not to be ignored again.

Barrel + Ink

The most recent collaboration is between design rockstar Jessica Hische and Napa Valley winemaker Andy Erickson. Whoa. Their 2014 White Blend is just beautiful. Not only the pale, golden wine within the bottle, but the way Hische’s design aesthetic embodies the craft, sense of fun, and taste notes of the actual wine is spot on. But this is not just a designer fulfilling a client’s design needs. It truly is a collaboration. As Hische mentions in her interview (which by the way, the website offers audio interviews with each collaborator, which is a beautiful extra touch!) she was able to actually meet and work with Andy. She visited the vineyard and was able to draw inspiration for her final design. As with any good collaboration, it was two maker experts that did 110% and created something exceptional. Other design collaborators include Erik Marinovich, Invisible Creature, and Lab Partners.

Barrel + Ink

Barrel + Ink: Winemaker Andy Erickson

Barrel + Ink: Designer Jessica Hische

Barrel + Ink is also pretty tight lipped on which designers and winemakers they’ll be bringing in on the future collaborations. Smart move. I’m certainly going to keep checking back to find out which of my favorite designers has now made a miniature piece of art aka wine label, that I have to purchase now (obviously!)

Interested in getting your hands on a bottle? You won’t be able to pick this up at your local shop. These wine + design collaborations are only offered through the website. But you can get on their mailing list and be notified as each new collaborative bottle becomes available for purchase.

Let’s try this on for size…

Collaboration. It’s been around since the beginning of time and its results have varied greatly. Some people get prickly about the idea, thinking that it means that the best solution is not arrived at, simply the one that the most people agree upon. Often times this is the case. But I have a fine example of collaboration recently where we played off of each other’s strengths and capabilities and came up with a fabulous solution.

My fabulous design collaborator and best friend is none other than Daniela Panigada. She is also a graphic designer and we completed (literally back-to-back in the studio) the BFA program at Indiana University. Her website and portfolio can be viewed here.

Daniela and I have been collaborating for a long time, so we have a rhythm we tend to fall into. We needed a card for a baby shower what was taking place in 15 minutes. Not a lot of time to come up with something, but we knew we had no choice. We had computer paper and a ton of construction paper. So we got to cutting and pasting. We were able to easily bounce ideas off of each other and take one person’s idea and grow it into an even better idea. Daniela has great skills in the hand-drawn arena so we made sure to utilize that skill as well.

All in all I think we came up with a great card that our work colleague ended up loving! We called it “French Baby.” So collaboration can have it’s ups and downs, but sometimes you find that right person where collaboration goes great and everyone is heard and ideas are respected. Always keep those people in you back pocket. You never know when a collaborative effort will present itself!