Wine Label Design with David Rager

Monday, January 19, 2015 0 No tags 0
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David Rager is a Californian graphic designer and art director who’s just moved back to his home state after living in Paris. He’s done everything from album covers for Best Coast and Fool’s Gold to branding for Paris smokehouse The Beast, and has recently ventured into the world of wine (and beer) label design.  David has done a handful of labels for my buddies at Club W and after seeing them I just had to know more about him and his work. He also happens to runs an interior design studio, Weekends, with his wife Cheri. David is quite the versatile talent and has a great sense of style, his work always seeming to effortlessly exude both modern California fun and laid-back Parisian cool.
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When did you start designing wine labels? Was it a natural progression and extension of your design work, or did you always have a focus on wine?

My first wine label design was in 2013 for Domaine de Séailles. Josh Adler from Paris Wine Company, who I did some design work for, also had the idea to give the ticket a reboot after he started working with the domaine so we teamed up again. Designing wine labels felt pretty natural to me, I lived in Paris for 5 years and one of my best friends there is a big natural wine geek. So I had a lot of great adventures in that world with him and my design work and personal life tend to have a lot of overlap. Aside from graphic design, my wife and I work together and design bars and restaurants, often when we do a restaurant project we’ll also do the graphic identity, menus, napkins etc. and it’s fun to also occasionally have a product you designed inside of an environment we designed together.

Describe the process for designing a label. Do you get to taste the wine and let that influence your choices?
I wish it were that simple. In my case often the wine doesn’t exist yet. It’s the same thing as when I design an album for a band, they are usually in the middle of making it when they need the artwork done. I talk to the people making the wine, get a sense of their story and try to create something that is a sincere expression of who they are and what they are creating.
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Dear Sherry

Friday, January 16, 2015 1 No tags 0

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Dear sherry, one of my drinking resolutions for this year is to drink more of you. You’ve been on my mind a lot lately. My friend Talia wrote a fantastic book all about you, I’ve had some amazing cocktails with you as the star ingredient (the cobbler at Maison Premiere is especially divine), and I got to taste some of the best of your kind at Sherry Fest in San Francisco and back in LA at a stellar tasting of Equipo Navazos last year (pictured). You are often misunderstood and seemingly complicated. People think you’re made only for cooking or grandmas. But you are so much more than that. I love you. OK- bye.

xo,

Whit

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So, let me break it down for a sec. Sherry comes from Spain. It’s fortified and aged in a solera system. It’s typically dry but there are some sweet styles. The main grape is palamino fino, with pedro ximenez and moscatel as supporting players that make the sweet versions. The dry styles of sherry are fino and manzanilla, amontillado, palo cortado, and oloroso – each with either a slightly different production method or coming from a different growing region in the “sherry triangle”. These are the essentials, but I’m just scratching the surface.

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If you’re looking for a different kind of flavor profile and wine experience, look no further than sherry. It can be magical and ethereal, salty, nutty, full of umami and caramel – the list goes on. Good sherry lingers in your mouth for many minutes after a sip. It’s a flavor explosion but also so nuanced and delicate. And sherry pairs brilliantly with food – from seafood to jamon. Have I sold you yet?

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If I’ve piqued your interest, definitely pick up Talia’s book. It really is such a good read and so informative, with beautiful photographs and great cocktail recipes. And buy some dang sherry! A few labels to look out for: Equipo Navazos’ La Bota series of course, Valdespino, Lustau, Fernando de Castilla and La Guita. Happy (sherry) drinking!

Back to Life

Monday, January 5, 2015 0 No tags 0

new-year Well HELLO! It’s been a minute. I think we’ve all been hiding out – tucking into sweet treats and too much bubbly wine, staying in pajamas well into the afternoon and just generally chilling the eff out. But, “back to life, back to reality…”  In case you missed it, I made some resolutions of the drinking kind for PUNCH. Check it out and see what I, along with a bunch of super cool people, hope to do more and less of this year. And if we don’t do them, that’s OK too. It’s the thought that counts, right? Much love to you all and let’s get this 2015 party started!

Illustration by Jen Kruch for PUNCH

Mulled Wine

Monday, December 15, 2014 1 No tags 3

The first time I had mulled wine was about 5 years ago in Vienna, Austria. It was early December and the Christmas markets were already in full swing. If you’ve never been to Austria or Germany during the winter it is AMAZING and I highly recommend it. They take Christmas very seriously and are pros when it comes to decorations, celebrations and food and drink.

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Mulled wine wasn’t something I was ever really all that interested in, but after holding a hot cup of it between my freezing hands and sipping it under twinkly lights, I was sold. I tend to forget how much I love it, but this holiday season I will forget no more! I’m back in the mulling game.

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My friend Charlie sells this great little organic mulling spice blend in her Minor Thread shop. It’s great not only with red wine but also apple cider. The cardamom, cloves, allspice, orange peel and cinnamon is just so comforting and fragrant. I usually like to use a an inexpensive (around $10) southern French red for mulled wine (the Les Heretiques is always a winner). Just throw a bottle of the wine in a pan with 1 tbsp of the spice blend and let it come to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain out the spice bits and you are good to go. Let the holiday cozy feelings commence.

Pictured: Bottle Stock indigo + cochineal dyed linen cocktail napkins and gold burst corkscrew.