Lang & Reed Wine Company

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Label Story



Time and again, John and I are asked about our wine label - the whimsical Lang & Reed label that has the boys and the dog and the heart and the wine geek and the wine bottle popping its cork. And so many folks ask us who does our label, it’s so cute, etc, etc… Well, I always find myself telling it the same way over and over again, so that now I just call it the Label Story because it sounds as if I, myself, had been told this story over and over before and am retelling it from a long-ago memory. Anyway, it’s a story of how our label came to be and everything is true, but you know what happens to memory and storytelling as time goes by; sometimes, somehow the stories get bigger. Well, I’m not suggesting that this story has gotten bigger since its beginning, but you never know…

John and I knew exactly how we wanted our wine label to look. And it had to be just so, because among the many processes of wine producing, one of the most difficult to go through is designing a label. A label has to say so much, or sometimes, so little. It conveys with its imagery the heart and soul of the bottle’s contents. It begs to be picked out of a crowd, always saying, “Drink me, drink me!” And it’s creative by nature and so can make you just a tiny bit nervous that perhaps no one is going to like it. But that wasn’t going to be our problem. No siree! We were confident.

Well, we had seen a lot of labels in our day and over the years had been collecting so that in our keep was a wide variety of all kinds of wine labels. As the time approached when we would be labeling our first vintage ever, we started the process of laying out all the labels that had a little bit of something we appreciated. And we talked. We talked a lot. We talked about what works on a label and what doesn’t work. We talked about our wine and how it made us feel to have been the makers. We talked about it as if the wine itself had a personality that was looking for an identity of its own, a birth so to speak. And we knew as we talked that we needed a very special person who could interpret for us all this stuff. And that person was an artist named Jeanne Greco.

Jeanne and John met quite a while ago in 1994 while she was on assignment in the Napa Valley. Immediately they had a common bond because John was an artist himself and they talked the same language. He had told her about our wine project and asked if she would consider helping and luckily she said yes. So John and I got busy, really busy, making our own renditions of the soon-to-be-born wine label. We cut and pasted and colored and glued. And what came out of it all were examples of exactly what we wanted our label to look like. Each example had a little twist so Jeanne could see what we were trying to get at and then could combined all the elements and fine tune them with her creative spirit to make them just right. We were there. We knew exactly what we wanted.

Well, the day came when Jeanne met us at the house to formally see our sample labels and get her assignment. That particular day had started out peacefully enough, but as it wore on was turning into quite something else. And I might have to admit that we were kind of nervous to begin with because it was a very important meeting, one of those big deals in the life of starting your own business. The kids were pretty young then. I think Jerzy was about 10 and Reed was 13, so they were both on a 9 to 3 school schedule. And we had three dogs who pretty much had the run of the house. I can’t forget about our cat. He definitely had the run of the house. And last, but not least, we had the birds, the lovebirds.  I should mention here that the lovebirds, and as you who have had lovebirds know, are very noisy, in a loud, high-pitched, chirping kind of way. And ours in particular seem to get all wound up when there’s lots of stuff going on, like very important meeting stuff. On top of it all, our meeting was scheduled late in the day. Looking back sometimes I think it might have been a good idea to have started our meeting a little earlier.

Jeanne, ever so patient, listened with great interest to all our ideas as we walked her through the examples of our evolving label design. It was all quite civil and we were really getting someplace. At some point the boys arrived from school. The cadence of their entrance got the dogs all excited. They love it when the boys are home and insist on running around the living room a couple of times just to prove it. The activity escalated as after school snacks came out and backpacks were strewn around the kitchen table. This kind of action in the house always cues the birds to make their contribution and pretty soon our ears started to hurt and that urged us toward completion of our mission. Jeanne thought she had lots to work with and that soon she would return with the next-step proofs. It was a wrap.

Well, I mentioned before that John and I really knew what we wanted and we were certain that our label mock-ups were right on the money, so to speak, and that Jeanne could interpret them for us. And she did. She did exactly what we asked and she produced exactly the finished look we wanted in each of the examples. And there the labels lay on our dining room table, all ready to go. If we could just decide which one, which one did the said begging, “Drink me, drink me!” Which one among the labels spoke the heart and soul of its contents? Well, you may have seen it coming: the answer was not a one. They all just lay there, none popping out of the crowd expressing the passion imagined so many times before.

Always in her quiet, patient way, Jeanne watched our faces. She watched closely to see for which label our hands might reach. And she could see it happening in us, the kind of slow awakening that this is indeed one of the most difficult parts of the process, the moment of choice for something that will last a lifetime. And she could also see us balk. The timing could not have been more perfect. Allowing us a just-long-enough silence, she gently offered us her own design, one she created with us in mind that might be something to consider.  And from her portfolio she presented her hand-drawn, crayola-colored rendition of life in the Skupny household. There it was in two-dimensional form, an expression of us, our life, our family, our love. And of course, our boys and our dogs and whoever the wine geek is. She did it. She came in to our home and just listened with her heart and gave back to us the spirit of our passion. And she did well.





Copyright 2005 Project Seven Development