Inspired by experimental winemaking, Works Design brands a batch of limited-edition wine from Stratus Vineyards
Stratus Vineyards is a long-time client of Works Design and one of Canada’s most celebrated wineries. What makes Stratus different is their processes — they are a LEED-certified, gravity flow winery. Our companies have a lot in common. We both have a serious commitment to sustainability and creating things of outstanding quality.
In late 2019, they approached us with an exciting opportunity: to name and design packaging for a unique, experimental series of wines — wines that were "research and development" in spirit. In essence, they had never been created at the winery before and were not part of their standard portfolio. They would be released as an 'insiders' wine to Stratus wine club members and newsletter fan base. Only 15 cases would be produced.
With extremely low intervention and made with a methodology totally contrary to 'standardized' modern-day white winemaking, this wine would be different. The grapes would be fermented for 30 days with their skins and the wine would not be filtered.
Inspired by the wine itself, The Works changed our usual game and disrupted some of our typical processes. Every designer in the studio was invited to submit concepts and ideas and the visual brief was left very open-ended. To narrow the range of exploration, the client approved five to six potential names for the wine. We gave the designers longer than usual to freely riff on whichever names resonated with them. Everyone put their favourite creations forward and the result was a huge wall of potential directions. The name ‘Trials’ was eventually selected and a smaller group of designers worked to evolve successful directions into a final label design.
All of our concepts development was inspired by the winery, the product and the process itself. That’s how we always design for Stratus. We benefit from full access to all the key people at the winery who give us a full understanding of the winemaking process. By understanding what they want to achieve with their wines, we are able to consistently deliver exceptional work.
'Trials', one of several strong ideas we came up with for a name, was the most straightforward and to-the-point. It was the best choice for hand-crafted, small-lot wines that represent a belief in the future of traditions.
The final label uses the typeface Northwell, a rustic, dapper handwritten font with quick dry strokes and a signature style. The typeface extends beyond the wordmark into a bit of a system; it can be used to “sketch out” words representing the winemaking process (such as “native yeasts” or “unfiltered.”) When the words come together, they make a texture or background that looks great on digital channels.
The first two batches of Trials sold out in a matter of hours. But there may be more to come. 

For almost two decades Nelson has been a cornerstone of Works Design’s design practice, helping to build the company while building his career. As Creative Director, he plays a lead role in setting the creative standard for the studio, using his insights into the aesthetic and strategic objectives of design, while ensuring that projects keep moving and teams stay motivated. He works collaboratively with designers, to make sure they have the support and opportunities they need to contribute their best work. Nelson also works directly with clients, to transform their objectives into breakthrough creative.





Check out Packaging Design Resource List by Yurko Gutsulyak RGD


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