After our vineyard was planted, our first task was to create the brand for our future wines. A brand can be simply boiled down to one’s identity. The challenge is to align the expectations behind the brand before it is ever created.
For us, this came simple. We began this venture for one reason – Family. We purchased the property to be able to spend more time as a family together during summer. We chose Fair Haven, New York, because that’s where my roots are (Oswego and Ithaca) and where our family still lives nearby. We wished to honor my Grandfather who immigrated to America from Sicily in 1914, and gave us the opportunities that we have as a new generation in America. So, it was simple. Our family surname, Colloca, would be the brand.
Immediately, I had a family crest in mind together with calligraphy in my mind for the Colloca brand. But I wasn’t aware of a family crest. In 2010, my wife and I went to Sicily and with the help of a translator, trekked up the side of a mountain to the township of Casalvecchio, the township that my Grandfather, Sebastiano Colloca, wrote in the log at Ellis Island as his place of origin when he arrived in 1914.
As we came into the village we noticed a beautiful hand painted mural mosaic Village Coat of Arms adorning the wall adjacent to the town hall. It showcased the history of this land in farming, working the fields, harvesting olives, lemons, and of course, grapes. Smack in the center of the mosaic was a crest of the township. Low and behold Grapes were even part of the crest. This would become the inspiration for our new family crest.
More recently, Colloca’s from Sicily shared a photo of a painting currently residing in the nearby Village of Castroreale (about 90 minutes drive from Casalvecchio) showing a Colloca Familia Coat of Arms dating back to 1435.
Interestingly, this Coat of Arms also shows the three stars and Castle of Casalvecchio, which symbolizes the Church of Santi Pietro e Paolo d'Agrò, regarded as one of the most important structures in the Agrò river valley and in the province of Messina. The current structure was built by Roger II of Sicily in 1117 and remade in 1172. It is characterized by a mix of Byzantine, Arab and Norman styles. The exterior appearance resembles that of a fortress, with two towers flanking the facade.
I searched online for an expert in Calligraphy and saw the work of the incredibly talented Jorden Jelev, who calls himself ‘the Labelmaker’, based in Bulgaria. I had reservations about working with someone so far away, but after I reached out to him we hit it off immediately. Jorden spoke the language of an advanced marketer and I knew that I found the right guy for our project.
I shared the Coat of Arms with Jorden and he used is as inspiration for the new Colloca family crest. Jorden adapted the Casalvecchio, Sicily crest changing the branches into a Sommelier’s necklace as inspiration for the new Colloca Family Crest for our brand. We decided to use it both on the top part of our wine label as well as on the bottle neck tags.
I shared my ideas with Jorden for the Colloca calligraphy communicating with him that I wanted the brand to represent quality, patience, and perseverance. Winemaking takes a lot of patience, and together with perseverance from the strong work ethic and leadership that our brand represents, we didn’t want an off the shelf font to represent us. We wanted something unique. One of a kind. Hand crafted with quality. Just like the olden days and just like our wines.
Jorden resonated with the message and was excited to set out on the journey of creating our brand. He started with a clean canvas and began creating the Colloca calligraphy by hand but with new digitizing technology. Jorden then delivered his first drafts for consideration.
Once received, I shared the options with my wife, Mindy and my Dad, and forwarded the samples to each of my seven brothers and sisters and asked for a vote. We chose three top selections from the vote and Jorden felt that he knew now where we wanted to go with the design.
With this, he created a brand new design that we hadn’t seen before. He only sent one version and that was all it took. Unanimously we all knew that we didn’t need any more options. It was perfect and he had exceeded our expectations.
Watch this video of Jorden at work with his mastered art of calligraphy.
For our Australian wines, we feature a picture of the grape varietal and the wine description on the label front.
For our Estate wines grown on our own property at our Lake Effect Vineyard® in Fair Haven, NY, we have branded it prominently as a band beneath the primary label. For our first vintage we made a special commemorative logo depicting our inaugural vintage.
Jorden showcases our label on his website with the final product of our branding.
We were thrilled to be recognized by receiving the Double Gold Packaging Award for our 2013 Riesling at the 2015 Fingerlakes International Wine Competition. The award, sponsored by Waterloo Container, assembled a team of judges by Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing Togo DeBellis, of Waterloo Container, that included marketing professionals, packaging manufacturers and Waterloo Container employees.
Judging was based on innovation and package design, including container, label, closure and shelf impact. The award was given to two wineries in seven of the competition categories: Merlot, Riesling, Cabernet, Ice Wine, Cab Franc, Fruit Wine and Chardonnay. Over 3700 Wines were in the competition.