Wines of Substance Named a “Hot Small Brand”
February 19, 2010 by Doug Haugen
Wines of Substance has been given the nod by Wine Business Monthly as Number Two among “Hot Small Brands” for 2009. The annual Top 10 Hot Small Brands list recognizes up-and-coming wineries with annual case production under 150,000. That kind of case production is huge in Washington terms, but not so big when you consider some of the big guns in the world wine industry.
So, how does Wine Business Monthly choose the Hot Small Brands? According to Cyril Penn, they “gravitate toward wineries and brands that represent market trends or innovation, that take a leadership position in their regions, or that make unusual varietals or unexpected wines.” They take marketing strategies and growth into consideration, too, but the wines themselves have to make the grade.
Wines of Substance is a project shared by Waters Winery and Gramercy Cellars with the expressed goal of showcasing Washington fruit in a portfolio of fun, affordable wines. Jason Huntley, Founder and Managing Partner of Substance said, “Our goal is to capture the palates of budding oenophiles and the imaginations of experienced wine drinkers alike by focusing on the essence of each unique varietal. Most wines today are made from blending numerous varietals so people really never get to experience the truest expression of the fruit. A winemaker can blend 25 percent of Syrah with Cabernet Sauvignon and still call it Cabernet Sauvignon on the label. Our aim is to alleviate the confusion, intimidation and price factors that keep potential wine enthusiasts at bay.”
There’s no doubt that the packaging concept of Substance wines is inspired and hip–simple, sleek, modern, a tad geeky, and a brilliant way of providing a single, easily-recognizable brand identity across a bunch of different wines. They have consistently been given kudos for the design, and their trippy website even won the American Graphic Design Award in Graphic Design USA magazine–it’s an interactive periodic table that can give you vertigo if you’ve already been drinking. Several publications have given them honors for the wines themselves, too.
It might just be me, but I tend to be skeptical of wines with a label that’s too clever. I’m not going to lie, I’ve picked up bottles of wine just because I thought the label was cool–hasn’t everyone?–but I’ve often been disappointed. It seems like trendy labels often cry out to be purchased because the wine couldn’t stand on its own. But, as they say, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and the adage holds true here, too, which is why I make a conscious effort to ignore the packaging when I pick out a bottle of wine, other than to appreciate the art of it. In the case of Substance wines, with good wine in a great package at a reasonable price, they may just have hit the trifecta.
So, my congratulations goes out to the folks at Substance for their recognition. You guys have earned it.