Renovations at the Schoolhouse: L’Ecole No. 41′s New Look
March 22, 2011 by Doug Haugen
In 1915, a schoolhouse was built in the Frenchtown community outside of Walla Walla, Washington. For the last three decades, the schoolhouse has been occupied by iconic Washington winery L’Ecole No. 41, a producer of now 30,000 cases of premium vino per year.
L’Ecole No. 41, French for “the school” in District number 41, was named to honor the viticultural efforts of the French descendants in the 1800′s, a precursor to the booming wine industry in Walla Walla today.
Wine lovers have learned to look for the campy, whimsical L’Ecole label on the shelves at their local wine shop and grocery, one of the most immediately recognizable in the industry. Reminiscent of a child’s jumbo-Crayola drawing of a schoolhouse you’d expect to find posted on the refrigerator and a chalkboard noting the varietal, the brand has been loyal to the schoolhouse wherein the winery has come to maturity.
It seems L’Ecole No. 41 has reached graduation day. This week, the winery unveiled their new label design. According to the folks at L’Ecole, “Our newly redesigned label reflects the extensive experience and knowledge we have gained since the winery was founded nearly three decades ago.”
Setting aside crayon depiction of the schoolhouse, the winery has grown up while remaining dedicated to its history with an sepia etching of the Frenchtown schoolhouse. The more upscale logo and package design is intended to reflect the history, experience and “ultra-premium quality” of the winery. According to a press release issued this week:
The new label design creates a clear delineation between the winery’s Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley product tiers. L’Ecole’s Columbia Valley wines rely on the winery’s relationships with the state’s top vineyards to craft richness and complexity in such favorites as L’Ecole Columbia Valley Semillon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Walla Walla Valley wines showcase L’Ecole’s hometown vineyards, including such acclaimed wines as Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Merlot and Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Also included in the winery’s Walla Walla tier are L’Ecole’s signature blended reds, Pepper Bridge Vineyard Apogee and Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Perigee. The new package was inspired, in part, by the Apogee and Perigee labels, though they too have been slightly revised to feature the new schoolhouse illustration.
L’Ecole No. 41′s new label design is a smart move. In a time where wine labels are fighting for attention on the shelves, L’Ecole has come to bank on its longstanding reputation, and doesn’t need to shout to be heard.