Blasted Church meets the Avatars
Whoa, Nelly! Wait until you see the edgy, eye-catching and probably controversial new labels from Blasted Church Vineyards.
Above are three of the new labels. The first wine released is Hatfield's Fuse (second label from bottom). For comparison, the bottom label was the previous Hatfield's Fuse, one of the winery's bestsellers.
The label change is as daring as I have ever seen from an Okanagan winery. The caricatures of the original Blasted Church labels have been replaced by art with figures that are more stylized. They made me think of the Avatars who live on Pandora in James Cameron’s blockbuster movie.
Bernie Hadley-Beauregard’s Brandever Group, the winery’s marketing guru, is certainly opening a Pandora’s Box with this dramatic label overhaul. While it is likely some consumers will not like the change, the end result will surely be a blockbuster win for the winery.
He put together the initial label strategy after Evelyn and Chris Campbell bought this winery in 2002. It had been opened in 2000 by Dan Prpich, who called it Prpich Hills. The winery was relaunched as Blasted Church. The name was inspired by the history of a small church in nearby Okanagan Falls that had been moved there in 1929 from Fairview, a now vanished mining town near Oliver. To loosen the nails in the church’s massive beams, the movers set up a small dynamite charge. Other than causing the steeple to tumble, it did the job.
Bernie commissioned original art for the labels by Monika Melnychuk. Refreshingly different, each label mined the rich lore of stories surrounding the church and the crew that moved it. As a result, the wines had instant and lasting appeal.
At the outset, Bernie advised the winery that the cartoon labels would need to be refreshed after four years as their impact wore off. As it happened, the labels still remain effective eight years later. In some quarters, however, there was a thought that Blasted Church wines have improved significantly in recent years and thus needed new labels.
The new labels feature what Bernie calls (in a news release) “the wildly quirky artwork of Chris Sickels” of Indianapolis-based Red Nose Studio. “Once again, the series tells the story of how a church was moved ….”
Quirky is the word. You can find influences in the art ranging from Norman Rockwell to the animation behind Avatar (although none of the characters on the new label have turquoise bodies, thank goodness). There will be a lot of conversation around these labels. If I owned the winery, I would also considering selling numbered prints. The art is that good.
The winery’s willingness to be edgy goes beyond the labels. Some of the wines in its Revered Series (its reserve tier) are being released with such names as Nothing Sacred, Bible Thumper and OMG, for a new sparkling wine. One of the new names is also a corny groaner: Praise Cheeses.
It seems there is never going to a dull moment at Blasted Church.
You should also note that the new wines are coming in new bottles. Blasted Church has become the first winery in Canada to start using the so-called Eco-bottles made by St Gobain Glass. These bottles are a third lighter than the bottles Blasted Church (and other wineries) has been using. That adds up to a substantial saving in transportation costs, among other efficiencies, making for a reduced carbon footprint.
That’s something we can all drink to.