And the Winner is…

Edible Santa Barbara Wine Label Artwork Contest

Can you judge a bottle of wine by its label? Perhaps not, but we asked four graphic design professionals to judge wine labels based on artistic quality and graphic design for our first annual Wine Label Artwork Contest… In order to showcase local artistic design, the contest was open only to wineries located in Santa Barbara County. There were so many excellent submissions and so much variety that we had to create some special categories. Kudos to these winning labels and many thanks to all who entered. There is no shortage of talent in Santa Barbara County on the outside (or inside) of the wine bottle.

First Place Winner: Two Wolves – Cabernet Sauvignon


The judges’ favorite for its beautiful artwork with a combination of watercolor and gold foil. The solid graphic design includes elegant typography and a fantastic use of negative space that ties together the wolves and the type. 

Winemaker Alecia Moore (otherwise known as the pop artist Pink) studied winemaking at Alan Hancock College and designed the label in collaboration with Michael McDermott.

The name is inspired by the Cherokee story about a man telling his grandson that he has a fight going on inside of him. He says that it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other wolf is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. He tells his grandson that the same fight is going on inside of him too, and inside everyone. The grandson thinks about it for a minute and then asks his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replies, “The one you feed.”

The Two Wolves 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of several different blocks and different clones of Cab on their vineyard. Two Wolves Wine does not have a tasting room, but wines are available through their wine club.


Second Place Winner: Longoria Wines – Blues Cuvée

A close second was this vibrant and stunning image. Rick Longoria’s proprietary red wine blend pays tribute to the great American musical genre, the blues. The wine celebrates the musical and visual arts as well as the liquid art of wine, all in one package.

Their proprietary red wine blend was first produced in 1993, and every other year they choose a different artist for the label of their Blues Cuvée. This year it is by local Lompoc photographer and artist Jeremy Ball, who photographed Rick’s guitar for this label. The label design was done by Kraftwerk Design of San Luis Obispo. Visit the gallery on their website to see the whole series of 12 Blues Cuvée labels.



Most Meaningful: Paradise Springs – Pink Ash

Although the artwork on the label is compelling on its own, it’s not until you turn the bottle over and read the back label that you feel the full impact. Paradise Springs Winery owner Kirk Wiles, along with his friend artist/actor Billy Zane, came up with the idea of creating this specially labeled wine and donating one-third of the proceeds to rebuilding the community affected by the Thomas Fire and mudslides.

On February 16, 2018, Billy Zane painted the Pink Ash Rosé label in collaboration with Paradise Springs at the legendary Sanford & Benedict Vineyard. While touring the burn and flood sites earlier that day, Billy collected ash and mud samples, which were then incorporated into the painting.

One judge said the artwork was reminiscent of the maps that were shown of the Montecito canyons and debris flows, with the yellow splash representing the rising phoenix.

The 2018 Rosé of Grenache is still available and the original artwork now hangs in the Paradise Springs tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara and can be viewed by all who visit.



Most TONGUE IN CHEEK: Central Coast Group Project

Barrington Hall Wine Dinner Special Cuvée

Edgy. Raw. Laugh Out Loud. This had to place in the finals. Winemaker/proprietor Scott Sampler designed the label pulling inspiration from his time at UC Berkeley when he attended his first wine dinners at Barrington Hall, a student housing co-op renowned for its bacchanalian parties. The photo of the People’s Park riot of 1969 was taken by Robert Altman (the ’60s rock photographer, not the director).

Scott credits his father, Marion Sampler, a graphic designer, commercial artist and fine artist in LA, as one of his biggest aesthetic influences. Several of his father’s collages have graced CCGP wine labels, and he has used friends’ artwork and his own on his projects.  

Scott adds this to the wine tasting notes: “As stated on the bottle, this wine tastes good with chicken, but it also tastes excellent with all manifestations of duck… so get out there & protest! & don’t forget to reward yourself after!!!”


Honorable MENTIONS


There were too many fantastic entries to list them all, but we can’t help giving a shout-out to two more. The distinctive graphic of the label for The Feminist Party 2017 GSM was a standout. And the Presqu’ile 2016 Pinot Noir, with its stylized aerial view of the vineyard combined with the legend, made this clever, good-looking label shout “local” and “terroir” to our judges.

Many Thanks to Our Judges…

Steven Brown, Harriet Eckstein, Jennifer LeMay and Tracey Ryder.

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