Kings, pirates and award-winning wine design

Kings, pirates and award-winning wine design

New Zealand vineyard Marisco has recently been awarded double gold for the labels on its King’s Series in the San Francisco Wine Competition.

The wines chronicle the history of the ancestors of Marisco Vineyard proprietor Brent Marris, the de Mariscos, who lived on Lundy Island off the south-west coast of England in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Chris Thompson of Hook Design created the brand and labels for the series and because of the working relationship he already had with the vineyard, Marisco’s marketing manager Siobhan Wilson gave him an open design brief. Their only request was that the design linked Marisco’s Marlborough vineyards to the legend surrounding the de Mariscos.

Marris says that brand recognition is everything in the United States, so this endorsement from the San Francisco Wine Competition will go a long way to help achieve that awareness. The vineyard started exporting to the United States in January 2012.

“The first step in building a relationship with a wine drinker is to speak to them from the shelf,” says Marris. “You need to catch their attention, and woo them with a little mystery and a strong sense of style at the very first encounter.”

The King’s Series certainly captures attention from the shelves. Era-appropriate calligraphy from Peter Gilderdale brings to life a story on each label that weaves the vineyards of Marlborough with Marisco legend.

For example, their Sauvignon Blanc – a firm favourite from the Marlborough region – is labeled The King’s Favour. This references the story of William de Marisco who, despite using Lundy Island as a base for piracy, was granted a manor and charge of a number of Royal Galleys in 1204 by King John.  

Also, the sticky wine of the range has a less than sweet story behind it; A Sticky End was inspired by William de Marisco’s ultimate execution following charges of piracy and treason.

Thompson’s research for the design took him all the way to Lundy Island where he pored over history books and developed the initial concept.

“My cold nights on Lundy Island were spent in the Marisco Tavern, a combination of pub and library, so it was actually here that most of the research for the brand and resulting concept work was done,” explains Thompson.

The design, he admits, was a bit of a risk. “There was a brief agonising moment of stunned silence when we first presented the concept to the client. This was then broken by a very positive expletive!”

But the risk appears to have paid off. Marris says that The King’s Series has had around 20 percent growth year-on-year since its launch and he intends to continue pushing the brand locally and offshore.

“Our pursuit of excellence is underpinned by our deep commitment to storytelling. If, to tell our stories, we need to send someone to Lundy Island to research them … then that’s what we’ll do.”

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