Friday, December 22, 2006

The End of "Critter" Labels?

Megan Haverkorn has a thorough analysis of the 'critter' category of wines and boldly predicts that these labels will begin their decline in 2007. While I admire her bravado, I have to disagree (somewhat). Primarily, I disagree because I don't like the 'critter' category label (there's a pun in there somewhere). I see these as Constellation sees them (as detailed in her article) as labels that are alternative to the old boring labels of yore (look at the newly redesigned Fetzer label to see an example). Call them 'adventure labels' 'millenial labels' or just 'different labels', I don't care - I think they're here to stay. That said, I do believe that some of them will be culled out as the current oversupply of wine (that many of these wines are sourced from) dries up and we move to a position of undersupply - at least in California. However, that's a function of supply, not one of demand.

I also disagree with "once the label becomes more important than the wine inside, the brand is going to have problems". I think that many brands - like Coke, Oreo's, Budweiser, and many more - have truly transcended "what's inside" and have become about the brand. Do people primarily drink Coke because they think it tastes good? Bud? Come on! You drink/eat products long enough and they actually influence your tastes. Good branding can drive consumer tastes in different directions! (okay, even for me that's a little scary)

Bottom line, whether they are gateway wines, millenials' chosen quaff or just less stuffy than your Grandmother's Glen Ellen, it doesn't matter. These wines remove some of the pretension wine suffers from and let's it be.....dare I say it.....A BEVERAGE!!! Let's hope they, or at least the attitude they bring to the industry, are here to stay.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So was the old Sonoma Creek label, with its modernistic-impressionistic multi colored leaping horse to be considered one of the first critter labels out there? or maybe was it just because the owners liked wild colored horses?

January 02, 2007 8:14 AM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

I think that for it to be a critter label, the product has to be less about "place" and more about "packaging". So I would say no. I really think Bonny Doon (though they didn't use "critters" per se) were the innovators in this category.


January 02, 2007 10:25 AM  

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