I decided to write an essay for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (#MWWC6) for January with the theme of ‘Mystery’. For winter quarter I will recycle posts from the last couple of years to fill in as I am not sure how much time I will have to write. Stay warm!
What began as a lark to make a batch of wine several years ago has spiraled into a passionate hobby that will, with some very hard work, someday help to pay our bills. Walla Walla Community College with the Enology & Viticulture program and College Cellars is very well placed. We chose to move here because of the top rating of the school and the program, the charming, historical town and super nice people. There are many avenues in the industry that I would like to explore while a student before determining what professional path to take. Making wine will always be part of life though as it is another means of preserving the rich bounty of our region. If I have my way we will be making far more wine than we already do.
I have been recusing well-cleaned and sanitized lemonade and vodka bale-and-wire bottles with chalkboard ‘labels’ to distribute our wine to family and friends. With the lack of glass recycling in Walla Walla, we are doing our best to conserve glass here. For the ten or so gallons of wine we have made each year this has worked well. These wines are typically stored in the refrigerator and are consumed quickly.
But this year we made eighteen gallons of wine; more than I have hermetic bottles to store. Besides, this year six of those gallons are my first Petit Verdot, which will need to lie down for several years before it is palatable. Right now it tastes like an oak board! I am not comfortable putting this wine into hermetic bottles, so we have to expand our horizons and think about really bottling our wine. Meanwhile the carboy continues to contain the Petit Verdot.
If we are going to buy glass, corks and a small corking machine we are probably going to make a real, read paper, label to paste on the bottle. I think we are passing the time of painting labels on and writing the varietal name in chalk. No foil capsules to cover the cork will be used at this point because I don’t want to deal with this sensitive element while hand bottling. My quandary: if we label, we must consider a name and eventually a logo.
Suddenly we have to stretch the dream further and faster. Do you know how many words are already associated with wine branding? Pick a language and begin searching for something ‘Cellar’ or another thing ‘Wines’ or this ‘Vineyard’, etc. then to name the wine blends and what not and you will know the cliff ahead of us.
Not one to back off of a challenge, it hounds me sleeping and waking. I scribble thoughts on scratch paper or type it into my phone search to see if it already exists. Italy, France, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, and various states have claimed my favorites so far. My husband uses his commute time to ponder our mystery, bringing home further research topics with similar results.
The Walla Walla Valley, bordered by the Blue Mountains on the east and south, the Palouse Hills and Walla Walla River on the north, College Place on the west, has over one-hundred-and-fifty wineries. Location specific names of streams, roads, rivers, and historic markers abound and there are some that have been used, but no longer exist. A small irony, College Place is the home of the Walla Walla University, this is a Seventh Day Adventist University and SDA believers are typically teetotalers.
I am an avid gardener and love animals, but I am far from the only wine maker with those traits. My husband’s interests and work don’t readily lend themselves to naming our wines (can I interest you in some ‘Spud Wine’? – yeah, no). He is definitely going to be our sales force though. There are lots of potato farmers that enjoy wine and it doesn’t cost what the equipment he sells them now costs. Then the rest of the population can be addressed as well.
Our last name is not unpronounceable by most people, so it also doesn’t lend itself. We have toyed with the notion of my maiden name, but the five letters it requires challenge in a similar way. Ancestral names are no good either. So personal names aren’t the direction to go.
The name is really only part of the issue. Labels are the face of a wine, I am interested in keeping ours simple, but relevant and want to coordinate the two elements before we go too far. My stroll through the wine sections of the local stores and wineries, my checking for specific wines online are divided between my purposeful search and my subconscious analysis of the wine labels I see. I do this in the beer section too; but beers seem to be very busy and fun labels, where wines are more subdued and usually more elegant. Of course, this part of the process is quite dependent upon the name.
To license and receive approval from the feds and state entities is time-consuming; it can take over a year. With good fortune we will hit upon a great combination of name and base label so when I graduate in eighteen months we can be prepared to move forward with our dream.
When this posts it will be the start of my crazy quarter, my hard-working husband will begin a marathon of industry conferences for this month and the contractors will transition from demolition to reconstruction in our flooded house. Like a twitchy muscle, determining our name and label will be difficult to ignore through it all.
Have you always wanted to name a winery? We are open to suggestions, it would be fun to see what you come up with.
Thanks to the drunkencyclist for sharing this opportunity.