By MARIANA CUARTAS
Niagara College’s Teaching Winery revealed the winning label design for its first bottle of sparkling wine at the Niagara College Wine Visitor and Education Centre March 24.
Graphic Design student Chelsea Whipps from St. Catharines, Wine Business Management student Gaurav Ashwani from India and Winery and Viticulture Technician student Christian Scagnetti from Timmins won for their “Balance Brut” design.
The design competition brought Niagara College’s Graphic Design students together with the college’s wine program students to produce a winning sparkling wine label.
“I don’t think any of us would have been able to do it without the other two,” said Scagnetti. “My part was to make sure the bottle was following the VQA protocols, make sure everything was the right size and where it needed to be.”
“Gaurav was the one who decided on the balloons, and then we found ways to tie it together with the sparkling wine bubbles and the colours,” said Whipps, who was responsible for the label design. “This will be an awesome piece for my portfolio.”
The bottle also includes an elegant gold bottle wrap and the letters ‘NC’ inscribed on the cork.
“It was a very rewarding experience to take part in the project and apply the skills I learned in class,” said Ashwani, who was responsible for the marketing side of the project. “I come from India where we have beautiful designs and colours, but all I can say is that Chelsea Whipps was the one who came up with the balloon’s design.”
The selected bottle design included a balloon graphics and an elegant gold wrap.
“We decided on the winner because it was a classy,eye-catching design, ” said Jennifer Wilhelm, program co-ordinator for Wine Programs.
“Students have an opportunity to work with real-life clients’ demands. They really get to work within a team, which allows students to make relationships with different divisions and departments. A lot of students from the Graphic Design department said they didn’t know anything about wine, and students from the winery program said how much they learned about design,” Wilhelm said.
The wine sector is a hugely important industry to Niagara College, said Dan Patterson, Niagara College’s president. “We all stand very proud from the work that students have done, how students showcased this incredible wine.”
Misheck Mwaba, the dean of the Media, Trades and Technology Division, was impressed by the students’ dedication and hard work.
“When you look at all the designs it was a really hard decision to make,” he said. “But all four judges used their expertise to choose the best. At the end, everyone is a winner.”
Wine labels were judged on different criteria, including if the label matched the wine.
“The winning label was a difficult choice with so many great submissions that could all be viable options,” said Canadian Food and Wine Institute Dean Craig Youdale. “In choosing the winner, we looked at simplicity, colour, recognition of NC and an elegance that fits the product in the bottle.” “I look forward to having my first bottle of a wine, made in-house, that all the college community can be proud of, and I’m excited that it is a student-driven product, from wine to label.”
The project was a natural pairing and addressed a real, practical need for the college, says Steve Gill, general manager of the Winery Sector at Niagara College.
“We are launching a new product, the sparkling wine, and we wanted to have a new label,” he said. “Niagara College teaches winery so we want to be able to provide opportunities for students to learn and get some experience. We talked to the academic staff and they put together three teams with three students each. One from the graphic designing program, one from the Wine Business Management and one Winery and Viticulture Technician student to come in and meet with us. We told them what we wanted. Our guidance was that we wanted a product that is elegant, and something that will want a customer to pick up the bottle and try it.”
Niagara College students have had opportunities to participate in wine label projects for the past five years, creating designs for Niagara College’s Teaching Winery as well as local wineries. A label for the NCTW’s 2012 Balance Sauvignon Blanc, created during the 2012-2013 academic year, won Best Label Design at the Ontario Wine Awards in 2014.
The first bottles of the winning label sparkling wine are expected to hit the store shelves later this year to the delight of many.