The winery at Markham Vineyards was built in Napa Valley in 1874. The winery has operated continuously since its founding, making it the fourth oldest winery in Napa County. In 1933, the end of prohibition was celebrated with the first legal glass of wine poured at Markham’s cellar door. In the late 70s, Bruce Markham bought the winery and began the story of Markham today. In a nutshell, despite an incredible wine heritage and magnificent Napa vineyards, in recent years Markham had begun to lose resonance with new consumers due to low brand awareness. Another issue was their current packaging was not distinctive or unique enough to get pull-through on shelf, and the brand looked generic and mass-market.

Our task was had to inject serious personality and winemaking cues back into the brand, reflecting its heritage and unique place in Napa’s history. Naturally, our first port of call was the winery and its archives.

Bruce Markham’s original labels featured a tiny cannoneer: local legend has it that he would signal the start of every vintage by firing a miniature cannon from the winery. A bronze sculpture of the cannoneer still sits in the tasting room: this, with the label, meant we had found the unique icon that we felt Markham needed.

The new packaging heroes the cannoneer, redrawn carefully to match the original and proudly positioned above the Markham branding. We also utilised the distinctive position of the vintage in the top right hand corner from the original label, using it as a feature to introduce Markham’s chief winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls.

All of Markham’s wines now carry their sustainably made messaging, a key part of their winemaking philosophy. The brand core colours of cream and red are consistent throughout the tiers, but the elements and messaging can change as the wines increase in price. On the limited edition, single vineyard or small parcel wines, the iconic cannoneer is accompanied by initials to indicate the names of the wines in the same way they are chalked on the barrel by Kimberlee and her team. Details such as exact date of harvest, barrel allotments and Kim’s signature all add to the level of detail and premiumness for this tier.

Markham’s icon wine The Character is branded simply with the cannoneer icon. The front is a statement in confidence and premiumness, whilst the back carries detailed information with the addition of a hand-signed, hand-applied label.

The new branding for Markham allows for each of the wine tiers to play within different spaces: the core for a strong retail presence and then the higher tiers for on-premise and winery release only. The wines are all individual yet remain strongly united by two powerful visual assets: colour and the cannoneer icon.