The Rōtta Jug
The Rōtta jug was born in the heyday of the 1960's and 70's, when college students and surfers would drive up to ROTTA (one of three wineries in Paso Robles at the time) from southern California to purchase gallon jugs of wine for $2.25. Romilda “Momma” Rōtta would fill up the jugs herself, and if you brought your own, she’d take $0.50 off the price.
In the rush to become a more 'refined' winery during the 1980's the Rōtta jug was lost, replaced by more conventional bottles.
In 2016 I was approached by a long-time client, Rōtta Winery, to revitalize and bring back Rōtta jug zinfandel as a large part of a broad rebranding effort. The essence of the greater rebranding —another case study to come!—is the intersection of past and future. The jug became the hitching post of the past, a reference to Rōtta's place in California winery history, and a retro welcome back to all those college students and surfers who still dig a great, fruit-forward Zin.
The jug's general design aesthetic is based loosely on old photographs showing building signs advertising Rōtta Winery, circa mid-70's. The image seen on the jug's front, which is both hand-drawn and hand-lettered, shows the Rōtta Winery building with the hillsides of its estate vineyard rising up around it.
The design process began with a series of hand-sketches, which were presented direct to the client on vellum for in-person revision. This direct, intensive and naturally loose process allowed the project to move at warp speed, which was necessary given the degree of project we had to launch in the space of a year. These rough sketches determined the course of the design, and once a look was selected, it was digitized.
After being made digital, the jug's design was refined and—bonus of designing for screen printing—made to better take advantage of the full 360° available on the jug's bottle. Here is a printer spec sheet we used to show placement of the design:
Speaking of bottles, finding a bottle was a primary component of the early design process. Wine bottles sizes are tightly regulated on both the state and national level. A super-traditional one gallon jug would have been both prohibitively heavy to ship and store, as well as more expensive than desired for consumers. We eventually landed on a non-standard size of 64 fl. oz., which is allowed for sale throughout California, and is quite handy. (AKA, you can easily hold the jug with one hand, even with puny arms.)
The back and sides of the jug highlight the winery location in Paso Robles, both with a map and a symbol, to really emphasize the wine inside. It might be jug wine, but it's great jug wine.
In addition to the design printed on the glass itself, the Rōtta jug package is completed by a foil ribbon sticker, placed as an outer seal over the screw top lid, and a tie-on label signed by the winemaker.
The foil sticker adds an extra element of seal for consumers. Although the screw on lid is absolutely safe and sound, having the added sticker that needs to be broken provides wine buyers with an immediate visual signal that their juice is new and untouched.
Tied to the handle of the jug, the printed tag offers consumers something else: a direct connection with the winemaker, and a reminder of the value of the jug. On one side of the tag is a winemaker signature and vintage date, on the other, a graphic showing the amount of "normal" wine bottles that fit inside the much larger than normal jug! (It's two and a half traditional bottles, if you're curious.)
The first run of the Rōtta jug sold out, exclusively to wine club members and their guests, in a single week. This is partially the credit of excellent wine, but it is certainly also the credit of strategic design and positioning of a product brought back to life.
Currently, the Rōtta jug (red zinfandel) is available exclusively via Rōtta winery and is priced at $100/jug, retail. They do sell online and ship within California.
DESIGNER + ART DIRECTOR + PHOTOGRAPHER
AGENCY: NONE / INDEPENDENT PRACTICE
AGENCY: NONE / INDEPENDENT PRACTICE