Results of the Wine Label Design Awards 2019

By , 13 March 2019



Results of the fifth annual Wine Label Design Awards proudly sponsored by self-adhesive label supplier Rotolabel, with Synchron and UPM Raflatac in a secondary capacity, were announced earlier this evening at Hazendal in Stellenbsoch.

The competition seeks to reward the best design and packaging for wine made in South Africa and judging criteria include originality of concept, execution, shelf appeal and effectiveness as a piece of communication.

A total of 83 entries were received, 30 of those receiving awards. The Grand Prix went to The Wine Thief series of wines while The People’s Choice Award, determined by online public voting, went to Black Elephant Vintners & Co. The Honey Thief.

For full results, download the following: WLDA 2019 Report

To view the award winners, click here.

The award winners will be showcased at the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show which occurs on various dates throughout the country – see programme here.

To view a gallery of images from yesterday’s awards function, click here.


11 comment(s)

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    Jonathan Wener | 22 August 2019

    I have a small wine private cellar, approximately 500 btls. Every year at Christmas I purchase 12-15 cases of unlabeled wine to give to clients, architects, designers etc….. last year we designed our own label to mark our 10 years in business and to thank our clients for their continued support.
    This year is no different.
    I would welcome some ideas and pay a reasonable price for a well designed, clever, catchy messaged, label
    This is my contribution to promoting wine consumption

    John Wright | 25 March 2019


    “What the Wine Label Design Awards attempts to reward is work that has a compelling sense of self, that’s truly distinctive in the way that it transcends established modes and genres of design”

    Why not show all the entries to the public and let them decide instead of what the panel selected as they are the consumer making the choice on shelf ?

    My personnel feeling is that it is always the same design agencies that win year after year.
    Very seldom do you select a freelance or self employed designer even featured.

    I would love to see the rest of the designs that did not make the cut?

      Christian Eedes | 25 March 2019

      Hi John, Given that we had over 80 entries this year, showing all of them is just not practical. It can’t be denied that wine label design is dominated by a small number of specialist firms but that is hardly the fault of I can assure you that the panel has no interest in re-inforcing the status quo and judges all work on its own merits. The Grand Prix, for instance, has yet to be awarded to the same firm twice, going to the self-designed BLANKbottle labels in 2015, not given in 2016, to ALDC in 2017, to Bravo Design in 2018 and to Studio Collective this year.

        John Wright | 25 March 2019

        Than you Christian,

        My thoughts are that as there is an entry fee to be paid and wine submitted the least one could do is give some expose to all the contestants.

        80 entries is not a lot considering some entries were in series.

        If 80 entries is too much for to photograph why not ask all entries to supply pack shots?

        Maybe a taught for next year


    Jacques Roux | 23 March 2019

    Thanks for the invitation to the Wine Label Awards function, The food was great, the wines I managed to taste were excellent and your MC fortunately kept the program flowing.

    I am a huge fan of growing the South African Wine Industry’s competitiveness, better wines in better packaging (and we have come a long way with poor packaging). With better packaging we will increase our average price per bottle and we will grow Wine Brand SA locally and Internationally . And that is why I supported this idea of a competition that awards great packaging , with great on-shelf and table- top appeal, driving a better perceived image and therefore a better realistic image and more premium perception for South African wine..

    But I do not believe you got that right with a number of your Gold medal winners and certainly not with your Grand Prix winner

    Your criteria to win awards states
    1) Originality of concept
    2) Execution
    3) Shelf appeal > hopefully so that people can lift the wines of the shelf
    4) Effectiveness as a piece of communication > and by this I trust that you mean that it has commercial ability . That it should be obvious that it is such great packaging that the retailer will list it immediately because it will move off a shelf, it will sell because of its packaging!

    And this is where my gripe is with the Grand Prix winner (as well as some of your Gold award winners.) I feel the Grand Prix winner will not be effective on shelf. The wines are not even labelled the same height? If that slide is shown to any buyer around the world he or she will comment on the amateurish and shoddy approach and that will be the start of shaky relationship. You cannot read the name of the brand or the varietal, it feels fake and contrived. The Teselaarsdal is traditional , but it is “yesterday” , which could be fine but it is exactly what you criticized not long ago on many platforms! And there are about 6 better executions of that theme on the market at the moment. Oldenburg Vineyards Varietals are really ordinary with all due respect. Klippenkop is juvenile and cheap, it might sell below R50 a bottle, but not above that.

    I trust Rebecca’s understanding of what will work in the market but I think she is a lone voice and are probably overrun by creative ponytails who have never sold a bottle of wine in their lives! Someone said to me it is as though some labels were picked from Pinterest and copied . No thought about the job the label has to do on the shelf and in the market .

    And that is my point, these awards take no note of the commercial opportunities that these wining labels should generate. The winning labels should be valued and prized by the Industry as future hits and revered for their creative and commercial intelligence. Of course you have selected packs that will work well in retail and on-trade like Spider Pig and Oldenburg.

    The exclusive packs like the Plaisir de Merle and Tokara have tangible pedigree, but thy will hardly be on a shelf and not many people will see them or will be able to taste them. However they are doing a great job for Super Premium South Africa and I applaud that.

    Please see this as constructive and not personal but I am so distressed that you are going down this “creative-at-all-costs” route that has no future except for stroking a few egos . These wines will not grow our business. And that is what we should be striving for and what this competition should spark. Grow our competitiveness with these type of competitions, don’t succumb to pony tails and their single minded “creative above all else” attitude. I remember the so called “powerful” advertising agencies were accused of this same thing 20 years ago where they made ads to win Loerie awards and not ads to grow product sales. Let’s not go down that road again.

      Christian Eedes | 25 March 2019

      Hi Jacques, Firstly thank you for being willing to have a debate rather than keeping your misgivings to yourself – that is surely the only way the industry is going to move forwards. In response to your comment, I would argue that boundary-pushing creativity and commercial success aren’t and shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. If the industry adopts a market research-driven approach to packaging, then I fear it will remain pretty unadventurous and predictable – gold on black colour schemes, family crests and homesteads will be the order of the day.

      What the Wine Label Design Awards attempts to reward is work that has a compelling sense of self, that’s truly distinctive in the way that it transcends established modes and genres of design. We are proud of how multi-disciplinary the judging panel is incorporating two designers, a retailer, a chef/restaurateur and me as a wine journalist. Debate throughout the process is rigorous and robust and I don’t think any one judge could say that his or her view was compromised or went under-appreciated. I’m quite sure we’re not getting everything right – there is of course a huge element of subjectivity to the exercise – but hopefully we’re not getting everything wrong, either.

      As for the Grand Prix winner, the panel appreciated it precisely because it is disruptive and non-conformist: The Wine Thief brand sees sommelier-at-large Ewan Mackenzie collaborating with various producers across the country to put together small-batch wines, labels and waxing done personally. That the labels aren’t applied to exactly the same height might well be seen as evidence of just what a hand-crafted undertaking this project is rather than being woefully inconsistent. I know that scalability is a huge issue for South African wine but do our big brands convey anything unique to their country of origin?

      Ultimately, there are many routes to market and the South Africa wine industry should be exploring all of these rather than seeking only to placate the supermarket buyers of the developed world. South African wine has got it all – wonderful geography, compelling personalities, heritage going back over 350 years – and there are surely a multitude of ways to convey this to the world.

    Juan Koen | 15 March 2019

    Well done. Gives new entrents to the market a fighting chance againts estasblished brands

    Michael Ratcliffe | 14 March 2019

    Hi, An observation is that the Wine Label Design Awards judges appear to focus solely on the product in front of them without providing context as to how that product integrates into an existing portfolio, or contributes towards enhancing the brand. Changing this would be a tall ask, especially as the entries are often part of a much bigger portfolio of brands. However, it is a personal observation aimed at strengthening this worthwhile endeavour.

    Angela Lloyd | 14 March 2019

    Christian, please explain why the Sijnn White and Red labels, exactly the same, apart from the colour of White and Red, received different awards. Also I presume The Wine Thief collection is more ‘effective as a piece of communication’ on the back label? As pretty as those colours are, they tell me nothing about the wine inside. Thank you.

      Christian Eedes | 14 March 2019

      Hi Angela, The reason the the Sijnn White was awarded bronze as opposed to the Red’s silver was because the judges felt that the grey capsule was jarring – while the front label is paramount, how every other element of packaging works in conjunction is also taken into account.

      Regarding the Grand Prix, I quote from the report: “The design of the labels incorporates elements of three different 1948 Ordinance Survey maps overlaid on top of each other, these being the contour lines of the Slanghoek valley, the river systems of Bot River and the farm lines of the Paardeberg – what Mackenzie and design firm Studio Collective succeed in communicating is that he is utterly committed to terroir but in a way that is easily reproducible and hence cost-effective. The printing of the labels itself is also such as to save money while still looking premium.” The judging panel liked that this series of labels manages to be both highly decorative while simultaneously suggesting a commitment to vineyard in an abstract way.

        Angela Lloyd | 15 March 2019

        Thanks for the detailed explanation, Christian; much appreciated.
        I do wonder how many consumers will similarly appreciate Wine Thief’s commitment to terroir via those labels; hopefully the wines themselves will provide clear illustration of their origin.

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