Oeno Files

L’Ecole Nº 41’s New Labels: More Appropriate, Less Distinctive

Goodbye kiddie schoolhouse, we loved you well.

March 29, 2011

New labels for L’Ecole

Here’s a question that somebody asked me this weekend at Taste Washington: What do you think of L’Ecole Nº 41’s new labels?

The reason that’s not a totally preposterous question, the reason people are even discussing a wine label, I mean, without falling asleep standing up, is that L’Ecole’s labels have always stood out—way out—from all the others. Why? Because they featured a colorful kid’s watercolor painting. That artwork, created 27 years ago when the winery was just one-year-old, depicted the schoolhouse where the Walla Walla winery is housed. The artist was a child in winemaker Marty Clubb’s family. That child is now an adult, of course. So don’t worry about his feelings. Chances are he’s too busy paying taxes and flossing to care that his picture is going out of print. And let’s face it, he had a good run.

In the almost three-intervening decades since the painting came into this world, L’Ecole has evolved into one of Washington’s finest wineries, and Washington has evolved into one of the world’s finest wine-growing destinations. Times have changed. And while the label was distinctive, it also belied the sophistication of the wine inside the bottles. If you’ve ever served some L’Ecole (the Seven Hills Merlot rules the universe) to people who were unfamiliar with its awesomeness, you may have noted how unenthused they seemed when confronted with that label—cute, but something more befitting a Montessori school brochure then a fine bottle of wine.

The new labels are much more fancy. They look like the ones that L’Ecole uses for its Apogee and Perigee blends. They won’t stand out as much on a shelf—my eyes are totally trained to look for that kiddie schoolhouse when I go to any wine store for the first time—but they do match the wines better. We’ll start seeing them on store shelves in May.

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