I was initially approached by Amanda and Glenn James-Pritchard, of Ducks In A Row Winemakers, with an intriguing new packaging project to consider. I met with the enthusiastic pair to discuss the brief over a few glasses of (very good) vino at one of Amanda’s pop-up wine events for Winemakers Without Borders. After some brief small-talk, we dived deeply into the story of how they’d come to this point in their wine making journey and how the idea of ‘Pandora’s Amphora’ (as it was to become known) had come about.
Glenn’s passion for winemaking was evident from the outset and his enthusiasm for this project was infectious. They recounted their own personal journey of coming together as life partners, as well as the evolution of the unique wine itself – the two stories being inextricably intertwined, as the amphora was the reason they met.
Glenn, an ex Penfolds and Hardys winemaker, had decided to break away from large scale commercial wine making to turn his well honed skills to hand-crafted small batch winemaking as a true expression of his personal winemaking beliefs. Glenn had recently managed to acquire a decrepit old clay wine vessel, complete with peeling decorative hand-painted fresco adorning the surface. Known as an ‘amphora’, the vessel was in the fashion of those used throughout the ages in Europe, though rarely used in Australia to date. Glenn told of his excitement for the possibilities the amphora presented and how he had been at work hand-crafting a small batch of naturally fermented wine made from hand picked vermentino, finao and moscato giallo grapes.
Amanda and Glenn revealed they had been toying with the name ‘Pandora’s Amphora’ as the brand name for the wine. They recounted the history of the Greek legend of Pandora as well as the origins of the amphora itself, and everything just seemed to click. Pandora was the first woman created according to Greek mythology – a gift to the first man. The story of ‘Pandora’s Box’ is widely known today, though maybe not so widely know is that the ‘box’ was actually an ‘amphora’. As the legend goes – when Pandora opened the amphora, gifted to her by Zeus, all the evils of the world escaped. All that remained inside was, Hope. I immediately agreed the name was perfect and had to stay.
By the time we wound up the meeting my head was spinning with creative ideas and the knowing that I must be involved in this project with these two energetic and creative souls. And that I had to see this amphora for myself.
The following week I visited the winemaking site. There, tucked away in a quiet back corner of a commercial winemaking facility with its towering modern steel vats, stood the single clay amphora holding its secrets within – perfectly in line with the legend. Something about seeing the amphora in this setting made me stop, be still and speak in hushed tones. The same feeling you get walking into a cathedral. It looked so small among the large steel vats, though quietly commanded respect and attention. I guess Pandora already had me under her spell.
The amphora itself quickly became inspiration for the packaging design. The unglazed natural clay was earthy and textural. The decorative fresco had been hand-painted long ago and was now cracked and peeling, something which only added to the overall character. The rim of the vessel coated in natural beeswax.
Glen explained the slow hands-on winemaking process and shared a sample of the precious wine. The wine is an expression of the pinnacle of Glenn’s 20 years of winemaking; a true representation of Glenn’s belief in a hands-on, artisan approach to the craft of winemaking and the creation of a whole new type of wine; one of the most technically experimental wine in Australia and to be the starting point for all Glenn’s future wines.
That’s it, I was hooked.
Amanda and Glenn proved to be a wonderful team to work with. They knew what they liked and what they wanted while respectfully leaving the creative direction open to my exploration and suggestions. Thankfully they liked my designs and Amanda has earned the esteemed title of being the first client to cry with joy at the unveiling of my design concept presentations!
The design process included much delving into the history of the legend of Pandora and further research on the origins of amphoras. The resulting design drew upon this rich past while presenting a unique and contemporary package.
Firstly, a brand mark was created to represent Pandora’s Amphora. The mark features a monogram combining the overlapping letters P and A to form a jug-like vessel, inspired by a mysterious makers mark found pressed into the clay of the amphora itself which had been revealed to us when a portion of the ancient paint flaked away. Hand-crafted custom typography was developed, influenced by three single letters also found pressed into the clay of the amphora.
On the label, the brand name is cradled by a simplified rendition of the hand-painted fresco found on the amphora. This modern version is also hand-painted, though using a digital Wacom tablet rather than the traditional brushes of the original artisan.
Back label is simple and understated, letting the wine and the package speak for itself.
The glass bottle was an important consideration of the overall design. A premium heavy weight Saverglass bottle was selected with an extremely deep punt. Gentle curves provide Pandora a sense of femininity while the antique green colouring create a timeless feel. The bottle has been sealed with hand-dipped custom-coloured wax, coating a printed satin ribbon which acts as an opening device. The ribbon is exposed at one end, the wax concealing all but the start of a printed sentence, tempting the viewer to tear it open to read on and reveal the mystery.
We were anxious and excited as Pandora started to come together in production, then elated as it finally emerged as the finished item – completely true to the original design concept. A beautiful thing and a thrilling creative design journey.
My thanks go to Amanda and Glenn for being such great clients throughout the creative process and for having faith that I would do their precious Pandora justice. Thanks also to all involved in the production side of the design. This includes Saverglass; Kings Wax; Label Partners and Wineworks Australia.
The packaging has so far picked up a Print Industry Craftsmanship Award, and was coined as “one of the great wine packages” by Wine Business Magazine editor, Anthony Maddigan.
With only 576 precious bottles made, the remaining few are indeed a rare thing. You can find out more about Ducks In A Row Winemakers, and Pandora’s Amphora, at their website.
Photos of the final Pandora’s Amphora packaging can be seen here.