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Uproot Wines looks to attract new US wine drinkers through colour only wine labels

Published:  09 May, 2014

US consumers no longer need reading glasses or language dictionaries to decipher wine labels; but they do need a taste for colour.

Uproot Wines, a newly launched wine business in Napa, has virtually uprooted the traditional wine label design and replaced it with a pallet of colours, coined the "flavor pallete." The front labels of each bottle do not name the brand, varietal, or vineyard location; they are simple blocks of colour, each of which correlates to a flavour in the wine.  The colour scheme allows consumers, regardless of their level of wine knowledge, to select a wine based on their own flavour preferences.

Uproot winesUproot WinesUproot Wines

Jason Levy, co-founder of Uproot Wines, explains that the brand targets the "new-school" wine drinker - one who is dissatisfied with traditional wine labels and traditional advertising. He said: "Our customers want quality, transparency and service. The Uproot label hits on the transparency aspect, by providing a taste before you taste!"

The colour-coded label is created by the tasting panel, a group of 10-15 people that joins wine professionals with casual drinkers chosen from a network of customers, friends and industry connections. The panel tastes and discusses, drawing conclusions on what flavours are present and the level of intensity of each flavour. Information regarding the colour code is not explained on the label, but is available on printouts included with purchase or online on the company's website. The codes are also promoted through social media as part of their marketing strategy.

"We put down and rank the top flavours, essentially making something that is subjective as objective as possible - an art into a science," said Levy.

Uproot Wines

The novel marketing strategy, centred on the principle of treating "customers as friends" and catered primarily to millennial wine drinkers, mirrors their unconventional wine label design. Instead of talking down to the consumer and trying to educate them, Uproot Wines targets a younger audience by starting a conversation and thus establishing a personal connection.

"We are showing that you can take relationships that were started online and turn them into offline friends and customers," said Levy. "We are doing this through our Social Club, the Block, through personal mailings and other marketing strategies we're developing. As we grow we will need to figure out ways to scale this, but we think providing accessibly to the team, great service and experiences will be the key regardless of size."

There may be one flaw in the "flavour pallete" design: whilst it is consistent with wines that are consumed soon after purchase, wines that are cellared may develop a different profile of flavours from what is illustrated on the bottle. "The tasting notes are based off when the wine is bottled," said Chris Strieter, sales manager at Uproot. "We need to figure out how to accommodate wines that age."

Current prices for the wines range from $34 for the Grenache Blanc up to $78 for the Cabernet Sauvignon. Though the majority of sales are achieved through their online store, Uproot Wines also distributes to some specialty wine shops and restaurants in the Bay Area and hope to expand in the on- and off-trade. In addition to their headquarters in Napa, a New York City office offers sales and marketing support. "Given how much of what we are doing relies on e-commerce, marketing and media, we felt NYC was a great option for hiring the best talent on that side of the business," said Levy.