Knockoff Wine Labels

I saw this on the shelf of a local grocery store the other day.

This photo doesn’t do justice to just how much it is designed to look like Sea Smoke pinot. It’s not a counterfeit Sea Smoke, it’s just overtly (to me, at least, and again much more so when you actually see it in person) designed to resemble and to play off the name and label design for Sea Smoke.

I’m sure there are better examples out there – anyone want to share some?

I can’t put my finger on it, but this label seems strangely familiar…

Smokepoint Grand Cru?


I believe that there was a pretty big case several years back (1996?) whereby Kendall-Jackson sued Gallo over its Turning Leaf label.

And KJ lost, IIRC.

Gary Farrell’s Alysian label strikes me as a rip-off of Kevin Harvey’s Alesia label…

As somebody who is currently going through the label design process, no matter what you try and design now will “look” like somebody else’s label. There is only so many ways to create a label, and with 1,000s of wines on the market, no matter what you do it will have similarities to something else. BTW, neither of the examples above look to be blatant ripoffs of the “original”. They all look plenty different enough to not confuse a consumer. Are you going to try and say that any label that is tan/beige with centered variety/AVA/vintage and a centered logo image is a ripoff of Alesia? Come on man!

I approve of this message.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised is some folks who do labels for a living sell very similar designs to folks the way the Cheer Coach did with cheerleading routines in Bring it on. I know web designers do…

It is also difficult to distinguish, as a distant observer, between an intentional and direct copying and a “subconscious” copying such as “My Sweet Lord” being George Harrison’s subconscious plagiarism of “He’s So Fine.”
Do you think that Mr, Harrison wanted to intentionally copy “He’s So Fine?”

It was an homage…

Yes, an homage as Krishna was an original member of the Chiffons and best [man][deity] at Ronald Mack’s wedding.

As to original post: never heard of Smokepoint, and my only Sea Smoke kept me from bidding on a mixed Sea Smoke/Kalin lot in a recent auction (who thought THAT was a good combo?). Unless there is a traditonal use of Smokepoint locally I assume it’s a ripoff name as Sea Smoke has good press. But the label? Sure, both are cursive fonts (gasp!). But different colors. Different fonts. Different placement of name. Different locations of subtext. Really not that close. The name is an issue, the label not so much.

The Van Wagner is definitely a ripoff of DRC, but it’s not like anyone is going to make a mistake.

The Alesia/Aleysian is only one I can see as a real confusion.

No, but if it also has a name that sounds similar? Yup.

The logo is also similar.

For many years, graphic design students at the local college regularly visited our store to research and observe wine label design. The students would also ask questions about what wine sells despite bad label design and what wines sell because of the label. At the time we were heavy on Australian wines, which had a more diverse style than old world and CA wines. Elegance and sophistication hold the highest regard. Unique and catchy were next, followed by overblown/edgy and home computer and clip art types. We’ve seen a lot of labels that “resemble” other labels by color coordination, font style and graphic art. Only when the brand name and label were similar did customers take notice. There are a number of wines that are purchased by label alone, regardless of the wine’s quality, but most purchasers are not wine geeks. Examples: Bitch, Prisoner, Saldo, Two Old Dogs, (Kaesler) Old Bastard, Two Left Feet, etc.

You’re being too critical. There’s never been a knock off of La Tache.

Doesn’t Lewis have it backwards those original Alysian labels started in 2000, who’s ripping off whom???

The Gary Farrell’s Alysian label reminds me of Failla.

I agree - you can look at any element there and say it’s not the same, but take the package as a whole I think it’s pretty obvious what they’re trying to do. Just browse the Sunday Funnies thread in Wine Pimps, and you’ll see how peripheral knowledge is often applied to retail purchases. It’s probably enough to be “something smoke” with some swishy lines.

Given that Bedrock had to change Cuveé Caritas to Cuveé Karatas after getting a cease-and-desist from another winery (which he won’t name names but connect the dots…) and had to change Bedrock Heirloom because of Heirloom Vodka (!) I don’t get how the above is allowed. Probably nothing would happen unless Seasmoke or Rhys files a complaint?

No comments on this? Does “Alysian” date to 2000? When did the name “Alesia” come into use (2004 or '03??)

According to cellartracker, the first vintage of Alesia was 2003, the first of Alysian was 2001(well there’s also a 1993 Chardonnay - Krueger vineyard, but I’ll assume that’s a mistake), so technically Gary could send a letter to Kevin.