The River & The Trees

It was the whole point of this from the beginning–to put the baby’s name on the bottle. To make a wine we would enjoy drinking over and again–a wine like those that inspired us, but decidedly our own–a wine we could proudly share with friends and family–and to give the final few cases to our daughter when she was old enough. And that was the extent of it, really–except it wasn’t, really.

Beyond her name, we hadn’t conceived of what else would be on the bottle. We had no intention of selling these wines because we didn’t have any plans to launch as a winery. But then we picked the grapes and we made the wine. And then Ariya was born and she made us parents. We were creating something special. Raising this wine alongside our daughter helped us realize we were starting a new family tradition. And we knew we would have to do this properly.

To us, that meant waiting to know our daughter a little better before we just slapped a label on the bottle and called it good. So, we waited. And waited. And waited. We were having so much fun discovering our daughter and adventuring alongside her, we just couldn’t prioritize designing a label that would capture who she was as the months turned to years. But we were paying attention. What we learned is that we have a water baby.

Any chance Ariya has to join Daddy for a hike to the river, she is all over it—throwing rocks, splashing in the shallows, waving sticks like wands above the rippled water to enchant the fish to rise—she has always been drawn to the river near our home. On trips to the ocean, while others seek shelter from the crushing cold of the Pacific, we watch our wild-haired child play tag with each set of waves—sprinting as fast as her feet can carry her at the receding water, only to turn with a squeal and scramble back up the beach away from the rush of the next breaker bearing down on her. Be it pool or pond or puddle, one can be certain Ariya will make herself acquainted with or immersed in it—and quickly, too. While others hide from the rain, our daughter looks upon it as friend and races to greet it with eyes shut and mouth wide open. Ariya is very much like the water she seeks out—powerful, beautiful, refreshing, always in motion, taking on many forms, and never without mystery or magic.

So, we had a concept in our minds, but nothing tangible to go on, as the visual arts are not necessarily in our wheelhouse. But now we at least had two elements settled on—her name and water—it was a start. But by the time this was squared in our consciousness, we had a second child on the way. This meant another label to conceptualize—this time for our son. While we could have simply kept with the water theme, we wanted to see what best fit Soren, his personality, and his interests. And thankfully, for the sake of design and printing logistics, the boy was not shy about giving us the clues we needed to begin shaping his label.

Along with the river, we are also very lucky to have gorgeous groves of redwood trees all around our neighborhood, and Soren began marveling at these and really any trees during our family hikes. Be it our usual route to the river or while adventuring through the Grove of Old Trees in Occidental and Armstrong Woods in Guerneville—the boy can not stop leaning as far back as possible in his carrier, his stroller, or in our arms. It is as if by bending back, he lures the tops of the giant trees to his eyes, which then widen with unparalleled delight. When the cooling breezes from the ocean blow through the branches, he turns his gaze up to watch them sway with a giggle, and he chases down as many leaves as he can as they fall from above. And like the signature redwood trees of our home, Soren showcases a silent strength and a gentle comfort all at once. While uniquely his own person, Soren is absolutely attuned and connected with those around him—intuitively understanding the might of the single tree and that of the forest.

We began to realize that our labels—just like our children—just like the wines—have everything to do with our home in the Russian River Valley. For us, the constants of our world out here have been the river, the hills, the vineyards, the trees…and the fog that hangs above it all.

So, with this landscape of ideas, we reached out to our friend Annalee—a brilliant graphic artist who has worked in the industry for many years—and asked her to take these musings (along with a few unfortunate sketches of our own) and transform them into a fully realized brand. The result is what you see on our bottles today—the Ariya wines featuring the river landscape and the Soren wines marked with the hillside of trees, each etched in charcoal to hint at the haze in the eyes of those looking through the misty fog.

We found inspiration for our logo color from the Azzurri—the Italian National Soccer Team, for whom we so proudly and passionately support.

It is a nod to Chris’ great-grandfather who brought his wife and children to this country.

It is for Chris’ grandfather who brought his wife and children in the summers to the Russian River.

To us, it is this hue of blue that means family.

Now what of the wines and labels to come? While the Ariya and Soren bottles bear singular art, we have decided to bring the two together as our little family is now complete. Our wine from the 2021 vintage will feature this new version of the Puppione Family Wines label, and we look forward to sharing when the time is right.