Church & StateThe artistry of exquisite balance
With labels like Polite as Fu*k, Just Get Over It and Shut the Front Door, Church & State Wines has been shaking things up recently with its Lost Inhibitions line. But that’s nothing new for this innovative, family-run winery. Since opening in 2004, Church & State has scooped up several top honours at some of the industry’s most prestigious competitions including Best Canadian Red (six times), Best Canadian White Blend (3 consecutive years 2013-15), and the World’s Best Malbec at the 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition.
“Quality has always been the cornerstone of our passion and operation,” says Kim Pullen, Church & State’s founder. “We do everything by hand and compromise on absolutely nothing,” and that, he emphasizes, delivers results. “We’re very proud that our Malbec earned 96 points in San Francisco, but there is no best wine if it never gets off the shelf, which was a key factor in launching Lost Inhibitions last year.”
With its sassy approach to labeling and typography, the Pullens believed that if packaging helped people try Church & State products, then the wine’s quality and value would bring them back for more. The punchline says it all: We let the wines speak for themselves, even if they are a bit mouthy. Kim says, “We wanted to open our brand to an entirely new demographic, so we worked with the team at Brandever to design a labeling concept that was eye-catching, controversial and as social media friendly as possible. We wanted something that was so over the top you couldn’t help but pick it up and try it.”
The results have been phenomenal. Lost Inhibitions has turned an 8,000 case winery into a 25,000 case one, with US sales now adding to that mix.
“Customers really engage with the product and postings on Facebook and Instagram speak to apologies, great dates, marriage proposals, special occasions and the focus of many personalized messages,” John says. “More importantly, those customers are discovering the value and quality of a Church & State wine and are now exploring our other wines – and expressions.”
Signing on with a New Signature
Riding the wave of this success, Church & State is launching a rebrand of its core series. Where Lost Inhibitions labels and style are like “colourful streams of consciousness”, the calligraphic labels for the new Signature Series are all about mastery and refinement, much like the premium and super-premium blends they identify.
Created by pre-eminent calligrapher Jackson Alves, the new labels are like a person’s signature that they’ve spent a lifetime perfecting. In keeping with Church & States’ traditional approach for handcrafted workmanship, Alves begins each script with old-style mediums such as pen or brush, before perfecting each piece digitally.
“The parallels between calligraphy and penmanship, and winemaking are incredibly strong,” explains Kim. “Each is built around traditional craftsmanship and incredible attention to detail. They both involve an artisan’s skill. Today, both are perfected with cutting edge technology.”
While Lost Inhibitions trumpets the Church & State story of quality, value and diversity, the Signature series is geared towards the winery’s devotees, club members, collectors and serious oenophiles. “We may only produce 100 to 500 cases of some varietals, so they will certainly become sought after vintages,” notes Kim, who sees them as an important evolution to the winery’s growth and development.
Futuring A Family Heritage
Started by Kim Pullen in 2004, Church & State has always been a family affair, farming 125 acres of estate vineyard in the South Okanagan and a further 10-acre estate on Vancouver Island as well as operating two winery facilities.
“Making wine is very much a part of our family lifestyle, and because we’re a tight unit we’re able to make decisions and respond to market conditions quickly,” Kim continues, noting that on any given day there are probably four Pullens on site.
…the notion of church and state denotes a constant quest for balance as well as the breaking away from convention. We try to exemplify those qualities in everything we do, from finding balance in our family life to work as well as in the product itself.
“In a broader sense, the notion of church and state denotes a constant quest for balance as well as the breaking away from convention,” Kim says of the winery’s name. “We try to exemplify those qualities in everything we do, from finding balance in our family life to work as well as in the product itself. If Lost Inhibitions reflects our maverick, entrepreneurial nature – our breaking with convention – then the Signature Series reflects our deep and valued roots in tradition. Our name is our signature, and perfecting balance will always be our vision.”
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