Posts Categorized: Partners

Artist Spotlight: The Ellaphant in the Room

The Man Behind the Cans 

Jeremy Alan of The Ellaphant in the Room is the mural artist and illustrator behind three of our wine can designs—Riesling Radler, Strawberry Cooler and our most recent undertaking, Nouveau Pinot Noir. The first time we reached out to Alan was for a postcard project. After that experience we thought he might be a perfect designer to create a new can design for us.  

That first design was for our Riesling Radler can. As different and beautiful as the wine it holds, this can is a huge hit with everyone who sees it. Since then we’ve continued to work with The Ellaphant in the Room on two more can designs and another postcard. 

We asked Jeremy if he would answer a few questions for us about his work and the process of designing wine cans.  

  • How did Union Wine Co. start working with you? 
    Union Wine reached out to me in 2016 with a project to illustrate a promotional postcard. The idea was to draw the family of Underwood wine cans…crushed. I loved the idea and the visual possibilities of representing the crushed and folded can. 

Underwood Pinot Noir Illustration

  • Would you please tell us a little bit about you and your work?  
    My company is called The Ellaphant in the Room and is based in Brooklyn. I make hand-painted wall murals and print illustrations. I specialize in designing and painting murals by working with concepts and colors that complement existing interiors. My illustrations are small-scale artworks that are commissioned for both commercial magazines and privately sold for home décor. 

Riesling Radler (Released Summer 2017)

  • How did this project start? 
    Ryan Harms and the designer working on this project reached out by email. This was my first time doing product design and I loved the idea of making an illustration that would wrap around a can. Ryan instantly established an open and collaborative approach to working together. He was open to ideas and made it easy to say yes to partnering for this seasonal wine project.  
  • How did this design come to be?
    We started off with several different ideas. Again, the openness to creative possibilities gave me liberty to pursue a number of possibilities beyond the typical industry wine can design. The illustration was meant to reflect the wine flavor which has notes of citrus, hops, and summertime. We settled on tropical floral patterns as the direction. From there I began drawing tropical flora and fauna. I focused on individual leaves and began to work them into a pattern. Additional elements included tropical birds like toucans and flamingos. One thing I knew right away was that I wanted to have the green leaves be on a dark background. 

Strawberry Cooler (Released Summer of 2019) 

  • Please tell us about the design process for the Strawberry Cooler.
    When Union Wine reached out to me about doing another can design the answer was obviously, yes! We immediately hopped on the phone and started talking.We talked about how the illustration should represent the specific wine flavor and reflect the experience of drinking the wine. With this can we came up with a number of different design directions including a surfboard pattern, a sun setting into the ocean and strawberry dreams with floating strawberries on clouds. These options were sketched out and mocked-up on the cans.  

After numerous directions and ideas were explored, it was time to choose one. Since the wine cooler is strawberry flavored, the chosen theme was a field of strawberry flowers. The flowers were intended to look loosely sketched, as though they were made by someone relaxing in a park—drawing and taking in the summer day. 

The most technical part was positioning the flowers on a diagonal so that when it wrapped around the can, it would connect and appear seamless. 

Underwood Strawberry Cooler Illustration

Another central compositional element is the bumblebee. The bee was intended to look like it was on the label, as though it had landed on the can, attracted to the strawberry flowers. The bumblebee was a perfect addition and echoed the focal point of the toucan on the Radler can. 

Strawberry Cooler Bumblebee

 

Nouveau (Released November of 2019)

  • The Nouveau can is a design you just completed recently. Was there anything different about creating the design for this one?
    Ryan and Joan called to discuss this project in February—9 months prior to a firm product release date of Nov. 21. This would be a limited release for Nouveau Day, the traditional day that Nouveau wines are released and tasted. That meant I only had about 5 weeks to complete the design.The brief for this project asked that I keep in mind the Underwood logo block on the front of the can as I thought about a few possible esthetic options: Art Nouveau, Bold Colors, Organic Elements, Architectural Elements, and the brief said I could be a little bit more “out there” for this style of wine compared to more typical Nouveau wine labels. After my conversation with Ryan and Joan, the first thing I did was to research Art Nouveau. It had been a while since studying the movement and I wanted to re-establish an understanding of the motivations and visual languages of the time.  
  • What were some of the other directions you were thinking about before we landed on the peacock design?
    Some very cool directions emerged. I explored Architectural linework from the period as framing the label. One version had a fairy holding the ingredients of the wine and sitting atop the label. Peacocks were instantly intriguing along with dragonfly patterns and moths. In the end we chose the peacock with the tail feathers draping all the way around the can. The feathers evoke the sinuous lines of Art Nouveau architecture and the white peacock has graphic contrasts against the dark green can. A further thought on the white peacock is it almost subverts the expectations of the image since peacocks are usually vibrant, full-spectrum color…in a sense it made him more unique. The whimsy and freedom of illustration allows you to interpret the real world instead of relying on it. Hopefully, within that interpretation, I can direct the viewer towards the unique experience of the wine. 
  • Does anything stand out from when you designed any of the cans—something unique you remember?
    The opportunity to dive into art history as the inspiration point for the Nouveau can was particularly exciting for me. Beginning with such an iconic style from history and to make it our own take was the challenge. 
  • You’ve designed three cans now, and although they are quite different from one another, they look great side-by-side. What is similar and what is different about the three designs, and why do they work so well together? 
    Each of the Union wine cans have different concepts driving the image, style and color decisions. One difference is how finished and complete the images are for the Radler and Nouveau, the Radler and Nouveau are both fully colored-in set against a dark background. The Strawberry can is intended to look like a sketch, open and loose with pencil lines and soft hits of water-colored pigments. As for similarities, their differences complement each other, they hopefully balance each other out. Additionally, each is based on patterns and images from nature and are all from my hand, unified by my mark and line. 

Perfect Pairings

At Union Wine Company we love to support and collaborate with other fellow artisans in our community.

Our favorite cheesemonger, Steve Jones of Cheese Bar and Chizu, has been honing his skills for 15 years and just released his very first book: CHEESE BEER WINE CIDER: A Field Guide to 75 Perfect Pairings. Co-written by Steve Jones and Adam Lindsley (and photographed by your humble narrator, David L. Reamer) you can order a copy of CHEESE BEER WINE CIDER at Powells Online or keep an eye out for copies at your local bookstore or wine shop.

It is, as the title says, a guide to pairing specific cheese with their appropriate ‘adult beverage’ counterparts. We thought this would be a great opportunity to have Steve formally taste three of our Underwood wines—Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Rosé—and choose a cheese that he thinks would go well with each. If you are going to be doing some entertaining in the next few weeks, or if you just want to have an indulgent late spring picnic, this will help you to know the best cheese to accompany your favorite cans. So, without further ado…

**************

UNDERWOOD PINOT NOIR paired with SUMMER COMTÉ.

Comté is a cow’s milk cheese from France’s Massif du Jura region. It has a very earthy taste (think mushrooms cooked in brown butter) but also has a slight sweetness which pairs quite well with our Underwood Pinot Noir. There are various styles of Comté, but this one gets its name from the season it is produced, when the cows are dining on the lush and verdant summer grasses.

Underwood Cheese Pairings

UNDERWOOD ROSÉ paired with 1605 MANCHEGO

This very popular aged Spanish sheep’s milk cheese comes from the windmill-dotted La Mancha plateau immortalized in Don Quixote. (The producing farm, 1605, actually takes its’ name from the year the book was first published!) Much like the terroir of its origin, Manchego is dry, pale and very sheepy. As it ages, the cheese’s nuttiness and buttery qualities increase, making it absolutely delicious, and a perfect pairing to our Rosé.

Underwood Cheese Pairings

UNDERWOOD PINOT GRIS paired with JACQUIN BUCHERON.

Bucheron is from what is called the Bloomy-Rind Family. A French goat’s milk cheese, it has its origins in the Loire Valley which is accepted as the home of chèvre. The Jacquin Family has been making cheese in the Loire Valley for four generations. Bucheron, from the French word for “log”, has two distinct parts: a gooey section that has started to break down just below the rind, and, a more traditional, dryer, white chèvre filling the center. The contrast between the salty cream of the buttery ring and the lemony, goaty center make for a complex flavor, as well as a great pairing for our Pinot Gris.

Underwood Cheese Pairings

Big thanks again to Steve Jones for taking the time to share his knowledge and palette for this little culinary experience. A good time was had by all!

Underwood and Cheese Bar

Photography and Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)

10 Things We Learned at a Rose City Rollers Bout

At Union Wine Co. we love to support our local community. The Rose City Rollers are an organization of brave, talented and creative folks that we are proud to partner with. We admire the people and the game, even though it took us a minute to learn to call it a bout.

Rose City Rollers

The Rose City Rollers have been a part of the Portland community for the past 15 years. Since the beginning it has been a welcoming group for the players and fans alike. We chatted with a couple of players from the High Rollers team and they stated that a primary reason for joining a roller derby team was to make friends. Nooga Knockout is originally from Chattanooga, TN, where she first started playing roller derby. She moved to Portland 3 years ago and knew that she would find a community in a new city through roller derby. When she first started she didn’t have much skating experience. She said at first it was scary, but the more she does it the more natural it feels. Now, as soon as she puts on skates, she feels comfortable.

10 Things We Learned

  1. The game is called a bout, there are 2 periods that each last 30 minutes. In each half, they fit in as many 2 minute jams as they can.
  2. The only person who can score is the jammer. The jammer wears a star helmet cover.
  3. The jammer can pull her helmet cover (also known as a panty) off twice per jam and give it to anyone else on her team who might be able to shoot through a gap and score.
  4. Inline skates are prohibited, players must wear four-wheeled roller skates.
  5. The best-dressed fans have some sparkle on.
  6. Don’t miss the epic halftime show.
  7. 5 skaters are on the track for each team at a time, unless someone goes into the penalty box. Each team consists of 15 skaters in total.
  8. The skaters are referred to as a Pack.
  9. Roller Derby skaters choose a nickname to use as an alter ego, they are usually witty, referring to something about themselves or pop culture.

       A few examples:

    • Eve Anne Hellical
    • Bonnie Thunders
    • Beyond Thunderdame
    • Big Bang Fury

10. And of course, watching a bout is best enjoyed while drinking Underwood canned wine.

Rose City Rollers

Rose City Rollers

Underwood Wine

Van Life: Tips and Tricks

Gypsea life uncovered

Guest written by Laysea Danielle (@gypsealaysea)

Sunsets out our bedroom window, bathing in fresh rivers, and picture perfect destinations. Gypsea life seems like both perfection and intangible. How do I move all of my things into a van? What do I even need? Where do I park, sleep, shower, and dear God where will I poop!? Have no fear, Laysea is here! I have been around the world and back again, and have condensed all of the how to’s and cheat codes to living on the road. Everything you need, and nothing you don’t; because, after all, it’s simplicity we’re after.

Gypsea life uncovered
Gypsea life uncovered
Moving out of a house and into a tiny home might be intimidating at first. Weather you are moving into full-time gypsea mode, or weekend warrior status, selecting the right home is important. I live in a 1983 Volkswagen Westfalia, and my partner lives in his remodeled 4×4 Toyota Chinook, so we each deal with a very different storage situation. The rule of storage all about versatility. I try to only keep items that are multifunctional. Bowls that can be plates, cups that can be for any beverage, one single sauté pan that can double as a soup pot. I like products that are pro van life, requiring no tools, or cups, and are recyclable. (My favorite example is Union wine, canned and perfect for camping). The same goes for clothing, and trust me, it’s not easy. And I’ll be honest, I have WAY too much clothing than anyone who lives in a van should, but hey, I make it work! Organization is how I make it possible. The way you fold and store your clothing should be space oriented, folded down as small as possible, and compact. Allow this shift to be a time to purge and let go of belongings you don’t need. You will quickly find that your comforts are frequent, and the rest will settle and collect dust. I have pulled all of my belongings out of my van and simplified time and time again. Knowing what you will need is something that is learned. Allow yourself time to adjust, and let go, and redefine what you need. Simplifying your space around you will lighten the energy you reside in and clear up space for time to create and explore.
Gypsea life uncoveredGypsea life uncovered

If you are moving into a tiny home full time than this will mean a huge shift for work. Working remotely as I do makes it fun to go to new coffee shops every day, exploring new towns and getting to know the communities. It is also very easy to find jobs on the road, whether it be selling craft items, picking up side jobs from Craig’s list ads, or putting down temporary roots and picking up a part time job can really be a fun way to immerse yourself. With that being said, money will quickly become a much smaller problem than typical life in a city! Say goodbye to rent and other miscellaneous bills that come with residing in a traditional home. Water bills will cease to exist when you fill up your reusable large water storage in fresh rivers and water fill centers. I try to always camp for free by using BLM land and freecampsites.net. Making friends on the road will open up possible driveways to sleep, or if you use Facebook forums for van camping can create opportunities to learn more from fellow travelers or tiny home owners alike. Which brings me to showers!

Gypsea life uncovered

We all lust after the perfect natural shower, romantically bathing in a hot spring or in a fresh water river, but that is not always available. My secret is having a membership to 24 Hour fitness. They have locations all across the country and come included with towel service (nobody likes wet towels taking up van space) and a sauna / steam room so you never have to actually work out if you don’t want to. Most gyms own the parking lot and as it’s a 24 hour business you can camp in the parking lot any time. Waking up and using the bathroom in the gym is not uncommon for me as well. Which brings me to my next and most commonly asked question: where do you use the bathroom!? Waking up and heading directly to a coffee shop is both gastrointestinally beneficial and also helps me start my work day! Campsites have outhouses, and BLM land have wide open spaces (follow Leave No Trace procedures). The biggest problem is when nature calls too quickly or when a bathroom of any kind isn’t available in a city. Now, brace yourself, this is going to get graphic. I have friends who have a bucket they use and clean. I have heard of tools that help women pee into a bottle, and I have man friends who will recommend keeping a large gallon jug for emergencies to urinate. Women: I am an advocate for thick plastic bags that work perfect for an emergency as they can tie up and be thrown away. (24 Hour Fitness has them complimentary for wet clothing at the gym) I’m not into the portable bathroom that you keep in the van, but to each his own!

Living in a van can be extremely challenging at times, and can push you to do things you wouldn’t typically do. Van life has created space for me to grow S O much. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I know myself on such a deep level, and I am still deepening that relationship every single day. The amount of struggles I go through are overpowered ten-fold by the magic of gypsea life. My biggest suggestion to anyone making this transition: keep an open mind! Challenges will arise, and plans will fall through. Let go of all expectations, and just live! I could never have predicted or planned the wild twists and turns of gypsea life, and that is what makes it so special. This is no cookie cutter model for traveling, because each experience is so unique. I spell Gypsy ‘gypsea’ because I like to flow like the sea, ebbing and flowing like waves, lapping on the shore of this magical human ride. Make like the sea, and gypsea on.

Gypsea life uncovered Gypsea life uncovered

Photography by Laysea Danielle.

10 Things I Learned Without Cell Service

wine can

Guest written by Logan Dralle, founder of Her Oregon Life and Union Wine Company Ambassador

Ah, The Alps of Oregon. Covering 360,000 acres, the Eagle Cap Wilderness is Oregon’s largest wilderness area, and one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon. I call it Oregon’s next best secret, for those willing to put the hours in behind the wheel – it took us about 8 hours to get to our trailhead from Portland.

My friend Crystal and I knew when we requested our PTO dates that we would risk the chance of early snowfall in the Wallowas, but we were all in. Over the course of two days we hiked into Mirror Lake, and summited Eagle Cap.

Here’s what I learned from this trip:

  1. Camp robbers come in all shapes and sizes. Never leave your food unattended.
  2. A Pringles can doubles as coffee ground storage and a backcountry trash can.
  3. The weight of your backpack does matter and so does alcohol percentage. Carrying 35 pounds on your back is hard, so what’s another few pounds in Underwood wine cans at two servings each?
  4. Backpacking without wine is just sitting in the woods.
  5. Cell phone addiction is real. Set it down and remember you are out here for a reason.
  6. Bear sh*& is really big. Be prepared.
  7. You will learn more about yourself. Including how you smell without a shower.
  8. It doesn’t take long for you to miss a real toilet.
  9. Don’t forget to download offline music onto Spotify. Nothin’ like a good ole’ backcountry dance party.
  10. Taking a real vacation is so, so, so important.

In an always-on world full of countless hours spent in front of screens, the best advice I’ll ever give is to pack your bag and get out there. Mother Nature has her ways of reminding you what matters most.

logan dralle logan at wallowas wallowa fox wallowa tent

Photography by Crystal Frankenbery