Ridge's packaging is by far the most consistent, and the most original. All you're seeing here is the front label, which has changed very, very little over the past forty years. It's a simple font, with minimal green print. On the back is a short tasting note by the winemaker, along with the relevant data. The most curious thing about the packaging, though, isn't seen here: it's the combination of the cork and the capsule [the capsule is the thing, originally foil, but now usually plastic or a different metal, that goes over the top of the bottle]. Every Ridge cork has the vintage printed at either end of it; this way, no matter which way it's inserted into the bottle, you'll see a year that lines up with the bottle label. Better yet, every Ridge foil is the same color - a plain aluminium color - and they're intentionally too short, leaving enough room for the year printed on the cork to be visible through the green glass of the bottle. This is not only unique - I don't know of anyone else that does this - but it's also a mark of quality in that you could easily tell if the bottle had been tampered with, or if the label was counterfeit, or if something else was wrong. Terrifically cool and wonderfully simple.
Best of all, though, is that the wine's about as good as American wine gets.
Starting about a year ago, Yalumba came up with a brilliant idea, which you can barely see here: the back label on their wines have labels with a small, rectangular, tear-off section. That way, if you order it and like it, you can take a reminder of what it was home with you. Excellent marketing idea!
Dan picked up a bottle of this stuff in Moldova, back in 1998. It's a one liter bottle of sparkling wine - but packaged in a hand-blown crystal decanter with gold foil leaves. Totally over the top. The wine's nothing terrifically special, but we still have the decanter, although I have no idea what I'd use it for. Whisky?
4. Bonny Doon
God knows Randall Grahm is the king of wacky packaging, but his Pacific Rim riesling still makes me smile every time I see it. You can't really tell from this picture, but the label is printed such that every bit of the label has pictures on either side of it. It looks like sushi from the inside of the bottle. Cool, eh?
There's nothing really special about this packaging per se - but the idea to radically rethink the traditional German wine label was brilliant. When faced with labels that say stuff like "Schloßgut Diel Dorsheimer Pittermännchen Spätlese trocken", I think it's entirely understandable that folks run screaming for the Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay. However, Herr Lingenfelder dared do a simple, easily recognizable label that just says "Riesling" - and it's fantastic stuff for $11.