Cider Corner: Packaging Design Strategy for Gowan’s

Sharon Gowan feels there’s a lot of graphic-novel approaches for craft beer cans on an off-premise shelf while many ​cideries pursue the same when it comes to look, price and consumer base.

That’s fine and it can be a strategy that works, but as a sixth-generation family farm, the classic look has been a winner for Gowan’s Heirloom Ciders.

​Recently Gowan’s was the only ​entrant to win two Best-in-Class awards​ ​at the 2020 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. For the second year in a row Gravenstein garnered Best-in-Class for this single varietal cider while Gowan’s also received Best-in-Class for the packaging of Gravenstein and the rest of the Gowan cider lineup.

The Classic-Ornate packaging features bespoke illustrations of the historic family orchards, classic gold foil touches, and an elegant custom glass bottle.

​Gowan said the cidery has used ​the latest label design for ​three​ years​ now​ and ​it’s been a continuous​ process with some fine-tuning along the way. The custom bottle was introduced last May.

​”​We started with a more simplistic label with a lot of white space​,” said Gowman, the company’s cidermaker​. ​”Some of the elements remain too, ​but we continue to evaluate our package on the shelf for improvements.​

“Because the sixth-generation family farm has such a rich history growing apples, we wanted to connect people to this place through each bottle. That goes for both the off- and on-premise trade.

Gowan admits the label is kind of dense, information-wise.

​”​This is definitely a throwback label,” she said “But that fits who we are: a traditional cider, made the old fashioned way, heirloom family orchard.

“But we wanted to elevate too, as we believe that the right apple, grown in the right place, can make an elegant but still approachable drink — apple wine cider.”

Since they were farmers first, the label was an extension of the history of the place and family. “That’s why you see a harvest tag with the kind of apples used when they were harvested,” she explained.

​Gowan’s added a colored neck label and bottle caps to help identify various ciders in the lineup.​ ​The back label includes a flavor profile, food ​pairings and health-conscious information​ — such as Vegan, Organic Apples​ or ​Gluten Free​.​

​”I think this ​[packaging] ​has had a very positive impact​,” Gowan said​​. “​Gowan’s is a leading apple wine cider, which in this area indicates an elevated premium cider where flavors develop naturally as the fruit ripens in the orchard.​”​

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