There is certainly no shortage of wines and vineyards out there. Any shop that sells wine with other types of spirits must allot a hefty portion of its floorspace to the grape, and even then the bottles usually are sectioned into colors, varietals, and regions of origin.
Standing out among the crowd, then, demands a good label. So now that Terhune Orchards, the family-owned farm on Cold Soil Road, has ventured into growing wine grapes for its own blends, the time is right for owners Gary and Pam Mount to start trying to cultivate the right image.
Terhune planted its first wine grapes last year and has sold them to wineries because the farm still lacks the ability to make wine itself, Mount says. But due to interest from his daughters, 32-year-old Tannwen and 36-year-old Reuwai, who want to develop the line of wines, Mount expects Terhune to have winemaking capabilities soon enough. And when the farm is ready, it needs to have the right label.
As luck would have it, Mount is an old friend of graphic artist Patrick Lyons, who also is a teacher at Mercer County Community College. When Lyons learned that his friend had taken his first steps toward making wines, he suggested that the students in his AV class try their hands at designing the label. The “18 bright ideas” the students came up with will certainly help, Mount says.
If anything, he says, the difficult part has been picking the right one. Thinking he’d be lucky to walk into one decent idea among the lot, Mount says he was stunned by how creative and well-done the projects turned out to be. He ended up taking home most of the designs to show the family, who then voted on the three they like best. The students — Karen Steimle, Michael Labno, and Matt Rybinski — were given $50 gift cards to Terhune’s farm store.
Mount is aware that the impetus for Terhune’s wines and the solution to the label issue are rooted firmly in “the next generation.” While he doesn’t plan to use any of the labels as-is, he says the process has gotten off to a great start. And, as it worked out, it has saved Terhune a decent amount of money by using students rather than fully paid graphic designers.
But the work is far from over. A major reason none of the designs can be used as-is rests in the dense regulations of the federal government. “The best way I can describe it is that it’s an exacting process,” Mount says. There are certain messages and warnings that must be on the label of any alcoholic beverages — alcohol content, health and pregnancy warnings, et cetera — and these necessecities must be a certain size, in a certain font, and have a certain degree of prominence. There are, in fact, more than 70 pages of regulations to follow before any wine label can be reviewed — and ultimately approved — by the FDA.
Mount also plans to negotiate a deal with whomever is chosen the winner. But he expects his daughters to see more of the benefits of Terhune’s vineyards. Reuwai and Tannwen are now settled into the area after spending their youth far away from Princeton. Reuwai lived and worked in San Francisco and did volunteer work for Native American children in Arizona. Now with a husband and three children of their own, Mount says Reuwai is working on how to best become involved in taking over the farm.
Tannwen taught abroad in El Salvador and Cote d”Ivoire, but has been working at Terhune full-time for a while now. Mount says both his daughters have brought and will bring their own ideas to the process, but that’s to be expected. And encouraged.
It will be a slow process, but for a family that started with apples, peaches, and pears 35 years ago, and now grows 36 varieties of fruits and vegetables, time moves at a different pace. And patience is a given. All he knows is, he’s glad to be able to pass his torch. “If you’re lucky enough to have children interested in taking over the business,” he says, “you need to listen to them.”