Authenticity-Driven Creative Communications


Carlton Cellars

Carlton Cellars

Willamette Valley winery Carlton Cellars wins awards for premium Pinots sought after by a discerning clientele, who also appreciate their down-to-earth spirit. In 2007 they chose HELSINQI to be their strategic creative marketing partner, providing branding and messaging with just the right flavor profile.

From 2006–2013 we provided everything creative for the Carlton Cellars brand, from wine names and wine label concepts, design and production, to collateral, to event planning support and promotion, to their website and e-newsletters, for which we were responsible for the works: concept, design, development, writing and constant updating.


Carlton Cellars logo

We designed a dynamic logo for Carlton Cellars to match the winemakers' personalities, which come through in their wines and all they do. Dave Grooters had raced cars back in the day, and we looked to some of the great classic auto brands for inspiration. The winged result is what Dave took to calling "The Flying C's."

Website & Newsletter

Carlton Cellars website

We designed, developed and produced the content for the Carlton Cellars website in 2007, and remained responsible for all content and updates, from copywriting and design to functional extensions.

Message in a Bottle

We also produce the monthly Carlton Cellars newsletter, the "Message in a Bottle," for which we do all copywriting, design, and delivery.

April Fool's Editions

Our personal favorite newsletters were the April Fool's Editions, such as the "Goat Milk Wine" edition (2011) and the understated "Walrus Carpaccio" edition (2009):

Goat Milk Wine Grumsby Wayside

Oregon Coast Wine Series Brand Identity

When we came on board, Carlton Cellars had just one wine, their highly-acclaimed premium flagship Pinot Noir, Roads End. They were set to release a second wine made from their estate vineyard, Russell-Grooters, and had plans for many more. We worked with them to develop the Oregon coast them behind Roads End (named for a coastal landmark) into a unified brand series. For each new wine, we have extensively researched the Oregon Coast — in maps, historical records and on-location scouting — for beautiful settings with compelling names.

Roads End

Roads End label

We began by reworking the Roads End label. We had the original oil painting by the artist Robert Beckmann rescanned, reworked the color profile, and collaborated with the printer to create a label with a vibrancy and presence that had been lacking in the printing for previous vintages.

Cape Lookout

Cape Lookout label

We chose breathtaking Cape Lookout for Carlton Cellars' second, estate wine, which debuted in 2007 with the 2006 vintage. We photographed the Cape and worked closely with both Carlton Cellars and the painter Robert Beckmann. Working from our photographs, Robert created a brilliant new painting for the new Cape Lookout Oregon Pinot Noir.

Seven Devils

Seven Devils label

In 2009 Carlton Cellars added a third Pinot to their list, with a coastal name winemaker Dave Grooters had long wanted to use: Seven Devils. We clambered over the cliffs and beaches in the Seven Devils/Cape Arago area shooting for three days until we found the astonishing viewpoint we knew was destined to become the Seven Devils Willamette Valley Pinot Noir label.

Carlton Cellars Dolcetto

Dolcetto label

Willamette Valley wine pioneer and old friend of Carlton Cellars Dick Erath gave them the opportunity to use his harvest of local Dolcetto fruit. But it turned out to be a one-time deal, as Dick subsequently regrafted his vines to Pinot! We took the opportunity to work with one of our favorite photos from a previous scouting, from a place whose name we had decided not to use. It was perfect, since the wine was to bear the simple name of its varietal, Carlton Cellars Oregon Dolcetto.

Proposal Rock

Proposal Rock label

Debuting in 2010, this excellent estate Sauvignon Blanc honors the place where winemaker Dave Grooters proposed to Robin Russell, now his wife and winery partner. Proposal Rock sits majestically at the mouth of the Little Nestucca River in Neskowin, Oregon. We produced and directed this shoot with photographer Kathryn Elsesser, and brought out the colors in our digital darkroom. Dave and Kathryn both, by the way, fell into the water during the shoot!

Agate Beach

Agate Beach label

In 2008 Carlton Cellars brought forth a crisp, dry Pinot Noir rosé. We chose a location known for its colorful agates, and as a popular local getaway: Agate Beach. But we gave it a twist. Rather than a glittering summer treatment, we shot it in a quintessentially wet and foggy Oregon coastal mode, giving it a local authenticity befitting a Willamette Valley Pinot-based rosé — and reminding summer sippers here how lucky they are to be enjoying the sun in a place of such long gray winters!

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach label

Carlton Cellars made their first foray into whites in 2010 with a golden-fruited Pinot Gris. We decided on sunset colors at the remarkable Haystack Rock landmark at Cannon Beach, naming the wine Cannon Beach Willamette Valley Pinot Gris. In our research we discovered Oregon photographer Chip Phillips' perfect image, of which we selected the detail that graces the label.

Print Ads & Promotional Materials

We design all of Carlton Cellars print ads and promotional materials, including some of our favorites below, like these, for a local sustainability event (right) and for classical music audiences (left):

CC Homeland Pinot Forte

Promotional items include event notices, posters, leave-behinds, and sales & technical collateral, as well as freestanding and building signage.

CAT Benefit Easel Sign 2011 Pocket Projector Pocket Projector verso Easel Sign 2010

Branded Materials

We've designed branded materials including the Carlton Cellars bottle capsule, a Crush volunteers T-shirt in 2007 and 2010, stemware, and an F-1 Racer in honor of one of the winemakers' keen interests:

Bottle Capsule Crush T-shirt 2010 Crush T-shirt model 2007 Stemware CC F-1 Racer


We've also brought in our experience producing events, to design a summer series of vineyard lunch tours since 2009, winemakers' dinners and other special events.

Vineyard Lunch



Our clients are making the good life genuinely good in industries where style and quality are critical, such as food & drink fine wine gourmet locavore restaurants caterers markets clubs cafes design & home green building interiors furniture fixtures fashion & lifestyle designers clothiers retailers salons art & culture museums galleries theatre books music health & wellness spas yoga massage acupuncture travel & hospitality eco-tourism eco-resorts events & beyond

  • print
  • web
  • video
  • writing
  • editorial
  • websites
  • collateral
  • newsletters
  • labels
  • books
  • catalogs
  • messaging
  • communications
  • design
  • media
  • new media
  • traditional
  • digital
  • print