The Barton Family came to us with a vision. They wanted to revamp the brand identity of Grey Wolf Cellars across all visual elements of their brand, from the labels to the tasting room. We were, of course, ecstatic to be involved. Rethinking a brand’s identity as one cohesive piece from jump is an opportunity that is just too good to pass up.
The Grey Wolf Cellars tasting room was a charming, homey place–you know the kind of place, where walking into the kitchen makes you weirdly crave pot roast–due mostly to the fact that it was literally the home of owner Joe Barton’s parents, Joe Sr. and Shirlene Barton. Stepping inside, you immediately felt as if you were stepping into someone’s cozy log cabin. However, this didn’t jive with the modern, fresh feel that the newly renamed GREY brand was headed in. The tasting bar was the focal point, but it was often overcrowded with visitors who really had no place to sit and enjoy the wine other than the bar itself. The result was confusing to newbies visiting for the first time, who didn’t really know what to do or where to start, and unnecessarily crowded to longtime members, who wanted to hang out and relax with a glass of wine.
Our overarching goal for the redesign of the space was to give it more of the modern, clean feel that the wine labels would soon share, without losing its charming, rustic feel and the special connection to the Barton family. Read on as we break down how we accomplished our goal.
As you walk in the front door of the tasting room, you are greeted by the bar. It is the first thing you see as you enter, and it really sets the tone for the space. As this was once the Barton family home (complete with family portraits lining the walls), the bar had been added in order to turn it into a tasting room. The space felt a little… unintentional and unfinished.
We kept the original framework of the bar, but gave it an extreme makeover with a new top and a new facade. We used wood reclaimed from the Plush Ranch barn (built circa 1919), owned by Jenny Barton’s parents. The wood is wrapped with steel and coated with resin. The result we were able to achieve by using a combination of colors, textures, and materials is modern and somewhat industrial without losing that farmhouse charm.
“We used wood reclaimed from the Plush Ranch barn (built circa 1919), owned by Jenny Barton’s parents.”
Because the bar was originally the only spot to really hang out and sip your wine, the space got super crowded and made it hard for current guests to relax and enjoy. It simultaneously challenged new guests who just wanted to figure out what tasting options were available to them that day. For this, our problem solving approach was twofold: First, we added a chalkboard backdrop behind the bar to welcome people coming in, provide tasting info (what’s being poured, fees), as well as to share that there is a distillery and kitchen around the corner serving tasty lunch all afternoon. This helped provide some much-needed details without any awkward milling around. Second, we capitalized on some of the existing rooms of the house to create more “hangoutable” areas in previously underutilized spaces. This not only provided guests a spot to gather, relax and enjoy their wine, but cleared up some real estate at the bar for the tasting room staff to address questions and welcome guests. We call this one a win(e)-win(e).
HANGOUT #1: MAIN ROOM & FIREPLACE
Right when you walk in and to the right of the bar is the main room and fireplace. Above the mantle was a family portrait of the Barton family, which had a special significance as it was taken a few years before Joe Sr.’s passing. The mantle was also decorated with a few of his personal items, including his bible and rifle. We wanted to keep the significance of this space but make it more about the family as a whole. We did so by reprinting the portrait in greyscale, adding a few other shots of the family, and building a keepsake box so that Joe Sr.’s bible could have a more intentional spot on the mantle. The fireplace itself got a new facade made of the same reclaimed barn wood from Plush Ranch, and the outdated electric burner was replaced with simple, clean logs. The overall look felt much more modern, yet still retained that rustic country house feeling.
“The overall look felt much more modern, yet still retained that rustic country house feeling.”
HANGOUT #2: LEFT OF THE BAR
Despite the open layout and copious natural light, the dark knotted pine paneling on the walls and the lack of available seating made it so that this area could really only be used as a retail space and felt somewhat like a cabin. Instead, we saw it as another opportunity to create a spot for a small group to sit and relax.
A collection of various wire caged pendants create a focal point over the custom built table, which marks yet another appearance of the beautiful reclaimed barn wood that was also used in the bar and the fireplace facade. Additionally, a nice fresh coat of paint was able to brighten up the space, contrasted with dark accent walls to give a clean, fresh feel.
HANGOUT #3: THE MUSIC ROOM
Music is a huge influence and part of Joe Barton’s life. From the very beginning, he made it clear how important it was to have a spot for guests (and themselves) to hang out and play vinyl in. This former bedroom in the front of the house fit the bill perfectly.
“Our main goal here was essentially to turn it into a cool hangout space, where you could cozy up, play music, enjoy your surroundings, and (of course) drink wine. Exactly what we want to be doing… pretty much all of the time.
There are a few universal changes we made in addition to the focal points outlined above. We removed the outdated, heavy carpeting and installed new wood floors in a white washed, grey finish. We gave everything a fresh coat of neutral-toned paint that balanced the colors of some of the darker wood elements nicely. The lights were replaced with hip, farmhouse-style lighting fixtures. Metallic accents were placed in every space to reflect the abundant natural light. The formerly undressed windows looked bare and unfinished in spots, so we added new trims and brought in some sheer, light curtains in the spaces with couches to soften the edges and provide a more polished, finished look. We utilized contrasting textures by combining rugged wood, metallic accents, and organic shapes in the form of potted plants.
The original vision of the Barton family, to transform all visual elements of the GREY brand into one cohesive experience, was achieved. The branding on the package and the look and feel of the tasting room are in total alignment, so that when you experience GREY you are experiencing the same brand in stores and restaurants as you are when you visit the tasting room.
Another clear success of this design is reflected in the Barton family’s ability to not only host more guests at one time than they were able to do before, but also that guests are much more comfortable in the space. There are now a variety of different seating options that open up the opportunity for a group of friends to taste through the daily flight, then purchase a bottle and simply… hang out and relax. Maybe play some tunes. Just like they’d do in their own home.
Check out the new digs for yourself! The GREY tasting room is located at 2174 Hwy 46 West in Paso Robles and is open from 11a – 5:30p daily.
Check out the new branding & labels here —> GREY