In the end not one, but two teams of Niagara College students will have the opportunity to see the wine label they created appear on a Pillitteri’s wine.
On Friday March 28, Pillitteri Estates Winery and Niagara Duty Free announced the winners of a Niagara College Wine Label competition, at an event held at the college’s Wine Visitor + Education Centre. Instead of one team however, two were selected for first place in the first-ever split decision in the history of the competition.
Jeff Letvenuk, Pillitteri marketing manager, noted that the decision was the most difficult to date. “Both projects presented wonderfully, both with market-ready solutions, each with strengths in different areas,” he said. “Pillitteri will produce both products and let the market and, ultimately, the customer decide.”
“This is a great win for the students, the college and all of us. Having such a tough decision is a testament to the quality of work coming out of the college and we look forward to seeing these students working in our industry.” said Letvenuk.
“The future of the Niagara Icewine industry continues to look bright, judging by the number of first-rate submissions coming from the students of Niagara College,” said Michael Gruyich, Niagara Duty Free president. “It is incredibly satisfying to see how local businesses, like Pillitteri Estates Winery, work hand in hand with our local educators and the next generation of industry stakeholders. This is truly a great example of how local people, product, and ingenuity can elevate Niagara’s reputation around the world.”
Kristina Inman, Business Development coordinator and instructor at NC, noted that the project was a valuable learning experience for the participating students.
“The Wine Label project is a wonderful example of applied learning, which is the trademark of a NC education,” said Inman. “Each of the students involved had an opportunity put the knowledge and skills they have gained in the classroom to work for an industry client, equipping them with valuable real-world experience.”
The special project involved students from various programs who have been working on the project since January. Four teams of students competed to design the best Icewine label for Pillitteri Estates that will appear on a Pillitteri wine and sold as a Duty Free exclusive product. Each team included a student from the college’s Winery and Viticulture Technician, Wine Business Management, Graphic Design, and Sales and Marketing programs.
Winners on Team Memoir: include Jessica Reese (WVT), Rebecca Lafferty (WBM), Alex Selvig (SM), and Ian McDonald (GD).
Winners on Team Quercus include Tristan Bondett (WVT), Anne Dingwall (WBM), Rachel Burbidge (SM), and Joseph McCusker (GD).
“It feels incredible to win and exciting to think about our label being used,” said Rachel Burbridge, Sales and Marketing student and graduate of the Winery and Viticulture Technician program who was on Team Quercus. “The project was very interesting for us, to take the entire concept from the ground-up, and see how the brand comes together and the product is made completely marketable.” Team Memoir member Jessica Reese, who is a student in the Winery and Viticulture Technician student, also valued the experience.
“It was a neat look at taking a holistic approach to winemaking and things you have to consider as a winemaker from the production side, as well as the viticultural side, and how you’re going to position yourself based on a marketing strategy,” she said. “It was a great experience to collaborate with a team from different programs. We all worked really well together.”
While his Team Frozen Vines wasn’t selected, Graphic Design student Shaun O’Melia found the experience rewarding.
“We had free reign and creative freedom from the winery to do whatever we wished so it was a lot of fun. I’m happy with the design at the end of the day,” he said. “I feel like it’s good experience to have, regardless of how our team places.”