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COLONNA FARRELL WINE LABEL COLLECTION, 1975-1997
#626

( 2.1 cubic feet: 6 DB, 1 card box)

by Ray Mellett, July, 2000

Biography

John Farrell was born on Long Island, New York in 1944 and grew up in Minneapolis/St. Paul where his family had moved in early 1945. He had an early interest in art and design and started doing commercial design work while still in high school and continued to support himself as a designer in college. He attended the University of Minnesota. from 1962 through 1964 when he transferred to California State University-Hayward, from which he graduated after majoring in Art/Design. After college he moved to Denver to take a design position and then, in 1971, started a business there. In 1972 he did graduate work in design at Denver University, but did not receive a degree. Mr. Farrell wanted to return to California and in 1974 he followed his dream, settling in the Napa Valley.

Mr. Farrell started working out of his home, visiting local printers to find out who was working with them. When the printers told him "the wineries" he started talking to wine people. He said that he found a real need in Napa to put together packaging and help what were then local farming people with small businesses.  Because of his skills, he was able to offer his clients a complete package, from the start of the design process to the finish.

Ralph Colonna was also born on the East Coast, in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania in 1937. His family moved to California in 1944 when his father was transferred there and he grew up in the Upland, Ontario area of the Los Angeles Basin. He majored in advertising and graphic design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California in 1957-58, but did not graduate. From 1958 to 1961 Mr. Colonna worked for a number of design firms, until he started his own firm in Westwood in 1961. The firm moved a number of times as it grew to its maximum size of forty people. He sold the studio in 1971 and moved to the Napa Valley where he opened a gourmet cookware store, which still exists, at "Vintage 1870", an old warehouse and winery, in Yountville. While he had the store, Mr. Colonna did some graphics work for other stores in the area. The store was sold in 1978 so he could concentrate on the design business that he had started with Mr. Farrell.

John Farrell and Ralph Colonna met in 1974 and John Farrell showed his work to Ralph Colonna, who liked the work. In 1975 Mr. Colonna said he had been asked to make a presentation for a package design system to Domaine Chandon, which was just being built. Mr. Colonna and Mr. Farrell collaborated on the presentation, but did not get the job. However they enjoyed working together and decided to work together on some other projects though they kept their businesses independent.

History

Messrs. Farrell and Colonna started to share work space and costs in 1975 and in 1976 decided to go into business in St. Helena together. In those early days, it was easy to set up a design shop and Mr. Farrell likes to say that it could be done for less than $100, as all that was needed was a T square and a drawing board.

Jeffery Caldewey had an office in the same building and was also doing early label design. In 1976 they all decided to join forces to avoid useless competition. Initially the company was a partnership called Colonna, Caldewey, Farrell: Designers. When Mr. Caldewey left the company in 1982 and went out on his own, the name of the business was changed to Colonna, Farrell: Design, the name under which it operated until October, 1999 when the name was changed to CF.NAPA. The business was incorporated in California in 1981 under the name of Design Research Institute Inc. As the company grew, it moved several times in St.Helena and in October, 1999 it moved to Napa after merging with LA6A, which also has offices in Cincinnati, Chicago and New York.

Once Messrs. Colonna and Farrell established themselves as credible package designers, many area wineries wanted to get to know them and their company. The company put together presentations and the principals went to various wineries to promote themselves. In effect they were salesmen as well as designers, but it enabled them to build relationships with various well known wineries such as Beringer, Mondavi, and Sutter Home, even though they might not be the sole supplier of design.

The wine business, however, began to change. New owners came in, many of whom had not been in the wine business before but had been doctors, brokers, etc. They were often looking for a life style change more than they were trying to make a lot of money. The idea was to live in a beautiful place and have a small business. Colonna, Farrell worked with these new people and they became a large part of the company's business.

The early Colonna Farrell designs parroted what was being done in French labeling at the time. This was a traditional look and helped establish credibility. But this changed for a number of reasons: the wineries wanted to look different from each other and Colonna, Farrell: Design didn't want to be identified with any particular "look". This led the company to establish relationships with various designers, illustrators, photographers and artists in general, in order to make its product designs more unique, a practice that continues to this day, though most of the design work is created by employees of the company.

After a while, many of the larger wineries began to be acquired by companies that were not from the Napa Valley. Often these were large conglomerates or distilleries such as Hiram Walker and Seagrams and the wineries were only a small portion of their business. This changed the complexion of many established wineries.

It also changed the way Colonna, Farrell did business, as the headquarters of the parent companies often were not in the Napa Valley. Messrs. Farrell and Colonna felt they had to pursue business where the headquarters were. This meant traveling to meet the decision makers and impress them with the company's range of services. It also led to new types of work for the company, though the focus was still in beverages. Most importantly, it meant that the principals did less and less design work and more and more sales and marketing and administration. But it also led to creating a business that was not totally dependent on the principals.

At the same time the nature of design work was changing. When the company was started, most of the work was done by hand, but today computers play a much larger role in the design process. A similar pivotal change was occurring in the printing industry as new technology allowed labels to change from simple rectangular shapes to die cuts, embossing, foil stamps, and other fanciful and complex techniques.

The company is now also involved in packaging design so that every facet of the identity of the winery is controlled. This includes, in addition to the labels, packaging, bottle shape, shipper cartons, gift packs, and promotional materials. The company also has the capability of dealing with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and comparable regulators overseas. The business is still evolving and is now going beyond design into marketing and Colonna, Farrell, as a leader in the industry, is also evolving.

Scope & Content Note

The collection consists of eight series, the largest, Series I, being the wine labels. This series is arranged alphabetically by the name of the producer and each winery is in a separate folder. At times the name of the wine is different than the name of the producer and sometimes the winery produces wines under more than one name. If there is more than one name or if the name of the wine is different than the name of the producer, these other names are listed in parentheses following the name of the winery. Often the name of the winery changes, usually in minor way such as changing the designation from cellars or winery to vineyards or some combination of these terms. To the extent possible, the latest name is used. All wines produced by each winery are in the same folder. The labels consist of various preliminary drawings, more refined drawings and presentations, mounted presentations and printed labels and loose printed labels. Some or all of these types may be available for each winery. In some cases there is no indication whether or not Colonna, Farrell received the commission to create the final designs, as the only way we have of knowing that is if the final printed label is in the collection.

Series II consists of designs for various presentations to The Monterey Vineyard. The first folder contains drawings and some design mockups. The remaining four folders of the series each contains a special presentation of mounted designs. Series III is a set of handmade containers containing designs created by the firm. These special cases were carried by John Farrell and Ralph Colonna when they visited wineries to make a presentation in an attempt to obtain new business.

Series IV consists of one folder containing ideas for labels that cannot be attributed to any particular winery and older labels that were collected for inspiration. Series V is a folder containing work for clients not in the wine business. Series VI contains company information such as letterhead, a brochure and an article. Series VII is miscellaneous material and Series VIII is an interview of John Farrell conducted by John Fleckner and Spencer Crew of the National Museum of American History on April 17, 1997. There are two sets of tapes, an original and a duplicate, and only the duplicate is to be used by researchers.

Related Collection

Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, ca. 1724-1977 (Subject Category: Wine)

Provenance

This collection was donated to the National Museum of American History, Archives Center on November 17, 1997 by John Farrell and Ralph Colonna, the principals of CF.NAPA, previously know as Colonna, Farrell: Design.

Container List

SERIES I: WINE LABELS

Box Folder
1 1 Aante
2 Adobe Cellars
3 Alderbrook Winery
4 The Allen Family (Sequoia Grove)
5 Almaden Vineyards (Charles Lefranc)
6 S. Anderson Vineyard
7 Anderson-Wolf Cellars
8 Arroyo Sonoma Wines
9 Aveleda
10 Ballverne Cellars
11 Belvedere Winery
12 Benziger Family Winery & Vineyards
13 Beringer Vineyards (Beringer; Kenward; Rivefort de France)
14 Robert Biale Vineyards
15 Biltmore Estate Wine Company
16 Bouchaine Vineyards
17 Marcel Bouchaire
18 Brubeck Cellars
19 Burgess Cellars
20 Byron
21 Cambiaso Vineyards
22 El Camino Real
23 Cartlidge & Browne (Greenfield) (K&L Wines)
24 Cassayre-Forni Cellars
25 Caymus Vineyards (Caymus Vinyards; Liberty School)
26 Chase Creek
27 Chateau Boswell
28 Chateau Chevalier (Chateau Chevalier; Lowney Vineyards)
29 Chateau Julien
30 Chateau Du Lac
31 Chateau Montelena Winery
32 The Christian Brothers
33 Clos du Bois
34 Clos du Val Wine Co., Ltd
35 Coastal Vintners (Fairmont Hotels)
36 Codorniu Napa
37 Colony Wines
38 Conifer Cove Vintners (Boston Symphony Orchestra)
39 Concannnon Vineyard (California Historical Society)
40 Conn Creek Winery
41 R & J Cook Vineyards
42 James Kenton Cooper
43 Cune
2 1 Delicato Vineyards
2 Diamond Oaks Vineyard
3 Distillers Products, Ltd.(Oak Ridge Brandy)
4 Domaine Chandon
5 Domaine St. Demetrius
6 Domaine St. George
7 Georges Duboeuf & Son
8 Duxoup Wine Works
9 Edmeades Vineyards
10 Emilia Imports
11 Ernie's
12 Estrella River Winery
13 Far Niente Winery
14 Fenton Acres
15 Fetzer Vineyards
16 Fife Vineyards
17 The Firestone Vineyard
18 Flax Vineyard
19 Folie a Deux Winery
20 Franciscan Vinyards
21 Freemark Abbey Winery
22 Freixenet Sonoma Caves (Gloria Ferrer)
23 French Rabbit
24 Ernest & Julio Gallo Wine Cellars
25 Girard Winery
26 Glen Ellen Winery & Vineyards
27 Goldener Oktober
28 Grace Family Vineyards
29 Great Valley Vintners (Three Oaks)
30 Grgich Hills Cellar
31 Griesedieck
32 HNW Cellars (Louis Honig)
33 Hacienda Wine Cellars
34 Hamilton Estates
35 Heritage Hill Winery
36 Los Hermanos
37 Hidden Cellars
38 William Hill Vineyards
39 Hillside Cellars (Hard Rock Cafe)
40 Inglenook Vineyards/Inglenook-Napa Valley
41 Iron Horse Vineyards
42 Italian Swiss Colony
43 J.A.F. Vineyards (James Arthur Field)
44 Johnson's Alexander Valley Wines
45 Jordan Vineyard and Winery
46 Karly Wines (Karly; Mr. MacGregor's)
47 Kenwood Vineyards
48 Konocti Cellars
49 Charles Krug Wine
3 1 Michael Landis
2 Laurier Vineyards
3 Landmark Vineyards
4 Liberty Belle
5 Long Vineyards
6 de Lorimier
7 Lyeth Vineyards & Winery
8 Maison Deutz
9 Markham Winery
10 Louis M. Martini
11 Mazzocco Vineyards
12 McDowell Cellars
13 Meridian Vineyards
14 Michael's Cellars
15 Mirassou Vineyards
16 Robert Mondavi Winery
17 J.M.Monmousseau
18 Montali
19 Monte Volpe Vineyards
20 Monticello Vineyards
21 Mount St. John Vineyards
22 Mumm Cuvee Napa
23 N.V. Wines
24 Napa Hillside Vineyards
25 Napa Ridge Winery
26 Napa Vintners
27 The Negociants (Red Coleman)
28 Gustave Niebaum Collection
29 Nobilo Vintners Ltd.
30 Norse Vineyards
31 North Coast Cellars
32 Oakville Ranch Vinyards
33 Pahlmeyer
34 Paradise Cellars (La Belle)
35 Parducci Wine Cellars
36 Robert Pecota Winery
37 Pedrizzetti Winery
38 Pellegrini Family Vineyards (Pellegrini; Olivet Lane)
39 Joseph Phelps Vineyards
40 Poplar Vineyards
41 Prager Winery & Portworks
42 Quail Ridge Cellars
43 A. Rafanelli
44 Raimat
45 Raymond Vineyard and Cellar
46 Oliver Rea Winery
47 Redwood Coast Winery
48 Redwood Ridge Ranch
49 River Oaks Vineyards
50 Roddis Cellar
51 Round Hill Vineyards
52 Ruby Hill Vineyards
53 Rutherford Hill Winery
54 Rutherford Ranch Vineyards
55 Rutherford Vintners
4 1 St. Clement Vineyards
2 St. Croix & Cie Inc.
3 Saint Gregory
4 Ste Chapelle Vineyards
5 San MartinVineyards Co.
6 San Micaire
7 Sanford & Benedict
8 Scharffenberger Cellars
9 Schramsberg Vineyard (Sheraton)
10 Sebastiani Vineyards
11 Settler's Creek Winery
12 Shafer Vineyards (Shafer; James Hudson)
13 Charles Shaw Vineyard & Winery
14 Silkwood Cellars
15 Silverado Vineyards
16 Silver Oak Cellars
17 Smith-Madrone Vineyards (Smith Madrone; James David Hudson)
18 Smothers Brothers Wines
19 Souverain
20 Spottswoode Cellars
21 Spring Mountain Vineyards
22 Staglin Family Vineyard
23 Stags' Leap Vintners
24 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
25 Star Hill
26 Stephens Winery
27 Sterling Vineyards
28 Stone Creek Vineyards
29 Stonegate Winery
30 Sunny St. Helena Winery
31 Sutter Home Winery
32 Joseph Swan Vineyards
33 Sycamore Creek Vineyards
34 Taltarni
35 Titus
36 Trefethen Vineyards
37 Tremont Vineyards
38 Trentadue Winery (Proprietors')
39 Tropico Wine Co.
40 Tulocay Winery
41 M.G. Vallejo Winery
42 Villa Armando Winery
43 Villa Mt. Eden Winery
44 Henri de Villamont
45 Las Vinas
46 Mario Vincelli Cellars
47 Vinland Vineyards
48 Mark West Vineyards
49 Wheeler Vineyards
50 Whitehall Lane Winery
51 Widmer Vineyards
52 Wilson/Daniels Cellars
53 The Wine Art Guild
54 Charles Woods Winery
55 Zaca Mesa Winery
56 Zonin

SERIES II: THE MONTERY VINEYARD PRESENTATIONS

5 1 The Monterey Vineyard Drawings
2 The Monterey Vineyard Presentation # 1
3 The Monterey Vineyard Presentation # 2
4 The Monterey Vineyard Presentation # 3
5 The Monterey Vineyard Presentation # 4

SERIES III: SPECIAL PRESENTATION

6 Handmade Special Presentation

SERIES IV: IDEAS FOR LABELS

5 6 Drawings and old labels

SERIES V: NON-WINERY CLIENTS

5 7 Non-winery Client Labels and Calendars
8 Mounted Designs

SERIES VI: COMPANY INFORMATION

5 9 Letterhead, brochure and article

SERIES VII: MISCELLANEOUS

5 10 Miscellaneous; pictures of Mr. Colonna's Yountville store

SERIES VIII: ORAL HISTORY

7 Four audio-cassettes; 2 original, 2 working copies

Ray Mellett, July, 2000


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E-mail: archivescenter@si.edu
Revised: June 19, 2003