TreeHouse Design Studio




In a crowded wine market like Sonoma, the large players and the humble mom-and-pop vineyards jockey for position within a constant influx of tourists, wine collectors, industry professionals, and party buses celebrating milestone events.

Hydeout Sonoma contacted us to discuss the idea of branding them as well as their sub-brands, Sonocaia and Dysfunctional Family wineries. Owner and well-respected winemaker, Ken Wornick invited Stacey to walk the ranch, meet the big players in the local wine industry and get to know Hydeout’s wines and the people who love them.

Our first order of business was to determine the brand structure, with Hydeout being the ranch, Sonocaia and Dysfunctional being wineries within it, what were they together? A branded house? A house of brands or something else entirely?

What emerged was a plan to have Hydeout fade to the background as a quiet LLC handling the bills while Sonocaia became the Vineyard and Ranch and an estate reserve wine under the same name. Dysfunctional Family became Sonocaia’s quirky cousin, with a more comical and casual countenance but still folding into the ethos of their family-run, ethically-minded vineyard.

The market Ken wanted to reach became more clear as we unfolded the layers of who they are. Comfortably casual to the eye, but deeply passionate about the craft and tradition of making wine. What makes them unique is their unusual choice of estate grown varietal, Sagrantino from Italy, in a region dominated by Pinot, Cabernet and Zinfandel. Ken’s local notoriety for his ability to blend and create these red wines with old world complexity and new world approachability could not be overlooked. Part of this brand was the wine itself and part was the man behind the wine.

Sonocaia is a word Ken made up. Sono - for Sonoma and Caia, the Italian addend to denote a place in the feminine. Our mood board and explorations into creating a mark and brand were challenging as we strove to find a balance between the often stuffy and traditional Italian winery aesthetic and this rugged all-American rancher in cowboy boots riding a motorcycle…

Our deliverables were a brand guide, logos, and accompanying graphic assets and then stationery and the wine labels both wineries would be using in their next bottling. We also created the concept for the website which Rad Web Marketing completed using a winery-specific platform.

Project image 0: Sonocaia Project image 1: Sonocaia Project image 2: Sonocaia