Dalkeith is the passion project of Swartland winemaker, Graham Weerts, who was inspired to craft wines from 50-year-old dryland bush vines. In tribute to the hardiness and robustness of the vine stock, the wine was named for an iconic waterhole in the Kalahari – Dalkeith. Like the waterhole, this wine brings life to the community and creates a sustainable future for all involved. The packaging concept needed to be similarly striking, as rare and captivating as the waterhole that brings life to a very desolate and dry area.
We took our inspiration from the Kalahari Desert, a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa. One of the most interesting Kalahari Desert facts is that it is not a desert in the strictest sense of the word, as it receives too much rainfall – between 5 and 10 inches annually.
However, any rain filters rapidly through the vast expanses of sand, leaving nothing on the surface, turning the Kalahari into the “thirstland”. The name “ Kalahari” is derived from the Tswana word Kgala, meaning “the great thirst”, or Kgalagadi, meaning “a waterless place”.
We wanted to communicate the dry-ness this area experience and the life that the Dalkeith waterhole supports during these dry times.
We took out our sketchbooks out and created a bare abstract artwork that did just that. A watercolour painting was born, one that depicts the wild energy and life force of this unique place. The ruggedness transports wine lovers to this incredible land and captures the remarkableness of aged vines.
To top it all off, we did not use any fancy finishes, no foils, and no varnishes. We kept the label bare, as bare as the place that house the waterhole, Dalkeith.
The execution highlights the contrasts and extremes of Dalkeith: soft watery tones and rough linework, dryness and abundance, new-age wines from aged vines.