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A Very Good Year

(March 2011) posted on Thu Feb 24, 2011

Heritage Trail Vineyards enjoys the fine bouquet of a new sign program.

By Cam Bortz

click an image below to view slideshow

Cam Bortz is proprietor of Finest Kind Signs and Fountainhead Visuals (Pawcatuck, CT).

Over the last few years, numerous wineries and vineyards have opened in our part of Connecticut, and I've been fortunate enough to build signs for several of them. My wife Deb and I discovered Heritage Trail Vineyards in Lisbon, CT just over a year ago -- not long after its purchase by Harry Schwartz, a well-known chef, author and entrepreneur, and his wife, Laurie. They’ve turned Heritage Trail into a destination for food and wine lovers.

After a couple of visits, I realized Heritage Trail needed a serious signage makeover. The primary identity sign, a small, 2 x 3-ft., carved, roadside sign, was faded and tired-looking. Wayfinding on the property, which included signs left over from the previous ownership, also proved inadequate.

Wine and dine design


Harry and Laurie also recognized the need, but, like many busy entrepreneurs, needed some guidance. I stopped by with a brochure, and followed up by emailing a preliminary sketch for a new entrance sign. Last October, I met with them and thoroughly walked the property. We discussed their needs and developed a budget for a complete sign system.

While designing the signs, I accounted for its setting, history and rustic atmosphere. It’s located off a scenic road, which winds through some of eastern Connecticut’s loveliest farmland and forests. Buildings on the property include an 18th Century farmhouse and a 19th Century barn, which are surrounded by mature oaks and maples.

Everything about it speaks of history and tradition, and the signs needed to complement that image and feel. This was no place for plastic, vinyl and digital technology. I quickly decided the entire project would be as low-tech as possible. In other words, time to get out the yardstick, Stabilo pencils, paints and brushes.

Pointing the way

I separated the project into two groups. The primary group involved five major signs. First, I addressed a new, carved roadside sign. Local sign codes limited that sign to 6 sq. ft. Thus, making the side easily readable to passing traffic became a priority.


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