Check out my written contribution in issue #11 of Edible SLO
(Harvest Issue, August–December 2015)


One extremely crucial element in creating wine is relaying the story behind the product to the end-consumer: the inspiration behind the blend, the unique terroir that influences the flavors, the specific production methods used, the history of the vineyard. Enter: Sarah Berger & Garrett Deiter, Co-Founders of Makers & Allies. This creative duo is crushing it (wine pun definitely intended) in very a different way. Makers & Allies is an award-winning design and branding studio located in San Luis Obispo producing branding, packaging, spaces, and experiences exclusively for the wine, craft, and spirits industry. 

Sarah Berger, a Minneapolis-transplant found herself in love with the Central Coast of California on a road trip from San Francisco, through Big Sur, en route to San Luis Obispo. Originally an Architecture major at Cal Poly, she quickly realized that it was too rigid for her personality and opted to major in Art instead. “The Art program focused mostly on composition, color, texture, paint, aesthetics. I think very three-dimensionally—I think in space and I think in color.” As a self-taught graphic designer, Sarah started her freelance career as a one-woman show, as work began to grow it naturally lead to the decision to take things to the next level teaming up with Garrett Deiter to launch Makers & Allies in early 2014. “Garrett is very entrepreneurial, he has always known that he has wanted to own his own business...That has always been a very important goal of his.” Garrett, also a Cal Poly alumn (Art & Design Department), started his career running design teams at various design studios and creative agencies before officially joining forces with Sarah to launch their own breed of creative company. Coupled together—Garrett’s design mind with Sarah’s fine art mind—the two have woven a tight-knit team of talented creatives, have launched over 45 brands and released over 2 million bottles into the wild in the past year and a half.

Many SLOcal winemakers, wineries (and brewers and distillers) are now turning to them and their small-but-mighty team to help bring their wine stories to life. They do everything from brand naming, brand concepting, and brand strategy to bottle label design and packaging. “Our mission is to enable artisans to tell their story,” says Garrett. Their take on storytelling and design is artsy, edgy, provocative, bold, surprising, gusty, striking, fresh, impactful—always attention-grabbing and always head-turning.

When asked about what wine project was currently getting their own creative juices flowin’, they simultaneously shouted, “We are really excited about putting wine in a can!” Yup, wine in a can, folks. We are all well-versed in bottled wine and boxed wine—but wine in a can?! Now, that’s a new one! “We are all about new ways to package wine!” they exclaim. These two are always pushing the unconventional boundaries of how wine should be presented and consumed; and in turn are reaching out to a whole new audience that these wineries weren’t previously able to capture.

Their services don’t stop there, they also offer: space planning, interior rendering, interior design, exterior design, lighting design, signage design, and web design for restaurants, breweries, and wine tasting rooms. Around town, their most notable work is Foremost Wine Co.’s lavish, intricate, moody interiors and ornate punchy lime green print collateral. Around the County, their most noteworthy tasting room to date is Tooth & Nail’s amazingly dramatic, grandiose castle perched in Paso Robles. Next up, they are working on the tasting rooms of GREY (formally Grey Wolf Cellars) and Ancient Peaks, so stay tuned!

When tackling each project, Sarah and Garrett always make it a priority to connect with clients on a personal level. “A lot of inspiration is drawn from actually tasting the products, listening to the maker, and talking about their inspiration and their story—we find something very detailed and then build out from there,” says Sarah. It’s interactions like these that collectively propel creativity and generate brainstorm sessions of experimental ideas. These conversations and mutual respect for each other’s craft enable Makers & Allies to tell distinctive stories, create memorable brands, and push limits in the wine industry.

Interested in working with Makers & Allies? View their complete portfolio at www.makersandallies.com.

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