The old adage that “rules are meant to be broken” is something that, for most brands, is easy to say but hard to commit to. For Delinquente Wine Co, this ethos helped it become one of the most recognisable and unique wine labels on crowded bottle shop shelves.

Founded in 2013 by Con-Greg Grigoriou, the unforgettable faces of the tattooed Delinquente characters that adorn the brands labels were not created by ad agency focus groups or developed in detailed business plans. Rather, the labels, and by extension the spirit of the brand, were born from a simple desire to do something truly unique, and to let art and creativity shine.

Using Southern Italian grape varieties grown in South Australia’s Riverland region – where Con-Greg was born and raised – this concept was never anything that an established company would be able to embrace. “The Riverland is a region that no one cares about, and in Australia at that time, the varieties I was making were unknown; most people could not pronounce them” says Con-Greg. “With no dependants, no money, and no investors or anyone to please but ourselves, it gave us a completely blank canvas to create something truly artistic and fun.”

To achieve this vision, Con-Greg hired friend and artist Jay Koen to develop the brand and labels. “I still joke that Jay is the biggest delinquent I know, so he was a no-brainer to come up with the label artwork. The only brief I gave him was to go wild – and I don’t want it to look like a wine label”.

Everything about the labels is unique and detailed; from the faces and tattoos, to the bespoke, hand drawn typeface, to the wavey diecut. With names like “Screaming Betty” and “Tuff Nutt”, each character and their peculiar back stories sew together a larger tale about the Delinquente brand and its values. The artwork, which also spans across the website, online animations, printed merchandise – even a comic book – add layers to a broader story about independence, resistance, and justice.

While initially quite a confronting sight for the old guard and buyers in wine shops and restaurants, many of whom were skeptical about a brand so removed from the norm – at the end of the day, it was the juice inside the bottle that did all the talking. “We work with small, organic and biodynamic farmers, who grow incredible quality grapes. We vinify with wild yeast and allow the true expression of the variety and vineyard to shine. The wines are straight up refreshing and delicious – with out that quality, the brand would be nothing,” says Con-Greg. 

With summer approaching, now is the perfect time to crack a bottle of fruit forward, fizzy pet nat, or salty, textural Vermentino, and embrace the spirit of Delinquente – carving a new path, doing what’s right, and never trying to fit in. Grab some at Clapton Craft, D-Vine Cellars, ParchedYield or Park Fever.