Design ideas from California’s wine country
Posted on Monday, April 18th, 2022
Letters are ½-in. black acrylic with copper faces that were allowed to patina naturally. The copper is bonded to the acrylic with thin 12-by-12-in. sheets of double-sided VHB [Very High Bond] adhesive. They’re mounted on overlaid plywood finished with satin black exterior acrylic paint. The thumbprint is gloss black. The base layer is overlaid plywood wrapped with brushed aluminum.
Jim and Tami Lago moved their already-established sign shop from nearby Santa Rosa, California, back to their hometown of Healdsburg in 1990, more or less by accident—right before tourism started to arrive. Tami was born and raised in Healdsburg, and Jim moved there when he was 8 years old, but they felt starting a sign company there in the early ’80s would have been a disaster, so they established it in the much larger Santa Rosa market first.
Back then, Healdsburg was just a sleepy little farm town, with a relatively weak economy, in Northern California’s Sonoma Valley. It was originally known for producing prunes, not fine wines, but in the late 1970s, the California wine industry began to explode and vineyards started to replace plum orchards. It was a town of about 7,000 when Jim and Tami moved home and is currently at around 12,000—and much more when the tourists arrive on the weekends. Santa Rosa, on the other hand, is a city of 180,000 or so.
“When we made the decision,” says Jim, “I told Tami, ‘If we move back to Healdsburg, I don’t know if we’ll still be in the sign business here in five years, but I’ll find something to do.’ Shortly after that, the wine industry really started growing. Now there are well over 400 wineries here… so our business grew right along with it. We established ourselves with winery signage as our niche and we are currently on our 41st