Lowdown Behind HFW’s Label Logo

While a convenient rationale behind the use of a badger in our logo and labels might be that the Hamel family has three generations of alums from the distinguished University of Wisconsin (and one wannabe alum who is also the daughter-in-law, wife, and mother of said three alums), it would also be an oversimplification. Destiny is perhaps a more accurate explanation.

While we were trying to envision the perfect image as a brand for our family business, we encountered the same difficulties within the family that many new businesses do when trying to come up with a name and a distinctive image: a variety of different tastes and opinions, many great names already taken by others, brain-freeze, etc. During the creative process, signs of what was to come began to reveal themselves, even though we initially didn’t see them as such.

While walking in the Mission District of San Francisco on Valentine’s Day in 2010 with middle son John, Pam happened upon a rock store that she felt compelled to visit. Strangely, in addition to rocks, it also had many rare and wild stuffed animals for sale. Pam noticed a familiar looking animal regally posed above the counter. Confirming that it was indeed a badger, she purchased it as the perfect Valentine’s surprise for her husband George. Wanting to surprise him, she placed said badger in the master bedroom WC and closed the door, knowing he was bound to discover it at some point that evening.

The surprise almost backfired when Pam heard a scream and a body hitting the bathroom floor when George arrived home that evening. Thank goodness for the rapid response of the San Francisco EMTs and for the invention of portable defibrillators. Ultimately, stuffed Badger #1, as that gift became known, was the muse that inspired artist extraordinaire Tom Rodrigues’ creation that today adorns the HFW logo and labels. But that is jumping ahead way too quickly in this story, as it had not yet dawned on the family that this badger identity was indeed meant to be.

The family continued to experience creative and legal dead ends in trying to find the perfect image to represent HFW. Even so, what would in hindsight be considered signs or omens continued to appear to the family. One day, George noticed an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that quickly captured his attention due to its interesting subject matter. He found it worth noting, as well as a tad ironic, that badgers reside natively in Sonoma County where the family winery is located, yet are not native to Wisconsin where his affinity for the Wisconsin Badgers first began.

Not too long after that article appeared in the Chronicle, a YouTube clip highlighting a typical day in the life of a honey badger became all the rage and a viral sensation. Still, even with the additional Kevin Bacon-esque overlap of the clip’s narrator being named Randall (the Wisconsin Badgers play football at Camp Randall), the family had not yet realized what would ultimately become a fait accompli.

In the category of “you can’t make this stuff up,” George’s affinity for reading newspapers yielded yet another badger premonition. While in Telluride, Colorado, participating in a wine festival, George noted this story in the local paper about badgers being relocated to the Telluride valley floor. See them in action here:

In addition, Pam also added to the family’s burgeoning collection of stuffed badgers with two additional badgers, including one in an action pose:

While it probably seems obvious to you, our reader, by this point that the family’s badger fate could not be avoided, it had yet to occur to the family. Finally, after what seemed to be months of indecision and disagreement, with deadlines looming, the light went on in John’s head that the only thing that the family seems to agree on consistently and unanimously is an appreciation of all things badger. As soon as he suggested the noble badger as the image to represent the wine business, the family quickly coalesced around it and finally embraced its badger destiny.

Badger Trivia & Quotations

While we’re fairly badger-savvy as a family, we understand that not everyone else is similarly enlightened.  In the spirit of public service then, we invite to you to read on and learn about this unique, tenacious, and wonderfully complex animal:

  • A male badger is a boar, a female is a sow, and a young badger is a cub.  A collective name suggested for a group of badgers is a cete, but badger colonies are more often called clans. Badger dens are called setts.
  • Badgers are capable of fighting off much larger animals such as wolves and bears.  Badgers can run or gallop at up to 16–19 mph for short periods of time.
  • Although rarely eaten today in the United States, badger was once one of the main meat sources in the diets of Native Americans and white colonists.
  • Badgers have been known to become intoxicated with alcohol after eating rotting fruit.
  • Wisconsin became a territorial possession of the United States in 1783 after the American Revolutionary War.  The economy of the territory shifted from fur trading to lead mining.  The prospect of easy mineral wealth drew immigrants from throughout the United States and Europe to the lead deposits located in Wisconsin.  Some miners found shelter in the holes they had dug and earned the nickname “badgers,” leading to Wisconsin’s identity as the “Badger State.”
  • In the Harry Potter books, the official mascot of the Hogwarts house of Hufflepuff is the badger, chosen to represent the Hufflepuff values of hard work, patience, justice, and loyalty.  It is only fitting that this noble animal is featured in both the house’s and the school-wide coats of arms..
  • In Japanese folklore, the badger is a wild creature that sometimes appears as a mischievous being.
  • Walt Disney’s 1973 film Robin Hood, depicts the character of Friar Tuck as a badger.
  • “I beg.  I call.  I badger.” – Katie Couric
  •  “It was irritating to have one’s physical shortcomings pointed out quite so plainly twice in one evening, once by a beautiful girl and once by a dying badger.” – Tom Holt
  • “The badger will roll over on its back and emit a smell of death, which confuses the dogs and lures them in for the traditional ripping and tearing action.  But it is usually the badger who does the ripping and tearing.  It is a beast that fights best on its back:  rolling under the throat of the enemy and seizing it by the head with all four claws.” – Hunter S. Thompson’s obituary for Richard Nixon