The Best Wine Labels Capture Attention and Reflect Brand

Photo Credit: Sara Nelson Design (saranelsondesign.com)

By: Gerald Dlubala

A wine bottle is more than just a vessel that gets wine into the hands of consumers. The wine inside that bottle reflects the winemaker, providing a story of their life and their passion. It creates an identity and image for the wine that becomes the brand. Creating a label that is reflective of these components is important for both the winemaker and the consumer. There are many options out there, whether purchasing the labels from a printer, going paperless, printing them in-house or a combination, each with advantages and uses. One thing stays consistent when considering a label—it needs to reflect the brand and image the winemaker believes in while also attracting the shelf-surfing eye of the consumer.

Professionally Printed Designs are Limitless

  “A label designed to grab attention on the shelf is the name of the game, and that’s what we do best,” said Katie Harrington, Marketing Manager of Blue Label Packaging Company in Lancaster, Ohio. “The sky is the limit regarding wine labeling, and that presents an incredible opportunity for wine producers. We know that the labels are what grabs the consumer’s attention and encourages them to pick the bottle up. There are so many ways to do that now, that it’s only up to the imagination as to what comes through our door.”

  “With the flexibility in budgets that we see from wineries, there are endless options, even for small runs,” said Harrington. “Self-adhesive and pressure sensitive labels are the most common in the wine industry, and we can always help the winemaker with sizing needs based on what they want to do, how they want to do it and how they apply the labels.”

  After that, the choices are endless, starting with a choice between standard traditional paper labels through increasingly sturdier estate paper selections. Paper labels are still the most widely used in the industry, and because there are multiple types and combinations of paper to choose from, winemakers have a bit of an advantage when not having to keep their wines refrigerated.

  “Paper textures with a linen or cobblestone feel are examples of great bases for eye-catching designs,” said Harrington. “The interesting thing is we’ve actually found that a label’s texture or combination of textures is at least equally as important as the design itself in establishing brand and product identity.”

  The bevy of options carries on through label design as well.

  “With new clients, we’re here to listen and then show you the possibilities regarding textures, color choices, design types and enhancements like die cuts, embossing, foil stamping, double-sided printing or a combination of any of these and more,” Harrington said. “It really is exciting as to what can be done, and then there are options for almost every step along the way as well. If you are interested in foil stamping but your budget doesn’t allow it, we can actually simulate that sheen and label pop by doing things a little different with a combination of color blocking and our translucent inks. Some winemakers choose to be unique with variable imaging, where every single label is different but themed or connected in some way. For example, we’ve had labels printed with each label featuring different sections of a map or different pictures that are all related and connect with their brand or image. And we’ve all seen the labels with printed codes so that the consumer can scan them and get information on the wine, winery, winemaker or whatever message the winemaker wants to pass along. Codes can also be added for tracking or origination purposes if needed. And if desired, finished labels can be coated with a UV varnish to protect the label from damage during shipping or to add texturized appearance like a gloss, satin or matte finish.”

  Harrington told The Grapevine Magazine that Blue Label Packaging uses HP Indigo printers and can attain the entire color spectrum using their four or seven color units, making color choices endless. Unlike many label designers and printers, Blue Label does everything in-house. There is no outsourcing because of labor-intensive or highly technical functions that need to be incorporated.  

  “Label designs have become a very important marketing tool for winemakers, and the trends have shown some interesting choices and patterns,” said Harrington. “There is a prevalence in adventuresome packaging, with winemakers choosing to either go very minimalistic—using just one base color or a foil to distinguish their brand and leave the wine to provide the experience—or to go all out with the most ornate and design loaded label possible. They’ll use several passes on the same label for layering, coming up with scenes using foil, embossing, special die-cut layers or a combination of options. The labeled bottles are almost too much like art to discard after emptying.”

  Harrington also said that recently, some wineries have begun to embrace labeling practices seen mostly in the brewing industry.

  “One other thing that is just starting is the increased use of the shrink sleeves that are popular in the beer industry. They have their own tamper seal and provide 360-degree coverage, which in the label aspect means 360-degree label printing and decorating availability. Right now, we see it mostly in the small travel packs or four-pack small bottles, but it’s another option.”

Screen Printed Wine Labels Offer Simplicity but take Planning

  Screen-printed labels are a natural transition from paper labels, allowing wineries to get rid of the need to purchase, set up, operate and maintain a labeling machine. Screen printing generally delivers a freshened-up look from original paper label artwork, transposed onto the wine bottle surface. After the bottles are loaded up with ink, they travel through a lehr-type oven, meaning a long kiln with an end-to-end temperature gradient, common in glassmaking production. As the bottle moves along the kiln’s path, the screen-printed label gradually cools, making it durable with no print or color errors or runs.

  The advantage of using screen printed labels is the potential for simplification and added durability. The wine bottle can be used as the background color rather than starting with a colored paper background. Although screen printing can generally handle up to 10 colors, including pricier precious inks like gold and silver, the average winery uses only two or three, and rarely more than six. Screen printed labels are less likely to be damaged by scuffing or rubbing during transportation and distribution, and refrigeration, humidity or moisture are not as much of a concern as they are with paper labels. Once bottling is underway, the setup and management of the filling process are streamlined by one step since there’s no need to apply labels.

  The disadvantage to screen printing is that it takes additional upfront planning and reliable logistical scheduling to make sure that enough bottles are printed and on location for bottling. Depending on the printer company and the number of bottles to be screen printed, the turnaround date on having bottles shipped out, printed and returned can range from one to three weeks.

Etching Provides Distinction & Elegance

  Bottle etching is a process that delivers a distinctive version of a label or brand image by carving into the bottle’s surface. It can be done on filled bottles because it is a cold process, blasting a very fine silicate, like aluminum oxide, through a series of nozzles to permanently, but gently, engrave the label onto the bottle. Once the label is etched onto the glass surface, paint can be applied to complete a true work-of-art label. The number of passes and color changes the bottle goes through is determined by the complexity of the image.

  Because etching is a labor-intensive and pricey option, it’s generally reserved for special occasions wines. Etched label bottles are great for fundraisers, gifts, wine club memberships, special releases or for display in tasting rooms. They can also be made to commemorate personal milestones like anniversaries, birthdays or wedding party gifts, or winery production milestones like bottles or barrels produced. Etched bottles are kept for their artwork as keepsakes, and, when coupled with matching etched glasses, can make an ordinary occasion elegant and memorable.

Self-Printed Labels for Flexibility and Convenience

  Printing labels in-house offers the ultimate in flexibility and is a quality option for wineries that have multiple small runs with different products or like to change their label design or type frequently. Smaller run wine producers that prefer an on-demand, do-it-yourself approach to creating labels can do that with the right equipment. Companies like Primera Technology, a leading manufacturer of specialty printers, offer equipment that specifically caters to wineries that want or need to print their labels in-house. The printers are operated and controlled from a PC or laptop and are compatible with both Windows and Mac environments.

  Machine costs run the spectrum based on what the winery wants to do and how fast it needs it done but generally start around $1,000. Production from a cartridge of color ink will always depend on the coverage needed for the label. So, as with a budget for a professionally printed label, it’s wise to consider the color choices and design complexity. Circular and nonstandard labels are accommodated by readjusting the print settings. 

  Printing labels in-house is an advantage for wineries that need label changes quickly or frequently produce specially bottled wines for private or public functions, seasonal specials, corporate gifts or any event requesting specialized labeling.

Southbrook Vineyards: Living a Sustainable Mantra

By: Alyssa Andres

Many wineries are starting to move toward more sustainable practices, not only because it’s ethical but also because it results in a superior product. The term sustainable could include the transition to organic winemaking and vineyard operations, the use of less water and energy, or the utilization of recycled materials in production. Southbrook Vineyards in Canada’s Niagara Peninsula has taken the concept of “sustainable” and designed their entire operation around it. From the vineyard to the winemaking to the design of their tasting room, Southbrook has made it their mission from day one to have as little impact on the surrounding environment as possible. They’ve even coined themselves Canada’s most thoughtful winery.

  Southbrook has pursued the goal of sustainability from the start. Owner, entrepreneur and wine connoisseur, Bill Redelmeier, always believed in the idea of a sustainable winery. Since establishing Southbrook in 2005, he set out to make it as low impact as possible. Redelmeier’s goal was to provide an example of what was possible in Ontario and back it up with certification. Starting as a 75-acre plot in Niagara-on-the-Lake, by 2008, Redelmeier had expanded his vineyard property to 150-acres. By 2010, Southbrook Vineyards became the first winery in Canada to be completely certified organic, biodynamic and sustainable in both its vineyard and winemaking practices. 

  Being organic and biodynamic, the winery does not use any synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizer, bioengineering or genetically modified organisms. Instead, they use an all-natural approach in the vineyard, emphasizing the relationship between the plants, soil and wildlife, and treating them as a single living entity. This low impact method of viticulture focuses on nourishing the soil and the surrounding environment.

For soil fertility, the winery relies on sheep fed with organically grown hay. They do not rely on irrigation at all. They use specially prepared composts, incorporate their own blend of herbal teas into the soil, and align their farming activities with lunar energy in an attempt to interfere with the natural environment as little as possible.

In 2008, the 75-acres of Southbrook Vineyards became certified by Demeter, the international body that oversees biodynamic agriculture, joining the elite ranks of other prestigious Demeter certified wineries, including Benziger Family Wineries in California and Domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace. The winery believes the result of these biodynamic practices is beautiful, vibrant wine that is a true expression of its terroir.

  Not only is Southbrook biodynamic and organic, their tasting room and winemaking facility are also designed to be as green as possible. Southbrook is certified sustainable “from soil to shelf” by Sustainable Winemaking Ontario, an organization that inspects every aspect of a winery’s operation from viticulture and water management to energy use. The facility is the first winery in the world to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Award for its design.

  It’s no wonder they were awarded this designation; Southbrook’s entire operation was designed with these standards in mind. The process started with sourcing as many materials as possible from local businesses and using as many recycled materials as possible in the design. The building is made from 15% recycled materials, with 20% of the construction material manufactured within 800 km of the site. The winery used all of the excavated soil during its build elsewhere on the vineyard. They even enacted an extensive program during construction to separate waste materials from construction waste, maximizing recycling and minimizing trips to the landfill.

  The building itself was built to be as efficient as possible. Designed by renowned architect Jack Diamond of Diamond and Schmitt Architects, the building utilizes features like large insulated glass windows to trap warm air and provide excellent natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting. The winery staff enjoys 95% natural light in their work areas as a result of these windows, shaded from the sun by a large overhang to minimize heat. The outdoor lights of the building shine downward to reduce light pollution and avoid the risk of affecting migratory patterns of birds in the area.  The reflective roof reduces heat radiation into and off the building, which, in turn, reduces dependency on electricity and minimize the impact on the environment.

  The winery also does not operate on the town’s sewage line. They treat wastewater onsite through a wetland filtration system and then disperse this purified water back into the ecosystem. They utilize low flow fixtures inside and outside of the facilities, and they added a bioswale, which uses native wetland plants to break down pollution in the rainwater that drains from the parking lot and driveway. By the time the water flows back into the town’s municipal system, it is entirely potable.

  Outside its property, Southbrook maintains 15-acres of untouched forestland surrounding the vineyard specifically for wildlife and uses “natural buffer zones” within the winery property to ensure that the local flora and fauna still have a space to thrive. The winery is certified bee-friendly and hosts beehives onsite to encourage the pollination of local orchards as well as the production of honey, which the winery sells on their website. They have planted native wildflowers on the property to encourage bees, butterflies and other crucial pollinators to visit. They have even made homes on the property for birds and small flying mammals, such as bats, to take up residence and naturally control pest problems in the vineyards.

  It doesn’t stop there. Southbrook applies the same principles to their production line, utilizing lightweight bottles made in Ontario from 85% recycled materials. The process costs a premium compared to going with a large scale international supplier. Still, Redelmeier believes, in order to live his sustainability mantra, he has to put his money where his mouth is and make decisions for the better of the planet and not his pocketbook.

  Even after becoming certified sustainable, achieving LEED Gold status and gaining an international reputation for its biodynamic practices, Redelmeier continues his mission to improve his winery’s impact on its surroundings.

In 2017, Redelmeier teamed with an Ontario-based engineering firm and Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro to figure out how to further drive down Southbrook’s overall energy consumption. He decided to install 432 solar panels on the winery property, and, as a result of this effort, has cut down the winery’s electrical use by 80% since opening. The winery uses the energy it needs from these solar panels and redistributes what it doesn’t use back into the grid in exchange for a credit that it can redeem in the colder winter months. It is Ontario’s first winery net metering project, and Redelmeier predicts the project will pay for itself by 2024, further proving what is possible for businesses in Ontario.

  Taking this notion one step further, Redelmeier has created his own registered Natural Health Product using the leftover organic red grape skins the winery would otherwise discard. The product, called Bioflavia because it is rich in bioflavonoids, is high in antioxidants and can be added to smoothies, yogurts and cereals. It is available for sale on the winery’s website along with their line of mustards, jellies and sparkling apple juice. The winery also partners with local Linc Farm to offer grass-fed lamb and beef, forest raised pork and free-range eggs to the public. They continue to form partnerships with like-minded local businesses, encouraging their community to grow in the right direction. 

  Redelmeier believes we all have a responsibility as individuals, consumers and business owners when we make decisions, and we should choose companies and products that align with our overall values. When we support these businesses, we make a statement and set an example for others. It is our responsibility to choose companies that have ethical values in order to help our environment and preserve it for future generations. Redelmeier has gone to every extent to keep this in mind and make impactful decisions while building Southbrook Vineyards. The result has been positive. Southbrook won the InterVin International Wine Awards “Winery of the Year” in 2012, and since then has continued to wow crowds with everything from their Bourdeaux-style blends to their wild fermented ciders and Chardonnays. The company continues to expand its portfolio, winning more awards and accolades each year for creating an outstanding product.

  Southbrook is an incredible example of what is possible in sustainability within the wine industry. They have taken no shortcut along the way to creating an entirely low-impact business model and have stood by their sustainable mantra from vineyard to barrel to bottle. By partnering with like-minded local businesses, they support, benefit and encourage positive growth within their community. They even encourage local wildlife to flourish within their property. Redelmeier continues to search for new, innovative ways to reduce his impact on the environment and lead the way in the world of sustainable business models. That is why Southbrook really is Canada’s most thoughtful winery.

Pricing Strategies to Maximize Profit in the B.C. Wine Market

By: Briana Tomkinson

Mass-market Canadian wine producers like Arterra and Constellation Brands have something most family-run boutique wineries don’t: teams who use insights from sales data to optimize their pricing strategies.

  Smaller wineries who don’t have the expertise, staff or time to do this tend to price based on intuition. According to British Columbia wine pricing consultant Lindsay Kaisaris, many bou-tique wineries are unknowingly leaving a lot of money on the table.

  “The hardest thing to do when you make something with your hands is to price accordingly,” Kaisaris said.

A few cents can make all the difference

  When the wine is flying off the shelf, it’s a good sign people love your wine. Yet selling out too fast can actually be bad for your brand. Smaller wineries in this situation can increase prices by a few dollars to strategically slow sales velocity, Kaisaris said, and sell out at the appropriate time—just before the next year’s release.

  On the other hand, when a wine isn’t selling well, many smaller wineries will offer a discount of a few dollars to try and clear out inventory. In some cases, adjusting the wholesale price by just a few cents can make a drastic difference in how well a wine sells.

  In British Columbia, most wine retailers like to work on a 30% margin. A wine that wholesales at $15, for example, would retail around $20—a “dead” price for a bottle of wine. Most con-sumers are either looking to buy a wine for less than $20, or looking to spend a few bucks more. Even though it is only a penny less, wine sales trends show that the majority of consum-ers prefer to buy a $19.99 bottle of wine or a $21.99 bottle of wine.

  “No one wants to buy a $20 wine,” Kaisaris said. “A couple of dollars makes a big difference on the shelf.”

  By reducing the wholesale price from $15 to $14.39, Kaisaris said, it gives the retailer more room to set the price at $18.99, which would make the wine stand out next to the $19.99 bot-tles on the shelf.

  Lowering the wholesale price by a few cents isn’t the only way to put your wine into a more favorable price category on the shelf. In one case, after analyzing sales numbers and the com-petition on the shelf, Kaisaris advised a client to increase the price instead. Sales of the wine had been stagnant at $44.99, but when the retail price increased to $49.99, the wine sold out.

  Kaisaris recommends doing a careful competitive audit of the other wines in your category, and price strategically so that your wine isn’t crowded out by too many similar ones at the same price.

Vary the Price of Your Wines

  Another common mistake smaller wineries make is to price all their wines close to the same value, Kaisaris said.

  If your winery has five or 10 different wines, try marketing at least one at a lower “entry-level” price point, and one at a more premium price. That allows customers to compare prices and select a wine that feels more or less expensive.

  If a winery has seven labels all priced between $20 to $28, the price point can alienate a new customer who is looking for something more economical, and yet won’t be expensive enough to attract a customer aiming for a “special” bottle. Kaisaris recommended decreasing the price of the cheapest bottle so it retails just under $20, and increasing the cost of the most expen-sive bottle to ensure there is at least one premium label above $30.

  Another pricing trick wineries can use to increase sales is to bundle wines, rather than discount them. For example, three $25 wines could be sold as a package for $65 instead of $75.

  “You’ve discounted, but it’s not quite as evident. You might have hit a price that is more com-petitive, but you haven’t shown everyone that you’ve taken $5 off the bottle, so you can con-tinue to offer in singles at the higher price,” said Kaisaris. 

Carefully Monitor Sales Volume in Different Channels

  It’s common in British Columbia that restaurant sales of white wine spike in summer and drop off towards the fall as the weather cools. At that point, it makes more sense for wineries to shift their sales efforts for white wine to retail stores. 

  “If you can do that in mid-September instead of waiting until November, you can beat your competition, who’s trying to do the same thing, without having to discount the price,” Kaisaris said. “Stop selling to restaurants then, and let them know your product will no longer be avail-able after that date. Then you can load it into stores for the Christmas season.”

  The biggest season for wine sales is fall, during October, November and December. That’s when savvy wineries try to get a lot of product in stores and offer incentives to sweeten the deal for restaurants to push wine for Christmas parties and New Year’s Eve bashes. Yet often, the big guys get there before the smaller wineries have a chance to start.

  “The small guys have already lost sales velocity in restaurants and then failed to capture the extra sales in retail over that two-month holiday period,” said Kaisaris. 

  Since the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Board establishes retail prices based on a fairly consistent markup, some boutique local and international wineries have made the strategic decision not to sell through provincially owned liquor stores. This allows wineries to set a price that is more profitable for restaurants and privately owned liquor stores and creates an incen-tive to feature that wine over others with slimmer profit margins. 

  Some larger wineries do both. Oliver-based Tinhorn Creek, for example, is a well-known label at provincially run liquor stores, but also offers some premium varieties at higher price points that are exclusively available at private retailers.

  “These are not things small wineries do, which puts them at a disadvantage,” Kaisaris said.

Tips for Pricing Wine in British Columbia

  According to Big Sage Strategies wine pricing consultant Lindsay Kaisaris, some wine price categories offer more opportunities than others.

  Wine priced in the $20 range sells better than wine priced above $30. If you can, set the wholesale price to make it possible for your $30 wine to be priced at $29.99 or less in-store.

  The mid-40s price point is a dead zone: “$44.99 is neither premium nor mid-range,” Kaisaris said. “At $49.99, it’s benchmarked against flagship wines and seen as a premium bottle.” Wines at this price point might even be placed in a different section of some stores, alongside premium brands.”

  If you’re selling a premium product, price it boldly. If your customer is likely to be shopping for an expensive bottle to give as a gift with a $100 budget in mind, they may actually be more likely to spend $89.99 than $74. “Price elasticity gets wider the higher up you go,” she said.

Carter Creek Winery & Spa Plants Wonderful Nurseries First PD Resistant Vines!

PR For Release: 6/1/20

Jim and Dawn Carter

In helping to lead the defense against PD, Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa, located in Johnson City in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, has just planted more than seven acres of Pierce’s Disease (PD) resistant vines from Wonderful Nurseries. After several years of preparing and working with UC Davis to obtain licensing to sell the vines, Wonderful Nurseries delivered the first batch this spring and will continue to grow these PD resistant vines and supply them to growers throughout the United States.

Caused by the bacterium Xylella Fastidiosa, PD has become a common scourge for grapevines and the grape growing industry at large. Carter Creek winemaker Jon McPherson noted that, as one of the country’s first vineyards to plant the PD resistant vines, a new day may be dawning for growers everywhere in large part due to this transformational breeding project spearheaded by Andy Walker, Ph.D., Genetics, University of California at Davis. “With these new vines, our Texas estate vineyards will now be 100 percent Pierce Disease-resistant,” said McPherson.

CCW_PD Resistant Vines

Wonderful Nurseries, growing one success after another, is proud to play a part in this game-changing industry innovation. These newly planted vines; the Walker Clones of Paseante Noir and Errante Noir are both red grape varieties with ample balance. Offered too are Camminare Noir (red) and two white varieties, Ambulo Blanc and Caminante Blanc.

Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa is a new winery resort in the rolling hills of the Texas Wine Country with tasting rooms, an onsite microbrewery, outdoor event center and 78 guest villas, owned by Carter Hospitality Group, LLC. This is the same team that owns and manages award-winning South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, in Temecula, as well as many other wine and hospitality establishments.

It’s always “Growers First” at Wonderful Nurseries, whether it’s PD-resistant grapevines or any number of industry innovations. For more information call Wonderful Nurseries at (661) 758-4777 or visit their website at WonderfulNurseries.com.

PerCarb® – Dual Mode of Action for Effective Disease Control Management on CA Wine Grapes

EAST HARTFORD, CT – PerCarb is an EPA-registered contact foliar bactericide/fungicide with residual activity designed to treat and control plant pathogens on a wide range of crops. Its formula consists of odorless, sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate granules that provide superb coverage on a crop’s surface. PerCarb kills foliar pathogens on contact while inhibiting fungal and spore development through changes of pH and osmotic pressure of microbial cells. This dual mode of action is especially useful when combating powdery mildew commonly found in vineyards.

PerCarb is also an excellent component of any well-rounded IPM program. For vineyard applications, it is recommended to rotate PerCarb and OxiDate® 5.0 for complete foliar disease control. Both formulas work harmoniously to completely eradicate pathogens, ensuring healthy and flavorful grapes with every harvest.

For any questions or where to find PerCarb in your area, call BioSafe Systems at 888.273.3088.

About BioSafe Systems, LLC

BioSafe Systems, LLC are innovators of environmentally sustainable practices and products since 1998. We provide solutions for protecting crops, water and people. Customers, researchers and regulatory agencies have remained at the forefront of our success and willingness to adapt to the ever-changing world around us. BioSafe Systems is a family-owned company whose products are proudly manufactured in the United States.

 22 Meadow Street
 East Hartford, CT 06108
 Phone: 860.290.8890
 Fax: 860.290.8802
 www.biosafesystems.com  

www.biosafesystems.com