Wine Labels:

Catch the Eye and Excite the Palate  

By: Cheryl Gray    

In many ways, a label is the signature finish to any bottle of wine. Just like wine, creating wine labels requires a devotion to the craft. 

Whether pre-printed, embossed or etched, winery labels involve much more than a name and a logo. Experts say there are several factors to consider, everything from the temperature sensitivity of the paper stock used to the texture of the actual label.  

Express Labels

  Express Labels brings more than 25 years of experience to its customers whose wineries depend upon its multiple applications for digital and flexographic label solutions to put a successful marketing image on their winery products. The company has clients in the United States and Canada, servicing not only wineries and vineyards but also manufacturing, food and beverage, grocery and craft beer. With locations in Washington, Colorado, Indiana and Florida, its four strategically placed facilities are equipped with the latest technology designed to meet customer demands. Marketing Director Debbi Ulmer, a marketing industry expert with 25 years of experience, told The Grapevine Magazine how Express Labels helps its winery clients make their products stand out.  

  “We offer a nearly unlimited combination of inks, stocks and finishes, but our primary differentiator is us: our capability, capacity, and competency. With many of our winery customers, the ability to stand out amongst the ever-growing competition is nearly as important as the ingredients in the wine. We have noticed that many request ‘hot-stamped’ labels to create a foil, shiny appearance on the label’s art,” said Ulmer. “We have several cost-effective alternatives to this to achieve a similar, if not more creative, look and feel. Foil simulation is one example. Using a foil stock, you can manipulate the look of the art to create any color of metallic using ink over the foil. For instance, you can create bronze by using brown ink over silver foil stock. Couple that with a soft touch or matte lamination for a high-end look that will be sure to catch a shopper’s eye.”   

  One of those eye-catching techniques is embossing, which Express Labels offers. The process achieves an engraved effect for the wine bottle label by embossing key areas of the art to make it appear as engraved.   

  Craig Harrison is Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Express Labels with a quarter-century of industry knowledge. He said that when it comes to selecting paper stock and printing wine bottle labels, experience matters.

  “We highly recommend consulting with your label manufacturer to ensure you’re using the best label stock based on the wine. For instance, red wine may not require the same stock as a white that needs to be chilled or exposed to ice and water. In the case of chilled white wine, we would recommend a beverage grade stock to ensure the label stays in place while being stored and served,” said Harrison. “We do not recommend attempting to use a laser or other desktop printer. To ensure you’re using the best label available, you will want to print your labels through a trusted printing partner, such as Express Labels, to protect your wine and your brand’s reputation.”  

  Maryland’s Olney Winery is an Express Labels client and relies upon that kind of experience, along with competitive pricing, when ordering labels for more than 65 different varietals of wine. Managing Member and Owner Joe McCall told The Grapevine Magazine that his winery generates about 150,000 bottles of wine each year. He explained why the right labeling could make the difference in consumer choice.  

  “The quality of our wine labels is extremely important. In a competitive market, sometimes it is our label that becomes the determining factor as to whether a consumer chooses our wine or not when they purchase their wine off a store shelf. Both the design and the quality of the printing of the label are critical.”

  Olney Winery uses adhesive-backed full-color labels, which are applied to the bottle by the winery’s automated bottling machine.   

Orion Labels

  Experience is also the trademark of Orion Labels, a family-owned business established in 2003 and headquartered in Seymour, Wisconsin, just outside of Green Bay. The company, whose team of employees has more than 100 years of industry experience, specializes in manufacturing pressure-sensitive, glue applied, cut and stack labels, along with specialty products. While about 80% of its clientele are concentrated in the Midwest, Orion Labels also has an international presence with clients as far away as Hong Kong. Its customers represent the food and beverage, cosmetics, health and beauty, and pharmaceutical industries. 

  Dave Bradish is Director of Sales and Minority Owner of Orion Labels. With 30 years in the paper and packaging industries, Bradish knows well that working closely with clients makes a difference in how wine bottle labels are created and delivered.

  “In a world where everyone has a lot of the same printing equipment, what sets Orion Labels apart is our collaborative nature. We work directly with our clients, listen to what they need, and create timely, cost-effective solutions. At the end of the day, our difference is that we take the time up front to listen and deliver labels that add value to our customers’ products.” 

  Bradish told The Grapevine Magazine that one of the advantages of adhesive labels is that you can print several SKUs in small quantities and do it cost-effectively. Another benefit is that the label dispensing equipment is easy to manage. There are also options for what materials wineries can use to achieve different looks or images for their wine bottle labels.  

  “It’s not really about the best paper stock. It’s about what the customer wants,” said Bradish. “Most companies start using estate paper, but there’s also metalized paper, films, and other materials, depending on what your goal is. The possibilities are endless. There’s a material for whatever you want to do.” 

  Orion Label’s team takes advantage of its collective century-plus years of experience by relying upon that broad knowledge base. This includes knowing how to get the best product from the latest technology.  

  “When it comes to equipment, we are more followers than innovators. However, while we have some incredibly versatile equipment – including a hybrid digital press that allows us to do some pretty amazing things, Orion Labels’ true innovation is our experienced staff. They know how to get the most out of our equipment and are great to work with,” Bradish said. 


  Innovation and customer service are also a priority at Evermine, a family-owned eCommerce company based in Portland, Oregon. In 2000, co-owner Jeanne Williamson came up with the idea of going beyond just making special labels for her homemade Christmas jam. She and her husband David worked out of a spare bedroom to launch their company website. The result was an online presence with an initial focus on providing creative labeling for home-crafters and canners. 

  Since then, Evermine has grown to 20 employees and has broadened its services to include personalized custom sticker labels for special events such as weddings, birthdays and the like. The company is also building an expanding client base in home breweries, kitchens and business product labeling. Travis Rees, Customer Service and New Clients Manager, told The Grapevine Magazine how Evermine’s versatility allows it to meet clients’ needs, no matter how large or small the order.   

  “Because we can do quantities of as little as six labels or as many as 600,000, we can grow with you as your needs expand. Over the years, we’ve added many other product offerings including hang tags, coasters, personalized stationery (invitations, holiday cards, thank you cards, etc.) and packaging.”  Rees said that the company’s client base stretches across the globe.

  “We have had customers on six continents, and we can service about 200 countries. Canada, Australia and the UK are our most frequent. But we have regular customers in the Middle East, Asia and the rest of Europe as well.”

Etching Expressions  

  California-based Etching Expressions began in the 1990s, creating custom labels for personalized wine gifts for fraternities and sororities at San Diego State University. The company specializes in sandblasting, which etches a design deep into the wine bottle glass. Marketing Director Kirsten Elliott explained the intricate process performed by highly skilled artisans.

  “The most unique thing that we do is specialize in deep etching and hand painting designs directly into the glass. The wine bottles are sandblasted by our experienced technicians. A mask is applied to the bottle to protect the areas that will not be carved, yet allowing abrasive material to come through and etch the glass. Sandblasting is a precise skill, and there is no room for errors. In addition to etching, we also offer digital printing on pre-cut, high-gloss polypropylene labels.”

  Whether handcrafted or digitally produced, creating wine labels is a process with a universal goal – to attract a consumer’s eye and entice that consumer’s palate through the imagery that only a finely crafted label can evoke. 

Email This Post Email This Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *