Label Basics

Required Information on ANY label

  • ·        Name and Address
  • ·         Net contents
  • ·         Sulfite Declaration (if levels are greater than 10 parts per million)
  • ·         Alcohol Content (percentage)
  • ·         Color Ingredient Disclosure
  • ·         Country of Origin (imports only)
  • ·         Health Warning Statement

Required Information on a BRAND label

  • ·         Brand Name
  • ·         Appellation of Origin
  • ·         Class or Type designation
  • ·         Percentage of Foreign Wine (if applicable)

All of these requirements must be displayed on your label in a font size 2mm or larger for any container larger than 187ml.  Recent movements are pushing for the inclusion of other information such as gluten content and allergen statements, nutritional content and serving sizes.  The TTB has hinted that these mandates could be in place as early as 2024.  Such a directive would mean that even more information will be required in the same amount of space!

Fortunately the graphics used on a label are pretty much up to the winery, as long as the TTB does not consider them to be misleading.  This brings us to the creative aspect of wine labelling.  How can you stand out while still following all these requirements and “must haves”?  We suggest you open up to the endless possibilities of 360 design space:

Glass Printing – Lose the glue!  Get a creative and colorful look that begs to be held in the store by switching to a colorful UV Ink printed label.  Print labels are durable and stand out on the shelf amongst the sea of paper squares. Reverse print, frost effects and even glow in the dark inks can be used to create a visually stunning presentation vessel for your hard-won product.

Shrink Sleeve Labels – Utilize all 360 degrees of label space to sell your product.  Sleeved bottles are immune to spillage on the fill line, reducing waste.  Sleeves come in an endless selection of colors and finishes and can have tactile elements incorporated as well. If you like the idea of saving time on the filling line with ready-to-fill bottles then this option may be just the thing for you!

Tips for creating a new label:

It is easy to get excited about a new brand or label design, but you should always get your label approved before spending the money to print or create it!   Modifications after production will be unsightly or costly.

Make a plan.  Do you want to tell a story? Send a message or just be noticed on the shelf?  Think about the goals of your brand or product and make sure your design direction helps you reach that goal.  Planning also means collaborating with your packaging supplier well in advance to maximize savings and ensure your label will work with all of your packaging components.

If you plan to match a closure or capsule to a color element in your label, you should choose the closure first!  Closures and capsules can take longer to produce than labels, and you want to be sure the color you desire is available.  It will be easier to match colors in a printed label to an existing capsule color than the other way around.

Consider how elements of your label will be incorporated into other aspects of your total package.  Customization of closures using the same graphics that are on the label, or using same fonts and colors on your outer cartons can help to tie it all together.  Successful partnering of package elements like closures and outer packaging help complete the look and enhance brand perception.

It is important know that there may be state directed requirements in addition to or separate of the TTB requirements.  Be sure to check the labeling guidelines for your state.

Definitions (with Examples as pertaining to labeling)

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) :  bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury, which regulates and collects taxes on trade and imports of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms within the United States.  This organization monitors and regulates sellable wine labeling.

American viticultural Area (AVA) :  a type of appellation specific to grape wine. It is a defined grape-growing region having a name, distinguishing features, and a delineated boundary.  AVA can only be used if 85% of grapes are from that area.  Estate AVA can only be claimed if BOTH the winery and the vineyard are within the AVA boundaries.

Appellation (Origin):      The geographic area in which the fruit or other agricultural product was grown. Using an appellation of origin on your label also indicates that the wine meets certain production requirements. Information requiring appellation includes:

  • ·         Vintage date – to use this  85% must be from that year’s harvest
  • ·         Varietal designation
  • ·         Type designation of varietal significance
  • ·         Semi-generic designation
  • ·         “Estate bottled” claim
  • ·         Product name qualified with the word “brand”

Class:    Example: Grape wine – Wine produced by the normal alcoholic fermentation of the juice of sound, ripe grapes (including restored or unrestored pure condensed grape must), with or without the addition, after fermentation, of pure condensed grape must, and with or without added grape brandy or alcohol, but without other addition or abstraction except as may occur in cellar treatment.

Fanciful name: (or “sell name”) is an optional additional name or phrase that is added to on a product label and may help to further identify a product.  Several sell names may be associated with a single brand name.

Grapes: to list a single grape, 75% of grapes used in production must be that specific grape

Type:     Example: Red wine – Grape wine identified by color.

Vineyard:  to use name of vineyard, 95% of grapes used must be from that vineyard

References / Resources:

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