Monday, November 26, 2007

Finding a Label, continued...

Once we finally have our wine label, that’s when the real work starts. Everything you see on a label – from the government warning to the alcohol percentage and use of the word “estate” – is regulated down to the millimeters in size the type must be. For example, it's even specified that the words “GOVERNMENT WARNING” must be in capital letters. Even the winery address you put on the back label (which is the front label to the government – long explanation) has a set format and type size. It’s an amazingly complicated piece of paper. And that’s just designing it.

Once you’re finished with design, you have to send the label for approval with the TTB – the government arm that oversees the alcohol business. If all of the above regulations aren’t met, they send it back for revisions. They can also reject the label because of design. It isn’t unheard of for a label with “racy content” to be rejected. (I don’t really think we’ll have that problem as there's really nothing about our family that screams “tastefully drawn nudes.”)

Anyway, once your label is approved, it must be sent to the printer to be put onto rolls – most wine labels are essentially a sticker now. Then, they have to go to your bottling line, where you can finally apply them to the bottle. And now that your wine is labeled and ready to sell, it’s also taxable. (Read: cut several checks to several agencies.)

I did hear a fellow wine industry colleague utter a saying that seems appropriate after working through processes like this. It went something like: “I swear this industry is way too confusing. You’d think we were selling illegal drugs or baby car seats, not fermented grapes in a glass container. –expletive—.”

Well said.

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