storytelling and wine label printing

Before pressure sensitive label technology became widely used in wine label printing, labels were printed using cut and stack – glue applied technology. Over 20 years ago, the options of cut and stack were limited to uncoated papers with traditional emboss, graphics and foil features. Those were the good old days when we used to remove wine labels off bottles after consumption by soaking the bottle in water, or another method. We were very forgiving in those times. Minor flaws in label printing quality were forgiven by winemakers and wine drinkers and perceived mostly as part charm and part old world expression. But now, a new trend is emerging as investments in print technology raise the bar towards perfection and precision in pressure sensitive. Inks are used to raise graphics precisely, in some cases replacing traditional emboss methods and creating a complex sculptured 3D look. Labels are applied with specialty adhesives to help perfectly place the label on the bottle every time. Traditional uncoated papers are being replaced by shimmer, metallic, clear and tinted substrates. For those that are endeared to the old world style label look, a new trend may emerge: design old world charm back into the label graphics (images and text), and allow an area of the label to be easily removed with a deadened perforated area!

So much effort goes into wine packaging, you wouldn’t believe it. When it comes to printing and packaging, it does not take much for a job to go sideways and therefore, the winemaker selects a network of trusted advisors to help him tell his story through packaging. Today, the business of wine labels and packaging in North America has become an international business. For a North American winery, it is not uncommon for the glass bottle to be manufactured in Asia and the closure, design and label printing to come from a far or neighboring state/province. Imagine a winemaker that already wears many hats has to co-ordinate the timing of all these packaging details!

The front label on the wine bottle is the lead storyteller and through an emotional connection with the consumer, engages the consumer and entices her to pick up a bottle off the retail shelf. But once in her hand, it is the back label that reveals the story in more detail, allowing her to emotionally connect to the design and support purchase decision with facts such as terroir, content information or pairing notes. It’s like good storytelling. Stories are best told through words and images. In the case of wine packaging, add back label words to the front label image and the story is told as it was meant to be. Hence, she will most likely make her final purchase decision based on the influence of the storytelling on the back label also. And if the winemaker signed the label, she will be even more likely to buy that bottle, as his signature acts like a stamp of approval, signed by the author.

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