French wine branding and wine label creation

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Customized wine label design and private brand

A product’s design and guidelines are the flagships of a brand. An aesthetic wine label or a strong wine brand ensures to dispose of a distinctive and unique position in a market. In the wine industry, the wine bottle, the label shape and its graphic style are the elements that build the brand’s identity. In addition to that, the cap and cork are also significant elements that can also influence the final bottle aesthetic. Developing innovative wine brands through elegant graphic design will reinforce the brand notoriety and drive sales. However, the regulation on wine labels can appear to be technically complex. In order to create an attractive wine brand while ensuring its competitiveness on the market, it is essential to clearly understand the wine labelling regulation and to master production techniques and constraints.

Legal reminder on wine labelling


Main roles of wine labels

French wine labels have several roles. They have to provide sufficient product information such as its origin, composition, vintage, grape variety and alcohol volume. The way this information are displayed and marketed will allow customers to differentiate a product from another as it will also position the product in its market segment. The displayed information shall be fair and honest in order to encourage a righteous competition between products, to inform customers and to support health safety.

Constituent elements of French wine labels

Vintages, grape varieties and winemaking

Mentions presented on a wine label aren’t all mandatory, but at least they are all following a strict regulation. For instance, being able to display the wine vintage on the label, require to have at least 85% of the wine made from grapes harvested in a same year. Promoting the vine grape names as the wine type requires also that the produced wine includes 85% from a single grape category. Specifying a peculiar blend made from more than two vine grapes require a wine made at 100% of the mentioned wine grapes. The oak ageing can only be displayed on a label if a minimum of 50% of the wine has spent 6 month or more in oak.

Wineries names and notice

Mentions related to the estate’s name, « Domaine », « Château », « Mas » or even « Clos » are earmarked for French wine produced under origin denomination specifications and made only from grapes harvested from the vines owned by the estate and vinified within the walls of the estate itself.

Strict regulation has been established in order to specify any other legal notice needed to be displayed on a French wine label. Even if this regulation differs between wine classified under a denomination of origin and unclassified wine, the labelling must comply with eight mandatory mentions :

Label sale denominations specific to the wine categories

The wine label must display with explicit mention the nature of the wine bottled such as: still wine, fizzy wine or Sparking wine. This mention can be replaced by an AOP or IGP mention on still wines which are designated under a designation of origin.

Alcohol by volume indication on the front wine label and back wine label

The alcohol by volume indication has to be displayed and clearly readable on the front and on the back label to inform consumer about alcohol content present in the wine.

The origin of the wine on the wine label

In addition to the sale denomination, a mention of origin has to be displayed on the wine label. This mention can refer to the national origin or to the community origin of the wine: product of France, wine from France, wine made within the European union.

The volume capacity of the wine bottle

The volume of the wine bottle has to be clearly indicated on the wine label as on various packaging related to the product.

Information related to the production site and the wine bottling company

The production and bottling site name and code have to appear on both, front and back wine labels. The production site’s code refers to a communal and state designation. It is also mandatory that these indications follow the term “Bottle by…”.

Wine label indication for winery producing wine with geographical denomination of origin

When it comes to wine mentioned by origin designation, the bottler’s information notice can come with different terms specific to each European state. If the bottling was made in the estate’s facility, the legal notice “bottle by” can be replaced with “Mis en bouteille au Château” (bottled within the Château). If the bottling is realized within a shared facility the legal notice can be substituted with the terms “mis en bouteille à la propriété”. The legal notice “mis en bouteille dans la zone de production” can be displayed if the wine mentioned by a designation of origin is bottled within the geographical area or at an immediate vicinity of the defined zone. The displayed information on the wine front and back label related to the wine bottler can also be transcribed into a bottling code.

The batch number of the wine

A same batch number is used to define all wine bottles produced in a single series. It could be identified by its letter “L” followed by several numbers that are often laser marked on the bottom of the glass bottle.

Health & safety information to be displayed on the back wine label

Allergens elements which can be found in wine products (often sulfur dioxide) have to be mentioned on the wine’s back label under the legal notice «contains sulfites ». The recycling pictogram and the discouraging pictogram related to alcohol consumption for pregnant women are also mandatory. Sparkling wine products must display their sugar concentration on their label under special mention known as Brut, Sec, Extra-sec and Doux.

Regulation on French organic wines

To be allowed to display organic term or statement several production standard has to be reached. Production specification on organic wine are related to their amount of sulfites used during the production process for example.

Design request for a customized or private wine label

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Sourcing of French wine producer and wine product specificities

Creating French wine brands or private wine labels involve many steps that must be clarified at the beginning of the project. It is crucial to define and source the desired French wine to its selected winemaker or wine merchant. The most convenient way to handle the branding of a wine product is to establish an accurate product specification which will gather every feature involved in the packaging and product development.

Relevance of specifications in the development of a wine brand

Packaging and wine bottles specificities

Cork composition and quality, shape and bottle’s weight, color and design of the cap and label design and printing style will all be related to the desired brand image and identity. Wine brand development or creation of wine label design involves different production schedules which will be specific to every product components and will also imply important production cost (even more for small production volume). The more personalized the product will be the more cost it will imply.

Wine label design

To create a private wine label, it is recommended to rely on specialized design agencies. They will be more aware of regulations and technical requirements related to the wine industry and more experienced to manage budget and production costs. It will be even easier to deal with an agency specialized on wine label creation. Existing papers have to be fully adaptable to the bottle shape, printing techniques and the final rendering of the label has to match with the clients’ requirement. Even more when the specifications include special label shape or printing techniques such as glass serigraphy, varnish, embossing and gilding.

Wine label printing constraints

It is also predictable that professional printer requires accurate printing documents that will follow their own standard. Printings techniques used for wine corks and wine caps will also required to tailor designs and printing documents. Providing conform printing document will not only simplify the entire production process, but it will also avoid production constraints and issues on the final rendering. Using standard components will also help to reduce production risks and will also help the final competitiveness of the product as standard raw material are produced in volume.

Getting support from professional wine brand developer

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Sourcing of raw materials (bottle, cardboard, cork, cap)

Creating an outstanding wine brand will lead to a positive brand identity and improve your product visibility on its market. The creation of customized raw materials and product components can be very costly has it imply feasibility study, the coordination of every production line and the creation of special tools dedicated to the selected printing techniques. Every customized component implies an upstream sourcing of external supplier which also induce quality control operation. If the creation of private wine label is supposed to lead to a long lasting wine brand it will also imply to consider the raw materials stocks needed and how to manage them.

Selection of a compatible bottling line

Sourcing raw material which will be fully compatible to the bottling line is crucial. Working with a professional is therefore very important as they will be able to master the whole process from design to production while managing production costs and schedule. Moreover, wine label design agency will be able to handle important amount of request while considering product constraints and thus provide advice, extended customer services, shorter lead time at competitive rates.