Hard Cider Label Requirements: Breaking Down TTB and FDA Regulations

There is a lot more to hard cider labels than your brand and an eye-catching design. Hard cider labeling regulations are not only complicated, but can also vary depending on the strength of your product. Let’s break down the different hard cider label requirements you need to know for your drinks.

Who Regulates Hard Cider Labeling?

It’s essential to follow regulations when labeling hard cider. The tricky part is that it’s not always clear which rules you need to follow.

While you might put hard cider on draught, it isn’t classified as a type of beer. Hard cider is traditionally defined by the TTB as “wine fermented from apples, including apple juice or apple concentrate.” However, the TTB broadened the criteria for hard cider in 2017. These changes expanded the definition to meet the following requirements.

  • Hard cider should be less than (not equal to) 8.5 percent alcohol by volume (abv), up from 7 percent.
  • Hard cider should have a maximum allowable carbonation level of 0.64 grams of carbon dioxide per hundred milliliters of wine, up from 0.392.
  • Hard cider is now allowed to use pears and pear juice concentrate and still receive the hard cider tax rate.

Of course, these changes also impact which governing body oversees different hard ciders. Ciders with an abv under 7 percent are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The remaining hard ciders at or above 7 percent are in turn regulated by the TTB.

A six pack of cans following hard cider label requirements from the TTB.

Hard Cider Label Regulations: What You Need to Include

As you may expect, both the FDA and TTB require a lot of information on their labels. While there are many overlapping regulations, there are some notable differences between hard cider label requirements from the FDA and TTB. The following elements are mandatory pieces of information that are required by the FDA, the TTB, or both organizations.

  • Brand name
  • Name and address of the bottler
  • Class, type or other designation
  • Net contents
  • Alcohol content
  • Ingredient, nutrition, and allergen listings
  • Government Health Warning
  • Various declarations

These elements also have specific requirements for how they’re presented as well. Aside from the alcohol content statement and government health warning, all mandatory information uses the following guidelines for minimum type size.

  • If the container size is 187 milliliters or less, type must be at least 1 millimeter.
  • If the container size is more than 187 milliliters, type must be at least 2 millimeters.

Brand name (FDA and TTB)

The brand name is defined as the name under which you sell your hard ciders. This element is typically the most notable detail on your label, although you may highlight other aspects of your design. If you don’t have a brand name for your products, you should display the name of the bottler or importer in its place.

Name and address of the bottler (FDA and TTB)

The exact rules for this element differ slightly. Both the FDA and TTB require an address including city and state, but has different rules for the bottler.

  • FDA – Labels must include the name and address of the premises where the cider was bottled or packed.
  • TTB – Labels must include the name and address the bottler or importer as listed on the TTB permit. This name must also be preceded by the words “Bottled/Packed by” or “Imported by,” or some qualifying optional statement.

Class, type, or other designation (TTB only)

Any hard cider that is at least 7 percent abv must include a statement of identity. By definition, hard ciders are considered “fruit wine,” but you can simply label your type as “cider” or “hard cider” if your product meets the following criteria.

  • Produced by the normal alcoholic fermentation of the juice of sound, ripe apples.
  • Derived wholly (except sugar, water, or added alcohol) from apples.

Net contents (FDA and TTB)

Simply put, hard cider labels must display how much product is in a container. The FDA allows this statement to be listed on any label. You can also opt to etch or blow the net contents into the container itself.

The TTB is a little more particular about the exact presentation of net contents. As with FDA regulations, net contents can be etched, blown, or displayed on a label. The key difference is that hard ciders of at least 7 percent abv must use the authorized metric standards of fill as listed in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (27 CFR 4.72). You also can choose to use any of the following abbreviations:

  • Milliliters – ml, ML, mL
  • Liters – L

Alcohol content (FDA and TTB)

The FDA and TTB both require specific statements for total alcohol content and acceptable tolerances. For the FDA, hard cider should state alcohol content as percent by volume and must be within 0.75 percent of what is listed on the label. Meanwhile, the TTB allows for a tolerance of 1.5 percent and mandates that you use one of the following statements to present alcohol content.

  • Alcohol __% by volume
  • Alcohol __% to __% by volume (see part 4 for rules)
  • May use “Alc.” and “Vol.” or “Alc” and “Vol”
  • May replace “by” with “/”
  • May NOT use “ABV”

Alcohol content is also one of the elements that follow different type size requirements than the majority of details. The exact rules for type size depend on the size of your container. If the container size is 5 liters or less, you must use a type of 1 millimeter at minimum and 3 millimeters maximum.

Ingredient, nutrition, and allergen listings (FDA)

As an FDA-regulated product, any hard ciders of less than 7 percent abv must include an ingredients list, nutritional facts, and any possible allergens. The FDA’s Food Labeling Guide offers guidelines for the following mandatory elements.

  • Ingredients – Every ingredient included in your hard cider in descending order of predominance.
  • Nutritional facts – A detailed breakdown about your hard cider’s nutrient content that follows the formatting requirements (21 CFR 101.9(d)).
  • Allergens – Call outs if your hard cider includes any of the major food allergens.

Government health warning (FDA and TTB)

As long as your hard cider contains at least 0.5 percent abv, your label must include a warning. This warning is the same for both the FDA and TTB and must read as follows.

  • GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.

This warning can appear on any label as long it remains separate and apart from all other information. The warning should also follow the following type guidelines.

  • Minimum 3 mm for containers larger than 3 liters (101 fl. oz.)
    • No more than 12 characters per inch
  • Minimum 2 mm for containers larger than 237 ml (8 fl. oz.) to 3 liters (101 fl. oz.)
    • No more than 25 characters per inch
  • Minimum 1 mm for containers of 237 ml (8 fl. oz.) or less
    • No more than 40 characters per inch

Specific ingredient declarations (TTB only)

Any wines, hard ciders included, regulated by the TTB must call out certain ingredients if they’re present in the product. As such, you’ll need to disclose that your hard cider contains any or all of the following ingredients if they apply.

  • FD&C Yellow No. 5
  • Cochineal extract or carmine
  • Sulfites (if your cider contains 10 ppm or more sulfur dioxide)

A hard cider bottle with a quality label made with FDA label regulations.

Which Hard Ciders Require a COLA?

The label approval process is another confusing aspect of hard cider label requirements. The FDA does not require pre-approval. Meanwhile, the TTB requires beers, wines, and spirits to apply for and receive a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) before those products ever hit the market. As such, any hard ciders regulated by the TTB must acquire a COLA before they are packaged and shipped across state lines.

The good news is that it’s fairly simple to apply for a COLA. Breweries can use the COLAs Online Customer Page to register and submit an online application. As long as the TTB finds that you’ve followed all the rules, your label will be good to go.

There is one other alternative to needing a COLA. If you don’t plan to introduce your hard ciders into interstate or foreign commerce, you can apply for a certificate of exemption through TTB Form 5100.31. This exemption will show that your hard cider is exempt from the FAA Act. You will also need to add the following statement to your label.

  • “For sale in (name of state where bottled) only”

Don’t Let Hard Cider Regulations Detract from Your Products

Let’s face it, TTB and FDA regulations aren’t the most exciting part of your label. The need for key information shouldn’t detract from the appeal of your hard ciders. That’s why Blue Label Packaging Co. works directly with you to print stunning hard cider labels that showcase the quality of your product.

Every label needs to make a great first impression. Our experts work with you to enhance your design through special materials and eye-catching decorations. We also provide pivotal print protection to prevent premature failure. Contact us today to invest in hard cider labels that help you tell your brand’s story.

Online Alcohol Packaging: How to Prepare Your Wine and Spirits Labels for Ecommerce Success

Over the years, more people have turned to an increasingly popular destination for wine and spirits: the internet.

Online sales of wine and spirits have steadily increased over the years, making the digital market a prime place for vintners and distillers to sell their products. That trend took off even further when wine ecommerce and other online alcohol sales jumped 234 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether you use a third-party marketing platform or sell wine or spirits directly from your website, it’s important to make sure your custom labels are just as effective on smartphones and monitors as they are in stores. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help your wines and spirits succeed online.

An ecommerce spirits label for Skagway.

4 Tips for Online Wine and Spirits Labels

The average consumer already has an incredibly short attention span – that attention span only grows shorter online. When you have roughly eight seconds to make an impression, a great product label can be your best friend.

It’s important to remember that certain aspects of your label may not translate well online. As such, you’ll want to keep ecommerce in mind when you put together a label design for your wine or spirits. Here are five ways that you can help set up your wine and spirits labels for online success.

Color them impressed

A bland bottle typically doesn’t sell well in online stores. A pop of color is one key element that catches ecommerce users’ eyes. A flash of red or a burst of yellow can stop a consumer from aimlessly scrolling past your products so that they will check out what you have to offer.

In terms of what colors to use, it really depends on what type of message you want to send. Colors can influence consumer’s emotions by making them associate with certain feelings. For example, a green label can inspire feelings of relaxation and happiness. Meanwhile, red signifies strength or power. Try to find a color that helps you tell your product’s story – just make sure it’s something that really stands out in an ecommerce store.

It’s also important to note that while vibrant colors can help you stick out in a crowded ecommerce store, too many colors can have the opposite effect. Labels with multiple interlocking colors can appear muddy in a small image. In addition, certain color combinations can help your label pop out to consumers and make it easier to read the text. A color wheel can help you identify opposite colors that still work with each other. Test out how your potential label would look in a product image to make sure it’s just as stunning online as it will be in person.

Clearly identify your wines and spirits

Once you have someone’s attention, it’s critical that users quickly identify your products. Any seemingly missing detail can lead an ecommerce customer to click away to a different product.

Make sure users can immediately recognize your brand name and product designation. While these details may seem prominent in your design, consider how easy it would be to read them in a small product image on a phone screen or monitor. Amplifying these details will help users recognize who you are and what your product is, be it a malbec, a straight rye whiskey, or something else.

Make a big impression

A lot of small, ornate details may look great in person, but it may get lost in a small product image nestled amidst dozens of other bottles. If you want your wine or spirit to truly stick out in an ecommerce setting, it’s time to amp up your design.

There are a few ways that you can go about enhancing your design. As mentioned earlier, large pops of color are one way to make an immediate impression. There are also special printing capabilities that can add an extra dimension to your design. Utilizing hot foil stamping is one way to make your wine and spirits labels look more sophisticated, elegant, or flashy for anyone who scrolls by your products.

While small design details might not show up on small product images, that doesn’t mean you should abandon them altogether. These elements can still make an impression on customers once they receive their bottles. A rougher paper wine stock or an embossed pattern may not show up on screens, but it can add an extra dimension to wow consumers once they get a hold of your bottles.

Follow barcode best practices

While your design is a major factor for ecommerce success, it’s critical not to forget about another key purpose of your wine and spirits labels. Online retailers typically require product labels to include Universal Product Codes (UPC) for scanning and identification purposes. As such, you’ll want to ensure that you follow barcode best practices for your wine and spirits labels.

If you’re not careful, you may accidentally set up your barcodes for failure. There are a few steps you can take to make sure that your barcodes are ready for business.

  • Maintain a quiet zone. Make sure that the area around your label’s barcode is clear of any texts, graphics, or other printed elements.
  • Use a simple color scheme. Try to avoid warm colors that won’t work well with red lasers. The safest choice is to stick with black text on a white box.
  • Utilize proper barcode sizing. Keep your barcode somewhere between the minimum and maximum recommended barcode sizes.
    • Minimum – 1.175” wide by .816” high
    • Maximum – 2.938” wide by 2.04” high
  • Send barcodes in the right formats. Once your label design is ready, you’ll need to send a few of your barcodes to your printing company in a few different forms.
    • An image file of the barcode you’ve received from the provider
    • An Excel document with a list of UPC numbers
    • A PDF or EPS of the barcodes

A group of colorful wine ecommerce labels.

Find the Right Printing Partner for Your Wine and Spirits Labels

Once you have your labels ready for online success, it’s time to find a label printing company. At Blue Label, we have the experts and technology to help you get the most out of your packaging.

Our team strives to not only enhance your designs, but also make sure that everything is right before we print your full order. We can work with you to check your art files and identify the best, most cost-effective solutions for your wine and spirits. Contact us today to invest in stunning wine and spirits labels.

Wine Labels: How to Follow the TTB’s Rules on Varietal Labeling

From chardonnay to pinot noir, wine types play a significant role in communicating what your bottle has to offer to shoppers, restaurant-goers, and any other form of oenophiles. However, there are some specific rules regarding how you present various varietals on your wine labels.

As with just about everything you need to include on a wine label, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is pretty particular about your varietal presentation. There are three official categories of wine – table wine, dessert wine, and sparkling wine. However, a label may list a specific varietal statement instead as long as you follow a few specific rules.

Meet Minimum Grape Percentage Requirements

If you want to use a specific varietal name, your wine needs to meet some minimum requirements. To start, any wine label with the name of a grape variety must be made from at least 75 percent of the listed type of grape. However, that percentage can change depending on which varietal you use and your region.

In addition to wine type, the TTB also requires that you list an appellation of origin on your label. This appellation is simply a statement of where the dominant grapes used in a wine were grown. This appellation can range from only stating the name of the country to a very specific viticultural area.

As you move into more specific areas, your grape usage requirements can change. For example, certain semi-generic designations like an American marsala may carry additional requirements, such as a certain alcohol range. Each level of geographic detail has its own rules and designations, but that’s a conversation for another blog post. When it comes to varietal rules, the main takeaway is that you use the right percentage of grapes so that the TTB doesn’t turn down your label.

A wine bottle label for Park Farm Winery that lists marechal foch as the varietal of grapes used in the wine.

Use an Approved Varietal

If you’re concerned that the TTB won’t recognize some lesser-known grape varieties, don’t worry. From aglianico to zweigelt, there are more than 300 approved varietal names listed in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR), all of which are approved for use as a type designation for American wines.

While you may choose to capitalize the names of your varietal or use any hyphens, accents, or any other phonetic marks when printed on your label, the TTB does not require you to do either. As long as you use one of the approved spellings of your grape, or one of the alternative names listed in the e-CFR, you’re all set, regardless of if you opt for a lowercase presentation or choose to remove the umlaut out of grüner veltliner.

If for some reason your preferred varietal is not on the approved list, you’re not completely out of luck. You’ll need to petition the TTB administrator and provide some evidence as to why your grape of choice is deserving of inclusion.

List Breakdowns of Each Varietal if You Use More Than One

There is a way around the 75 percent grape baseline – blends. The TTB allows you to list more than one wine type designation on a label as long as you meet a few different requirements.

First, your wine must be made with all the varieties you list on your label. You can’t include three types that make up 95 percent of your bottle and decide not to include the varietal that makes up the final five percent. Second, you need to include a percentage breakdown of each variety. The TTB gives you a two-percent cushion on accuracy, so you’re fine as long as each type falls within that tolerance.

These rules get a bit trickier with the inclusion of grapes from multiple areas. If your label has multiple counties or states listed as the appellation of origin, you’ll need to include the percentage of each variety by the county or state that variety comes from, which could notably increase the total percentages listed on your bottle.

Two different types of wine listing varietals on their bottle labels.

Follow General Label Guidelines

According to the e-CFR, all wine labels must be “readily legible under ordinary conditions, and all such statement shall be on a contrasting background.” Contrasting backgrounds are simple enough, but what exactly does “readily legible” mean?

Simply put, it means that your type listing, along with other mandatory wine label elements, needs to meet specific TTB rules. The requirements that impact your wine type listings are as follows:

  • Required text must be at least two millimeters in size for containers of more than 187 milliliters or at least 1 millimeter for containers of less than 187 milliliters
  • Mandatory information should be in English
  • Important details should not be obscured by the label itself or any other elements

Of course, these rules don’t mean that you can’t have some fun with how you present your wine type. As long as you meet the guidelines, you can work your varietal’s name into your design to match your style. Compliance doesn’t need to be boring.

Find the Right Packaging Company for Your Wine Labels

When your wine is on the line, it’s important that your labels are more than just fine. Once you have all the mandatory details out of the way, it’s time to find a packaging company that can help you get the most out of your wine labels.

At Blue Label, we have the equipment and expertise necessary to take your labels to the next level. Whether we’re identifying the perfect stock for your wine label or taking advantage of special printing capabilities to amp up your design, we work with you to print the perfect labels for your brand and budget.

Ready to invest in quality labels for your bottles or cans? Contact us today to have us print your next batch of wine labels.

3 Reasons Why the TTB Turned Down Your COLA (and How to Avoid Them)

In the beverage world, a label denial can prove quite problematic for any new beer, wine, or spirit. No matter which or the three products your company makes, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) requires you to apply for a Certificate of Label Approval/Exemption (COLA) before that specific product ever hits the market.

Of course, this requirement means you need to play by the TTB’s rules. This process applies to your initial application for a COLA and if you make future changes to your labels – all it takes is a single TTB audit to pull your products from shelves. There is a lot of information required on wine labels and other alcoholic packaging, so the TTB will pay close attention to make sure everything is in the right place.

TTB regulations can seem a bit overwhelming, but a little guidance can help you properly prep your beer, wine, and spirits labels. It also helps to know about a few particular COLA pain points. Here are three common reasons why the TTB may turn down your COLA.

The Government Warning Statement isn’t Right

One of the easiest mistakes to make involves the mandated government warning. Any product that contains at least 0.5 percent alcohol by volume requires a government warning on its label. That warning reads as follows.

  • GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.

Seems simple right? The tricky part is that the TTB is very particular about the presentation of this warning. The warning should read exactly as it does above, including how the first two words are bolded and capitalized. Even a missing or misplaced comma can result in a failed COLA.

In addition, the TTB has specific format requirements for the warning. First, the warning itself must be “readily legible under ordinary conditions” and appear in a contrasting background. Second, the TTB sets the following minimum required type sizes depending on the the size of the container:

  • Eight or fewer fluid ounces – Minimum character size of one millimeter
  • More than eight fluid ounces and up to three liters – Minimum character size of two millimeters
  • More than three liters – Minimum character size of three millimeters

Finally, the TTB sets a maximum number of characters per inch depending on the type size of your text.

  • One millimeter – No more than 40 words per inch
  • Two millimeters – No more than 25 words per inch
  • Three millimeters – No more than 12 words per inch

Three cans of beer that got their labels COLA approved.

The Net Contents Are Improperly Displayed

Another potential pain point for COLA applications involves just how much fluid your containers, well, contain. Beer, wine, and spirits all have different standards when it comes to net contents, so it’s important to hone in on the specific rules for your particular product and label them appropriately.

Net contents for beer labels

For beer labels, the TTB has a variety of net contents ranges. As such, the TTB requires you to list net content depending on which range your product falls under:

  • Use fluid ounces or fractions of a pint for containers with less than a pint
  • Use “1 pint, 1 quart, or 1 gallon” for those exact measurements
  • Use either fractions of a quart or pints and fluid ounces for containers with more than one pint, but less than one quart
  • Use either fractions of a gallon or a mix of quarts, pints, and fluid ounces for containers with more than one quart, but less than one gallon
  • Use gallons and fractions thereof for containers with more than one gallon

Net contents for wine labels

While beer regulations for net contents allow for a wide range of sizes, wine follows a set list of options. Wine bottles must abide by the TTB’s authorized standards of fill. This means that wine containers must hold one of the following amounts of fluid.

  • 50 milliliters
  • 100 milliliters
  • 187 milliliters
  • 375 milliliters
  • 500 milliliters
  • 750 milliliters
  • 1 liter
  • 1.5 liters
  • 3 liters

According to the TTB, containers with less than a liter of wine should state net contents in milliliters, while those with more than a liter should use liters and decimal portions rounded to the nearest hundredth of a liter (ex. 1.5 liters). In addition, the text for net contents should use the following sizing rules:

  • At least 1 mm for containers with 187 milliliters or less
  • At least 2 mm for containers with more than 187 milliliters

While the TTB has the set authorized amounts at the moment, that may change in time. The TTB released a notice in July to consider the elimination of all standards of fill except for a 50 milliliter minimum and a 3.785 maximum. The period for public comments on the notice closed Oct. 30, so the TTB should make a ruling at some point in the future after it weighs public feedback.

Net contents for spirits labels

Like wine, spirits containers have certain standards of fill. However, these standards differ slightly depending on your specific container.

  • Bottles and other non-can containers
    • 50 milliliters
    • 100 milliliters
    • 200 milliliters
    • 375 milliliters
    • 750 milliliters
    • 1 liter
    • 1.75 liters
  • Non-resealable metal containers in the general shape and design of a can
    • 50 milliliters
    • 100 milliliters
    • 200 milliliters
    • 355 milliliters

The TTB does make some exceptions to the standards of fill for specialty products like bitters, cordials, and other products. Regardless, any containers of 200 milliliters or more require the net contents to be at least one-quarter inch in height (containers with less than 200 milliliters are unspecified).

A row of Rockmill Brewery beers on a shelf, each of which received TTB label approval.

You Added New Text without Approval

It’s pretty common to change part of your label at some point. Between updating some of the language or adjusting your design, you may want or need to reprint your label. Some changes are completely fine according to the TTB, such as the following examples.

  • Delete non-mandatory label information, graphics, and other elements
  • Reposition approved label information
  • Change colors, shapes, and proportionate sizes of labels
  • Adjust type size, font, and spellings of words as long as it complies with regulations
  • Change the net contents statement for new container sizes
  • Change the mandatory statement of alcohol content as long as the change is consistent with the class and type designation

While those changes won’t lead to any issues, there are others that are off limits when done without the TTB’s knowledge. If you make a change that’s not on the allowed list and the TTB audits your products, they can pull the offending products due to non-compliance. As such, you’ll want to obtain a new COLA depending on your planned changes.

Make Your Beer, Wine, and Spirits Labels Shine with the Right Printing Company

Once you get your COLA approved for a brand-new label or some changes to an existing design, it’s time to find a good digital label printing company to get your products ready for sale. Blue Label has the state-of-the-art equipment and printing experts to help you determine the right materials and printing capabilities for you to get the most out of your label design.

Ready to dazzle your customers with quality beer, wine, and spirits labels? Contact us today to talk to us about your next label printing project.

The Different Wine Label Stocks You Can Use to Showcase Your Bottles

When it comes to investing in wine labels, it’s good to have options. There are a variety of label materials to choose from, but it’s up to you, your designer, and your label printing company to decide which one makes the most sense for your bottles. When it comes to wine labels, the three most popular types of materials you can use are:

  • Estate
  • Ever-opaque
  • Specialty

Each category offers various advantages depending on your desired look, feel, and price point. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of wine stocks so you can figure out what’s right for your packaging needs.

Estate Wine Labels

When you think of a classic paper wine label, you’ll likely envision something made with an estate material. Estate materials are a popular choice for the wine industry, and for good reason – they have a classic look and are generally a more cost-effective option.

Another advantage of paper labels is that they are incredibly versatile. While paper typically exudes a very natural appearance, there are various types of paper materials that can either enhance that look or provide a new type of aesthetic. For example, linen-style or uncoated eggshell papers both have different textures in the paper fibers that can help you match the look you want for your wine labels.

Of course, there is a downside to using an estate material. Unlike film, paper absorbs water, which can cause those labels to disintegrate over time. While there are some paper stocks that have a higher wet strength, even those options aren’t completely waterproof. As such, estate may not be the best option if your wine labels will encounter water.

A paper wine label that has been embossed and stamped with hot foil.

Ever-Opaque Wine Labels

If you really love the look of estate but are concerned about water damage, you should consider investing in an ever-opaque material.

Ever opaque wine labels have a layer of BOPP film woven between paper to help shield your labels from moisture. This material option allows you to still give your bottles an estate feel without the downsides of a soggy paper. This can make ever opaque materials a go-to option for white wines that are typically chilled before use or any other bottles that may encounter moisture throughout its journey from your facility to your consumers’ tables.

As can be expected, the downside of ever-opaque stocks is that the presence of a BOPP film can drive up costs. However, that increase may be well worth the investment if it protects your labels from future damage.

Specialty Wine Labels

While both estate and ever-opaque wine labels have a more traditional look and feel, specialty stocks can help you take your bottles to a whole new level. These can be made of paper or film and vary greatly in terms of overall aesthetic. Some specialty options include:

  • Felt/velvet materials
  • Cobblestone patterns
  • Shrink sleeves
  • Holographic or glitter films
  • Gloss, matte, satin, and soft-touch varnishes or laminates

As you can see, there are plenty of possibilities to break out of the classic wine label mold with specialty labels. The various materials available will each have their own distinct advantages, but when used properly, they can make sure that your bottles stand out when placed next to your competition.

A black vellum wine label make with a duplex hot foil and white ink.

Work with a Label Printing Company that Makes Your Wine Labels Shine

No matter which wine material you like best, it’s important that you partner with a printing company that can turn your design into stunning labels. At Blue Label Packaging Company, we have the expertise and state-of-the-art printing equipment necessary to print stunning labels at competitive prices. We work with you to identify the right label material for your needs, and we can provide special label printing and finishing capabilities to add an extra dimension to your label design.

Are you in need of top-quality wine labels? Contact Blue Label today to talk to our experts about your next label printing project.

Wine Label Requirements for Geographical Information

Location is a big deal for wine labels. Not only can different regions impart certain qualities to wine, they can also allow you to market your bottles as products of those regions. Of course, the use of certain geographic information means your wine labels must abide by the rules.

Like every alcoholic product, labeling wine involves dealing with many regulations set by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Location information is no exception. Here’s what you need to know when using geographic information on your wine labels.

Mandatory Location Information for Wine Labels

Many of the rules pertaining to referencing specific locations are tied to optional wine label information. However, there are two location-based items that the TTB considers mandatory information for wine labels:

  • Country of origin
  • Name and address of the bottler and importer

Listing the country of origin is simple: name the country of origin for your wine on your label. At least 75 percent of the fruit used to make your wine must be from the country listed on the label. If you make a blend of American and foreign wine, you’ll need a “percentage of foreign wine” statement to reference how much of the wine is made from outside fruit (for example, “50 percent grape wine from Australia”).

Aside from the country of origin, you also need to include a name and an address. For American wines, this means the name and address of the bottler or packer preceded by either “bottled by” or “packed by.” For imported wine, you’ll need the name and address of the person or group responsible for importation in addition to the bottler or packer.

Rules for Optional Geographic Details on Wine Labels

While there aren’t many mandatory items regarding where a wine is sourced, made, and bottled, there are still other ways that you can highlight geographic location on your wine label. Details like an appellation of origin or geographically inspired brand names allow you to highlight specific regions on your label. However, the TTB has specific rules that you must follow if you choose to include these details.

Appellation of origin

An appellation of origin is simply a fancy name for the location where the dominant grapes used in a wine were grown. This appellation can be a country, state, county, or an American viticultural area (AVA).

A viticultural area is a defined grape-growing region in the U.S. that features specific geographic qualities, such as a unique soil makeup or weather conditions, that make its grapes different from other regions. At the start of 2019, there were 242 established AVAs, with 139 in California alone. Other countries also have their own versions of viticultural regions, although use of these will require you to follow the appropriate foreign government’s regulations in addition to TTB rules.

In order to use appellation of origins on a label, a wine is required to source a certain percentage of its grapes from that region. The percentage threshold differs depending on the region. Countries, states, and counties require you to use at least 75 percent of your grapes from the listed areas. That number rises to 85 percent for established AVA or their foreign equivalents. Some regions also set their own rules for grape usage. For example, California law requires wineries to source 100 percent of their grapes from the state in order to label their wines as from either the state itself or any of its geographical subdivisions.

While appellations of origin are initially optional, they become mandatory if you include certain pieces of information on your label. Each of these can include additional regulatory needs depending on what you use.

  • A vintage date
  • A varietal designation
  • A type designation of varietal significance
  • A semi-generic designation
  • An “estate bottled” claim
  • A geographic brand name

A wine label with an appellation of origin

Vintage dates

Wine labels with a vintage date must include an appellation smaller than a country. If a state or county is listed, at least 85 percent of the grapes must be from the same year as the date. That threshold rises to 95 percent for labels that list an AVA or a foreign equivalent.

Various varietal designations

There are multiple categories of wine. Varietal designations specify a specific type of dominant grape, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. The wine must contain at least 75 percent of the listed dominant grape to comply with TTB regulations.

Type designations of varietal significance are like varietal designations, except that they apply to fruit from a specific grape source and meet certain TTB requirements. For example, a Muscatel must contain at least 75 percent of its volume from Muscat grapes and qualify as a dessert wine per the TTB’s standards for identity.

Semi-generic designations revolve around wines based on well-known European regions. These names are permitted as long as you list the actual place of origin in conjunction with the semi-generic name (“American Burgundy,” “California Chianti,” etc.) and follow any wine restrictions set by the original country of origin for the style in question. For example, a semi-generic Marsala wine should contain between 14 to 24 percent alcohol.

Estate bottled claims

Any wine labeled as “estate” bottled must consist entirely of grapes grown on land owned or controlled by the winery. The grapes used should also be crushed and fermented in that same location. In addition, both the winery and the vineyard must exist in the same viticultural area listed on the label.

Geographic brand name

Like vintage dates, varietal designations, and estate claims, geographically based brand names require you to include an appellation of origin on your wine label. TTB rules also stipulate that brand names cannot mislead consumers in any way. That’s what landed California vintner Joe Wagner in trouble in 2018.

Wagner’s offending wines were named Willametter Journal and Elouan, both of which referenced Oregon viticultural areas on their labels. The problem was that both labels read “Sourced From: Territory of Oregon” and were “vinted & bottled by The Willametter, Rutherford, CA.” According to The Washington Post, “federal law requires that such wines be labeled simply ‘Oregon,’ without use of more specific and prestigious American Viticultural Areas such as Willamette Valley.” As such, the TTB sided with the state of Oregon and ruled that Wagner could no longer use the appellation names on the offending wines since his names mislead consumers into thinking the wines were made in those regions.

Closeup on a wine label compliant with TTB regional rules.

Use Wine Labels to Showcase Your Wine Labels

Whether you want to call out geographic locations or not, your wine labels should stop consumers in their tracks. A good label printing company can make your labels tell a story that not only inspires people to buy your wine, but also come back for more.

No winery should compromise on label quality. At Blue Label, we work with you to determine the best way to produce eye-catching wine labels that are built to last and fit in your budget. Contact Blue Label today to talk to one of our experts about having us print labels for your wine.

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