What’s the Real Value of a Wine Label?

Wine labels are back in the news up here, with a story that one BC winery hired some branding/marketing firm to produce a whole series of provocative labels for new wines in the hope that would drive sales. Interestingly, the story said nothing about what the wines actually tasted like…just what they looked like!

That led me to thinking – what is the real value of a wine label?

Certainly many wineries – or their marketing people – think “lots”! It seems like ever since Yellow Tail came out with their colourfully labelled, low-priced wines about a decade ago, a whole range of wineries from around the world have followed suit. Some are funny, many – at least to me – are not. And some are just plain offensive.

The history of this actually goes way back, as the Bordeaux winery Chateau Mouton-Rothschild has had famous painters produce their labels for years. That included Picasso, who’s 1973 label ended up being worth way more than the wine itself (and not just because if was from a poor year).

The goal is obvious – to have the colourful/interesting/provocative labels make those wines stand out from the competition, in the hope that people will try them over other wines.

But don’t you still have to have a good wine to back it up? And if it is a good wine anyway, why the need for all the extra work on the label (which may also drive up the cost of actual wine)?

Now I have nothing against being clever in the name. d’Arenberg’s wines, for example, all have strange and interesting names (like Hermit Crab, Galvo Garage, Stump Jump, Dead Arm). But they are just printed on the label and then it is explained on the back. And, of course, many of them are outstanding wines!

Mollydooker goes further with its illustrations…but they also make amazing wine. And let’s not forget Bonny Doon in California…their Le Cigar Volant was bit of a shot at Chateauneuf du Pape…but it was also very nice wine.

I guess my point is if you make great wine, then people will buy it. Personally, I am at the point now where if I see a bizarre label or name, I just walk on by.

Call me old-fashioned, but I want what’s inside…not what is on the outside!




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