Making a wine label for selling wine is like filing your taxes, you have to know the right government form to fill out or you’ll end up starting over. We’ve had the privilege to assist customers with the layout of their wine label for TTB approval and we want to provide you with some tips to help make sure your wine label has all the required government information. TTB stands for Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. They’re the government agency that regulates the production and sale of alcohol in the U.S.
From talking with our customers we understand that the grapes they use to make wine may come from many sources. Some own boutique wineries and vineyards where they cultivate their own grapes, some purchase grapes from local or out of state vineyards that sell grapes in bulk to winemakers. Others get their grapes from local Wine Making Supply stores. Regardless of where you get your grapes you will be required to follow the TTB guidelines to sell your final product. While we aren’t winemakers or TTB experts, we can help with the layout of your wine label artwork. We do charge an artwork set up fee of $75 for this service, but it’s well worth it if you are determined to make your own wine label design without the aid of a graphic designer.
What is COLA and what does COLA Have to do with Wine?
We’re not talking about Coca Cola. Alcohol makers must apply for (COLA) Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval and abide by certain labeling and advertising regulations. From the TTB website: “TTB requires a product evaluation to determine whether a proposed label identifies the product in an adequate and non-misleading way. We refer to this requirement as a Pre-COLA Product Evaluation.” You’ll need to complete this step first to see what information the TTB wants you to include on your label.
Advice from a Vineyard Owner
We asked one of our favorite customers, Bridget Keegan of Old Oaks Vineyard, what advice she would give to those who are applying to the TTB. We’ve helped her lay out the design elements for many of the wines she bottles at her winery in Bonifay, Florida. According to Bridget,
“Folks will need to learn how to fill out the from TTB F 5100.31 (they can go online & get an account (then upload your label) or mail the label – two copies (label and form required). This form is for label approval & the person will need to have a federal permit (winery or seller). TTB does take questions by phone or email & they are helpful. Some of the TTB regs are confusing but if a person gets a label rejected you can apply again and correct what the TTB does not like….The big deal is asking the questions, organize what you are doing and keep trying.”
Start with a Sharp Logo for Your Vineyard
Bridget began by first commissioning a graphic designer to create a branded logo for her wine. This is an eye-catching focal point on her label and a great place to start the layout. She has a preferred color palette to work from for each type of wine. Since a logo and color are important, we recommend you hire a designer for this step in the process. While we are proficient in graphics programs we are not a logo design company. So Bridget did the right thing by coming to us with her professional logo in a digital format and information about the other elements she needed for TTB approval.
We helped Bridget get approval on the above wine label, along with many others. The label size she chose for her bottles is a 5 inch by 5 inch square. You’ll find this square label template here. Notice Bridget’s wine label has all of the required information for a domestic grape wine that contains at least 7 percent alcohol by volume but no more than 14 percent alcohol by volume. The TTB approved the name of the bottling winery as a name for the label. Cabernet Sauvignon Champanel is the class and type designation.
Types of Wine Labels According to the TTB
- Generic Table Wine Label
- Generic Dessert Wine Label
- Standard One-Piece Wine Label
- Standard Two-Piece Wine Label
- Imported Wine Label with Additional Strip Label
- Domestic Three-Piece Wine Label
- Non-Standard Wine Label
Bridget’s wine label example below is a Generic Table Wine.
The information on the above label illustration is explained below.
- Government Warning Title in Caps, Enlarged
- Government Warning
- Sulfite Warning
- Professional Logo
- Class and Designation
- Content Amount in ML
- Bottler and Vineyard Location
See the government warning on the left side of the label? This had to be reworked to meet the font size required by the TTB. The first submission was denied. According to the TTB, the warning didn’t appear big enough and the label had to be resubmitted with the warning in the present size. The GOVERNMENT WARNING text is now 14 point bold font and all capital letters. The remaining warning paragraph is in 8 point bold font and also in all caps. She was required to add the text “Contains Sulfites” in 8 point, but was not required to use all caps for this additive.
According to the TTB, when the words Table Wine are on the label the contents don’t need to be specifically shown on the label as long as the alcohol is between 7% and 14%. The requirement for alcohol content displayed is different for every type of wine, so be sure to check before you omit this information.
Wine Label Specialists
Anyone who understands grapes and the subtleties of each varietal, knows the importance of the image a wine label projects. Our wine labels are printed on a synthetic material made just for wine and other liquids. It’s a heavy, matte-finish material that’s waterproof and colorfast. The next time you’re considering ordering wine labels for selling your small batch wine, let us assist you. Our phones are live, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4 pm Pacific time. Often you can reach us through online Live Chat. We’re available via email at all hours. Try Bottle Your Brand’s professional looking wine labels and you won’t be disappointed.