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Branding and Labeling Wine

Targeting wine consumers in the wine industry has become increasingly arduous as it continues to grow into an ever more saturated and competitive environment. Often, it is that first impression that will make or break a consumer’s purchasing decision. Finding a unique and strong name for your wine will play a large role in the first impression and be a determining factor in your success. Yet, this is becoming more difficult as more wine names are registered as trademarks. If you have a name in mind for your wine, you should consult with a trademark attorney to conduct a trademark search to ensure that your name is not already in use. You may also choose to register your name with the USPTO to gain protections and to be recognized as the owner of your wine brand if the name is available.

Determining your wine name is only the first step, however. To get your wine out in the market, you must apply for approval on your wine’s labels, or a certificate of label approval/exemption (abbreviated as COLA). These labels include information such as the name of your wine, the class or type of wine, among other information that is useful to consumers. Additionally, they also help make a wine appear more attractive to consumers, either by including extra/optional information or by producing a more visually appealing label. It can be imperative to be meticulous on your wine label, as it can help it stand out against the competition.

Labels must show a variety of information. Some information is required, while other information is optional to include. Even though adding optional information is unnecessary, it can often be a savvy business decision to make your wine more attractive to consumers. Remember to keep your wine’s target audience in mind, and ask yourself questions like what your average wine purchaser would like to see on your label. Be mindful that even optional information has its own rules that must be followed if you intend to utilize it.

The following are mandatory for all wine labels: brand name, class or type designation, alcohol content (by volume), net contents, name and address of the producer and bottler, health warning statements, and disclosing whether or not it contains sulfates.

The following are mandatory only in specific cases: appellation of origin (if certain additional information is included), percentage of foreign wine (if a reference to foreign wine is made), color ingredient disclosures (if color ingredients are present in the wine), and country of origin (if the wine is imported).

The following are optional to include: American viticulture areas, vintage date, major food allergen labeling, dietary information, gluten content statements, sugar content, description of taste, organic certification claims, among any other optional information you may want your consumers to know.

Simply providing the information is not enough, however. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has labeling rules, and all information on your label must meet these requirements. For example, lettering must be legible and meet TTB formatting standards. Regulations also prohibit wine labels from being false or misleading. It is recommended to consult with an attorney to guide you through this process and help obtain your approved wine labels. Our experienced alcohol lawyers at Alcoba Law Group are ready to assist you in achieving your goals. If you have any further questions or concerns about the labeling process or wish to conduct a trademark search or registration for your wine name, do not hesitate to contact us.

Written by: David Sacasa Ⓒ 2021 Alcoba Law Group P.A.
Picture Credits: Miri Paez Bolet.
Reviewed by: Ruben Alcoba

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