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How to Make Your Own Wine Labels

Why You Should Label Your Wines | Items Needed to Create Labels
Types of Wine Labels | Software | No Drips or Runs Allowed | References

Labeling Wines Is Important
I once knew a vintner who had a simple answer to wine labels - he labeled his bottles of wine with a single letter written on the top of the cork. At first blush, it may sound like a great timesaving idea - it's certainly faster than creating paper labels - but can you imagine how long it took him to find an '98 Cabernet Sauvignon? It must have taken us the better part of an hour and several opened bottles to find the right "C" bottle... because he had also labeled his Chardonnays, Cab/Merlots and Chiantis with the same letter!

Don't fool yourself... A simple letter written on the top of your cork isn't enough to describe the type of wine in your bottle. As a home winemaker, it's important that you know each bottle's contents, history, and vintage year. Besides helping you find the bottle you want quickly, labels can also express your artistic side as well as help you gain control over your wine inventory.

Before we can make labels, though, let's take a look at the things you'll need.

What You'll Need
Assuming you'll want to create several labels at once instead of making them one at a time by hand (each 6 gallon batch of wine produces around 30 bottles), here are the items that you'll need to make your own wine labels:

  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Plain/gummed paper or label stock
  • Software that supports graphics and labels
  • Scissors or paper cutter

Optional, Fancy Items

  • Scanner
  • Digital camera

We'll cover each item, one at a time. Hang on, here we go!

Computer
You already have a computer (or at least access to one) or you wouldn't be reading this web page. It doesn't have to be one of those new gee-whiz computers with tons of features, but it does need to be powerful enough to run your chosen software (more on that below) and be able to print. Both Macintosh and Windows machines will work fine for this project.

Printer
The biggest question is whether you want color labels or black and white labels. If you still have an old black and white printer, you'll be surprised how little a new color ink jet printer costs nowadays. Hewlett-Packard's line of DeskJets are a great value!

We use a Color LaserJet printer to make wine labels at grapestompers.com, since the toner is heated or "burned" onto the paper and the ink will not run when wet. We realize that LaserJet printers are out of the price range of most folks' pocketbooks, but for those who use ink jet printers, there are tricks you can use to prevent the ink from running if the wine label should get wet.

Paper or Label Stock
Deciding which type of label paper to use will be the biggest single decision you'll make for this project. Here's a list of the different types of paper, and list their advantages and disadvantages, so you can make the best decision for your particular situation.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Plain Paper Least cost; readily available Must figure out a way to glue labels onto bottles that is good enough to hold well but is easy enough to wash off when recycling bottles. Most folks use a glue stick.
Gummed Paper

Glue already applied to back of paper; labels soak off easily when recycling bottles. If you desire, four sheets of blank gummed paper (either white, light blue, or canary) are provided FREE with the purchase of any grape concentrate.

Must be sure to print on the correct side of paper. If paper gets wet or hot, pages will stick together.
Peel and Stick Labels Most software (MS Word, desktop publishing apps) has native support for Avery labels and their clones. Labels can be difficult to remove after using.
4th and Vine Labels or Stoney Creek Wine Press Labels Great designs and graphics; all you need to do is add text. A good option if you have a B&W LaserJet and lots of money. Most expensive option. Must use special wine labeling software.

Software
Luckily, several types of software can be used to make your wine labels. Here's a short list of the programs we've used successfully in the past:

  • Wine Label
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Print Shop
  • FileMaker Pro
  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft Excel

grapestompers.com has currently settled on an inexpensive (around $50) desktop publishing program called Print Artist Platinum Plus. This is the software we use to make your free wine labels. It does a great job and there are 7 CD's of images available, with a searchable index.

Scissors or Paper Cutter
We've tried scissors, but really prefer a paper cutter to get consistently straight cuts.

Scanner
Scan any photo or drawing and drop it onto your wine label.

Digital Camera
Take a picture and use it as a background or the focal point of your wine label. Most cameras save files in JPG format, which is compatible with all the software programs listed above.

One of our customers, Jean Taylor, used her camera to make her wine label and took a Silver Award from WineMaker Magazine!

Preventing Soggy Colors
Over the years, we've heard some pretty nifty ways to prevent ink jet colors from running. The basic idea is to print your wine labels, allow the ink to dry, spray on a waterproof coating, cut or separate the labels, then apply the labels to the bottle.

In no certain order, here are some spray coatings we've seen used:

  • Polyurethane
  • Blair Color Gloss Plastic Coat
  • Kamar Varnish - made by Krylon
  • Spray Varnish - made by Delta
  • Top Coat Spray (satin finish) - made by Delta
  • Clear Acrylic Sealers (gloss) - made by Krylon

Spray coatings of this sort can be found at your local arts and crafts or hobby store (such as Michaels) for about $5.95 to $7.95 a can.

Conclusion
Making your own personalized wine labels is both practical and lets your creative juices flow. You can easily make your own labels for only pennies apiece with no more than a computer, printer, paper, and glue.

Best yet, you get FREE personalized wine labels with each grape concentrate kit you purchase from grapestompers.com. We're happy to make the labels for you using one of our standard designs and your text, or we can send you blank gummed paper so you can make them yourself.

Just let us know your preference when ordering.

References
Clicking on any of the reference links below will open a new browser window:

 

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