Why Our Labels Matter
They say it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to wine we think it’s alright to break that rule. We, just like many other wineries, pack symbolism and significance into each of our label designs. It is our desire that our members and patrons enjoy the full experience of our wine--from the looks to the taste. This week, we bottled some exciting new wines, and took some time to reflect on the history and significance of wine labels.
Believe it or not, wine labels have a long history. Wine jars from 1352 BC, unearthed in the tomb of King Tut, were found with labels designating the winemaker, vintage, region of origin, and sometimes even an indicator of the quality of the wine. Even by modern labelling standards, these labels were fairly detailed. In the Persian empire, which had a reputation for cultivating wine snobs, labelling became part of standard practice in winemaking. As glass bottles gained popularity, parchment indicating the vintage and varietal of the wine would be tied around the neck of the bottle, much like what we would call a hang tag today. The oldest preserved label of this type was written by Pierre Perignon, a French monk and winemaker.
Paper wine labels like the ones we see today emerged in Germany in the 1800s and were generally used just to denote the wine’s varietal. In Champagne, France, vintners began using gilded labels to denote their grander fine wines. As labeling became commonplace, the quality and design of the label became like a crown for the wine, with the winemaker’s finest creations enrobed in the most ornate labels. With the invention of the lithograph, labelling became even more of an art. In essence, color lithography was the very first kind of photo printer, allowing for colorful and artistic expression to be replicated en masse. Winemakers could emphasize the luxury of their product or the personality of the land it came from.
As the story of wine labels gets closer to modern day, we’ve seen famous wineries commission label art from even more famous artists. Some wineries ornament their bottles with the awards earned by the winery. At Ruby Hill Winery, the gold seal on our wines represents the gold medals awarded by the California State fair. We also like to celebrate the best things in life with our designs; we commemorate good times with tie-dye, wildlife with our Peacock, and furry friends with our (not-yet-released) Cuvée Dray.
If you’ve laid a wine down to age in the cellar, the last thing you need is a garish label haunting your collection, no matter how delicious the wine is. Whether you’re looking for something classy, playful, or refined, we hope you enjoy the variety and expression gracing each and every bottle of Ruby Hill Wines.
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