Wine Labels History

last updated 02 April 2024

A while back I was looking through my wine labels and considered how my designs have changed over the decades. On the right are links to posts that showcase my labels.

Note: For many years my labels were very pedestrian. However, in the last few years things changed greatly for the better.

My Label Making History

My first wines were not labeled. I made one batch each year, and it was consumed before the next year’s wine was bottled. Labels were unnecessary.

In September 1987 I got my first PC, a Zenith Z-100, courtesy of Clarkson University. I used some long forgotten program to create labels, using whatever grainy art I could find, and printed on plain paper in a dot-matrix printer. In the post-2020 world this doesn’t sound all that impressive, but at the time, it was amazing!

I didn’t make wine for a few years as we moved around too much, but in the mid-90’s I got back into winemaking. I found a program, written by a mid-40’s guy who was in college, in the process of switching careers to IT. The program worked well enough for making labels, and I paid the ~$25 fee. This worked for a few years, until he apparently got his degree, scrapped his email address, and stopped supporting the program. It had a complicated registration key, which stopped working, meaning I could not launch the program.

THIS was a good lesson on not getting locked into someone else’s proprietary format.

All my previous labels were lost to me — I had the files, but could not open them. I was seriously angry with the dude, not because the program stopped working, but because I lost my work. This affected my future attitude towards many things.

After that I used Microsoft Word to create labels. I tried various graphics programs, and they were all better for arranging labels, but didn’t scale the label across the page. MS Word was good enough, and I wasn’t making any where near as much wine as I did before I got married.

In 2006 I found Avery’s Design & Print. This did exactly what I needed — I could create a single label using a template for a specific type of Avery media (e.g., 10 labels per page, 2 across and 5 down) and it would scale the design across all cells. The graphics management was a bit crude, but it worked quite well.

The drawback? It saves the files in Avery’s proprietary format.

My solution? When a label is done, in addition to printing labels for the bottles, I print

  • a copy to PDF (generic format) so that I can print the labels if I want
  • a single label to JPG or PNG format (also generic formats)
  • a “tinified” copy of the single label; I use the TinyPNG web site to produce a more compact file for web usage

This leaves me with the original Avery file, plus 3 other copies in generic formats. While I expect Avery to support their format, my trust in any business entity is zero.

Note: A few years back, Avery discontinued their desktop application in favor of their online program. I don’t like the online program as it doesn’t allow as much fine control, but it would work if that’s all I had, and it reads/write the same file format. I’ll keep using the desktop application until it no longer works.

My Labels

Originally I published all my labels in a single post, but the post kept getting longer and longer, and with all the graphics, loading time also got longer and longer. So I broke the posts up by year. Links are in the sidebar to the right.

An important note — labels are presented in the order created, which means “year” is the year the wine is bottled, NOT the year it was started. This shows a truer progression of how my labels changed over time.