What if we tell you the decadent yet somber Kelowna wine label that you admire is the culmination of the art of wine labeling that dates back to 13thCentury BC? Yes, us humans have been labeling our wines for more than 3200 years. And it’s not like the labels used for those ancient wines acted simply as a decorative device. The label successfully documented crucial information such as the name of the vintage, the vineyard, and the wine-maker. If there is anything we could be sure about, it is that we humans adore our wines (and our wine labels). Read on to see how we got creative with our labeling, and how our creativity led to the postmodern design of the wine labels we see today – labels that you nonchalantly happened to pick up in your local liquor store.
Ancient and Medieval Times
Something as irresistible as the wine was sure to travel across continents, and with the wine, the technique of labeling also traveled. The Ancient Egyptians were the first civilization we know of that labeled their wine with vintage and vineyard information. Persians and Europeans eventually followed suit and began to develop their own designs conveying these crucial details. The Europeans tied a parchment around the neck of the bottle with the help of a string. The scope of a label was obviously limited back then, but progress was inevitable.
The Modern Era
By the early 18th century, there was a tremendous advancement in the scope of labeling. Labels included sophisticated markings which described not just its origin, but its caliber, and details about its mix. Other significant advancements such as the development of glass bottles and of lithography acted as game-changing events. Lithography, by the way of mass printing tools, allowed labeling to keep up with the massive quantities of wine being bottled. This increased the ability to distribute wine quickly and therefore allowed production to increase.
The Postmodern Era
Fast-forward to the post-war era. The rise of advertisement, information, and of prosperity altered the manner in which wine was advertised. Winemakers quickly realized the potential of the market and its makeup, and they figured out that a specific target audience could be captivated with adequate brand design and promotion. But how does a wine bottle allure its target audience with its hidden secrets? Through its label! The winemakers got creative stylistically and designed their labels to persuade people to buy with the addition of designs, patterns, and imagery. Add to that the increase in governmental regulations and the need to transparently convey relevant information such as product consistency, the name of the manufacturer, and other applicable details… and we have our modern-day wine bottle, ready to admire.
Today, the efficiency of wine labeling is unmatched. This is the era of specialization. Isn’t it staggering that all this advancement of thousands of years culminates in a pretty bottle from the Okanagan Valley with the wine label reading ‘Pinot Noir’?