Over 10 years ago, US illustrator, Bob Johnson designed a series of wine brand labels for winemaker, Philip Shaw, that were as much a work of art as the liquid goodness inside the bottles. They were to set the scene for the next decade of label design and set a benchmark in impressive wine packaging.

Shaw’s Climbing and Rolling ESTATE wine brands were designed to express a contemporary aesthetic and reflect the picturesque geography of the unique winegrowing region of Orange, NSW. The Climbing label depicts a colourful, vintage hot air balloon that ascends to the skies above the climbing vineyards.

The Rolling illustration reflects the neighbouring rolling vineyards of the Central Ranges and celebrates the colourful vineyard’s red soils, a nod to the volcanic land that lies at the base of nearby Mount Canobolas.

Both exhibit an old world feel but have achieved timeless appeal.

For design buffs, check out Johnson’s step by step sequence of creating the Climbing label.


How labels influence us

As with any form of consumer product packaging, wine labels are a vital influence on whether people will buy them or not. Interestingly, the wording on the label is as important as the design.

A recent study by the University of Adelaide has revealed that emotive, elaborate descriptions on labels rate higher – in popularity and price – with consumers than those with little to none on the bottle. However, wording was more likely to be favourable if it provided information on the backstory of the wine or winemaker than using words considered to be pretentious to describe the wine.

It seems that it’s all about how we connect emotionally with a wine as to how likely we are to part with our hard-earned dollars to purchase it.

This is backed up by research by California Polytechnic State University that found that 71% of US wine consumer are influenced by the label. Studies also show that labels with illustrations of animals commonly do well. Women have been found to favour more creative, eye-catching, colourful and ornate wine labels than men – and rated plain, less colourful logos lower in attractiveness than men did.

Almost half of the wine drinkers surveyed—49 percent—said the words on the back label are at least somewhat important to their purchase decision. According to this study, the top factors that influence consumers’ choice of wine:

  1. Packaging (46%)
  2. Brand (27%)
  3. Sensory attributes/taste
  4. Grape variety
  5. Wine region

Do you agree with this? Do you judge a bottle by its cover? If so, what is it about the label that interests you most?

Stay tuned: next week, we reveal how the best wine labels are designed?