Stay “on brand” while selling highly profitable niche wines using “second labels”

It’s not uncommon for a winery to have one or more “second labels” – often quite different from their primary brand. They may want to make it obvious that they came from the same winery or they may choose to be so different that no one knows the wine came from your establishment. It all depends on how they view marketing and their market(s).

11 reasons wineries do second labels

– Wine Club exclusive. This is one of our favorite reasons to create a second label! There’s no better way to create loyal wine club members than to send them wines that others cannot get. 

Bottle up your finest, label it in such a way that the member knows that they have “insider” status, and sell it for top dollar! It’s a way of speak to your client’s secret need for status.

– Special events our friends at Willamette Valley Vineyards did this incredibly well back during the solar eclipse a few years ago. They happened to be located along the line where the eclipse experience was to be at its best. They held a special “watch party” that included a bottle of ECLIPSE wine and case specials.

– Holidays Hits. Enormous amounts of wine are sold around the 4th Quarter holidays, as well as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. A little thought and creativity and you could have a special “extra” to sell as a gift or for gatherings.

– To differentiate fruit wines from their grape wines. Especially on the east coast, wineries commonly have extremely popular fruit wines. The audience for these wines is quite different from those who buy traditional grape wines. For that reason, the packaging is created to speak to those audiences individually. 

Putting both types of wine under the same label would be a mistake. You wouldn’t want a traditional wine drinker to sip your cherry wine and make the assumption that your wines are not to their liking. 

– Wines that are going into distribution. Wine that has to share shelf space with hundreds of competing wines need more shelf presence (i.e., they need to be more eye-catching) than those that will be hand-sold out of a tasting room. You simply cannot afford to be invisible in this environment.

– Private label wines for large retailers and restaurants. When a consumer can buy a bottle of wine in your tasting room for $30, it annoys them to see it on the wine list of their favorite restaurant for $120. Many avoid this by creating a second label—one not available in the tasting room—for these establishments. This eliminates the customer’s raised eyebrows. They know your quality and expect that the one on the menu is worth every penny.

– A wine that doesn’t quite measure up. It happens. It’s an excellent wine, but it’s just not up to your usual standard. You just can’t bring yourself to put it out there under your flagship label and name. But you can create a fun second label—one to which buyers do not bring pre-conceived notions.

– Exquisite wines. Your brand is known for reasonably priced quality wines and has been for years. And then—out of the blue, you acquire the finest vineyard in the valley. Your new fruit is absolutely stunning; the wines are magnificent. You just cannot put it in your existing line up and get price that it deserves. For that situation (and yes, it has happened) we recommend that you create a premium-positioned second label or a luxury tier (see blog post “Cheers to Tiers”).

– The outlier. Similarly to the exquisite wine, above, you might acquire some really unique fruit. Maybe it froze before harvest and a rare ice wine release is in the cards. Or maybe it has smoke taint. Or is a different, very unusual varietal. Whatever the case, it is an outlier, not conforming to your brand or your customer’s expectations. This is a great time to use a second label.

– Charitable giving wines. You have a favorite charity you want to help fund. Why not create a second label to attract kindred spirits who care about the same things you do AND at the same time raise money for a great cause?

– A decadent “house wine” —available ONLY in the tasting room— is an excellent way to get people to return again and again.

What can you do to be the wine of choice for those occasions? Special gift packaging? A fun meme-inspired label?

– Opportunity knocks. You have an excellent opportunity to sell your product in a weird new market after these last couple of years, but your current label doesn’t resonate in this shifted culture. We will research the culture and create a second label that speaks to your newfound opportunities!

In the end, “if you build it, they will come” works great in a movie, but in the real world, creating the high quality product in a profitable manner is only one part of the equation. You need to communicate the existence and uniqueness of your product as well…and creativity and thinking outside of the box is going to likely be the differentiator if you’re going to thrive!