July in the Home Winery – Time to Label the Bottles

July in the home winery is normally the month when winemakers prepare for the next harvest, which is typically late August to early September typically, but can differ if you’re making sparkling wine or live near the High Desert AVA in Southern California. That’s when we do our last-minute orders of chemicals, cleaners, supplies. We inspect and clean our tools, and sharpen the one we use in the vineyard. We get the equipment out of storage, cleaned and tested. You notice the pattern that involves cleanliness, I assume? Garbage in, garbage out, as they say.

Labeling equipment for labeling the bottles

Last month, we showed you bottling. But once the botting is finished, labeling is an optional step. This can happen at any time, not just in July. We know winemakers who use a variety of media for identifying their wines: green painter’s tape; blue painter’s tape, duct tape, metallic markers or just little stickers that may only say “99 PN”. Some of our winemaker friends specialize in a few varieties where this works.

Michael’s labels

Michael’s labels tend to be full-blown to satisfy his own ego, he says. He has no natural skill in graphics but does believe in “faking it until you make it.” So all labeling of wine is purely decorative unless you are a professional and then all the fun is taken away. Yet another reason to avoid the urge to go pro.

Finished labeled bottle

The outsides of the reused bottles sometimes have some glue residue from the previous commercial label. A spray of Goo Gone and a paint scraper takes care of that. A glue stick applied to the back of the regular paper label and applying it as straight as possible. Being hand crafted, variation is always possible and two bottles are rarely side by side anyway.

So labels really only serve the winemaker’s ego and sense of craftsmanship. No wrong answers in this exercise. And that’s July in the winery.

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