Trials & Tribulations of Getting Wine to Market

by Jana Harvey on May 13, 2006

Spent most of the day lining things up for bottling.  We have really been slowed down by a printer change.  The person who in the past had always provided great service getting us label proofs and labels on time, had his label company sold out from under him forcing him to go to another label company.  We went along with him.  We have found out the hard way that his ability to work with the new label company was not as good as with the old one.  Getting label proofs were delayed 4 to 6 weeks.  This has thrown off the ability to get label approval from the TTB (Tax & Trade Bureau, used to be called the BATF) which has forced us to shorten the time needed to get the labels printed. All wine labels have to be pre approved by a bureaucrat in Washington DC before we can put them on the bottle.  The 2005 Scott Harvey Napa Valley Rose of Pinot Noir was rejected by the TTB because part of the copy on the back label read “A perfect aperitif wine for the pool”.  I’ll quote the TTB’s reasoning for rejecting the label approval, “Since this is not an aperitif wine, the reference to aperitif must be revised to read – It is perfect as an aperitif by the pool.”   Sometimes, we just shake our heads.  Needless to say this slows down the approval process which slows down the printing which has delayed the bottling of the Rose.  Rose is a seasonal wine.  One third of the season is all ready over.  Hopefully we’ll bottle the wine in two weeks.

The first wine to be bottled was our 2004 Scott Harvey White Label, Reserve Amador County Syrah.  These labels were rushed through the printer and personally delivered by him about two hours after we had everything set up to bottle.  They looked fine but were on the wrong paper stock.  The printer had used a shinny stock rather than the flat stock we normally use for the white label.  I needed to get the wine bottled so I said go ahead and bottle.  Little did I know, the next day when I looked at the bottles after setting 24 hours that the ink had not the proper time to dry and it had run down the labels.  All the labels had to soaked off, taking a crew over a week.  New labels needed to be printed on the right stock and the wine relabeled.  The wine usually needs six weeks to settle down after bottling and get through what we call bottle shock.  So by the time it was relabeled the wine was ready to go.  I have been out of this wine in the market place for about six weeks.  If the retailer can’t get your wine to replenish the spot you have on the shelf he gives the spot to some one else.  Winemakers always like to run out of wine, but is always important to have the next vintage ready to take its place. If you talk to any winemaker, they will tell you this all in a days work.  They are right.  You learn how to roll with punches.  A nice glass of Syrah, or Rose if I had it bottled, at the end of the day helps.

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