How To Start a Private Label Wine Business

Young woman looking at a wine bottle while working in a wine shop.

You don’t have to own a vineyard in Napa or the south of France to start your own private label wine business. In fact, private label brand owners rarely own any wine-producing acreage at all. Instead, entrepreneurs who want to create their own wine brand work with wineries in different locations to source the wine they bottle under their own labels. 

Private label wines have grown in popularity in recent years. According to estimates from the International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show, private label wine sales now represent 10% of the total sales in the US. In this post, we’ll show you how to start a wine brand without a winery. We’ll cover the pros and cons of owning a private label wine business, as well as five key things to consider when deciding to brand your own wine.

What Is a Private Label Wine Business? 

In short, a private label wine business allows you to sell wine produced by someone else in bottles that you label as your own. Many wineries produce more wine than they can sell on their own, so selling their excess wine to a private label is a win-win for everyone. Owning a private label business allows you to focus your efforts on branding and marketing rather than getting bogged down in the production process. 

Pros and Cons of Starting a Private Label Wine Business

Selling your own wine can be an exciting adventure. But figuring out how to start a private label wine business requires hard work and dedication. The decision to brand your own wine offers many compelling advantages, but it also presents unique challenges.

Pro: Higher Profit Margins

Starting a wine brand without a winery opens the door for higher profit margins. Producing wine requires a large capital investment and comes with many risks, including poor harvests, difficulty sourcing labor, and unexpected changes in consumer tastes and preferences. Creating your own private label wine brand lets you skirt these potential pitfalls to focus your available business funds on branding and marketing efforts designed to maximize how much you are able to charge per bottle. 

Pro: Greater Flexibility

Being able to shift your offerings based on consumer demand is a big advantage. As tastes change and new trends emerge, you’re not tied to the specific cultivars of grapes you have in the ground. You’re also able to expand into new styles and regions more easily. 

Pro: Quicker Time to Market

Starting your own private label wine business is something that can happen pretty quickly — much more quickly than starting your own vineyard. Bringing your vision for a line of private label wines to market doesn’t have to take years to accomplish.

Con: Private Label Wine Cost

Although getting started selling private label wine is much cheaper and faster than making it from scratch, there is significant capital required. Buying an initial stock of wine, paying for professional labeling and packaging, and executing a comprehensive marketing plan can be expensive. 

Con: Accurately Forecasting Demand

Consumers’ tastes in wine can evolve quickly. A style of wine or certain location can be popular this year, only to languish on the shelves next year.  Being able to accurately predict which niche wine-producing regions or style of wine will resonate with your target market can be a challenge.

Con: Sourcing Quality Producers

There are many quality vineyards that produce amazing products just waiting to be discovered. But locating ones you’re comfortable committing to a long-term business relationship with takes time and can involve some false starts.

no label wine bottles in vineyard winery

Top Considerations for How To Start a Wine Brand

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to creating your own wine brand. Evolving consumer tastes, hitting the right price point for your target audience, and designing your branding and wine labels to appeal to the market segment you’ve chosen are just a few of the details you’ll need to consider.

Get Legal

In many states, selling private label wine to restaurants, hotels, and other retail establishments licensed to sell alcohol will require a wholesale license. Regulations and licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction. When launching your own private label wine business, make sure you’re fully legal before you make your first sale.

Know Your Audience 

Before you design your labels and marketing materials, it’s important to identify the target audience you’re looking to connect with. What age range are they likely to fall into? What’s most important to them? Are they interested in small, niche producers? Is organic or all-natural wine a priority? Answering these and similar questions will help you make better product label design choices. For a little more inspiration, check out these five examples of wine brands that are using their wine labels to appeal directly to the type of consumer most likely to purchase their offerings.

Wine Label Design and Material

One of the strongest pieces of marketing collateral you have to work with is your wine label. It’s the first thing that a consumer sees when they encounter your brand. Designing wine labels that represent the fit and feel of your brand is very important. And almost as important as the label design is the material you use to create it. Wine labels can be made from a wide variety of materials from classic, unlaminated paper for an all-natural look to sleek Black Vellum. Our list of top wine label design tips is the perfect place to find inspiration for creating your own custom wine labels.

Develop a Marketing Plan

Even great wines will languish in inventory without a solid marketing plan. The best marketing plan lays out a detailed framework for how you plan to connect with potential retailers. Methods could include in-person site visits, paid ads in industry publications and websites, or direct mail.

Getting Started with Your Private Label Wine Business

Founding your own private label wine company is an exciting decision. Curating your own collection of premium wines can turn into a fulfilling and lucrative business opportunity.

From designing custom labels to marketing your wines to restaurants, hotels, and wholesale distributors, mastering the fundamentals of operating a private label wine brand is an important first step. 
We love working with small, private label companies. That’s why we have no minimum order quantity. We can help you select the perfect wine labels made from materials that bring your custom designed labels to life, all at a price that fits your budget. Not sure what material or laminate would work best, or have questions about custom wine bottle labels? Give us a call at 877-277-4682 — we’re happy to help!

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