Tips About Applying Labels

May 16, 2011

I did some more work out at Olequa Cellars recently, this time adding labels to bottles. Here are a few things that I learned.

First off, the bottles were being stored in the cellar, which was a cool/cold 50⁰ F. We were told that if we moved the bottles out of the cellar that the bottles would then collect condensation, and then the labels wouldn’t stick. Our choices were to apply the labels there, or move the bottles, wait a few hours, label, and then move them back again. We decided to do the labeling in the cellar.

Next, we were actually applying the labels by hand. Since this is a commercial operation, we had to apply a front label and a back label, which would contain the surgeon general’s warning about the consumption of alcohol. I applied the back label, and my husband applied the front label, and it took us a little bit to get the hang of applying without leaving bubbles. Our first couple of labels were also applied where mine were high and his were low. I’m also sure that not all the labels were on their squarely. This got me thinking about labeling machines, which would insure no bubbles and squarely placed labels applied at the same level.

Near as I can tell, a machine like this costs around $1,000-$1,500. It took two of us about 1.5 hours do hand label six cases of wine, which is 72 bottles. This means we were processing a little over a minute per bottle plus some box moving, which would probably be 2 minutes per bottle with just one person. Watching that video, it isn’t even taking him 5 seconds per bottle to apply two labels. This means that it should have taken him six minutes to apply labels to 72 bottles, but probably more like 30 minutes due to having to shift bottles and boxes around. There is a huge labor savings here! Granted, I don’t know the printing cost of printing a single sticker with a peel off back versus a roll of stickers, so that could eat into the savings.

Still, we were actually labeling during a tasting, and there was a box taken from us when we finished immediately to the tasting room. The people in the tasting room would have had a difficult time labeling by hand for a sale with all the people there, so they probably wouldn’t have done it, and then the wine wouldn’t have been sold. However, with a machine like that, labeling could have been accomplished without neglecting the tasting room, if you could overcome the condensation problem.

Further reading on bottle labelers. 

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