Independence can be a relative thing in the food and beverage world. Some of the brands that are leading the wave of hip "craft" products are owned by major corporations, and the aesthetics of packaging have evolved. It's now possible for small-business owners to make their food and beverage products look very professional, and for global brands to convincingly seem rustic. In the winemaking space, there is room for all of these approaches and more. Today, it's even possible for vineyards to go on to success despite an extremely modest scope.
In the Pacific Northwest, vintners often operate on a modest scale. Area agricultural news outlet Capital Press explained that most of Oregon's producers are small or medium companies, with 70 percent of these vineyards turning out 5,000 cases or less apiece. Of course, 5,000 cases seems remarkably large to some of the providers profiled by Capital Press. For instance, a group of growers in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains produce wine through resolutely in-house processes, some not topping 600 cases annually.
The news provider zoomed in on Forest Edge, a vineyard owned by a married couple who handle every step of the process, including labeling. The wines produced by the pair are sold at smaller outlets, such as an online store, an on-premises shop and farmers' markets. With unique varieties of wines enabled by the cool climate of the Cascades, the vineyard has its niche carved out.
Small businesses thinking of and bottling their wines have to comply with rules regarding the information on their labels. In a wrinkle that may prove very relevant to customers interested in getting wines from small, local producers, some of the details covered by legislation include info about where the product was bottled and where its grapes grew.
The Washington Post pointed out a few descriptive phrases that vintners use to describe where their wines originate. "Produced and bottled by," for instance, denotes a winery that fermented at least of 75 percent of the grapes itself. If a vineyard wants to go further and state "Grown, produced and bottled by," it has to either own or lease the vineyards that yielded the grape crop. As The Washington Post added, this is the toughest designation to receive.
Independence for producers
Taking control of a business and running it completely on-site means a winemaker must take matters of quality and oversight into his or her own hands. This includes buying the best possible label printer for the job. Vintners can consider the Primera LX1000, available from Optimedia in the U.S. or in Canada.