There are many terms used on wine labels for the purpose of telling a story about the wine as well as many that are used for definite marketing purposes. In the case of the term estate bottled just the statement itself tends to have a certain image of higher quality, even to the consumer who knows little to nothing about wine terminology. And for those consumers who are in the know, spotting that term on a wine’s label again has the same impression on them of a higher level of quality. So certainly wineries will often opt to use estate bottled on their labels if they qualify. But what about all of the new breed of wine brand owners these days?
They are the custom crush clients in the industry, and their numbers have grown dramatically in just the past decade. They are qualified to be in the wine business by becoming licensed as wholesalers. They do not own their own winery, but have their wine made by an established winery then take the finished product and go sell it themselves.
In the case of the use of the term estate bottled on a label the regulations state several very specific parameters that must be met in order to qualify for its use. The main one that would slow down custom crush clients from qualifying has to do with the beginning stage in the winemaking process, the grapes. The regulations state that all of the grapes that go into a wine labeled with estate bottled must have been grown by the winery (that bottles it) on land that the winery owns or manages in a long term lease. Custom crush clients are usually bringing in either their own fruit or finished wine that they purchased on the bulk market that become the wine they bottle. So how then could they ever possibly qualify to use the estate bottled term on their labels?
The one scenario that would allow custom crush clients to sneak in the back door to qualifying for estate bottled on their wine’s label would be if they acquired some finished wine from the same winery where their wines are made, and of course this batch of wine would qualify fully for use of the estate bottled term. This avenue is a common type of transaction between custom crush clients and the wineries that make their wines. This is often just simply because the winery has some extra wine and the custom crush client has a need for it to bump up their wine gallons for a bottling blend. If in those instances they are also tuned into the estate bottled option becoming a possibility for them, their wine would be part of a very small and select group within the estate bottled camp.