In 2008 the TTB received and processed over 130,000 label approval applications, 80% of which were for wine. (the remaining 15% were for beer & spirits labels.) Those numbers have been going up steadily as the number of US wineries only continues to rise. So it potentially comes as no surprise that the room for error in these label applications has also grown.
The areas of most frequent issue that the TTB sees in these applications generally fall into some simple fix categories such as illegibility, missing information or information in the incorrect area on the form, and font size issues. So why are such basic areas still an issue with these application submissions? The most common explanation points to lack of training and education by those handling the responsibility. Long story short, although wine (and all alcoholic beverages) have been regulated by the federal government since the very early days of US history, education about how to comply with their regulations has been very minimally covered. It has made much improvement fortunately in the past 5 to 10 years, but the gap is still closing to make up for the shortfall before that.
Wineries can access some training information specific to label approvals and many other topics via the TTB’s website. Simply by accessing and reviewing this information each time they fill out application materials can streamline the process, bringing their approvals back to them that much faster which saves time and potential costs for the rest of a winery’s bottling plans. The worst case scenario that has occured much more than many wineries would care to remember is having their labels printed up and then receiving notice back from the TTB that they were not approved which means having to pay for those labels twice. Ouch! By becoming well versed in the application process and ensuring it is done well ahead of the actual bottling day is the best plan of action for all wineries