By Jennifer Farley

Offline Design Inspiration: Wine Labels (Hic!)

By Jennifer Farley

mollydookerI have to admit, one of my fantasy design jobs would be to design a series of wine labels. There’s the challenge of designing for a small area; there’s a certain austerity and sense of history surrounding wine-making; and it’s also a product I’m always interested in sampling.

Wine labels were found on jars of wine in the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt, who died in 1352 B.C. The labels contained information on the contents of the jars. Zooming on a couple of thousand years, in the 1700s, hand-written labels became more commonplace as glass bottles replaced casks for holding wine. By the late 1700s, lithography had been invented allowing the mass printing of labels.

Today, the requirements for wine labeling vary from country to country. In Europe, labels must show, the producer, the bottler, country and region of origin, vintage year, bottle volume, alcohol content and in some countries, a health warning. So that’s a fair amount of information to consider before designing a label.

While this blog is generally about web design, it would be extremely short-sighted to look for inspiration only within this industry. Good design is good design and it comes in many forms. So now for your viewing pleasure and design inspiration, here are ten interesting wine labels.


The graphic design work for this wine from Winery Arts is by Moruba, a Spanish design company.
Colourful handprints with lots of white space from Argentine designers Ballester/Milia.
Hand-drawn labels by Hanna Backman of Swedish design group Lulu.

The design for the Bins range started as a joke by UK based packaging designer Dare and features photographs of refuse bins outside people’s houses. It was based on the idea that many Australian wines use the specific ‘bin’ number to identify their wines.


Simple but clever labels designed by Watts Design, Australia.


Beautiful Karadag wine label by Nadie Parshina. The illustrations on the labels show the disappearing breeds of animals and birds which live in karadag.


Turk wine label design by Austrian company Bauer.

The Sibling Rivalry labels were created by Canadian design company, Insite Design.

The Molly Dooker design by MASH, with no computer generated fonts, all type was hand drawn. Inspiration came from antique books and old advertising illustrations.


And to finish, I’ve never actually seen this one in the shops here, but the web site is cool, and the label made me laugh. I would buy this wine for the label.

Have you come across any nice labels in the off-license or bottle shop?

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  • wb

    fat bastard is available in Ontario, Canada… it’s actually really good.

  • How very odd that I should read this article right after another one on wine labels… with a slightly different twist, I must say.

    The Alabama Beverage Control Board has just outlawed one winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon because they say the label, based on an 1895 Parisian art poster, is pornographic.

    Sometimes I am ashamed to live in such a place.

  • There are some beautiful designs in there.

    Funny thing is, the nicer the label, the more suspicious I tend to be about the quality of the wine.

    How do you sell an $8 bottle of plonk for $20?

    Put the sort of label on it that makes people say ‘Wow, isn’t that cool?!?’ when you pull it out at a dinner party.

    It’s clever, really. Lots of people are relatively ambivalent about the actual wine but everyone likes having pretty things.

  • fat bastard wine, love it :)

  • It’s true inspiration can come from anywhere. People often limit themselves to looking at CSS galleries. If you want to create an orginial design you need to look around you, magazines, art galleries and yes even wine bottles – now that’s research!

  • randywehrs

    Great article, great examples! I actually collect well-designed wine labels, getting them off by filling the bottle with extremely hot water and coaxing them away from the bottle with a razor blade. I too would love to design some of these! Ralph Steadman, the infamous gonzo illustrator even designed a few, which are pretty neat. Thanks for the good read!

  • LazyAndroid

    I kind of don’t like the Türk labels. Is there such a thing as too much whitespace? The boxing is nice, though.

  • WineGuy


    If you would like to pursue one of your fantasy jobs designing a series of wine labels there are a lot of new vintners popping up in urban areas that can use your skills.

    Let me know if you want an in.

    Chris Campbell

  • El Jefe

    I’m rather fond of this one, my son designed it!

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