Judging a Wine by Its Label

By March 1, 2017October 1st, 2018Blog, Rural/Agriculture News, Featured

By Amy Mugford
Communications Program Manager


“Humans really do eat with their eyes, and it’s the same with wine,” says wine label designer David Shuemann, author of “99 Bottles of Wine.” Wine labels are designed to whet the drinker’s appetite for what’s in the bottle.

Here in Loudoun, with 40+ wineries, there’s a lot of time and effort spent on designing appetizing wine labels.

Silver foil, illustrative cartoons, colorful photography and slanted labels are just a few artistic strategies I’ve seen used on Loudoun wine labels. Each of our wineries has their own techniques for grabbing your attention. As a graphic artist, here are three great examples that caught my eye when I was out exploring the Loudoun wine country:

Twisted Labels

Two Twisted Posts’ design started at the dinner table where Noel Eastham designed the family-owned winery’s label. Although she was only in her teens, she knew what would catch people’s eyes. However, with an unusual label, it takes extra time to get it approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The local labeling company Two Twisted Posts works with also needs a little extra time to produce the labels, but they believe the wait is worth it.

Samantha Eastham showing her daughter’s kitchen-table wine label design.


Colorful Photography

868 East Vineyards started with a base label design from a design firm from California that winemaker Carl DiManno had worked with before. Over the years, 868 has taken that base design and used it to highlight local Loudoun artists on their bottles of Reserve. While Carl has an idea of how the Reserve wine will develop at harvest in October, it’s not fully executed until bottling day in the spring. Nancy Deliso and the team have to be strategic on the artwork they pick because the label approvals have to be completed and submitted for approval months before the wine has been fully realized.

868 Estate Reserve displays some of Loudoun’s art.


Illustrative Stories

Terra Nebulo’s Cheryl Morrison works closely with Elena Iikus, a local retired graphic designer, to create their labels. The team brainstorms the characteristics and description of the bottle and then creates a unique and playful image to finalize the look. In order to save approval time, and to mass-produce labels at a local printer, the winery doesn’t put a year on their labels.  Instead, they change the colors of the foil over the cork to represent vintages.

The chicken with an attitude adds personality to the Terra Nebulo bottles.


In Loudoun, every label definitely has a story to tell. Come explore and hear the anecdotes for yourself while you enjoy the great wines our county has to offer.

If you’d like to bring a wine or agriculture-related business to Loudoun County, call 1-800-LOUDOUN.