I was in the wine section of a store in Chile, examining the bottles and reading the labels to know more about local wines. In the part for the high-end wines, a small detail took my attention: The signatures of the winemaker or the owner on the labels.
Soon after I realized it’s not unique to Chile, winemakers from all around the world sign the wine labels. It’s common that wineries use the names, quotes and signatures of the winemakers to have ‘a face’ to promote their wines. In the end, the consumers are buying a wine of a person they see, and they associate the wine with the identity of the winemaker.
This shows the exceptional role of the winemaker on the bottle produced. There is a lot going into only one bottle of wine, plantation of the vineyard, soil work, pruning, vineyard management, harvest, grape reception, fermentation, enological processes, bottling, labeling, marketing, sales… But it’s in the end the winemaker who turns the juice into wine. But make no mistake, when the winemakers sign the label, they don’t sign it only for their name, they represent their team, the terroir, and all the work done to bring the wine to our tables. The wines come from the soil, pass from the hand of the producers as a team and find their place on the shelves as the pride of hard work.
But how do the signatures on the labels affect the perception of the consumer? A research was conducted to find an answer to this question (1). One hundred seventy-one students from a North American University joined this study, and their reactions of a vintner’s personal signature on a wine label on perceived quality were examined. This was related to their willingness to pay.
Surprisingly, the study showed the students had more willingness-to-pay when there was a personal signature on the label. Not only did they perceive the labels with signature higher quality, they also chose a bottle with a signature 70% of the time. However, when the students saw the labels with signature, they were influenced by their own perception of the expertise of the winemaker. The researchers explained this with the unique association between the signature and one’s identity.
It’s always captivating to see how the consumers make their decisions when it comes to choosing a bottle of wine with the help of the labels. In this case, it was specific to signatures on the labels, it might be small detail but it’s enough to change one’s idea. And as most of the time, the small details make the difference.
Next time you’re buying a bottle of wine, pay attention to the label to see if you have a signature, and don’t forget how one signature can mean hundreds of signatures that touch this single bottle.
All images © 2017 by Wines of Nesli. All rights reserved.