This article and the Design Behind the Vine series is brought to you by Chateau Souverain.

For the many lifetimes spent contemplating the lush liquid that goes inside the glass, remarkably little consideration has been paid to what’s happening directly outside of a wine bottle. It might seem trivial to a committed connoisseur, but the label is how most consumers connect with a brand. And with over-crowded shelves at wine stores these days, producers have to fight for a meaningful way to stand out amongst the herd. You only have one chance to make a first impression, as they say. To this end, Chateau Souverain decided to make the conversation between bottle and drinker more personal than ever before.

Breaking free from the one-size-fits-all-approach, the California winery discovered personalization as a form of homage. “We wanted to show our appreciation for the people behind our wines and their dedication to our winemaking legacy over the past 74 years,” explains Chateau Souverain’s Director of Marketing, Adrienne Daniels. “We had the idea to put their names on our label so they could, ‘Make It Their Chateau.’”

Getting wine from grape to glass is an intense labor of love involving many helping hands. The names of those shaping the process are often overshadowed along the way. And that is precisely what Chateau Souverain sought to rectify by creating personalized wine labels to honor their team members. The idea was a hit and eventually evolved to welcome a broader audience under this celebratory umbrella.

“After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, we started to think about all the people who enjoy Chateau Souverain, and how they are just as much a part of our success and longevity over the years,” says Daniels. “We wanted to honor them and provide an opportunity for anyone to order their own label.”

The exercise to receive a personalized label is as effortless as it is groundbreaking. “Our goal was to make the experience as easy and straightforward as possible,” Daniels points out. “Consumers begin by visiting the website and selecting their favorite varietal from our portfolio, which includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. The majority of our consumers enjoy using their last name, but we have also seen creative ideas that are great for gifts — everything from ‘Chateau Bride’ to ‘Chateau Dad.’”

Whatever the chosen display, it figures proudly over the winery’s elegant crest: a leaf, a crown, the California Grizzly Bear, and the winery’s founding year of 1944, sectioned off into four equal quadrants. “The crown symbolizes our sovereign history as one of the original California wineries and our award-winning wines,” explains Daniels. “A bear honors the California Grizzly and our commitment to this premier winemaking region. A crest showcases our founding year. Finally, the grape leaf expresses our commitment to producing the highest-quality wines that are true to their varietal and style.” When brought together, the symbols provide a strong visual counterpoint to the individualized name bannered directly atop.

“Chateau Souverain is known for our modern, striking labels that tell the story of our 74-year history,” adds Daniels. “Our custom label program allows consumers to add their personal touch to a package they already love.”

It’s true, Chateau Souverain’s award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon has long been heralded as among the region’s most accessible takes on the classic Northern California varietal. But when it bears your name, it marks it as even more approachable — not to mention a terrific conversation piece. “We originally thought people would order labels simply for the enjoyment of seeing their names on the bottle,” Daniels says. “As it turns out, these personalized labels are ideal for all types of occasions. It’s the perfect match for dinner parties and host gifts, weddings, clients, bosses, or other special events.”

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And they’re resonating particularly well with a rapidly growing segment of millennial wine drinkers, thirsty for personal connection. “More than anything, wine labels set the tone when presented at the table,” notes Benny Bohm, GM and wine director at Cliff’s Edge Restaurant in Los Angeles. The crowd at his hotspot in the hip neighborhood of Silver Lake skews heavily toward young professionals. “[Labels] offer a first encounter with a winemaker’s sensibility, intentions, and how they view their place in the world of wine,” Bohm says. When your name appears on the label itself, it’s easier for aspirational drinkers to envision themselves as an integral part of a wine community that can feel intimidating to many.

Inside the bottle, the wines of Chateau Souverain have long exhibited an inviting style. Their flagship styles (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay) are tried-and-true representations of the varietals that put California on the viticultural map. And they’ve always been featured at accessible price points. The labeling program, it turns out, was merely a way to extend the approachability beyond the bottle.

“Labels are a wonderful means for wineries to convey their story directly to consumers,” says Daniels. “With the addition of personalized labels, we are excited to provide our drinkers the opportunity to be part of our story, and also to tell their own.”

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