There are so many different descriptions that can be included on a bottle of wine that it may be easy to be confused which each one actually means. Given that some terms may be regulated while others are not, the buyer may wonder how the terms may even impact the finished wine.
What does cellared and bottled by mean on a wine label? Cellared by means the winery indicated may have stored or aged the wine for some period of time, or even treated it with a few approved processes. Bottled by indicates the winery listed took finished wine and bottled it in their own facility, even if the wine was made by someone else.
We will explain in a little bit more detail what each phrase means and what the differences really are.
Cellared Versus Bottled
To cellar a wine means to store it for aging for a certain amount of time. The amount of time that each wine ages before bottling depends on the preferences of the winemaker and the variety of wine. However, some winemakers may produce a bulk wine that they then sell to another winery. The winery may choose to process the wine further through adding sugar or water, aging it in different types of barrels, among other processes.
The term is actually regulated in the United States by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Board (TTB). Cellar treatment is defined as “the use of various methods or materials to correct or stabilize wine or juice.” According to the TTB, “cellared by” is synonymous with “prepared by” and “vinted by.”
Here is a list of authorized cellar treatments:
- Treating with filtering agents
- Treating with fining agents
- Treating with sterilizing agents
- Treating with sulfur dioxide (may not exceed 350 ppm)
- Pasteurization (may not change the basic composition of the wine)
- Correction of cloudiness, precipitation, abnormal colors, odor, or flavor
- Treatment with the use of constituents naturally present in the fruit from which the wine is produced to correct any deficiencies
- Addition of fruit flavor concentrates, as long the concentrate is from the same types of fruit used to make the wine (and does not’ exceed the concentration of natural fruit in the wine)
- Use of carbon dioxide to counter pressure when transferring finished sparkling wines from bulk into bottles, or bottle to bottle
The intent of the regulations of all these processes is that the inherent flavor and aromas of the wine should not be greatly impacted. Since each variety of wine from specific regions has known flavors and aromas, the intent is that the bottler would not affect these properties in a way that results in a wine that would differ from what a buyer would expect. Any process should only serve to enhance those flavors.
When a winery buys bulk wine and processes it, usually the winery will then label the wine as “made by,” or “vinted by” or even “cellared by.” However, without the regulation from the TTB, the name would imply that the winery just stored or laid down the wine. Some wines may take many years to age before they reach their prime drinkability, so these wineries may age the wine for two, five, even ten years before releasing the wine for sale.
Wineries that cellar the wine may also bottle the wine for distribution or have it bottled by another facility. Therefore, the wine may “cellared and bottled by,”
The phrase “bottled by” indicates the winery listed had much less involvement in the making, processing, or aging the wine. If no other phrases are noted on the bottle, then the winery indicated simply bottled the wine. Often the winemaker will be indicated or branded on the front of the bottle, while the bottler is indicated on the back label of the bottle. For example, take the brand Menage et Trois. Their brand is clearly labeled on the front of the bottle, but on the back of the bottle the note says that their Red Blend is bottled by Folie à Deux. Folie à Deux has their own wine, but also bottles other wineries’ wines.
When “bottled by” is used by itself on the label, the phrase means that the wine was produced at another winery and then shipped in bulk to another facility to be bottled. The winery on the front of the label may have produced the wine while the winery indicated by “bottled by” actually filled the bottles.
However, if the bottle indicates that it was “Estate Bottled” this indicates that the winery on the bottle was responsible for the entire process. They grew the grapes, crushed and fermented the grapes, then fermented, bottled, and aged the wine. This phrase ensures the buyer that the winery on the label oversaw the entire process from vineyard to bottle.
While many wine descriptions are not regulated, the requirements for the labeling of the bottler are very precise. The winery that bottles or packs the wine must be labeled on the finished bottle of wine. The name and address of the bottling company or packer must appear clearly on the label. In fact, there are even minimum font sizes that are required on the bottle. While the name of the winery that bottled the wine must be included on the bottle, the name of the vinter that made, blended, or prepared the wine is optional.
If the vinter also produced, made, blended, cellared, vinted, or prepared the wine, the required name and address of the bottler (or packer) must be preceded by “Bottled (or Packed) by” and may also be preceded by an explanatory phrase that references the specific winemaking operation. Other optional phrases can be used to otherwise describe the involvement of another winery, so long as the “bottled by” description is included on the bottle.
These phrases usually are indicative that the winery involved may have had a little involvement in the final flavor, must mostly the winery that produced the wine, where the grapes were grown, and the variety of the wine would have the most indication of flavor and quality.