Wine bottles will often have notes on the label to help buyers understand what they are buying. However, if you aren’t sure what the notes mean, then you may feel like you are in the dark.
Do people care who “vinted” the wine?
Do people care who bottled the wine?
Modern buyers are more curious about where their food, products, and even alcohol originated to help them make more responsible choices, including wine.
Vinted and Bottled By are descriptions to inform the buyer how involved the winery on the label was involved in the production of the final, purchased bottle of wine. Wine may change many hands during the growing, crushing, fermenting, bottling, and aging process. The wine maker may source grapes from other vineyards, or sell their wine to other wineries for further production, or send their wine to a bottling facility.
These wines are created for specific purposes that cater to different markets, including low-cost bottles, or easy to drink wines, among other reasons. We will explain what these descriptions really mean and how they may impact the finished wine.
What Does “Vinted” or “Bottled By” Mean?
Vinted is the past tense of the word “vint” which means to make or produce wine. This phrase may mislead wine buyers unless the buyers know what it actually means. In California, there are legal definitions for many of these phrases. In this instance, “Vinted by” means that the winery indicated made less than 10% of the wine in the bottle.
“Vinted by” is used synonymously with “cellared by” to indicate that the winery indicated may have treated the wine with some additional process, but likely bought wine in bulk from another winemaker. This means that they did not process the grapes themselves and make the wine in house. If the label states the wine was “vinted by” but has no other descriptions, it’s possible the wine simply was stored or moved through the wineries facilities already bottled.
If the label states the wine was “vinted and bottled by”, the winery may have purchased the bulk wine and processed it further by adding additional sugar or water, blending with another wine, filtering it, pasteurizing it, or even just simply refrigerating it. For example, the winery might by a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, blend them together, and call it a “California” Cabernet.
Long Barn Chardonnay is one example where Long Barn is the winery on the front of the label, but the description on the back indicates that they may not have actually made more than 10% of the wine in the bottle.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this process as it may produce wines that have different characteristics than what is possible through a single winery made wine. These wines may be drinkable when they’re very young, rather than improving with age. They may be lower cost or blended to be more palatable to new wine drinkers.
The phrase “bottled by” has less of a risk of misinterpretation than “vinted by.” 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.
Wineries Making Deals
There isn’t anything inherently wrong with one winery bottling wine from another winery. In fact, the winemaking process requires a lot of steps and entities. Growing grapes, harvesting them, making the wine, bottling, and distributing requires a lot of upfront costs for equipment and facilities than many wineries may not be able to fund. Other businesses may choose to just be involved in one step of the process.
Many vineyards grow grapes for winemaking without producing the wine themselves. These vineyards will sell their grapes to wineries. Even wineries that grow their own grapes may produce more than they are able to produce into wine or they may need to purchase additional fruit if their own harvests weren’t substantial enough.
The process can even change year over year. A new winery may not have enough capital to bottle their own wines the first few years they are operational, but gradually build up their facilities. Another winery might have had a bad harvest and need to supplement their grapes. Other wineries may find that they’re able to produce wines for lower costs by outsourcing the bottling to a larger facility, or that they can produce higher quality wines by purchasing grapes from a vineyard with a better climate or soil.
There are plenty of wines that indicate that they are “vinted” or “bottled by” that may be lower quality wines, yet taste amazing. There are also plenty of “estate bottled” wines that may not be good or enjoyable to drink. We recommend being familiar with all these teams to understand where your wine came from, but be open to trying a variety of wines produced by all different vineyards and wineries.