September 19, 2017

Women Prefer Wine With a Story To Tell


More Midwest wineries are realizing that women like to be marketed to differently. According to The Beverage Information Group, women accounted for 58.1 percent of wine buyers in 2011.

While many men look to ratings to give them advice, women are much more influenced by the stories behind the bottle and the entire social experience of wine. In the Sommelier Journal, Liz Thach, who teaches wine classes at Sonoma State University’s School of Business and Economics, said, “Our latest study shows some basis for the idea that men are more influenced by authoritative ratings and the prestige of name brands, whereas women are more concerned with the social experience of drinking wine and the stories behind the bottles, as provided by labels and personal recommendations. Men collect wine, women share it; men use wine to impress others, while women use it to create memories.”

Recently, we’ve noticed that Midwestern wine label artwork is taking on a more feminine look.

Edward Harkness "Fling"

Edward Harkness “Fling”

For example, Harkness Edwards Vineyards, a niche winery located in Winchester, Kentucky, created the wine label “Fling” specifically for female consumers. The “Fling” wine label also won the “Most Unique” Gold Medal in the 2012 Mid-American Wine Competition. According to the vineyard’s website, “Fling” is made from the Aphrodite grape, a hybrid variety bred in Davis, California, from the Norton grape and a Portuguese variety called Algarve.

The label design began with an illustration created by designer Beth Edwards showcasing a woman in jeans, heels and shopping bags. The owners, Cathy and Harkey Edwards, loved the illustration and thought it was compatible with their exotic Algarve wine. Beth Edwards joked, “Algarve is destined to be a wine for women because it is a beautiful looking vine with bright pink grapes.”

The back of the wine label continues with copy that targets women with lines like, “The mundane, you need a break from it” and describing the wine as “…bold and daring like your spontaneous weekend getaways, shopping sprees and occasional alter ego. Share it with your friends. They expect something like this from you.”

Westphalia Vineyards normally has a stately illustration of their hometown of Westphalia, Missouri on their labels. But the winery decided to break from tradition and design an entirely new label for “Naughty but Nice” chocolate wine because they noticed that many of the tasting room customers who favor “Naughty but Nice” are women.

Terry Neuner, owner of Westphalia Vineyards, explained that after tasting over a hundred samples of chocolate wine, he envisioned the “Naughty but Nice” wine label as depicting “a lady in a red dress whispering sweet nothings in her man’s ear.”

Before proceeding with a label, Westphalia conducted focus groups asking which chocolate wine participants favored. More seasoned wine drinkers preferred the darker chocolate, while novice women drinkers preferred milk chocolate. Terry Neuner then challenged the group with the question: “What wine would you buy with a bouquet on a special occasion?” The result is a sweeter wine made from 100% Norton with natural chocolate flavor.

Westphalia's "Naughty but Nice"

WestphaliaVineyards’ “Naughty but Nice”

Eric Neuner, head of Westphalia’s marketing and public relations,  said, “when we are giving tastings of our wine, the “Naughty but Nice” wine skews predominately female. Women love to pick up the bottle and share the story with their friends and significant others.”

Westphalia Vineyards has found that if they put a bouquet of flowers next to the wine during holidays like Valentine’s Day, the wine flies off the shelf.

Chateau Z Vineyard in Amherst County, Virginia, released “Noir,” a sweet, red candy-like table wine, in 2013 with a more risqué wine label featuring a woman with her skirt inched up, garter belt showing and a gun pointed at the man across the desk. Owner, Cliff Ambers is targeting both women and men who appreciate film noir and have a sense of humor.

Cliff Ambers said that the idea of using the film noir came to him because he, “Always wanted to make a wine called simply “Noir” to poke fun at all the francophilia in the wine trade that spews out noir this and noir that. Plus, I’m a feminist and fan of film noir, so when I started searching for images that might fit the bill and ran across Jim Ferreira’s “Trouble is Always a Dame” image it really hit my sarcasm funny bone.”

What really surprised Amber was TTB label approval on the first submission. “I thought a leggy dame holding a gun on a guy would have been grounds for denial, but I guessed wrong,” he said. Interestingly, Westphalia Vineyard’s “Naughty and Nice” chocolate wine was originally called “Naughty Norton” but was rejected by the TTB on grounds that a variety’s name is not allowed in a flavored wine.

These three regional wineries are approaching women on wine labels differently, but one thread remains the same – all have compelling stories behind the label. Part of creating a consistent brand is keeping the same look across all of your wine labels, but it’s also important to create demographically targeted artwork that will help meet your sales goals. Women play a huge part in winery sales, just look at the winery crowds on the weekend.

Rebecca is the owner of Bauerhaus Design, which specializes in building brands for Midwestern wineries. For more information visit Bauerhaus Design at

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  1. Great article Rebecca! Love the label examples.
    Patty Held

  2. Fantastic article! I loved reading about how differently men and women view wine. It is so true.
    Great job Becca!