Doing Business in a Crowded Market: A Rise in Wine Labels Approved by TTB

If it appears like the United States wine market has become more saturated over the past couple of decades, here is one measurement that supports this impression: The number of wine labels approved by the Federal government. Before we dig into the details, it is important to note that many COLAs are approved without ever hitting the market. Additionally, the rule governing when a label must be submitted for approval is that the approval must be obtained before the wine is bottled.

Using LabelVision, we are able to uncover a number of interesting and useful data points about the American wine market. For example, while the number of label approvals increased by 140% during this 17-year period, total wine sales in 1997 vs. 2013 increased by only 70%. Do wine drinkers have access to a far larger variety of wines than ever before? Between 1997 and 2013 the number of wine labels approved annually increased from 36,000 in 1997 to 93,000 labels approved in 2013—a 140% increase. During this same time period, the U.S. population increased by roughly 15%.

The data also tells us that domestically made wines have increased their share of total wines during this time period, though approvals of imported wine labels have outnumbered domestic wine label approvals every year. In 1997 domestic wine labels represented 28% of all approved labels that year. By 2013 domestic wine labels had risen to 36% of all approvals and reached its height in 2010 when they represented 42% of all label approvals.

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 12.19.24 PMWhile LabelVision allows us (and you) to very accurately determine how many wine, beer and spirit labels are being approved annually along with the trends over time, we can’t exactly determine the cause of label approval increases or decreases from one year to another because of the requirements surrounding COLA approvals.

Label approvals during a given year might be a factor of the size of the global vintage from 1-4 years prior, to the state of the economy during a recent period, and even to TTB efficiency in approving labels. For example, the number of labels approved in 2013 bears no relationship to the amount of wine produced from the 2013 harvest. A 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon label might be submitted for approval in 2014, 2015, 2016 or even beyond depending on when it is released and when the producer gets around to submitting the label for approval.

It certainly appears that the U.S. marketplace for wine has become much more crowded with a greater diversity of products. Wine makers may see it as more competitive, consumers may see it as more variety on the shelves. Either way, we are looking forward to using LabelVision to keep up on COLA trends.

LabelVision Trend Watch: Moscato – In Review

Our recently released LabelVision tool is already giving many alcohol beverage companies a new way to protect their brands, labels and trademarks by being able to closely monitor newly approved alcohol beverage labels. But perhaps just as important is the insights into trends it will lend marketers, the media and researchers. Take the example of Moscato and its meteoric rise over the past few years. We used LabelVision to answer the question, what can we learn about the increase in popularity of Moscato by looking at the history of Moscato label approvals? What we found was stark, hard evidence of the varietal’s ascent in popularity. Between 2000 and 2009, 410 labels with references to “Moscato” were approved. Between 2010 and 2013 1,946 labels with reference to Moscato were approved. A total of 748 labels referencing Moscato were approved in 2012 alone.


LabelVision made discovering this information simple. Merely by identifying a year and varietal, LabelVision returns the number of labels approved referencing that varietal within the identified time frame. Additionally, it returns images of all the labels approved. LabelVision also returned the top sources for Moscato labels. In 2012 it breaks down like this:

  • California — 139 Moscato Labels Approved
  • Italy — 124 Moscato Labels Approved
  • Chile — 77 Moscato Labels Approved
  • Argentina — 47 Moscato Labels Approved
  • Australia — 25 Moscato Labels Approved
  • Moldova — 23 Moscato Labels Approved
  • Spain — 21 Moscato Labels Approved

You can see a steep incline in the number of Moscato labels approved from 2010 to 2012. LabelVision makes it easy to discover market trends in their early stages. If we look at today’s trending products, we may conclude that cider is hot on Moscato’s trail. Take a look at this related blog post to read more about the current cider trend. For more information about LabelVision, visit:

Sending our thoughts to California

All of us at ShipCompliant are very sorry to hear about the earthquake over the weekend that impacted our friends in Napa and Sonoma. While we are grateful to hear that none of our friends in the area are injured, we are saddened by the property damage, loss of inventory, and overall disruption to the operations the earthquake has caused.

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If you are not in Napa and would like to help those affected by the earthquake, you can donate to the Red Cross. Click here to donate directly to the Napa County Chapter. Additionally, we encourage wine drinkers to drink Napa wines (#drinknapa) to help make up for the costs of loss in inventory.

If you are in Napa and would like to help out, check out the Wine Industry Insights help forum where you can both ask for assistance and offer your assistance. Monitor news related to the Napa earthquake on Additionally, a complete list of resources for the Napa community is available from Napa Valley Vintners.

Lastly, yesterday TTB recognized that the devastation caused by the earthquake may have affected the operations of certain taxpayers. TTB will consider waiving late filing, payment, or deposit penalties on a case-by-case basis. Read full details of the announcement here.

Stay safe everyone!

Indiana Now Requires Encrypted File Transfer for Alcohol Reports

No one disputes that applying new technology to the process of complying with state liquor regulations is long overdue. However, the new eFile requirements for Indiana excise taxes and shipping reports demonstrates that instituting new digital processes can be challenging. GenericFeatureBubble_compliance

The New Law

Beginning with the October filings (due in November), Indiana will require alcohol excise taxes to file reports and submit tax payments electronically. This applies to Direct-To-Consumer as well as wholesale reporting.

  • If you are reporting more than 50 transactions in a reporting period, you must do so via XML file format. If you are reporting less than 50 transactions, you can request to enter each transaction via the Indiana Department of Revenue transaction-by-transaction data entry.
  • Form 726 is now ALC-DWS: Direct Wine Seller’s Excise Tax Return
  • Forms ABP1-B and ABP1-WLare now ALC-PS: Primary Source Suppliers Monthly Report
  • Beginning August 15, 2014, taxpayers must register with INtax and have a 10-digit tax identification (TID) number with a three digit location. You will not need to reregister if you already have a TID.
  • Taxpayers must send PGP-encrypted files when filing.
  • In order to eFile, taxpayers must successfully upload at least two test files without errors. Once two files have been uploaded taxpayers will be able to perform a bulk file upload.
  • More details available on Indiana’s website.
  • ShipCompliant clients will have their tax payments calculated and reports generated in the appropriate XML format. Test uploads will also be available.


AutoFile and the ShipCompliant Fix

If this all sounds somewhat complicated, then you have correctly understood the implications of the new eFiling process in Indiana. AutoFile is a great solution for those wineries who would like to have the new reporting process handled automatically. AutoFile will handle all of the testing, encryption, and file transfer requirements on behalf of subscribers, with robust accounting tools and visibility into reports and payments. While we applaud the state of Indiana for updating their reporting process for a digital age, ShipCompliant’s mission is to ease the burden of compliance for all of our clients. In this case, the best way to do just that is to sign up for AutoFile. Plus, your first month of reporting is on us!

Alcohol Beverage Companies Will See 20/20 with LabelVision

The most comprehensive and efficient tool ever created to monitor newly approved for protecting your trademark and proprietary wine names, easily avoiding brand and product name conflicts, researching packaging trends, and brainstorming package design just hit the market. News of such a robust product is particularly exciting because both the novice and the experienced alcohol beverage professional will find value. It doesn’t matter what your day job is  – you will want to use LabelVision. Trends and trademarks change quickly in the alcohol beverage space. Often times we find it hard to get ahead of the curve and may not even know where to start when it comes to finding an original name for a competitive product. Innovations are incredibly popular right now. How can you be sure your innovation is timely and sets you apart?

You’ve heard of expensive trademark and copyright lawsuits before. In Boulder, a local brewery had to switch their brewery name over such a lawsuit. They had all their beer brewed, signs in the brewery were hung, and the labels were approved, all to change their name after years in the business. Infringing on a trademark isn’t on anyone’s to do list – yet how does it happen so often? Now, it doesn’t have to happen. From here on out, you can proactively protect your trademarks quickly and easily.

With LabelVision you will perform competitive analysis with beautiful and intuitive design in mind. Specify a certain date range, product type, company and more in one spot. LabelVision uses sophisticated Optical Character Recognition (OCR) so you can search for practically anything on an approved COLA. For example, you can use the words “gluten” or “carbonated” to search. Any label with either of these words will be returned because entire COLAs have been indexed into your new search database. If you nail down a search worth saving, you can do so for easy access in the future. Better yet – you can setup email notifications right when you start using LabelVision. An email notification is helpful (and these days necessary) for proactively protecting your intellectual property. You can export saved search results into an Excel spreadsheet for further analysis. Let’s say you’d like to take a look at industry trends. We serve up a catered report of wine, spirits, and beer and malt trends by calculating and counting COLA approvals.

If you are in alcohol beverage law, the search tools within LabelVision will be all the more powerful. Instead of spending hours searching for a group of approved COLAs, you will spend minutes. Your clients are safe with LabelVision’s email notifications in place. If another company steps on your client’s toes – you will be the first to know, not the last.

We’d like you to be among the first to try LabelVision. You’ll see the benefits in no time. What’s your beverage of choice? I bet you can find the label in less than 5 seconds. Did you know there are more than 25 approved zombie labels? Take a look! ShipCompliant will offer early bird pricing for a limited time, so make sure to get all of your questions answered now. ShipCompliant clients can take a look at LabelVision right in their account, under the analytics tab. If you are new to ShipCompliant, we’d like to find the right fit for you. Contact our sales team by emailing or calling (303)-996-1745. In the meantime do checkout our free version of LabelVision. You’ll be able to search the last year of the most recently approved labels. Happy searching!