Business

Local winemaker offers custom labels

Phil and Betty Harrison show off a bottle of their homemade wine with a custom label. - Charlie Bermant
Phil and Betty Harrison show off a bottle of their homemade wine with a custom label.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

With the enduring popularity of wine, supermarkets are stocking more varieties and wine boutiques have increased in number.

A new Port Orchard wine merchant, however, is following a different philosophy, offering three similar wine blends with infinite possibilities for the label.

“We can create a custom label from any image they supply,” said Celebration Wines co-owner Phil Harrison. “We can fill large orders, for something like a wedding, or do a single bottle for a special occasion.”

Harrison, a nearly retired engineer, has been making his own wine since college.

He runs the shop, which is now open in Towne Center Port Orchard, with his wife Betty.

With her skill in graphic design, she works with each client to develop a label appropriate to the occasion.

Clients can submit their art digitally, or bring it in for scanning.

Betty has several label templates and an idea of what looks best, but customers can create their own label at home and submit the completed design.

Phil makes the wine at home, keeping a ready made stock of finished bottles. Clients develop their design and the label is attached, with most single orders completed in a few days.

Labels range in size, but the maximum design should be 5.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Clients are given free reign and use a variety of sources for the designs.

There are some limits. One client wanted an image that bordered on the pornographic on a label, the Harrisons declined.

The wine isn’t meant to turn heads or win awards, it is good quality red table wine offered at a reasonable price.

A bottle without a custom label costs $10, comparable with supermarket wine of the same quality. And while quantity discounts are available, a single bottle with a custom label is priced at $22 ($15 for half bottles) plus tax.

For more pizzaz, the shop sells a variety of custom wine bags.

So for less than $30, people can give a commemorative, unique gift that isn’t available anywhere else.

They also sell small sample bottles for $3, which is a handy way to offer tastes without having to host an event.

The business began last year at the Port Orchard Farmers’ Market, eventually selling about 1,000 bottles.

The market will continue to be the primary retail outlet, as the mall location will be used to meet clients and provide samples (currently it is only open on Fridays and by appointment). They don’t expect to get a lot of foot traffic at the mall, but if business is good they may move to one of the larger storefronts.

They have planned the business since last year, and were not expecting the current economic downturn.

They are undeterred, with Phil explaining, “People will always drink wine and they want to be entertained, no matter what is happening with the economy.”

The Harrisons, who have two grown children, moved to Port Orchard six years ago after living in Snohomish County.

They got the the idea from their son, who was familiar with a similar enterprise in Texas.

While looking for a “fun business” to start, they determined that no such enterprise existed in Washington.

Aside from the customization aspect, the Harrisons think the wine will generate a demand on its own merit.

“People like to buy local if they have an option,” Phil said. “If you go to Europe, you won’t order a Budwiser. You’ll want to try one of the local brews.”

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