[caption id="attachment_88874" align="alignnone" width="500"] Bergin Glass Impressions President Mike Bergin with the nine-color Fermac automated bottle screen-printer that was installed in mid-January 2014. (courtesy of Bergin Glass Impressions)[/caption]
As more producers of higher-end and even superpremium-priced wine turn to screen-printed labels on bottles as a way to distinguish themselves on ever-crowded store shelves, local printing companies have been spending several million dollars upgrading equipment to handle a surge in orders.
[caption id="attachment_88816" align="alignright" width="270"] Bergin Glass Impressions President Mike Bergin with the nine-color Fermac automated bottle screen-printer that was installed in mid-January. (image credit: Bergin Glass Impressions)[/caption]
Also a factor in the capital investments are significant increases in wine set for release from back-to-back record-sized winegrape crops, according to the printers.
New equipment being installed by Napa-based bottle silk-screener and etcher Bergin Glass Impressions (707-224-0111, berginglass.com) and Richmond-based Monvera Glass Decor (877-792-1150, monvera.com), which screen-prints labels on bottles for a number of North Coast wineries, has faster throughput and color capabilities, more automation and greater ability to cover the bottle in art.
Theses new systems allow bottle label designs to seamlessly venture further out of the physical confines of glue-applied or pressure-sensitive labels. Such new territory, even for screen-printing, includes over the "shoulder" of the bottle -- where the wider part tapers to the neck -- up the neck itself and on the bottom, according to Paul Tincknell, a principal in wine packaging design firm Tincknell & Tincknell of Santa Rosa.
"It's always been a challenge, because of the curves," he said. "Wine bottles are surprisingly nonuniform."Bergin invests $2.5M
Bergin Glass Impressions invested $2.5 million in creating large-run and small-run printing lines in the past three years to handle a surge in business from existing customers as well as 30 to 40 new ones added annually, according to Mike Bergin, president.
In February of last year, 40-employee Bergin spent more than $1 million commissioning a nine-color, 80-bottles-a-minute fully automated silkscreen printer to accompany the six-color printer installed in 2008. The newest one, said to be one of only four like it in the world, arrived from Italy on Jan. 3.
"It came in at just the nick of time, because we needed it," Mr. Bergin said.
The production impact from the 2012 and 2013 harvests is becoming evident. Sales last year were 20 percent higher than in 2011. At this point, 80 percent to 90 percent of the capacity of the large-run line is committed for this year, and the typical slow month of October during harvest already is committed to serve a large client, Mr. Bergin said. Having a small-run line allows smaller new jobs to be added this year, he added.
Those two printers complement each other in handling large production runs, which average 2,500 12-bottle cases but can be a large as 10,000 cases. In June 2012 Bergin created a small-run line -- jobs of 200--800 cases -- made up of a three-color printer and two six-color printers. The two lines allow better management of jobs going into the lehr, or furnace, that hardens the art on the glass.Monvera spends $1.6M
[caption id="attachment_86300" align="alignright" width="300"] Monvera Glass Decor's new CNC bottle screen printer was significant to a 50 percent increase in production capacity. (courtesy of Monvera Glass Decor)[/caption]