Vintage 99 Label Mfg, 3663 Regional Pkwy., Santa Rosa, 95403; 707-978-3007; vintage99.com

Today’s wine shopper can have at their fingertips a mobile research library to inform the pick of one bottle from the store shelf over another, and Vintage 99 Label Mfg has developed a tool for giving interactive labeling an upgrade.

The wine-focused commercial printer this year released the iQ-dio interactive label feature (iqdio.com), which gives to consumers quick access wine information and to vintners real-time feedback and marketing analytics. When the QR code is photographed on a device app that supports them, the consumer is directed to tasting notes, food-pairing suggestions, videos and audio messages from the winemaker, other wines to explore. Shoppers can hear the winemaker talk about the wine, get recipe suggestions, view other varietals of the brand, join the wine club and use discount coupons.

QR and other codes allowing easy entry of website links have been around for several years. Key to the iQ-dio system is a mobile website landing page for each brand and varietal of wine, and brand managers can find out about visitors to each page. The consumer doesn’t have to download a winery app or navigate through a corporate website.

Vintage 99 started in 1999 and expanded from Livermore to Santa Rosa in October 2013.

Kathleen Gonzales, president of Vintage 99 Label, talked with the Business Journal about the expansion of Vintage 99 to Santa Rosa, wine industry growth and launches of the iQ-dio label and medallion bottle decoration.

What’s the scope and scale of your business?

Kathleen Gonzales: We employ 29 employees between our Livermore and Santa Rosa operations. Our business has continued to grow 20% per year since 2013 after investing in lean manufacturing processes and expanding into the Santa Rosa area.

The development of iQ-dio has also changed our customers’ perception of us from being strictly a wine label printer to a partner that can help them market and sell their wines more effectively. The development, release and feedback of iQ-dio this year has been tremendous.

How has your operation changed in the past few years?

Gonzales: Expansion into Santa Rosa has been a drastic and positive change to our company. After hearing from customers and noticing the lack of service to the wine industry in the North Bay area, we invested heavily into establishing a full print production facility in the local area, so that customers and designers wouldn’t have to travel to Napa or Sonoma for press checks and to discuss label-printing options.

Our Santa Rosa facility is equipped with waterless offset and digital printing presses along with plate-making and prepress services.

The printer also recently has been offering resin embossed medallions that look and feels like a wax seal but for half the cost as well as clear resin appliqués that look like embossed glass. The decorations can be applied with the help of a labeler designed for pressure-sensitive labels.

How is your operation set to change in the foreseeable future?

Gonzales: Through our development of iQ-dio we have learned that our winery customers are looking for more than wine label printing. They are struggling to attract and market their wines to younger buyers and need new ways to change or update content about their wine without having to redo their labels each time.

In the future, Vintage 99 Label will continue to specialize in wine labels but will move the label from being a printed piece only to a dynamic part of a wineries brand and marketing through use of online connectivity including near field communication technologies.

How healthy is the wine business?

Gonzales: The industry has recovered slowly but consistently in the past three years. Most of our existing customers are now ordering 15 percent to 20 percent more labels than they did since 2012, and wineries that previously only sold one or two brands have added additional brands and/or varietals with the comment to us that they are working hard to keep up with increased consumer demand.

We expect growth to continue an additional 10 percent to 15 percent through 2017.

What are three opportunities and challenges facing your business?

Gonzales: While we are in a niche segment of the printing industry, competition is high in the Napa, Sonoma, North Bay area. In the past five years, many of our competitors have been purchased by larger printing companies or have been consolidated.

Vintage 99 Label has remained privately owned and operated for 16 years, with the intent to remain stable for our customers and offer professional local service. By resisting consolidation we’ve actually been able to grow our business significantly since wineries are reluctant to allow their labels to be moved to a new printing facility and work with a different team.