The Growing Acceptance by the Industry Establishment

There is no denying that Jancis Robinson is one of the most established and respected names in the wine industry. So it is even more important to take note when such a prominent figure of the wine industry establishment acknowledges and comments on the growing use of alternative wine packaging, much less endorses the benefits of such.

Rigid wine pouches by AsdaRecently on her website she poses the question, “Why does wine have to be in a bottle?” – especially those wines bought for immediate enjoyment. She notes the growing popularity in the U.K. of the 1.5-L rigid pouch and PET bottles, even commenting on their increasingly stylish packaging of the latter. Her main take on the benefits are on the environmental savings in production, packaging weight, and recycling, quoting Michael Schmelzer of Monte Bernardi in Chianti Classico discussing their move to Tetra Pak® for a line of their wines:

“… Compared with wine in glass, a litre of delicious organic wine in Tetra Pak costs 75% less in packaging, and 50% less to transport. These savings allow us to offer a wine that retails at 35% less, while giving our customers 33% more wine (a litre v 750 ml).

“… The current lightest glass bottle weighs only 10% lighter than a standard glass bottle*, a saving of 40 grams, which equals the total weight of a one-litre Tetra Pak!

Europe in general has been leading in the adoption of alternative wine packaging. U.K. grocer chains Asda and Sainsbury both launched private label rigid pouches in their stores, with the producer and co-packer IPL saying that actual growth outstripped their production projections by 400%. Both are expanding other control labels with the rigid pouch package.

With the industry establishment – media and trade – recognizing the potential for expanding business and providing economic and environmental benefits, the growth of alternative wine packaging as a market segment is only beginning.

Read the full article on

Why does wine have to be in a bottle?

Read the press release on The Grocer:

Asda and Sainsbury’s try out wine vessel alternatives


Oregon millennials embrace “Growlers”

The (relatively) tiny Oregon wine industry continues to lead the pack in innovation and marketing and is projected to enjoy double digit growth in the coming year. Citing increased consumption by newly-legal-to-drink Millenials, Oregon wineries find cost-effective ways to deliver wine to the masses in 64-oz reusable jugs called growlers. In an interview with Steve Thomson, executive vice president of King Estate Winery states “Wine on tap is a really, really hot project around the country right now,” Thomson said. “It’s exploding.”

And a bill passed last month by the state legislature allows customers to fill 64-oz. reusable jugs, called growlers, with wine in grocery stores, restaurants and wine shops licensed to sell alcohol.

The growler bill, which passed both houses unanimously and was signed into law on April 11, applies a common microbrew practice to the wine industry. Previous law allowed wineries to sell wine in growlers, but did not allow non-winery businesses to do so.

Now, wineries can distribute wine in kegs to restaurants and grocery outlets that opt to sell wine on tap for customers to fill up their growlers.

Businesses will receive the wine in 5-gallon stainless steel kegs rather than bottles. One keg is equivalent to about 26 bottles. A nontoxic gas called argon is used to pressurize the kegs and keep the wine fresh.

As a result, wineries will cut costs on glass, paper and corks, and will presumably sell more wine, Thomson said..

Already, Thomson said, King Estate sells about 600 kegs a month to restaurants across the country, including several in Eugene, Portland and Seattle. Selling wine in kegs is about 5 percent to 10 percent cheaper than selling it in bottles, he said.

Thomson said he expects the Millennials will fill up on wine growlers more than the Baby Boomers, who tend to buy bottled wine from grocery stores.

“It’s a great market,” said Jonathan Oberlander, owner and winemaker at J. Scott Cellars in west Eugene. Oberlander said his winery started selling wine on tap a few years ago and has doubled its sales in the past two years.

The kegs Oberlander sells to local restaurants cost anywhere from $260 to $390, depending on the type of wine.

Sundance Wine Cellars in Eugene, which sells wine from J. Scott Cellars, hopes to offer customers the option of filling up a reusable jug full of wine in the next few months, manager Randy Stokes said. Every business must be approved by both the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the state before it can begin selling wine in reusable containers of no more than two gallons. Stokes is in the process of having the federal bureau approve the change.

So far, Stokes said, customers are intrigued.

Thomson said the wine on tap and growler law is an example of local wineries adopting beer industry techniques to be competitive. Wineries need to think outside of the box to appeal to young drinkers, he said

“If you’re not pushing for creative ideas,” Thomson said, “you’re not going to stand out from the pack.”

To read the full article that appeared in the Register-Guard on May 19, 2013 please click here

Kegs & By-The-Glass – Two Hot Trends

Two articles circulated on wine industry news outlets today touted two continuing hot trends:

  • The growing use of kegs by wineries to support and expand on-premise business;
  • By-the-glass sales are booming due to Millennials’ joy of exploration of new wines and flavors.

Excerpts from the news releases today highlight the convergence of the two trends:

According to Food & Wine magazine, ‘By-the-glass orders account for as much as 80 percent of the wine sold in restaurants, upward of 600 million bottles a year. If just five percent of by-the-glass wines came from a keg (one holds 26 bottles’ worth), it would keep over 30 million bottles out of landfills.’
Bespoke Collection Wine Brands Launch 20L, Recyclable Keg Program to Wholesale Partners, PRNewswire

The Millennial demographic’s penchant for experimentation has led to a surge in new product activity in the wine category, and marketers see openings for by-the-glass programs to help continue cultivating new audiences through the trial-friendly format. “Almost all the growth in wine is coming from new, innovative products. …,” says Marc Goodrich, COO, Banfi Vintners. “One thing we’re involved in a little bit, and we’re waiting to see if it takes hold, is wine in kegs for the on-premise. It could be a very interesting way for the on-premise arena to provide a better by-the-glass experience.
Wine By The Glass Sales Rise As Millennials Look To Experiment, Diversify Repertoire, Shanken News Daily

Wineries need to be aware of converging trends, such as alternative packaging that provides convenience in a particular use environment, plus cost-savings and environmental benefits to consumers, that can further drive consumption through specific sales channels and/or outlets. The two trends above illustrate how one can amplify the other, creating a growth cycle that benefits wineries, on-premise, and consumers looking for choice and value.

The 20-L keg used by Bespoke Collection Wine Brands touts these benefits in their press release (link provided above):

  • … kegged wines afford restaurant and wine bars upwards of 65 days of fresh product, compared to the two to three day shelf life of an opened bottle of wine – and they emerge avant-garde, cool doing it.
  • Across the country, restaurants like Prospect in San Francisco, Second Bar + Kitchen in Austin and Two Urban Licks in Atlanta are embracing kegged wines as a modern and eco-friendly option for their wine programs.
  • Bespoke Collection’s sharply-packaged, 100 percent PET plastic kegs are easy to use and completely recyclable after use.

As in other consumer goods industries, innovation often drives success, and the U.S. wine market – again, led by Millennials – has never been so open to embracing innovation than today. If a winery isn’t seriously examining alternative wine packaging for potential opportunities among their customers, then they are potentially leaving significant business to those wineries that are innovating.