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Kegs, Recycling and Re-Useable Bottles Make News

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Packaging makes news this week: lessons from Oregon’s successful state bottle deposit system, a refillable Bordeaux start up opens for business, Tablas Creek moves to kegs for their tasting room. As we kick off Black History Month - a number of articles spotlighting black-owned wineries, and efforts to increase diversity in the wine business. As JP Morgan invests $500 million in southern forests to convert into carbon offsets; Anthropecene Magazine looks into carbon markets and the viability of carbon offsets purchased by brands to claim carbon neutrality.


Oregon: A thought provoking interview with Jules Bailey, the new CEO of the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC), the beverage industry group that runs the state’s bottle deposit system. Waste Dive

  • Oregon has the country’s oldest container deposit system, and the state has made numerous updates and changes to the BottleDrop program since 1971 to keep its return rate at 80% or above.

  • They credit the high return rate to investing in innovations like AI-based counting equipment, new bottle return facilities and an app for residents to manage deposit earnings.

  • The state legislature recently passed an expansion to the bottle bill to add canned wine to the program, which OBRC will start accepting in its stream in 2025.

  • Their Green Bag program is now at over 930,000 — pushing a million — account holders. In Oregon, there’s only about 1.4 million households. People have the ability to use their [deposit] money in a variety of ways, including 529 college savings plan or donating it to nonprofits; soon they will be able to connect to Venmo and Paypal.

  • They also have a refillable glass bottle segment, currently 2.5 million units out of 2 billion processed last year – so there is room for improvement. An issue is the exportation of their glass bottles beverages, it’s a logistical challenge to get the bottles back.

Bordeaux, France: Jane Anson’s Inside Bordeaux profiles reusable glass bottle start up Luz Environnement.

  • Founded by Annie le Dneuff, who had no prior experience in the wine industry, the project was delayed first by Covid, then by supply chain issues, and is finally open for business.

  • She has set up shop in a former Perrier factory, aided in securing €790,000 in funding by Benard Magrez’s StartUpVin incubator.

  • With wineries all over the world scrambling for bottle and other packaging materials, and with prices climbing €0.17 per average bottle to €0.30 over the past 12 months, her business model is particularly relevant.

  • The aim for 2023 is to recycle two million bottles, from big name 1855 châteaux to regional cooperatives; all in Bordeaux. She will look to expand by opening regional facilities closer to new customers, rather than trucking bottles back and forth, which would defeat the purpose.

Paso Robles, CA: Jason Haas announces he’s moved to a keg system for Tablas Creek’s tasting room. Blog Tablas Creek

  • He outlines his rationale in a blog post this week, sharing detailed information on the numbers of visitors they have annually (~28,000) how many bottles of wine that translates to (~13,000 accounting for waste), noting that about 70% of that is current release wine.

  • They've sourced kegs, filling and cleaning machines for the cellar, and a modular dispensing system for the tasting room. At each bottling, they will set aside a portion of each wine, putting it in keg.

  • They’ve had a wholesale keg program through Free Flow wines for several years, they sell about 12% of the total volume of wine sold wholesale via keg; in 2022 they sold 640 kegs on-premise.

Diversity & Equity

US: As we kick off Black History Month Mekita Rivas gives us a run-down of BIPOC wine podcasts that are changing the narrative around wine’s lack of diversity. Thrillist

US: In honor of Black History Month, Black Athletes in the wine space have joined together to support diversity and inclusion in the wine industry. Press Release via Wine Business

  • Chosen Family Wines, Wade Cellars, McCollum Heritage 91, and Charles Woodson's Intercept Wines will all be donating 10% of online wine sales in February to The Roots Fund.

  • The fund is a nonprofit that provides resources – including financial support, educational scholarships, wine education, mentorship, and job placement – to BIPOC scholars interested in the wine industry.

  • In addition to Channing Frye and Chosen Family Wines Partner Kevin Love, the current roster of Black Athletes pledging their support to The Roots Fund include LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Klay Thompson, CJ McCollum, Isiah Thomas, Josh Hart and Charles Woodson.

US: The Association of African American Vintners (AAAV) is celebrating Black History Month by accepting applications for its new Wine Entrepreneur Grant Program. Press Release via Wine Business

  • The initiative will annually award $5,000 grants to Black-owned, AAAV-member businesses to positively impact their operations, marketing or innovation efforts.

  • Five grants will be awarded in 2023, applications will be accepted through February 28.

Chicago, IL: A profile of the women and BIPOC powered wine list at Esmé, curated by beverage director Tia Barrett. Forbes

  • “I have a friend who started a Black-owned brewery, and it was harder for him to break into success in the Chicago market compared to Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Miami, while still growing towards having a west coast presence.” Barrett says. “This difficulty is the same story for many newer producers…I started actively seeking out more BIPOC-related wines as my career has progressed as I found how redundant wine selections can be at fine dining restaurants.”

  • The piece also spotlights 8 black owned wines.

Carbon Markets

US: J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s timber-investing arm has acquired about 250,000 acres in the Southern pine belt for more than $500 million, Wall Street’s latest big woodlands purchase made with an eye toward carbon markets. Carbon market speculation has helped increase prices of timber, although in order to qualify as a carbon offset, you must demonstrate either forests being saved from the chopping block, or planted to replace cut timber – a very long-term proposition. Wall Street Journal & Anthropocene Magazine

  • The commercial woodlands are in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Arkansas and are dominated by loblolly pine, used for lumber and pulp for paper products. Deals such as these are made with the intent to generate tradeable carbon offsets.  

  • A deeper dive into this issue by Anthropocene looked at a number of related studies and articles. The carbon benefits of planting forests are hard to quantify, and “avoided deforestation,” even harder.

  • Avoided deforestation accounts for about 30% of forest credits sold globally, according to Source Material. The United Nations helped set up a framework for assessing such projects in developing countries, which organizations like Verra, who sold the credits in question in the story, turn into standards and then monetize.

  • The Source Material story used research from Thales West of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam to examine 29 projects in the Brazilian Amazon and concluded that only 5 had resulted in any carbon reductions.

  • Some climate scientists are now calling net zero “a dangerous trap” or even a “lie,” because humanity cannot remove carbon at the scale needed to prevent catastrophic climate change.

  • Researchers at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies calculated that preventing the loss of one hectare of mature forests will typically avoid emissions of about 100 tons of carbon; while tropical reforestation typically sequesters just 3 metric tons of carbon per hectare each year.

  • Forest protection typically has costs only around half those of reforesting a similar area, and comes with knock-on benefits for biodiversity, resilience, and community use. In the absence of local regulations controlling deforestation, carbon credits are a way to give landowners a financial incentive not to clear forests.


Global: A recent survey by Honeywell International Inc., in collaboration with Futurum Research found more than 70% of companies say they are increasing sustainability spending over the next 12 months, while only around 2% are planning to reduce it. WSJ Pro Sustainable Business

  • Most companies are giving priority to energy efficiency and transitioning to less carbon-intensive energy, while other areas such as cutting emissions and recycling materials have also gained momentum, according to the index.

  • Vimal Kapur, president and chief operating officer of Honeywell International Inc. said companies are investing more in their environmental programs in large part because technologies are more affordable and there is a rosier outlook thanks to government climate subsidies such as those introduced under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act passed last year. The survey was conducted last quarter.

US: Beverage Dynamics publishes findings from a recent survey by the Beverage Information Group readers on trade attitudes toward sustainability.

  • Just over 28% of on-premise respondents said that their customers were more interested in sustainable products recently, compared to almost 39% of off-premise participants.

  • It makes sense, then, that half of the retailer respondents said that they have a section specifically for organic or sustainable products. Along the same lines, more of the store participants said that they educate sales staff about what makes certain products sustainable/organic/biodynamic vs. the on-premise.

  • Half of off-premise participants said products that are certified by an organization to be sustainable are more valuable; the other half said that there was no difference.

  • Among on-premise respondents, 43% said products that are certified by an organization to be sustainable are more valuable; 21% said they were less valuable, and 36% said that there was no difference.

Healdsburg, California: SHARE A SPLASH wine co. has launched a new sustainably focused wine brand, Atelier. Press Release via Wine Industry Advisor

  • A joint project of head winemaker Ondine Chattan and founder Yoav Gilat; the first releases are a 2021 Chardonnay & Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley.

  • The grapes are certified Sonoma County Sustainable; the bottle weighs 468 grams and is sourced in California reducing the carbon footprint, the label and outer carton are 100% post-consumer recycled paper with biodegradable ink, a biodegradable wax seals the bottle.

Napa Valley, California: The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) has been selected as a 1% for the Planet Environmental Partner. Press Release via Wine Industry Advisor

  • 1% for the Planet is a global movement, created by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Files, that provides organizations with support for solving the planet’s problems.

  • NVG gains access to a network of 1% for the Planet Business members that actively commit to giving 1% of gross sales to organizations making positive changes for the environment.

  • Business members support 1% for the Planet Environmental Partners with monetary donations, volunteer time, in-kind donations, and other forms of promotion, and select which Environmental Partners to support.

Global: The Sustainable Wine Roundtable held their global conference online on February 1. See the full agenda here.

  • The first in a 3-part series, the event focused on How to turn climate mitigation and adaptation into business opportunity.

  • A number of leaders in wine sustainability around the world participated including: Julien Gervreau, Founding Board Member - International Wineries for Climate Action, Michele Manelli, Owner and Winemaker - Salcheto Winery and Equalitas, Vice President, Linda Johansson, Sustainability Manager – Systembolaget, Valentina Lira, Sustainability Director - Vina Concha Y Toro, Marta Mendonca, Manager - The Porto Protocol, Sandrine Sommer, Chief Sustainability Officer - Moët Hennessy.


Bordeaux, France: Bordeaux’s Palais des Congrès recently hosted the 2023 edition of the Sustainable Development of Bordeaux Wines Forum. Harpers

  • Organized by the Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (CIVB), the event was billed as an opportunity for growers and wine industry stakeholders to familiarize with the effects of the changing climate on Bordeaux’s vineyards and wines, and to promote common practices aimed at tackling related challenges.

  • The CIVB noted average temperatures increased by 1.5°C since 1985, causing Bordeaux’s climate to shift from “temperate” to “warm temperate” – as defined by the Huglin classification.

  • Veraison now takes place on average three days earlier than in 1989, a figure that is projected to rise to five, or even seven days within the next decade.

  • CIVB gave an update on its recently launched corporate and social responsibility program (CSR), it sets out guidelines for economic, environmental, and social sustainability, based on ISO 26000 international standards.

  • The program kicked off in 2019 with a pilot group of 28 Bordeaux merchants, wine growers, and cooperative cellars across 10 AOCs. It then launched officially in 2021 by awarding compliant companies with the Bordeaux Cultivons Demain label.  Today 56 companies have the label and the CIVB aims to have 30% of volumes sold as Bordeaux Cultivons Demain certified wine by the end of this decade.

US: Southern Glazers has released their 2022 Corporate Social Responsibility Report (CSR).Press Release via Wine Industry Advisor

  • It’s focused around “Unleashing the Power of Our People” and details investments made to expand local and national charitable impact.

Climate Change

Lake County, California: Esther Mobley shines a spotlight on Lake County, and how climate change has impacted grapes and winemaking there largely through one producer - Prima Materia winery. San Francisco Chronicle

  • Lake County is shaped by the same mountain range as Napa Valley — the Mayacamas range — with soils formed during the last couple million years by the runoff from the local volcano, Mount Konocti. Lacking a direct outlet to the ocean or a bay, the air here gets very dry and hot.

  • Lake County’s grapes had the second-highest sugar levels of any region in California last year, according to U.S. Dept. of Agriculture data, trailing only the Sierra foothills. 

  • Pietro Buttitta, owner of Prima Materia winery, has turned to multi-vintage blends to offset smoke taint and other climate-impacted vintages, a southern Italian grape variety selection and adapting farming techniques to continue to produce quality wine.

  • Buttitta’s 10-acre vineyard, originally purchased by his grandfather, is home to 13 different grape varieties. The decision to plant grapes like Sagrantino, Montepulciano, Aglianico and Negroamaro was partially due to Buttitta’s Italian heritage, but also came from a hunch that some of these varieties, especially those that hail from southern Italy, would be well suited to the Lake County heat. “Volatile acidity can be an issue in Lake County due to all the direct sunlight,” he said.


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