The Case of the Overweight Bottle

We may have to go on a diet soon. Not me (although I could stand to shed a few pounds, admittedly!) but rather, the glass we use for our beloved Endeavour Cabernet Sauvignon (799 case) bottling. While I've always loved this handsome “manly” bottle because of its mysterious, dark, masculine design, with today's concern over fuel costs and environmental impact of unnecessary packaging, it may be time we shed a few pounds. This was made all too clear by wine writer Linda Murphy's recent article, posted on Wine Review Online - A Weighty Issue.  How embarrassing to be singled out as a “toe stubber,” (apparently she literally tripped over our bottle!) yet insightful as we strive to reduce our carbon footprint and practice sustainability throughout the company.

I suppose I ought to thank her for bringing this concern to the forefront of my brain. (It has been languishing in the back of my brain for some time now…somewhere between the rising cost of French oak barrels, medical insurance, and frost concerns, and remembering to pick up the kids from soccer practice.) In other words, there always seems to be something more pressing to worry about around here. 

So I'm on the hunt for a possible alternative for the '06 bottling. If we find one, it would probably mean giving up the 6 bottle wooden boxes to an equivalent sized cardboard one. And, of course, the whole package wouldn't be available until the release of the 2006 Endeavour, so we're talking July of 2009 or something like that.

In the meantime, I'm very curious to hear what you readers think about this subject. Are large size “designer” bottles grossly overdone and excessive, like an overly made up woman drawing unnecessary attention to herself? Or, do you see these uber-chic bottles as acceptable accoutrements for small lot wines in order to draw attention to the exquisite quality and limited nature of a particular bottling?

I guess it's that form over function question-- something I continually struggle with. Me, I'd pick form any day…but I'm not sure that's the right decision here.

Will someone help me out on this one???

| | Comments (16)


LadyDi Author Profile Page said:
May 16, 2008 5:26 PM

Those hefty bottles always seem ostentatious to me. I don't think Martha or Ralph would go there. Think understated; Prius is the new Jag. (But your packaging and, most importantly, your wines are terrific overall!)

Cheryl said:
May 16, 2008 8:00 PM

We don;t use heavy bottles anymore...and have not notices a difference in sales.

Marco Montez said:
May 16, 2008 8:38 PM

I do appreciate seeing a premium wine packaged in a "designer" style bottle. Like many other products package is part of the experience when you cross over a certain price point. However, I have picked up a few bottles which weighed so much that completely turned me off... "totally unnecessary" I thought. I don't know much about bottle manufacturing technology, but is it possible to create a distinctive bottle design without making it too heavy?

Mike McCracken Author Profile Page said:
May 17, 2008 7:38 AM

If environmental concerns are driving the discussion, then look to Tetra-Paks, screw tops, and larger sizes.

I notice when paying for shipping on cases that I bought, that the weight of the bottles is a major part of the weight.

The only other concern is to avoid breakage of the bottle in shipping or even handling at home. Does a large heavy bottle survive better? Or is it more likely to be dropped given its weight?

The real test is out of the glass how does it taste? Dry Creek has always done well on that score!

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
May 18, 2008 11:29 AM

I really appreciate everyone's comments. The problem with tetra paks, and other alternative packaging, is that the majority of wine drinkers associate these with lower end products. Think about it, would you want to plop down $55 for a wine in a box? And, screw caps are actually terrible for the environment (non recyclable, etc.) although restaurants love them because of the ease of opening, especially when a wine is being poured by the glass. I'm pretty certain there's a suitable alternative, something lighter that works with our label yet still handsome enough to set the Endeavour Cab apart from our other wines. I've got tons of samples coming; will report back!

Dr. Vino said:
May 19, 2008 6:11 AM

Hi Wilma,

Glad you are interested in this important subject! I co-authored some research into the issue and you can see a summary of our findings here:

Feel free to join the fray!

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
May 19, 2008 9:05 PM

Your research is fascinating; thanks for sharing. Maybe we should just ditch the 750ml bottles and just bottle magnums! It certainly would make a statement, although I doubt the trade would go for it!

Sonadora said:
May 20, 2008 10:24 AM

What I personally dislike about the large bottles, which I find is very typical of Syrah, is the amount of space they consume in my wine rack. I can only fit two of them where 3 normal bottles could go, and to me, that uses my precious wine rack space inefficiently.

JohnLopresti Author Profile Page said:
May 20, 2008 7:44 PM

How about a range of small-carbon-footprint gifts made available. For some reason I thought of some of the inexpensive but tasteful handcrafted artesanry made in the third world. May be too contrived. Better to state with a noble bottle itself. Selecting the source of the glass by knowing the econometric literature of various manufacturing methods and who uses them, as suggested above, sounds worthwhile. Now if we could convince Saccharomyces to skip the production of CO2 in red caps during fermentation, we would be making progress reducing greenhouse gas.

richard Author Profile Page said:
May 26, 2008 9:47 AM

Random thoughts-

I'm not sure what the problem really is.

You make a good product, package it well using materials that are renewable and recyclable. It is most likely transported by the least expensive method which means the transporter is EFFICIENT.

The transportation issue will be a problem (to one degree or another) until something like hydrogen vehicles are available. But the problem cannot be solved without profits being invested into research. Businesses need to continue to be successful while researching solutions.

The gases coming from production of product, container and shipping are now just dumped, like sewerage into a lake. Wine is a natural product, packaged in a simple container, boxed with renewable materials.

As far as greenhouse gases go, it would be better to reclaim and reuse these gases in such a way as to render them neutral rather than just reduce them.

Finally what is critical is NOT to introduce a larger problem with the attempt at a correction.

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
May 27, 2008 10:00 PM

Amen Richard! You are right on many accounts.
The problem is the wine press has already gotten a hold of this subject and it seems like I'm seeing more and more negative coverage. And, we don't want to be singled out as a "toe stubber" on a repeated basis. So, while we're still in the research stage (gathering glass samples, etc.) it seems like ultimately, we'll switch bottles and end up lightening the load. As long as the end result is still attractive and cost effective, I can't see how it will hurt the image or presentation of the product. Besides, it's what's in the bottle that counts, right?!

Jon Webster Author Profile Page said:
May 29, 2008 1:07 PM

I like the larger uniquely shaped bottles, though a bottle on the order of Shafer Hillside can be little excessive. People can say otherwise all they want, there is a subtle, subliminal impact that a bigger bottle has on a consumer. Of course It's what is in the bottle that counts, but the movement from store shelf to a customers winerack is where the magic of marketing comes in. I agree we should be better stewards of our planet, I am just uncertain that shipping difference between the larger bottles and more 'modestly' sized bottles will amount to more than a tiny drop in a very large bucket.

hustler Author Profile Page said:
June 13, 2008 12:24 PM

I select my wine for the wine, not the bottle. Notably your Old Vine and Endeavor bottles are cool enough that I have olive/sesame/infused oils in them around the kitchen. The shape of the bottle is not a selection criteria, but a bonus to my kitchen...and for some reason I keep most of the cool bottles, the rest go to a glass sculpting friend.

I have mixed feelings on the TetraPak product. I like the idea of packaging which keeps the wine drinkable for days while cutting cost and making Earth smile, but its going to take an all-out assault by the wine industry to force the packaging upon the market. I doubt most wine-drinkers are willing to put pride aside, and unscrew the cap until the pop-culture wine matriarchs start pouring Silver Oak and Opus One for their friends from a box.

Its time for the wine business to evolve though, and if that gets wine to my glass cheaper, so be it...twist open a box and get the decanter.

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
June 17, 2008 9:40 PM

I think I may have found the perfect alternative bottle! It's lighter and a wee tad less expensive, and best of all it fits our current Endeavour label, capsule, etc. (Resizing all that would be a nightmare.) And, it's still very handsome so most probably won't notice the difference, yet it's a positive change in our effort to be environmentally responsible. Stay tuned and thanks to everyone for commenting on this subject.

Tom N said:
June 27, 2008 3:48 PM

I appreciate the aesthetic aspect of a nice bottle, but have to come down on the no side here. I have found that some of the larger and heavier bottles won't fit in my wine chiller and as a retailer who ships, I hate that they require different packing materials for shipping. While shipping does go by weight, the difference in cost used to be relatively negligible for the heavier bottles simply because the base charge for shipping can be the majority of the costs. (i.e., 12 bottles don't cost twice as much to ship as six bottles, rather only about 20% more. Now that fuel is much more expensive, though, we may see a change).

arizona said:
May 20, 2010 5:37 PM

Hi Mel. I'm back. Sorry for not posting in so long. Forgive me, but I actually pretended to myself that I was "above"

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This page contains a single entry by Kim published on May 16, 2008 3:25 PM.

Is the future of the winery in danger? was the previous entry in this blog.

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