Glass bottles have been the vessel of alternative for wine for many years. Both closed with cork or screwcap, bottles have been the go-to packaging for winemakers to showcase their most prized drops. The standard boxed wine sits on the opposite aspect of the size.
Affectionately recognized to most as goon, boxed wine has lengthy held a status of being mass-produced and of low-quality. However the format is having a revival because of its eco-centric nature.
Hospitality speaks with boxed wine model Hey Tomorrow together with wineries Gonzo Vino and Koerner Wine about altering perceptions and why boxed merchandise are a sustainable alternative for venues and customers alike.
Throughout a WSET course on wine packaging, Sacha Imrie turned to her companion Shane Barrett and stated, “I simply can’t imagine extra folks aren’t doing this.” The ‘this’ she was referring to was utilizing ‘bag and field’ to bundle wines.
Bag and field, boxed or cask wine was invented in South Australia and is essentially regarded as a low-quality, bulk product quite than a superb, collector wine. “Cask wine was a sufferer of its personal success,” says Barrett. “It was by no means invented for reasonable wines, however as a result of it ended up being decrease price than a bottle per unit to bundle, it routinely attracted a whole lot of low-cost wines.”
Imrie and Barrett teamed up with Kelly O’Loghlen, Jesse Gerner and Andrew Fisk to vary the narrative of boxed wine with the launch of Hey Tomorrow in 2020. The model partnered with established wineries together with Lethbridge, Syrahmi and Ben Haines to supply a variety of boxed pink, white and Rosé wines and show they had been simply pretty much as good as their glass bottle counterparts.
Regardless of the general public picture of boxed wine, Hey Tomorrow imagine it’s the best way ahead with regards to packaging. “There’s a whole lot of totally different elements from the sustainability aspect of issues,” says Barrett. “For instance, a whole lot of glass in Australia doesn’t get recycled in any respect — you solely get about 60–70 per cent conversion relying on the equipment. I believe folks have this picture [that glass recycles well], particularly in Australia, as a result of it was the very first thing folks began to recycle.”
The manufacturing course of is comparatively no frills, with the staff travelling to wineries in a van geared up with a filling machine. The luggage, or wine bladders, are crammed to the purpose of getting virtually no oxygen earlier than they’re sealed and despatched again to the warehouse for distribution.
Hey Tomorrow’s packaging is constructed from 75 per cent cardboard and 25 per cent plastic, with the cardboard capable of be absolutely recycled by means of family bins. The wine bladder and faucet could be despatched again to Hey Tomorrow at no cost the place it’s disposed of responsibly by pyrolytic waste firm Renergi.
The enterprise has additionally partnered with Scholle IPN to log the carbon footprint of the merchandise, noting a seven to eight instances discount in co2 emissions all through the lifecycle in comparison with glass.
That is primarily attributable to weight and dimension with regards to distribution together with recyclability. “We are able to simply match 1,000L of wine in a bag and field onto one pallet, but when we had been to fill 1,000L into bottles, you’d by no means match it onto one pallet as a result of the bottles take up extra room,” says Barrett. “A whole lot of carbon financial savings come from the logistics of transferring the merchandise round.”
Marcus Radny began his different packaged wine model Gonzo Vino Wines in 2018 after questioning the aim of glass bottles for ready-to-drink wines. “It’s simply an unimaginable waste of carbon, vitality, delivery and area,” he says. “There are only a few wines on the planet that really profit from being in a bottle. What’s the purpose if it’s simply going to get drunk inside three or 4 months of its life?”
Radny sells boxed wines to an array of venues — even those who don’t promote giant volumes of wine. “Locations the place wine won’t be the primary drawcard don’t need to compromise with low-cost choices that they could should tip down the sink on the finish of the week,” he says. “So, they purchase my wine in casks and get a high-quality product with out worrying about it being wasted as a result of they’ve bought an eight- or nine-week window to promote it.”
The bag and field design doesn’t permit oxygen into the wine bladder when pouring, which implies the wine lasts longer because it doesn’t oxidise. Boxed wines can final a number of weeks as soon as they’ve been opened, stopping pointless waste. Hey Tomorrow’s wines final for 30 days as soon as a field has been opened, which is longer than wines in bottle. “We’ve been doing bigger 5L baggage for venues and it’s actually good for smaller eating places since you don’t want the infrastructure for kegs,” says Barrett.
Koerner Wine in South Australia’s Clare Valley has additionally turned to bag and field, launching the Brothers in a Field assortment in 2022. Co-Proprietor and Winemaker Jono Koerner says the concept took place after discussions about decreasing the vineyard’s carbon footprint had been had together with the realisation that youthful kinds of wine
don’t must be saved in bottle and aged.
“These are wines which can be able to go and drink right away — it’s not about cellaring,” he says. “We thought the choice to place them in field can be nice as there’s no distinction in any way.”
Brothers in a Field has skilled success in venues since launching final yr. “We’ve had some nice eating places pouring out of a field, however some are a bit hesitant as a result of they don’t need customers to assume they’re ingesting one thing silly,” says Koerner. “But when the story of the wine is communicated and the wine will get within the glass, you’re completely superb because the product speaks for itself.”
Koerner additionally notes the impression of the best way the wine seems on the menu. “Some venues put sustainably packaged Riesling as a substitute of placing boxed wine,” he says. “It’s the little issues that may get folks to offer it a go.”
Whereas winemakers agree there are sustainability and logistical advantages, there may be nonetheless a hurdle to beat — the general public’s notion of boxed wine. “One of many hardest issues is promoting a 3L field of wine for $60 when you will get a 3L field of wine for $10,” says Radny. “It’s an uphill battle with regards to folks’s notion of worth and high quality contained in the containers. 3L containers are the equal of 4 bottles, so that you’re basically shopping for 4 bottles for $60 that final for eight weeks when you open them.”
Koerner agrees and believes acceptance will come about with training and time. “I believe it’s going to be an incredible factor — it’s simply getting over the concept of boxed wine as
being unhealthy,” he says. “As quickly as we recover from that, I believe you’re going to see much more of it.”
Bag and field have come a good distance since inception, and winemakers are greater than able to usher in a brand new chapter for the class. The fashionable client is open to training — bear in mind when faucet wines debuted? — and is conscious of the significance of creating sustainable choices with regards to their purchases. The ascension of boxed wine from a producer and venue perspective is greater than proof there’s a
brilliant future forward for the class.