Glass bottles do a lot of traveling. Here's a typical journey for a wine bottle that goes into the three-tier system (AKA, you buy it from anyone but us).
- Glass manufacturer -> Glass brokerage warehouse
- Glass brokerage warehouse -> Kiona
- Kiona (filled) -> Consolidation warehouse (Seattle or Sonoma)
- Consolidation warehouse -> Distributor warehouse
- Distributor warehouse -> Retailer/Restaurant
That's a lot of miles and a lot of CO2. We've been wasteful by making each leg of that journey heavier than it needs to be.
So, starting about two weeks ago (and after a lot of deliberation), we made the conscious decision to lighten up our bottles across the entire line. The 470-gram bottle that we've been using (on Lemberger, and others) is very uniform, high-quality, and reliable. It will be the foundation of our bottling program going forward, regardless of price or tier.
The rubber hit the road last week when we purchased several pallets-worth of the 470-gram bottles to be screen printed for a $75+ wine we're releasing next year.
There are lighter (<400 gram) bottles in the manufacturing pipeline that we will keep a close eye on; as soon as quality/uniformity improves, we will consider making another jump.
Our wines, regardless of price, will go into a standardized bottle on the light end of the spectrum. We still have several vintages-worth of heavier glass in inventory that will take some time to work through; the wine industry operates on 3+ year production timeframes. Some products will move lighter immediately; others will take longer.
The argument has been made that customers expect higher-end wines to go into heavy glass. That might be true, but it's not as if we (producers) have no culpability in that perception. Companies have influence over our customers, for better or worse. By putting our higher-priced wines exclusively into heavy glass bottles, we've communicated to our clientele to expect high-quality when the bottle weighs a lot. We're hoping to de-couple those two ideas (where Kiona Vineyards is concerned) in a way that will mean that in 10 years, a bottle is a bottle and the wine industry doesn't have to spend the raw material and CO2 cost to convey quality.
Hence the tagline, World Class in Lighter Glass. Look for it on our back labels in the near future.
Today may very well be the hottest day in Washington state's recorded history. So perhaps our announcement will come off as poignant as we roast under the 118-degree sun. Maybe it will come off as insensitive or exploitative. We are big subscribers of the "Circle of Control" philosophy, and while Kiona can't control climate change in a macro sense, we can do our part to reduce our impact going forward.
Our hope is that consumers will continue to connect the Red Mountain AVA and Kiona Vineyards with the idea of high-quality wine, regardless of the weight of the bottle.