My earlier post  New Ideas for Preventing Oxidation in Opened Wine Bottles, 13 September 2010, mentioned a 23 litre demijohn of red wine that is becoming a familiar site on the counter-tops of many Sydney bars and restaurants.  It’s called Winter Twenty 10 by Voice of the People, and one of its advantages from a packaging point of view is that waiters can refill empty wine bottles from the demijohn.

Net Green News recently reported that an Idaho winery in the United States is working to reduce its carbon footprint by starting a refillable bottle program, Idaho Refills Wine Bottles, 19 September 2010. Pend d’Oreille Winery in Sandpoint, Idaho sells a 1.5 liter bottle of bistro rouge for $US25 dollars, which can be refilled for $US16 with the winemaker’s choice blend. So far the program, which was launched 18 months ago, is proving a great success with buyers who like the discount on the refill and the green message. By silk-screening the label onto the bottle, the winery has cleverly gotten around the problem of label peel when the bottle is cleaned.

The trend towards greener packaging of wine seems to be accelerating. Dave M’Intyre of The Washington Post reported that Owens-Illinois, the world’s largest producer of glass packaging, is taking several steps to reduce its carbon footprint. Soon it will begin manufacturing wine bottles that weigh up to up to 27 percent less than similar bottles in its current product line, and by 2017 it plans to produce 60 per cent of all new bottles from recycled glass, Wine to go greener: bottles get lighter, 2 June 2010. According to the company, every 10 percent of recycled glass used in producing new bottles cuts carbon emissions by 5 percent and energy consumption by 3 percent.

Liz Alderman from The New York Times reports that even the Champagne industry “has embarked on a drive to cut the 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide it emits every year transporting billions of tiny bubbles around the world.” A Greener Champagne Bottle, 31 August 2010.  A new 835-gram vessel is 65 grams lighter than its predecessor and will be available for the bottling of the current harvest.  According to the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, the region’s trade organisation, the effort will trim carbon emissions by 8,000 metric tons annually — the equivalent of taking 4,000 small cars off the road.

As Dr Vino highlighted in his post, Fill’er up: self serve tanks bring wine to French supermarkets, 14 September 2010, Astrid Terzian, a pioneering French wine enthusiast and environmentalist, has taken the concept of green packaging to an extreme. She has so far convinced 8 French supermarkets to install her 500 and 1,000 litre wine vending machines. The beauty of the system from a packaging point of view is that customers bring in their own containers. Eliminating the packaging allows the wine to be shipped much more efficiently, driving down cost and reducing its carbon footprint. The cost savings are being passed on the consumer with the wine selling for as little as $2.50 a litre!