Cork, other closure makers adjust to cost issues

North Coast vintners have been looking to cut costs any way they can for the past two years, with bottle closures and other production consumables such as other packaging and barrels also coming under scrutiny.

“It’s gone from a question of preference to a question of price,” said Daryl Eklund, director of sales and marketing for Amorim Cork America, the Napa-based distributor for the giant European closure producer. “When times were good, wineries buy the best cork they can, but now they’re picking the next grade or two down or moving from natural cork for a $15 chardonnay to twin-top stoppers.”

He said the approach parallels what he witnessed in winery purchasing during the economic recession of the early 1990s. That cycle had a quick rebound in the latter half of that decade as the dot-com boom helped ignite sales of high-end wine until 2001.

M.A. Silva Corks USA in Santa Rosa finishes and sells nine grades of natural and agglomerate corks in four length options, and increasingly more wineries have been adjusting the quality purchased to save a few pennies per stopper over tens or hundreds of thousands of corks on ultrapremium brands, according to Jeff Barnell, sales and marketing manager.

“We’re seeing that more in glass, capsules and labels that many wineries are looking to maintain brand position while driving cost out of consumables,” he said.

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