Surprising trends in wine bottle design, like ‘flattened’ bottles
The Business Journal asked key professionals about what’s hot for wine packaging design, particularly how a global movement by governments and consumers toward environmental sustainability is affecting vintner decisions on container materials.
How has wine packaging evolved to meet environmental goals? How has the balance between ideal and feasibility been pursued?
Cynthia Sterling: While lighter-weight bottles are much better for the environment, we still see resistance from high-end wine buyers. The weight of the bottle and wine quality are closely linked in the minds of buyers.
When we’re changing to a lighter-weight bottle, we find that adding other quality cues to the label design can help maintain the perceived quality.
We’ve been exploring alternative materials for gift boxes and other secondary packaging with some of our clients. There is a strong desire to find more sustainable materials, but the producers of those materials often have high minimum orders our clients can’t meet. There’s a great opportunity for packaging producers to develop sustainable solutions for our industry, and we continue to look at possibilities.
Tony Auston: Now that folks are experiencing first hand that we really are effecting our planet's climate, sustainability is becoming more than just words on the label.
After years of development, Bogle Vineyards has introduced attractive proprietary light weight glass that still looks similar in size to the beautiful heavy bottles that they, and so many other producers, have been using for years.
As designers, we love those heavy bottles. But as stewards of Earth, it's not something we can specify with good conscience. Nor should we. I think we will be seeing a lot more hefty looking, yet light weight options from glass suppliers in the years to come.
Many of the smaller brands and natural wine brands are forgoing capsules. Not only does that increase their margins, it is also a strong environmental stance. Mining the various metals used in tin and polylaminate capsules leaves a big carbon footprint.
Other options are petroleum based. Since we all are so used to seeing a capsule as part of a complete package, it can look rather odd to see a bottle on shelf without one.
But if the package is designed from the start knowing it won't be utilizing a capsule, there are ways to have that work in your favor. The Juggernaut brand is a good example. We designed the packaging with the intent of having it look like an edgy, hard to find, small producer brand. Nixing the capsule was part of getting to that look. A simple neck band just below the bead gave the package a finished look that added to that edgy graphic quality of the front label.
Paul and Jennifer Tincknell: To be honest, not much at all.
Glass is vastly dominant over all other forms of packaging and is made of the heaviest packaging material available. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute, 90% of wine purchased is enjoyed within two weeks of purchase.
The vast majority of those wines are wines under $30 (suggested retail price) and aged less that two years in the bottle. Those all should be sold in more environmentally friendly packaging.
The industry remains beholden to tradition and the glass bottle. No matter how light glass bottles become, the costs of shipping, collecting, and recycling glass are all more expensive than that of other materials. The industry must move away from glass for the majority of wines sold globally.