The wine industry is a tight-knit community where new ideas and solutions travel by word of mouth to bring transformation to the industry. And when difficulties arise, such as shifting consumer demographics and rising operational costs, wineries and wine growers lean on each other for support.
The response from wineries has led to a focus on premiumization, automation, and building stronger relationships with younger consumers.
Climate change has also increased the frequency of conditions like drought, wildfires and untimely frosts, resulting in more dramatic changes from vintage to vintage. Higher pressure from media, government and younger consumers, pushed wineries to reduce their environmental impact, leading to new solar plants, a transition to organic, biodynamic and regenerative agriculture and technology to measure everything from water usage to carbon sequestration.
Wineries Foster Localism
Wineries are also looking for other ways to increase sustainability, such as buying locally to reduce carbon emissions since transportation accounts for 90% of greenhouse gas emissions. This approach also contributes to the local economy, an essential factor in many wine regions.
“I work with clients in the Pacific Northwest,” said Kellie Woodall, an Account Manager at O-I Glass. “I find that their focus on localism and supporting one another has increased even more since COVID. Sustainability is more than just the environment, it includes localism and community.”
Woodall has a close relationship with Pioneer Packaging, a local O-I glass distributor located in the Pacific Northwest. Pioneer Packaging provides O-I wine bottles to Lange Winery Estate and Vineyards in the Willamette Valley — a winery that values this supportive and collaborative community. Jesse Lange, Lange Winery Estate and Vineyard’s winemaker/winegrower, defines sustainability as “the responsibility to leave a place better than you found it” and making it “less about you and more about your children and next generations.” He adds: “And if we’re able to sustain, support and even grow our domestic glass manufacturing here in the United States, I think that’s a major plus for all beverages that are bottled in glass.”
That perspective should resonate with the broader wine community that includes so many family-owned and multi-generational wineries.
“What’s happening in the Pacific Northwest is happening in Napa, Sonoma and the Central Coast regions,” adds Jon French, O-I’s Wine Category Marketing Director. “It’s a shared sensibility across all regions.”
Focus on Sustainability
This viewpoint also strikes a chord within O-I Glass, which established four plants strategically located along the West Coast, from Kalama, WA, to Portland, OR, to Tracy, CA, down to Los Angeles. These plants are dedicated to producing high-quality glass packaging for the West Coast, and customers like distributor Pioneer Packaging, couldn’t agree more with the benefits of their locations. “As a company, we like glass packaging,” said Mike Steel, President/CEO of Pioneer Packaging. “It’s sustainable, it’s recyclable. Fortunately, we have a partner in O-I who understands the growth in the Northwest and those plants are producing glass with 70% or more recycled glass.”
Like their ecologically-minded winery customers, O-I has set sustainability goals for increasing recycled content, decreasing energy and water usage, greenhouse gas emissions and waste, as well as enhancing the equally vital community aspects of sustainability. They offer a comprehensive portfolio that spans lightweight options, including the weights needed for those who have international consumers, all the way to heavier options for Claret, Burgundy and sparkling wines, and both small and large size formats.
“Our objective at O-I is to meet the diverse needs and preferences of our customers by delivering a high quality, locally produced product,” says French, “and we have the capacity to support them. As the wine industry puts more focus on sustainability, we believe they will see the inherent environmental benefits of buying local glass and how this will benefit them in their goal of reducing their carbon footprint.”
Local account managers like Woodall and her team work side by side with customers to make sure they meet the full scope of their requirements. That includes helping a customer with unique specifications identify the perfect solution, even calling in O-I Glass’ packaging designers or engineers to develop a proprietary bottle.
“Most wineries face the challenge of balancing sustainability and cost,” notes French. “As a local supplier belonging to the wider wine community, O-I aims to help customers optimize their glass packaging selections with a range of designs to meet their environmental and financial requirements. We are all searching for the best solution to protect our environment, grow our business and satisfy our customers”.
Wineries can visit o-i.com to learn more about how O-I brings local glass packaging capabilities and support to their brands.
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World Resources Institute standards, and O-I internal calculations. Local = From Kalama / Tracy. Calculations are based on a standard 750ml bottle weighing 500g. Production numbers for China are standardized based on an example Chinese plant running on natural gas in 2020. Transportation numbers for ocean transport are based on nautical miles per 100,000 tonne ship, averaging around 19,900nm. Transportation on land assumes a standard 17 tonne truck traveling from point of production or port to Napa Valley.