That is the question that Fetzer will be putting to the world as they attempt to take sustainability one-step further.
So what does a screwtop have to do with saving the planet? Well, for example, if you're at a restaurant, and you order a bottle of wine, the waiter will ask you to sample it first. What you are testing for is to see if the wine has been 'corked' (among other things) - where the wine has taken on a 'wet dog' taste because, while harmless, the cork allows some air in and also because of some of the materials the cork is treated in. (Its more complicated than that, but that's the rough gist.) It's estimated that 1 in 10 bottles will be "corked", and if you are a wine producer, losing 10% of your stock is not good odds.In addition, even if a consumer does not know the wine has been corked, but they do know that it just tastes, well, like wet dog, then they might drink it but they won't purchase it again. This is also not desirable for a wine producer. So Fetzer is converting some of their wines over to screw top, particularly the whites.
There is no difference in terms of screw top vs. cork when it comes to taste. There is a difference in perception. Will consumers continue to purchase or try a wine if they see it has a screw top? Will the consumer just bypass the wine because they assume its cheap? That is the question that Fetzer hopes they can over-come, particularly as consumers become more educated on wine and protecting the planet.
While corks can be recycled/composted, how many people are actually recycling the cork? The screwtops can be recycled as well, but how many people recycle those? Is there a need for one top versus another? According to the folks at Fetzer, unless you are planning on storing and aging the wine, then you don't need a cork.
Dropping The Punt
But, Fetzer is changing more than just the closures in order to save the planet. They are also changing the "punt" — the part of the bottle on the base that pushes up into the bottle. This piece, while aiding in pouring, does not really serve much of a function, but adds a lot of weight and material to the bottle. Fetzer is now moving to put flat bottoms on their bottles, which will reduce the bottle weight by 11% and affect more than 24 million bottles of wine every year. Fetzer is currently undergoing a lifecycle analysis for this process to determine the long-term savings. The bottles are also made from 100% recycled glass.
Fetzer has been bottling wine from organic grapes for over 20 years, and they have come a long way in terms of sustainability — producing 80% of their electricity on site with solar panels and purchasing the rest from renewable soures (solar, wind, geothermal and small hydropower) and working to green their supply chain as well. Now they are taking sustainability one step further by looking directly at their product and seeing if they can't make it even better.
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