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Blending table report: we piece together a smaller lineup of white wines from the painfully scarce 2022 vintage

We spent four days last week around our blending table, working to turn the 30 different lots we made from our white grapes in 2022 into the blends and varietal bottlings we'll be releasing to you in coming months. The good news is that we were excited about the lots we tasted and what we made looks like it will be good. The bad news is unlikely to be a surprise if you've been following this blog. The 2022 vintage was painfully scarce, particularly on whites, whose yields were down 29.3% from 2021 and a heartbreaking 55% from 2020. That meant that we were faced with some difficult questions before we even sat down to blend. With Roussanne lots most affected of all (down 63% from the combined impacts of lingering drought and a May frost) would we be able to find enough lots we loved to make an Esprit de Tablas Blanc? If we did, what would it look like, and what would it leave us? Read on.

If you're unfamiliar with how we do our blending, you might find it interesting to read this blog by Chelsea that she wrote a few years ago.

Our first step was to taste each variety in flights, give each lot a grade, and start assessing the character of the year. Our grading system is simple; a "1" grade means the lot has the richness, elegance, and balance to be worthy of consideration for Esprit Blanc. A "2" grade means we like it, but it doesn't seem like Esprit, for whatever reason. It may be pretty, but without the concentration for a reserve-level wine. It might be so powerful we feel it won't blend well. Or it might just be out of the style we want for the Esprit, such as with too much new oak. A "3" grade means the lot has issues that need attention. It might be oxidized or reduced. It might still be fermenting and in a place that makes it hard to evaluate confidently. Or it might just not have the substance for us to be confident we'll want to use it. Most "3" lots resolve into 2's or 1's with some attention. If they don't, they end up getting sold off and they don't see the inside of a Tablas Creek bottle. Then, we start from the top of our hierarchy (with the whites, that's the Esprit de Tablas Blanc) and brainstorm possible blends, taste those blind against one another, and come to consensus. Once we've determined the blend and quantity for the Esprit Blanc, we set aside the lots needed and look at what we have left for possible Cotes de Tablas Blanc and varietal bottlings. Finally, we taste everything we're going to make to be sure that each feels complete and individual. A snapshot of my notes:

Blending whites 2023 - notes

In a normal year it takes us two days to taste through all the white lots. Not this year; we finished in one day. My quick thoughts on each variety are below. For context, in a normal year, for every 10 lots we might see three or four "1" grades, five or six "2" grades and one "3" grade. When we think a lot is right on the cusp between two grades, we can note that with a slash ("1/2", or "2/3"). In rough harvest order:

  • Blending whites 2023 - BottlesViognier (6 lots): An above-average Viognier vintage, with classic flavors, good richness, and respectable acids. Since we don't use Viognier in Esprit Blanc, the best grade I was giving out was a "1/2". Three "1/2" lots, two "2" lots, and one "3" that ended up being more useful in blending than I expected.
  • Marsanne (4 lots): An outstanding Marsanne vintage, with all four lots showing Marsanne’s classic honeyed charm, creamy textures, and mineral-laced finish. I gave all four lots "1/2" grades, and we included Marsanne in our blending trials for Esprit Blanc for the first time since 2001 (!).
  • Picardan (3 lots): A strong representation of what we find appealing about Picardan: peppered citrus notes, good minerality, and solid acids. I gave two lots "1/2" grades and one (a single barrel of our heavy-press component, which was darker in color and lower in acid) a "2/3".
  • Bourboulenc (3 lots): The most challenging of the varieties we tasted, at least for me, the three lots were all quite different from one another. One four-barrel lot showed the combination of honeyed aromatics, rich, nutty texture, and bright acids we've come to expect from this grape. Another, which was fermented in concrete egg, was higher toned and less expressive, with some reductive notes. And a third two-puncheon lot from our heavy-press component had the deep orange color we saw back in 2019, a lacquer-like savory note, and very bright acids. I gave the first lot a "1", the second a "2/3", and the third a "3".
  • Clairette Blanche (1 lot): We nearly doubled last year's production and it was outstanding: citrusy and minerally, with lemon curd notes and great finishing brightness. I gave it a "1".
  • Grenache Blanc (4 lots): Our fewest Grenache Blanc lots in my memory. But what there was was outstanding: citrus and brine on the nose, lovely peach and grapefruit pith on the palate, and the combination of brightness and texture that we look for. I gave three lots "1" grades and even the fourth, which I gave a "2", was appealing: just softer and less vibrant.
  • Picpoul Blanc (3 lots): Only three small lots totaling just 648 gallons. Luckily all were strong: pithy pineapple and salty minerality, still just a touch sweet. I gave two lots "1" grades and the third, which had a little more texture but a little less brightness, a "1/2".
  • Roussanne (6 lots): All the best options for making Esprit Blanc involved using all or almost all of the Roussanne we had. So it was a relief that the quality of the six Roussanne lots was so high. I gave four of them "1" grades for their classic, rich, honeyed pear noses, the kiss of sweet oak emphasizing their rich texture, and their long finishes. One other, to which I gave a "1/2", was less rich but brighter, while the last, which I gave a "2" sat at the other end of the spectrum: darker in color, rich and nutty, but a touch low in acid.

We finished by brainstorming ideas for the Esprit Blanc. Our minimum amount of Esprit Blanc that can cover the different needs we have for it with our wine club, tasting room, wholesale and export is about 1700 cases. Given the scarcity of Roussanne, using all of it only made up about 36% of a possible Esprit Blanc blend at that minimum quantity. Given that our least-ever Roussanne in the Esprit Blanc was 45%, and it's more typically around 65%, we first needed to make sure that what we could make would feel at home in the history of Esprit Blanc bottlings. Knowing that we wanted to keep our Grenache Blanc percentage below the Roussanne percentage, again to preserve the link with our established tradition, limited our options further.

We ended up deciding to make up three different potential Esprit Blancs. One would use all the Roussanne, Picpoul, and Clairette, the best Grenache Blanc lots, and the top lots of Bourboulenc and Picardan, at our minimum total quantity. In my mind, this was the baseline Esprit Blanc, closest to what we'd done in the past. The second would make about 100 more cases of wine by increasing the Grenache Blanc to the maximum we could use while keeping just below the Roussanne percentage, and adding the rest of our Picardan. And a third modified the baseline blend by replacing the least-strong Roussanne lots with Marsanne. If we'd chosen this, it would have been the first time since 2003 that we'd have used a grape outside of the six white grapes legal for use in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. So even the decision to try a blend that included Marsanne caused a certain amount of hesitation. But given the strength of the Marsanne this vintage and the scarcity of Roussanne we thought if there were ever a year to break with tradition this would be it.

Wednesday morning, we started on our blending work by tasting three possible Esprit de Tablas Blanc blends. To my surprise, our least favorite was the first glass (which upon revealing, was the one I'd been thinking of as our baseline Esprit Blanc). While it was pretty, with good texture and weight, it just wasn't as exciting as the other two. We split pretty evenly between the other two options, with some preferring the elegance and openness of the second glass and others the extra texture and brighter acids of the third glass. When we revealed what was in the two glasses, and realized that the third option was the one that eschewed Marsanne for extra Grenache Blanc and Picardan, and made us 100 more cases of the Esprit Blanc, we had our winner. The final blend was 33% Roussanne,  32% Grenache Blanc, 14% Picpoul Blanc, 8% Picardan., 8% Clairette Blanche, and 5% Bourboulenc. Our rule is always that the Esprit wines get first dibs on whatever lots they need to be great. This year, that means it got all of the Roussanne, Picpoul, Picardan, and Clairette. It will hurt not having any of those for a varietal bottling, but at least we have an Esprit Blanc that we love.

Looking at what we had left after setting aside the Esprit Blanc lots made it clear that if we made a Cotes Blanc in anything like our normal 1,000 case quantity, that would use most of what was left and mean essentially no varietal bottlings for the year. That didn't seem to be a great choice, and would likely leave us short of wines to send out to our wine club. So we decided that the next step was to try varietal bottlings of what was left (Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, and Bourboulenc) and get down into the barrel-by-barrel decisions of what felt varietally appropriate and what we wanted to instead declassify into Patelin.

All four lots of the Marsanne were strong, and a blend of the four was expressive, classic, and lovely. Perfect. The remaining Grenache Blanc lots fit together beautifully, with the softer, richer lot providing depth and counterpoint to the citrusy brightness of the base. Done, and done. For Viognier, it was really a question of how much of the lot that I gave a "3" to we wanted to use. It had deep gold color, rich texture, and very bright acids. We tried a blend using both barrels, with neither barrel, and with one barrel and ended up deciding like Goldilocks that the one-barrel addition was just right. The other will become a useful part of the Patelin Blanc. Finally, with the Bourboulenc, we all decided that we preferred it as a varietal bottling without the two heavy-press puncheons. That finished off our varietal decision-making. 

On Thursday we got together to taste the wines we'd decided on and make sure that the Viognier and Bourboulenc lots that we hoped to declassify into the Patelin Blanc fit stylistically. We also tried for the first time a new 100% Grenache Blanc we're calling "Lignée de Tablas" about which I'll be sharing details a little later in the spring. The Patelin Blanc absorbed the declassified lots seamlessly, which was great, giving us a blend of 49% Grenache Blanc, 22% Viognier, 10% Marsanne, 10% Vermentino, 4% Roussanne, 3% Picpoul Blanc, and 2% Bourboulenc. That left us with seven white wines from 2022, and a feeling of relief around the table:

Blending whites 2023 - table cropped

My brief notes on each wine, with the rough quantity we'll be bottling this summer:

  • 2022 Bourboulenc (275 cases): Medium gold. A nose of orange bitters, lacquer, and nuts. On the palate, the orange note continues, with rich texture, bright acids, and a long finish.
  • 2022 Grenache Blanc (350 cases): A pretty nose of peaches and cream, crushed rock, and lemongrass. The mouth has Grenache Blanc's signature mouth-filling texture and white grapefruit flavors, bright acids, chalky minerality and a little pithy bite of green apple skin tannin on the finish.
  • 2022 Marsanne (475 cases): Quite polished already, with a nose of honeydew melon, sweetgrass, and briny minerality. The mouth has gentle but persistent flavors of lemon curd and cantaloupe, nice texture without any sense of weight, and a creamy mineral note that comes out on the long, clean finish. Lovely.
  • 2022 Viognier (700 cases): A charming nose of honeysuckle and Haribo peach. The palate is long, pure, and textured, with more stone fruit and a tarragon-like note of sweet green herbs. Rich texture is balanced by some structural weight and unusually good acids for Viognier. Should make a great wine club shipment wine.
  • 2022 Patelin de Tablas Blanc (4080 cases, plus some wine for boxes and kegs): A nose more driven by Grenache Blanc than Viognier right now: white grapefruit and petrichor, pepper spice and a little nutty depth. On the palate, flavors of stone fruit and lemon custard, persistent chalky minerality, fairly rich texture and vibrant acids. Exciting that we have a solid supply of this!
  • 2022 Lignée de Tablas Grenache Blanc (825 cases): A pretty lifted nose nose of white pepper and citrus pith. On the palate, more citrus, with a green citrus leaf element adding complexity. With solid texture, good acids, and a little sweet spice on the finish, this should be a nice addition to the lineup!
  • 2022 Esprit de Tablas Blanc (1850 cases): Despite its comparatively low percentage, a nose clearly expressive of Roussanne in its notes of beeswax, jasmine, and sweet spice. On the palate, good weight and texture, with flavors of peach pit, lanolin, a little kiss of oak, and a clean minerality that got described as rainwater and river stone. This will have another several months in oak, and should develop additional caramel notes and nutty depth before bottling.

A few concluding thoughts:

  • Given that we've never had so few options in our blending, it was a relief that the puzzle pieces fit together. All sorts of options were potentially on the table. Would we maybe not make an Esprit Blanc? It was possible. Would we have lots that didn't fit into the estate wines but also didn't work in the Patelin Blanc? Also possible. In the end, sacrificing the Cotes Blanc made the other puzzle pieces fit. With all the lovely rain we've been getting this winter, I hope we'll have a very different picture next year. Fingers crossed, please, that we dodge frost.
  • This is the stage where I often try to reach for what vintage(s) in our history might be good comps for what we've been tasting. And yes, it's early to make these sorts of judgments, but the vintage that this reminded me of most was 2015, at the nadir of our previous drought cycle. Like 2022, 2015 produced uneven results across different varieties, and that unevenness keeps me from thinking of it as a truly great vintage. But I love the 2015 Esprit Blanc, which reduced our quantity of Roussanne and used all our Picpoul and a healthy amount of Grenache Blanc. I think that the solution that we came to for the Esprit Blanc this year, with less Roussanne and more of the higher-acid, earlier-ripening varieties, will end up resembling the 2015 stylistically. If you like your Esprit Blancs on the fresher, more minerally side, while still carrying the essential honey and mineral flavors of Roussanne, this should be one you'll love.
  • For all that, I'm not sure we yet have a great handle on what the character is of the 2022 vintage. Each variety seemed to handle the year in its own way. That's a good thing, I think, and suggests we were able to keep up with the terrible heat wave that hit us in the beginning of September. Talking to some friends and neighbors, it seems not everyone was as lucky and that there were vineyards without the monitoring and labor capacity to get all their grapes off when they wanted. I don't think that the wines we tasted felt like they came from a hot vintage. No raisiny heaviness. No volatility. I hope to have a clearer sense of how to describe the year after we dive into the reds next month. 

Now that the blending decisions have been made, we can move forward in getting the wines racked, blended, and given time to settle and integrate. The Patelin Blanc and Lignée de Tablas will be the first to go into bottle, in May. The varietal wines will be next, in June. And the Esprit Blanc will go into foudre and have another 9 months to evolve before its scheduled December bottling.

But in a year where all sorts of difficult options were on the table, I'm not sure our first blending week could have gone much better. We look forward to sharing these 2022 whites with you, and apologize that many of them will go very fast because of their scarcity. When they come out, don't blink.

Behind Every Good Company is a Great Accountant: An Interview with Senior Accountant Trina Meulpolder

By Ian Consoli

Every company is full of unsung heroes. These silent warriors typically dwell in departments such as IT, HR, and (of course) Accounting. For the newest addition to our "Get to know the Tablas Cru" series, we wanted to shine a light on a key member of our team, Senior Accountant Trina Meulpolder. Trina joined Tablas Creek in August 2021 and made an immediate impression. She occupies one of the desks that line the hallway of our offices. This position comes with a fair amount of pressure because it is hard for those walking by to resist saying hi. Trina has risen to the pressure since day one, between her readily available smile and quick-witted humor.

Trina holds an essential job as an accountant. She ensures that our suppliers get paid, our customers get their products, and our operation has the data it needs to understand what our options are when we need to and has the money that it needs in the right places at the right times. Her ability to organize, communicate, and maneuver around a spreadsheet help dial in many of the backend processes at Tablas Creek. She's a big part of making everything tick, so we can get you your wines without delay. We are thankful for everything Trina does. I can't wait for you to meet her:

Who are you?

I am Trina Meulpolder, the Senior Accountant at Tablas Creek.

Where did you grow up?

Sacramento, California. And I relocated to the area in 2005.

What's your family life like?

Awesome. I have a wonderful husband, a daughter of my own, six stepkids, and three beautiful grandkids. It is a big family, and it's wonderful. They are all here on the Central Coast, so I see them often.

Trina and her Husband

What do you do in your free time?

In my free time, we like to go camping in the mountains and desert and go out to eat with our friends. My hobbies are napping and spending time with our three grandkids.

How did you get into the wine industry?

After relocating here, I was looking for a job. Justin Winery had a position for a marketing assistant, and I decided to apply for it. That was my door into the wine industry.

What other experience did you have before Tablas Creek?

Nothing in the wine industry. I started out as a receptionist for a recycling data processing company right out of high school and worked my way up through the company into an accounting role. I took a few accounting courses and had a wonderful mentor who taught me everything I needed to know to move up in the company.

How did you hear about Tablas Creek?

After 14 years at Justin Winery, I decided it was time to move on. I saw a job posting for Tablas Creek and decided to look into the company. After researching, I decided I really liked what Tablas Creek stood for and wanted to be a part of the team.

How do you like jobs so far?

I love it. I love the people I work for and what Tablas Creek stands for.

What is the most interesting piece of your job?

Learning the vineyard side of the business. I worked at a winery but never got involved in the vineyard/growing side. I enjoy learning about the biodynamic practices of Tablas Creek.

What excites you the most about Tablas Creek?

That we are always striving to do better, we want to take care of the earth, reduce our carbon footprint, take care of our farm workers, and we're never ever satisfied with where we are.

What are you most excited about in your role?

To see how a different winery does things and bring a new perspective on how to do things here at Tablas.

How do you define happiness?

Spending time with my husband and family.

Any closing thoughts?

I love working here. I love being part of what Tablas stands for and am excited to see what's to come.

Tablas Creek Accountant Trina Meulpolder

Elevating the virtual experience thanks to Master the World

By Ian Consoli

It is no mystery that I am a huge fan of virtual events for wine club members. We introduced semi-annual virtual pickup parties to accommodate the release of our wine club shipments in fall 2020. We started these virtual events during COVID when we had no choice, but elected to continue them because their benefits in access, intimacy, and convenience were significant. Wine Club members from around the country continue to express their gratitude through emails and social media comments for allowing them to connect with us from afar. Viewership of the events remains consistent, participation remains high, and the conversations started by viewer questions continue to bring value. From my conclusion in a blog I wrote in 2021 on the virtual pickup parties:

We're excited to continue to host this kind of event in the future. We're meeting our members where they are, we're teaching them new recipes, and we're giving them the opportunity to interact with the proprietor, winemaker, and chef.

All-in-all, we can say the virtual events are a success, and we look forward to continuing them. Today, I want to highlight a decision we made that elevated the experience and made the continuation of the series possible: producing tasting packs with Master the World.

It was always clear that we needed an option for guests to taste along with us from home. The first virtual pickup party we did was in the fall and aligned with the latest release of our Esprit de Tablas and Esprit de Tablas Blanc. Those are the only wines we bottle in 375ml packaging, primarily for distribution to restaurants. They worked perfectly as a two-pack for this initial virtual event – not least because restaurants were largely closed at that point, so we had 375ml bottles to spare – but when it came time for our spring shipment, we had no small format bottles to work with. As with any of our virtual tastings, we could invite attendees to pick one Tablas Creek wine to enjoy with the broadcast (from their shipment or not), but we needed something more.

We evaluated repackaging our 750mL bottles into 187mL but faced four significant hurdles.

  • Technology: rebottling wines and having them emerge in good shape is a challenge that requires the purchase of specialized equipment and comes with a learning curve.
  • Labor: rebottling would pull our cellar team away from their tasks for one to two full days. There's the cost to pay employees for those days and an opportunity cost of what else they would have done.
  • Packaging: small batches of anything are expensive. Having to source new bottles and screwcaps, print new labels, and make sure that everything was compliant with the TTB was a non-trivial challenge, and expensive to boot.
  • Shipping: the sample kits we proposed must ship around the country. That meant sourcing shipping boxes, negotiating shipping prices, and navigating different states' restrictions on bottle-size limits. Another hurdle for staying compliant.

That is when Master the World (MTW) came on our radar. Founded by Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein and Wine Business pro Limeng Stroh, MTW was created to help sommeliers studying for exams to taste wines from around the world without having to deal with the cost and challenge of sourcing full bottles. To facilitate this, MTW rebottles 750 mL bottles to 187 mL format and builds and ships tasting kits all over the country. Well, that sounded exactly like what were are looking for. Plus, they're pretty darn cute!

After a call with the founders, we had a solution on our hands. Master the World has a system they developed where every bottle gets tested to ensure it is sound. They rebottle under a layer of inert gas, so the wine gets into the 187ml bottles in good shape. They solved our labor issues by taking on the entire process. All we needed to do was send a few cases of each of the wines in our VINsider Classic Shipment to their facility in Northern California, and they took it from there. They took on the TTB for label approval, and as of spring 2022, they even started making custom labels that match our full-size bottles. The kits sell through Master the World, not Tablas Creek. That allows them to handle all the shipping and compliance, and their licenses enable them to ship to even more states than we can.

We saw an opportunity to allow our virtual attendees to taste all six wines in our classic shipment and went for it. The kits sell for $99, which is manageable for our members and allows us to break even between the cost of wine and MTW's services. Guests purchased all 100 kits we made the first time through Master the World and the 80-kit runs we did for subsequent virtual pickup parties. We found a solution by finding the right partner, and we are delighted with the results for our members.

Our next Virtual Pickup Party is March 24th, 2023, and the newest set of tasting kits are available now through Master the World's website.

Craig Hamm and Chelsea Franchi holding MTW kit

Need another incentive to move to lightweight glass? How about $2.2 million over 14 years?

In recent months we've been thinking a lot about alternatives to the glass bottle. We've been focusing on reusable stainless steel kegs for sale to restaurants and wine bars and for our tasting room. We've put our first few wines in boxes, and received an enthusiastic response. That's important; finding packaging for wines that allow us to forego the bottle entirely is a key part of moving wine to a more sustainable future. But the reality is that no one has come up with a package that's comparable to glass for wines that are meant to age. Its combination of inertness, impermeability, durability, and track record means that most of our wines are likely to remain packaged in glass for the foreseeable future. That's why I'm so happy that we made the call back in 2010 to move to lightweight glass for all our wines.

Lightweight glass has a number of advantages. It takes fewer raw materials and less energy to make. It weighs less empty and full, so cases require less fuel to transport. You can fit more pallets on a truck before you reach the truck's weight limit. It makes bottles that are easier to pour and fit better in most people's wine racks. And according to the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, a winery can reduce its total carbon footprint by 10% just by moving from average glass bottles (around 23 ounces each) to lightweight glass (around 16). If they instead are using a heavy bottle (something like 30 ounces, and there are even heavier bottles out there) the savings are even more substantial: something like 22%. From the CSWA's report:

CSWA - Carbon Footprint

All those are good reasons to move to lighter bottles. And those, along with the perception that our packaging was out of step with the environmental initiatives we'd implemented in the vineyard, are pretty much the reasons we did so. From a blog I wrote in 2010:

As we thought about the challenge and looked at bottle after bottle we came to the conclusion that the aesthetic idea that a broader, taller bottle is higher quality may be becoming a relic of a more profligate age, in the same way that it's easy to imagine a future where the luxury SUV -- for a time the epitome of solid, prosperous respectability -- carries an ever-greater implication of environmental tone-deafness.

For all that we knew that lighter glass costs less to make and transport, that consideration wasn't central to our decision. So when I was asked by a writer last week how much we were saving by using lighter glass, I needed to calculate it. When I did, I didn't believe what I had learned. That decision, back in 2010, has saved us something like $2,236,346 over the last 14 years. To come to this figure, I looked at just two sources of cost: what we pay for the bottles themselves, and what we pay to ship the filled bottles to our customers via UPS and FedEx. First, a little then-and-now. In our pre-2010 period, we were using two different bottles. One was a somewhat-lighter-than-average bottle, around 19 ounces, which we used for around 80% of our production. The other was a big, impressive, heavy bottle, modeled after the one used at Beaucastel, that weighed 31.5 ounces and which we reserved for the Esprit de Beaucastel, Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, and Panoplie. We put about 20% of our production in that heavy bottle.

Looking back at our invoices that show what we paid for our new 16.5 ounce bottle vs. what we were paying for the previous bottles gives us the first figure. When we made the move, we paid $0.60/bottle less than the heavy bottle, and a little more than $0.06/bottle less than the mid-weight bottle we had been using. At our average 30,000 case/year (360,000 bottle/year) output, that produced a savings of $43,440 per year for the 20% of our production that had been packaged in heavy glass, and $19,760 for the 80% of our production that had been going into the mid-weight bottle. Add them up, and that's $63,200 per year in savings on glass purchases.

For the shipping, we looked at what we're charged by UPS and FedEx to ship our wines to our customers. It's not as simple as just calculating the reduction in weight, because shippers charge based on a combination of package dimensions and weight, but there are still significant savings. The average cost increase to ship mid-weight bottles vs. our current lightweight bottles would be about 5%. The average increase were we to ship heavy bottles (which weigh 30.6% more full than our current bottles) would be 16%. Last year, we spent $1,340,820 on shipping wine. It's our single largest expense after payroll. Adding 5% to our costs of shipping the 80% of our production that was in mid-weight bottles would increase that bill by $53,633 per year. Adding 16% to our costs of shipping the 20% in heavy bottles would add another $42,906. Together that's $96,539 of additional shipping costs that we'd be incurring now if we were still using the bottle mix we were in 2009. 

Add the $63,200 to the $96,539 and you get $159,739 per year. Over 14 years that adds up to $2,236,346. Wowza.

It's worth noting that this almost certainly understates the savings. Glass has gotten more expensive over the last 14 years, so the difference between lighter and heavier bottles has likely increased. I didn't try to calculate the difference in truckloads of palletized wine going our for distribution or to our shipping fulfilment provider. I didn't add in the greater physical footprint needed for the larger cases that are needed for larger bottles. And we were only using heavy bottles for 20% of our wine. If we'd been using 100% heavy bottles and had made this switch, our savings would have calculated out at $446,211 per year.

Logo bottle on scale with vineyard in background
It seems like we're reaching a tipping point on moving toward lighter glass, driven by advocacy within the industry (from groups like the IWCA) and from press (shout-out to Jancis Robinson for being at the forefront). I'm hopeful that wineries are doing this from a genuine commitment to sustainability. But if they're not, there are other incentives out there. Millions of small, green, rectangular ones.