Glass Corks for Northwest Winemakers

Hah, apparently vino-seals, or glass stoppers, have been in the market for a couple years at least now, but I’ve just learnt about it. A bunch of the DGS crew were wine tasting in Oregon this weekend, and they discovered the novel use of these stoppers at one of the best wineries on the trip, Barking Frog.

The vino-seal was developed by Alcoa Closure Systems International, and in Europe, over 350 wineries use a similar stopper, branded as vino lok. Whitehall Lane Winery in Napa was the first winery in the US to use the branded vino-seal glass stoppers for its wines back in 2006.

glasscork

Given that it costs about the same as a “high-end” cork*, I wonder why more companies have not switched to this alternative form of corking. After all, it is way more attractive and sexier than screw caps and synthetic corks, no?

*According to what I’ve been able to find on the Internet, the glass stoppers have to be inserted manually, or otherwise with the use of a machine that costs $70,000. In addition, the vino-seals cost $0.70 each, vs. the cost of corks, which ranges from $0.10 to $1.00 depending on the quality.

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5 thoughts on “Glass Corks for Northwest Winemakers

  1. Glass enclosures are great and one of the most sanitary ways of enclosing a bottle of wine. It doesn’t surprise me though that the cost is a bit more. Cheers

  2. yep, i can see why the cost is more, but even so, i’m a little surprised why the use isn’t as widespread. the current debate on corks still seems focused on screw caps vs. corks, but why don’t wineries switch to glass stoppers? it’s better branding and marketing than screw caps – looks so much classier.

  3. Have to declare my interest first, I’m VP Global Sales for Supreme Corq LLC, a WA-based producer of synthetic corks.

    You may be interested to know that the seal on these glass closures is actually formed by a synthetic O-ring – there is no contact at all between the glass of the closure and the glass of the bottle.

    The main reasons more wineries don’t use more of the glass closures are:

    > Cost. Very few wines are sealed with closures of any type which cost as much as 70c per unit, wineries just don’t make enough on the vast majority of wines to justify that kind of cost. Furthermore the glass closures require a special applicator as you mentioned, but they also require a special aluminum capsule, all of which extends their overall cost way beyond 70c.

    > Performance. To date there is no published data suggesting that glass closures offer any superior wine preservation performance compared to other far less expensive closure options, including our own second-generation synthetic closure, the SupremeCorq X2, which does just as good a job as a natural cork, without any risk of cork taint.

    I completely agree that glass closures look much classier than screwcaps, but they also cost very many times more! We believe that our products offer a closer performance match to high-end natural cork, but with more consistency and at a far more reasonable cost.

    Cheers!

  4. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for your response. The one thing I’m wondering about cost is if the wineries could pass on the additional cost to consumers. after all, the packaging is part of the branding yah? While it might not make sense for the likes of two buck chuck to come packaged with glass stoppers, how about for a winery that’s trying to position itself as more upmarket?

  5. There are obviously exceptions, but in general the wineries positioning themselves as more upmarket tend to be smaller. In that case the investment in the new applicator has to be spread over a much smaller number of bottles and you would be looking at $2-$3 more per bottle in total cost to use the glass stopper. The incremental value created would be far less than this cost and in a world of dipping sales there are very few wineries that could afford such a hit to their bottom lines.

    Add to the lack of any performance advantage over alternatives such as ours and you can see why the glass closure will remain a strictly niche product.

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