PHOTO COURTESY OF TROON VINEYARD
Nontraditional wine packaging is saving restaurants money and in turn expanding the restaurant market for vineyards.
Wooldridge Creek Winery and Troon Vineyard in Grants Pass are leading a wine kegging trend in Oregon. They may be small but they have big-shot Willamette Valley Vineyards looking into using kegs to cut down on bottles. Willamette Valley-based wineries Chehalem, Stoller Vineyards, Andrew Rich Wines and Westrey Wine Company also have recently started selling kegs to a few local restaurants.
“Kegs increase demand for the product. We want more partners that service our restaurant accounts. This will open up more restaurants and taps,” says Kara Olmo, owner of Wooldridge Creek.
Since switching to kegs, Wooldridge Creek says the restaurants it distributes to have seen a 50% boost in their by-the-glass sales.
Restaurants can sell kegged glasses of wine at the same price as bottled wine, but don’t pay for the packaging. Glass, cardboard and cork comprises 30% of the packaging cost for vineyards, and one steel keg eliminates 25 bottles. Kegs are also significantly lighter than cases and cut down on shipping costs.
MAS Wine Company in California was the first to keg upscale wine starting in 2007. Kegged wine is also common in Europe.
“Kegging has essentially provided us with an additional stream of revenue,” says Liz Wan, spokeswoman for Troon Vineyard.