Kiona Vineyards Lightens its (Glass) Load — While Doing its Part for the Planet

by | Jul 27, 2021

Kiona Vineyards and Winery, a fully independently owned and operated business that involves three generations of the Williams family, has already made a name for itself. Now a conscious decision and new tagline — “World Class in Lighter Glass” — is sure to make waves, too.

In short, Kiona Vineyards and Winery is officially moving its entire product line into bottles that use less glass. The new lighter 470-gram bottles will still have the same capacity, but will reduce the winery’s carbon footprint when it comes to the manufacturing and recycling of the containers. General Manager JJ Williams says they’ve talked about using bottles that contain less glass across the entire line for at least two years. “Carbon footprint was a large factor,” he explains, “but so was bottle-sourcing problems, and employee health and safety.” After all, imagine lifting 45 pounds 600 per day on the bottling line, versus 34 pounds.

The winery launched  their new flagship white wine, the Estate Red Mountain Cuvée Artemisia, in the 470-gram bottle late last year, before officially making “the pledge,” so they already know they’re working with a good product. “We’re not plucking a bottle out of obscurity,” Williams says, “so much as taking a bottle that we already know and love and using it across our entire line. The bottles and capsules are cheaper to buy and to warehouse, especially since we’re standardizing, so it’s a way to keep our pricing competitive in a world of increasing costs while maintaining the quality/integrity of the wine inside.”

After making the “World Class in Lighter Glass” announcement, the first “pen to paper” decision was made to use the 470-gram bottle on a silk-screen-printed Cabernet project for 2022 — a $75 wine, which shows they’re leaning into the idea in a meaningful way. “In the past we would not have considered the 470-gram bottle for a top-tier wine like this,” Williams says.

These lighter cases have tangible benefits for customers, too; the winery will be shipping more wine direct-to-consumer than ever before, and customers pay for that shipping.

Since Red Mountain has a reputation for quality, Williams is confident people think highly of Kiona Vineyards and its 40-plus years of history. “We just don’t need to rely on the heavy glass bottles to convey quality at an industry level,” he says. “In addition, customers are more interested and concerned about sustainability efforts than ever, but as far as I can tell, carbon footprint is often left out of that discussion. It’s important to look internally with a critical eye and answer the question, ‘How can we get better? How can we incrementally improve?’”

Williams and team consistently ask those questions in all aspects of business, and the time seemed right to take a position with glass. “I hope that other wineries will follow as well,” he adds. 

The winery has made other mindful decisions, like using carbon-neutral, sugar-cane-derived enclosures for a lot of their wines. “We also have an 18.5-kilowatt solar installation on our tasting room that’s been in operation for three-plus years, so I view this glass project as part of a larger-picture motivation to do our part on the climate crisis front,” Williams  says. “Little changes, made consistently and over time, can have a meaningful impact.”

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