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This special 2024 PACKWINE feature again brings a focus to the vital role that packaging plays in the Australian and New Zealand wine sectors.

With packaging remaining a critical factor in the success of wine brands, we present insights and information to help you stay up-to-date with the latest packaging issues and innovations.

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 17

Unpacking innovations in wine packaging

Should premium producers lighten-up about glass bottle weight?

Alternatives to traditional wine packaging have been emerging at growing pace over the years, as tensions mount in response to the climate crisis. Customers are calling for increased environmental awareness, and many wine brands

feel inclined to make this change where it is arguably most visible: their packaging. Rebuking the reign of classic heavy glass bottles and cork (or screwcap) closures, some businesses are exploring a variety of increasingly niche alternatives

to the default format. Gone are the days of a uniform shelf, now consumers can find their wine in cans, in bags, or in a box, not to mention in a vast array of lighter bottle options such as thinner or recycled glass, aluminium, and, most recently, paper.

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Design by Cornershop Design @cornershop_design Photography by Slingshot Studios @slingshotstudiosadelaide PACKWINE 2024 |

The main purpose of these lighter bottles is to reduce carbon emissions, as less weight = less fuel required for transport. Some companies are also turning to uniquely shaped bottles such as Packamama’s flat bottles to increase packaging efficiency in trucks, therefore reducing the number of trips required.

Closures are not exempt from this discussion either, with some producers favouring the proposed carbon offset of cork, and others preferring the recyclable nature of aluminium screwcap.

It’s not just wine producers and consumers that are taking note of bottle weights: in January, popular American wine writer Karen MacNeil said she would cease to give coverage to wines in heavy glass bottles in her newsletter WineSpeed Jancis Robinson has had a gripe with heavy bottles since 2006.

“Whatever is the point of them other than to satisfy an ego or a marketing concept?” she asked. Now, all Robinson’s wine reviews note the bottle’s weight.

Dr Armando Corsi is an Associate Professor in Wine Business at the University of Adelaide, where his research specialises in consumer behaviour toward wine and other beverages.

“We don’t really know a lot about what trade wants, when it comes to alternative packaging,” explained Corsi. “Where we have the majority of information, and the majority of research done has been more on the consumer side.”

“We know that unseen is unsold. So for a product to be purchased, it definitely must be on shelf. Retailers, whether we’re dealing with wine or any other FMCG [fast moving consumer goods], need to have a return on investment for every centimetre of space that they make available for the product to be out there.”

Corsi says that understanding what consumers want is the “preliminary step”, which can then provide evidence to the retailer that the

packaging format is popular and that people will choose it.

“Because at this stage, none of us are thinking of ever putting a Penfold’s Grange or a Hill of Grace in a can. But we have an awful lot of lower-priced wine that is not meant to age for long - that is meant to be drunk maybe within a year or two, and mainly sold potentially at less than $20 a bottle, or $20 a litre.”

“For these type of products, I think there is really no reason why we cannot think about alternative packaging for these wines.”

sustainable packaging choices without putting the reputation of their main brand in jeopardy.

“They’re still not putting their flagship wine in a can or in a PET flat bottle,” explained Corsi. He likened this to the French approach, where the premier cru, a winery’s superior quality wine, is kept in its traditional form, and allows the winery to release other more affordable wines that may still benefit by proxy from the prestige of the brand’s premier cru, but are sold at a more widely accessible price.

“For us, it is the same: we’re seeing some premium producers that will have their premium products in a regular bottle, but when it comes to the more entry-level products, then there is a bit of a shift into other into other formats,” said Corsi.

One of the reasons that screwcap became successful is that all of a sudden, screwcaps flooded the market.
When you’re left with no other alternative than buying wine with a screwcap instead of a cork, then all of a sudden, you’re finding that more natural.

“If you have a flagship wine that, by the nature of the product that is inside the bottle, is meant to age for 15-20 years, then there is no point in choosing an alternative format.”

“If a wine is meant to age for a very long time, which sometimes is the case for more flagship products, my advice would be: continue with the bottle.”

“Maybe a producer can decide to reduce the weight of their bottle, but so far glass is unsurpassed when it comes to ageing of the wine and that stability of the product over time.”

“Unless you go less than 430g per bottle, you’re not really incurring a lot of breakages,” explained Corsi. “So that is a good margin for producers to choose lightweight bottles.”

“What we’re seeing from what we consider some of the more premium producers, is that they will use their brand reputation to convince the consumer to buy them in an alternative format.”

For large producers that have a range of quality and quantity wines at their disposal, Corsi said that introducing a range of wines in alternative packaging formats is one way companies incorporate

If the wine does not require a long aging process, then there is a wide variety of alternative packaging options that can be suitable.

“We’re seeing the recycled PET bottles from Packamama that, for example, Accolade and Taylor’s have been adopting in the Australian market. So there is already a variety of alternative choices. And of course, let’s not forget about light-weight bottlesso regular bottles, [that] weigh less

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 19

than a regular one, which from a consumer perspective is sort of the easiest to understand, because it still looks and feels like a bottle but lighter.”

There is a concept in marketing known as prototypicality, which is the notion that consumers expect a product to be in its generic form. This concept is pivotal to consumer perception of packaging, Corsi said, as veering away from prototypical packaging can create a hurdle to consumer understanding of the product.

“What it means in layman’s terms, is that our mind is used to seeing certain products packaged in certain formats,” he explained. “You see a carton that looks like a carton of milk, your mind immediately thinks that the product contains milk.”

“For people to think of a can and then think ‘this contains wine’, rather than maybe a soft drink or a premix - it’s not immediate, it’s something that people need to get used to.”

This is where marketing and brand messaging becomes essential. Corsi explained that successful marketing in this area needs to combine what is called “mental and physical availability.”

“There is a message that needs to be communicated in a consistent way,” said Corsi. “Through our research, we’re trying to understand whether the message should be more about ‘buy this product, because you’re helping the planet’... or whether we should push more down the path of innovation.”

Equally important to this consistent messaging, which accounts for the ‘mental’ side of the equation, is ensuring that the new format is physically available and visible on shelves, so that consumers are familiarised with the concept when the messaging reaches them.

In many ways, the challenge of consumer perception of alternative packaging is not dissimilar to Australia’s historic screwcap revolution.

I think we’re going to see more producers adopting lighter weight bottles. Because again, that’s a step that is not disrupting the bottling line too much.

“In the shorter term, possibly the only thing that one could consider could be a slightly lower weight, but in a format that looks and feels like a bottle.”

“I think we’re going to see more producers adopting lighter weight bottles. Because again, that’s a step that is not disrupting the bottling line too much. But I think we’re going to see even small to medium producers adopting other formats and also coming up with new products.”

Corsi expects that the glass bottle will still play a significant role for the Australian wine industry, but said that we might begin to see a change in which price points use these standard bottles.

“I think it’s still going to be very much an individual choice as a way potentially to differentiate themselves on shelves.”

“One of the reasons that screwcap became successful is that all of a sudden, screwcaps flooded the market. When you’re left with no other alternative than buying wine with a screwcap instead of a cork, then all of a sudden, you’re finding that more natural.”

Light-weight glass does the heavy lifting

Whilst Corsi emphasised the importance of alternative packaging formats, he noted that not every market was yet ready for them, and that there could be a risk of overwhelming the consumer. In younger wine drinking markets where the challenge is still to get consumers drinking wine in any format, Corsi suggested it was best not to over-complicate the matter.

“Otherwise, people will have [to make] two steps, not just buying wine, but buying wine in alternative formats.”

In China, for example, Corsi said the challenge in the immediate future was simply bringing Australian wine back into the Chinese conscious.

Depending on where wineries are exporting to, they may encounter resistance in some markets if they have not made sustainable considerations in their packaging. In Sweden, for example, it is “virtually impossible” to enter the market without a light-weight format.

A single-serve future?

In the future, Corsi said we can expect to see more and more producers adopting lighterweight bottles.

“Visually, they’re not going to be dramatically different from the bottles that we’re seeing now. At the same time, I think we’re going to see other alternative formats, such as the Packamama PET recycled well as both the slightly larger formats, these magnums or ‘bagnums’ - 1.5-2 litre formats that can last up to four weeks, and single serve - I think we’re going to see them pretty much equally present in the market.”

“One advantage with wine in a can or in a pouch that is singleserve, is that it will also help your portion control.”

“I think it could be a very effective way to still have people enjoying a

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glass of wine without throwing away any wine because it got spoiled, or without over-indulging in alcohol consumption.”

These switches to alternative packaging are something that Corsi expects will be mainly in the retail space.

restaurants, Corsi suggested that they were perhaps best-suited to a restaurant’s house wines.

“This is treating wine as a commodity, not treating wine as a brand,” he said.

“If we’re doing this just to see the market opportunity, at some point you run the risk of [it] backfiring on you.

“Because if people think that you’re not doing this, because you actually believe in it, but just to try to deceive customers.

If we’re doing this just to see the market opportunity, at some point you run the risk of [it] backfiring on you.

“You can fool somebody for a long time, or you can fool everybody for a short time, but you can’t fool everybody forever. So I think the key consideration is to understand that sustainability and environmental friendliness, it’s something that is ultimately profitable for the company in the long-term.

“For a company, the consideration should be, ‘do we really need to use the same format that we’ve always been using for our entire product range?’”

This is treating wine as a commodity, not treating wine as a brand.

“When it comes more to on-premise, something that that we haven’t seen happening a lot yet could be wine in kegs, or wine that can be served in a jug,” he said.

For farmers in Italy, where wine is considered part of the staple diet, Corsi said it used to be common for wine to be consumed almost like a sports drink – served from a keg and not treated with the same reverence wine consumers might expect in a restaurant setting.

“As wine became fancier, and you would spend time describing the wine and really paying attention to what you were drinking, then we’ve seen that less and less. Still, if you go to anywhere in Tuscany...and you ask for the house wine - vino de la casa, it will still come in a jug.”

Although there are advantages –both economic and environmental, to large format packaging in

The answer could be switching some or all ranges to light-weight glass bottles, or experimenting with further alternative formats in the wines that are designed for early consumption.

“Understanding where every company sits in relation to these questions is going to be key for them to then decide and to make that conscious decision of not saying, well, we’ve always done that, and just continue doing it, but be proactive in relation to the challenges that are that are ahead of us.”

“I think it’s going to be interesting, this alternative packaging space in relation to the new products that we’re seeing coming up in the market.”

“Whether we’re dealing with low or no alcohol or pre-mixers, I think it’s going to be interesting to watch that space. Because at the moment, we’ve been talking about wine.”

“When [people] think about wine, they think of wine in a certain format. But if you’re developing a product that we are not marketing as a wine, therefore there are no pre-constituted thoughts in people’s minds about what format should be used.”

Corsi emphasised the importance of considering competition from outside the wine category.

“We always need to remember that as much as we would like to think that wine is a necessity, it is not. Water is a necessity. All the other beverages compete against each other.”

As we embrace more alternative formats, Corsi said we need to think about our focus. In the absence of the usual wine cues such as a clear bottle, what should we pay attention to?

“If you open a can of Coke, you’re not really smelling it. It could be something that is very much mouthfeel driven, instead of looking at all the dimension that we’re looking at when a wine is poured in a glass out of the bottle.”

- Reporting by Meg Riley References

Robinson, Jancis. Down with bodybuilder bottles. down-with-bodybuilder-bottles

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 21

The art (and science) of branding

Chad Elson, CEO of Gibson Wines in the Barossa Valley, examines the assets that can lead to successful wine branding.

Earlier this year, my family embarked on a US holiday. A road trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas, with an eight and fouryear-old in tow, presented plenty of Griswold-esque moments.

As we walked the Vegas strip, mostly during the day (and not spending a dime gambling in its casinos), I witnessed the power of branding taking effect. On a touristy helicopter flight over the strip itself, my four-year-old, without any awareness of the actual

establishment names, was able to recall separate venues that we had earlier passed on foot. “The one with the fountain”. “The one with the pyramid”. “The one with the lion”. “The one with the boats”.

The Bellagio (fountains), The Luxor (pyramid), MGM Grand (lion) and The Venetian (gondalas) had all formed memory structures in his brain. He was unable to recall the names of the casinos, but associated “assets” of each venue

had served a powerful purpose - mental shortcuts to identify their brands.

One of the most dog-eared marketing books in my collection is the relatively recent works of Jenni Romaniuk and the EhrenbergBass Institute - Building Distinctive Brand Assets. The book unpacks the science behind how different types of distinctive assets, when applied over the long term, can help build these mental shortcuts.

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Ehrenberg-Bass Institute’s work defines distinctive assets as: Nonbrand name triggers that remind category buyers of your brand. This includes colours, logos, characters, jingles, fonts, pack shapes, taglines/ slogans… and more

Put simply, they are assets related to your brand other than its name. We, as consumers, are exposed to these everyday through mainstream goods and services. Think of Cadbury’s purple packaging, Starbucks’ mermaid-like character, Google’s combination of blue, red, yellow and green. The unique bottle shape of Duck Toilet Cleaner, Netflix’s “ta-dum” audio

The smartest brand owners invest in impartial, research-based assessment of how their assets perform in Uniqueness and Fame scores. Using outside perspective to test your own assumptions on what is distinctive or not, is highly valuable.

cue, or the “Priceless” tagline of MasterCard, are other examples.

In a sea of choice, the purpose of these assets is to help brands come to mind, when consumers are in buying situations. Coming to mind (mental availability) is the first critical step in a purchase decision, followed by physical availability (how easy the brand is to find and buy). Both are related to how brands grow - as Romaniuk describes, where the mind meets the shelf.

In the wine industry, we see distinctive asset examples everywhere. Think the red stripe of d’Arenberg, or the vibrant yelloworange label of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. The black rooster

symbol used to designate Chianti Classico, Mollydooker’s skittle bottle shape for The Velvet Glove Shiraz are others. Even the lightest of wine category users are commonly capable of associating ‘Grange’ - a word form of distinctive assetdirectly to its parent, Penfolds. These assets help brands be identified in practical, real life buying scenarios.

Imagine attending a celebratory dinner and enjoying a glass of Champagne. You didn’t see the particular bottle up close, but remembered a vibrant yelloworange colour of the label as it was placed in an ice bucket. The next day you visited your local bottle

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 23

shop, and asked the attendant if they stocked a Champagne with a yellow-orange label. They were immediately able to join the dots to Veuve Clicquot and away you left with a bottle purchase.

Distinctive assets perform a very functional role - they help people find brands with ease.

Romaniuk explains that over time, adoption of effective distinctive assets can trigger the brand in the memory of category buyers, without the brand name even present. Think Nike’s swoosh symbol, which is often used in isolation on products and advertising collateral without the word, Nike.

Building Distinctive Brand Assets suggests two very important considerations that brand owners should consider when undertaking an asset-building strategy.

1) Strong distinctive assets require a long-term commitment to create and maintain the necessary memory (structures).

That is, consistency is king. It is very common for marketers to seek out change without assessing what risk inconsistency places on the strength of an existing distinctive asset. As Romaniuk explains, inconsistency can set a brand’s identity backwards.

2) The most powerful distinctive assets have a combination of both high ‘Uniqueness’ and ‘Fame’. Uniqueness is defined as exactly that – does the brand have 100% ownership of the asset, or is it shared by competitors? ‘Fame’ being a measure of the quantity of category buyers that can link the asset directly to the brand, product or company name.

The smartest brand owners invest in impartial, research-based assessment of how their assets perform in Uniqueness and Fame scores. Using outside perspective to test your own assumptions on what is distinctive or not, is highly valuable.

In a wine context, an example of considering a Uniqueness

measure is the red diagonal stripe of d’Arenberg. Although appearing as a distinctive asset in isolation, very similar stripes are also used by Wynns and Mumm Champagne. All three are fighting for mental competition of the red stripe being associated as a mental shortcut to their brand.

To combat this competition, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute wisely suggests building a distinctive asset palette. That is, a collection of assets that work together to build mental availability.

In d’Arenberg’s case, you could view the red stipe in combination with The Cube (a physical stricture asset), with Chester Osborn (a spokesperson), with “Dead Arm” (a word asset), with the cursive script typeface of d’Arenberg’ (font), as a collection of assets working together.

Also wisely suggested is consideration of existing or previously used assets, before undertaking the development of

new. Rather than starting from ground zero, these assets may have an established level of Uniqueness and Fame, which can be built upon by more consistent application.

A simple reminder that when tempted with change, common for many marketers, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Diving deeper into the different types of distinctive assets, the research suggests that oils ain’t oils. Some present challenges in cutting through, either through Uniqueness and/or Fame.

Colour, for example, is one of the strongest visual means of standing out. Colour however is difficult to own 100% Uniqueness of. Even Cadbury’s purple (Pantone 2685C) fights for Uniqueness against category competitors mimicking its shade, often resulting in complex, no doubt costly, Intellectual Property battles.

Shape and symbol-based assets are common in the wine industry - the red dot of Penny’s Hill, the

24 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724
Chad Elson, CEO of Gibson Wines in the Barossa Valley

navy-blue triangle of Robert Oatley, the seahorses of Taylors just some. Often, shapes and symbols build upon brand stories and mythology - Robert Oatley’s triangle is representative of a pennant (the Oatley family has a long association with sailing). Taylors seahorses representative of fossils found in the soils of the Clare Valley when being established, now more broadly as a symbol of sustainability.

Other distinctive asset examples include celebrities and spokespeople. Formula 1 Driver Daniel Ricciardo for St Hugo, Kylie Minogue of her self-titled wine brand and Snoop Dogg of 19 Crimes. All are in place to help you recall the parent brand, and for it to come to mind quickly.

Taglines as a distinctive asset, in the wine industry, are more commonly employed in offpackage promotion and destination marketing. Barossa. Be Curious (Barossa regional tourism) and Venture Beyond (Penfolds) are two recent activations. Often these are disposable or form part of cycles of advertising campaigns, rather than long term distinctive asset commitments.

Two close-to-home case studies in wine include Seppeltsfield and Gibson. In both cases, guidance from Building Distinctive Brand Assets was applied as part of the creative process. Each design brief was influenced by different strategic objectives, based on the commercial challenges unique to each brand. Both however

involved investment in existing, and development of new assets.

Seppeltsfield asset palette:

Combinations of colour (blue and black), with effort specifically to refine a proprietary blue tone used on Seppeltsfield’s earliest liqueur bottlings.

A symbol - the crown and star. Research in National Archives uncovered that although outof-use for decades, the crown and star was the first registered trademark made by Seppeltsfield’s founding family in the 1870s. Renewed trademark of this asset was possible.

Unique label shape. The winged label been used on historic fortified wine packaging.

Sans serif typeface (font). A specific sans serif typeface had been adopted on fortified bottlings in the 1900s, which was also reincarnated as part of the Crown and star logo lock-up.

Gibson asset palette:

Combinations of colour (red, buff, gold). Although not high in Uniqueness score, an established familiarity of this from existing customers existed.

Serif typeface Gibson logo. Again, whilst not high in Uniqueness score, an established familiarity from existing customers existed.

Tagline and symbol - Dirtborn Barossa. This served as a means of reflecting Gibson’s refocus on the Barossa region for the source of all wines. In addition, building on ‘The Dirtman’, an existing word asset and storytelling component of the brand (nickname of founder, Rob Gibson, also a geologist).

Typeface (font) - Cy. A font used previously in Gibson collateral, continuing in the Dirtborn Barossa symbol.

Collectively in both cases, the objective was to strengthen their identity for the future. Has it been successful? Only time and impartial measurement will tell. How the assets are applied across the brands’ various touchpoints, consistently across every exposure opportunity, will be key.

So, when next embarking on an assessment of your brand’s presentation, consider both the art and science of branding. It might be just time to get into the distinctive asset gym.

About Chad Elson

Chad Elson is an accomplished wine industry executive, with 15 years of success across the wine and liquor industries. His broad areas of expertise include brand development, marketing strategy, sales management and leadership.

In 2021, Chad commenced his first Chief Executive position with the Barossa Valley-based Gibson Wines. He has overall responsibility for Gibson’s strategic direction, finance, legal compliance and culture.

Chad previously served as the General Manager - International Sales & Brand for Seppeltsfield, where he led the relaunch of the Seppeltsfield brand in March 2018 on the acquisition of its proprietary trademark. He led the development and release of new products (still wines) into domestic wholesale and international channels, including new distribution relationships in mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Sweden.

Prior to his role at Seppeltsfield, Chad additionally held positions in Market Development for Australia’s peak wine industry body, Wine Australia, and in Export/Marketing for Elderton Wines.

Chad obtained his Dip. Wine Marketing from the University of Adelaide and was recognised as an Industry Leaders Fund scholar in 2021, going on to partake in the University of Adelade Transformative Leadership Program in 2022. He lives in Gawler, South Australia with his wife Alinta, and two sons Cole and Henley.

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 25

Tried and tested

The hidden benefits of lightweight glass

Margaret River producer Michael Peterkin, winemaker and founder of Pierro, has been using light-weight glass bottles across the majority of his wines since 2012.

“It made sense,” said Peterkin. “If you’re trying to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, the Big Kahuna is glass. You can do everything else...but you’re really not achieving all that much unless you take care of that one.”

Examining the carbon footprint of his vineyard, winery and transport operations lead Peterkin to narrow down where the most significant reduction could be made.

Winemaking represents only 17% of the carbon footprint of the wine sector, compared to the 68% of that footprint which is attributed to the use of traditional glass wine bottles¹. By switching to light-weight glass bottles for the majority of his wines, Peterkin estimates they reduced the business’s carbon footprint by as much as 44%.

Although the motivation for the switch was driven by a desire to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, other benefits soon presented themselves.

Due to the lighter-weight bottles, Pierro was also able to continue using 12-pack cartons rather than packs of six, whilst still complying with the occupational health and safety requirements that dictate maximum carton weight.

Prior to lightening the bottle weights, Peterkin said they had been criticised by trade for the weight of their cartons.

“We were getting feedback from retailers that they were too heavy,” he explained.

With this change, Peterkin was careful to consider the new, lighter-weight bottles in the design of his cartons.

“Each carton is designed so that the pack remains nice and tight, [so that] the bottles aren’t rolling around.”

There are still some select wines that Pierro has kept in medium-weight glass bottles, as Peterkin said they are yet to find a light-weight glass bottle that is “quite suitable” for these ultra-premium offerings, although he noted that this only accounts for roughly 10-15% of their production.

Although nowadays there are numerous alternative packaging options, when it came to choosing a more sustainable format that suited Peterkin’s wines, the decision was straightforward.

If you’re trying to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, the Big Kahuna is glass.

“We know with glass and screwcaps, our wine is going to age beautifully. And that is an important factor when you’re selling expensive wines. Most consumers would drink them when they’re young, but there’s a certain percentage who want to cellar their wines and our wines have got to meet the expectation of that 10 to 20%.”

Acceptance of these new bottle weights was not immediate for Pierro’s distributors.

“They thought we were being cheapskates, because the light-weight glass is cheaper than the medium weight

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The explanation Pierro introduced to their packaging.

“We didn’t get any negative feedback from consumers. Nobody emailed us or wrote to us and said, ‘what are you doing?’” he explained.

In order to combat the resistance of retailers, Pierro began including a sheet of paper in each box of wine

References: R. Smart, D. Bruer, C. Collins et al. “Towards Australian grape and wine industry carbon neutrality… the possible dream”. Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker 680, September 2020.

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 27

Innovative solutions from global packaging pioneer CCL

Aglobal specialty packaging pioneer, CCL is the leading label company in the world, providing innovative solutions to a wide range of clients globally from the home and personal care, premium food and beverage, healthcare and specialty, automotive and durables and consumer markets. Their unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality products, coupled with superior customer service, has led to their success within each of these markets.

At CCL Label the most valuable resource is their team of more than 25,000 people working across the globe in over 200 production sites - a passionate and sharp minded group of people who possess industry specific technical expertise. They work hard to ensure that their priorities always align with their customers’ expectations, and as a team they strive to deliver on their individual values with every order.

To the CCL team, providing support to their global and local clients means having the ability to be a secure and reliable part of the supply chain, making them a nimble and flexible partner. They’re extremely proud of the fact that their collaborative approach to

every label project has fostered decades long partnerships with many of their customers. But above all else, they operate with unwavering honesty and integrity in the regions that they also call home, with the people and businesses that they call neighbours and friends.

Within the community, CCL supports several local wine education programs, providing opportunities for work placement in areas such as administration, graphic design, and pre-press production. They also provide professionally printed labels for the wines produced by the students each year, making it possible for the students to be involved in the process and gain insights from their extensive packaging industry knowledge. CCL also provides sponsorship for the National School Wine Awards in Adelaide, presenting workshops on topics such as designing for sustainability, value engineering and packaging trends.

As a packaging manufacturer, waste has a materially relevant environmental impact for not only CCL’s own operations, but also for their customers. Being a responsible corporate citizen, caring for the environment has always been at the forefront of what CCL do, and one of their largest ongoing missions is to monitor and lower their carbon footprint. To achieve this, CCL use specially developed software to collect data from their 200 plus production sites worldwide to set measurable targets, and ensure they remain accountable and responsible for their impact on the environment. By utilising their scale and reach, CCL have been able to create strong collaborationbased relationships with their suppliers, giving them the ability to provide access to sustainable solutions for all of their customers, regardless of their production

volumes. The launch of CCL Label’s EcoSelect Range of paper stocks has created a gateway for hundreds of brand owners, winemakers and procurement professionals to access a range of sustainable solutions in one reference tool. It has provided a platform on which our customers can connect with our paper suppliers to compare and select the perfect paper stock for their next environmentally conscious label project.

Continuing with their pioneering spirit, CCL has created Concept Lab in Sydney, NSW. This space is dedicated to collaboration, ideation, testing, prototyping and imaginative thinking. CCL Concept Lab offers a dynamic prototyping service which produces high quality sample labels simulating actual print production. Dynamic prototypes are produced on real paper stock materials, and labels can be embellished with foil, high build screen, unique die-cuts and simulated emboss, all without any tooling requirements. Label prototypes can also be used for pre-release product photo shoots, product launch events, online and social media promotions and competitions and even micro production runs.

CCL Label has committed significant levels of investment into their Australian and New Zealand operations, including plant and equipment upgrades. Their key objective is to deliver not only increased capacity, but also significant improvements to the sustainability and efficiency of our operations at each of their production sites to benefit each and every one of their customers. The team at CCL are excited about the future, and the opportunity to continue to deliver high value, sustainable and premium label solutions to their customers.

28 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724 Wonderground labels for @wondergroundbarossa Design by Cornershop Design @cornershop_design Photography by Slingshot Studios @slingshotstudiosadelaide supplierupdate PACKWINE 2024 |

Plasdene Glass-Pak and Vinkem Packaging

Australia’s leading national rigid packaging provider Plasdene Glass-Pak has acquired the business of Vinkem Packaging , the well-respected secondary packaging supplier, predominantly servicing the Australian wine industry, and beyond, from their Hunter Valley NSW location.

Commencing from 3 April 2024, the merged entity has fallen under the umbrella of Pearson Group Packaging (PG-P), proudly owned and operated, by two generations of the Pearson family.

This union will bring together two great organisations, both with deep history in global packaging

sourcing expertise. In addition to complementary product portfolios, markets served and capabilities, both are pas-sionate family businesses with similar “makeit-happen” cultures and servicefocused enterprise philosophies.

Since Plasdene Glass-Pak’s incorporation as a “start-up” more than 36 years ago, the business has maintained a policy of reinvestment for future growth and prosperity, such that today PG-P is a world-class, seven-branch distribution centre network with supporting infrastructure across Australia. One of the driving forces of the business’ success, has

always been to partner with likeminded companies.

“Whilst I have known Paul Wootten, as a great supplier for around a decade, we are extremely proud that we can now bring his Vinkem Packaging business under the Plasdene Glass-Pak umbrella! We are extremely excited that Mat Wootten and the Vinkem Team will be coming on this journey with us, where we intend to give them all of the Plasdene financialresource, infrastructure support and marketing strengths, to take Vinkem to the next level, for the absolute benefit of our valued clients,” commented Ken Pearson, CEO of Plasdene Glass-Pak.

30 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724 supplierupdate
The Pearson family: (L-R) Kacy Pearson, Ken Pearson, Margaret Pearson and Jayne Pearson
Meet the brand, behind the brands you know, and love. B O T T L E S I J A R S | C O N T A I N E R S | C L O S U R E S | C A N S | C A R T O N S & D I V I D E R S | B U L K P A C K A G I N G I C A R R Y P A C K S I G I F T B O X E S Extensive Stock Range • Global Sourcing • Inventory Management • Custom Packaging New Product Development • National Warehousing & Distribution • Service & Supply Excellence PLASDENE.COM.AU Plasdene Glass-Pak Your Partner in Packaging For over 35 years we’ve helped thousands of large and small clients build their brands – brands you know and love Our customers trust in our reliability and expertise in sourcing, handling and delivery of world-class wine packaging solutions. Discover the brand that’s helped your favourites grow. Sydney 02 9774 6650 Melbourne 03 9930 4999 Brisbane 07 3903 9900 Hobart 03 6227 1500 Hunter Valley 02 4035 9500 Adelaide 08 8402 1600 Perth 08 9232 5200

Built by Paul Wootten from the “ground up”, Vinkem Packaging has been within Plasdene’s collaboration sphere for many years, as a supply partner. By now investing in Vinkem, a business and team that embodies the same hard work and family business values as Plasdene, it further enhances the performance of Plasdene GlassPak, delivering increased depth of range, supply lines and an exciting new product portfolio for its clients, solidifying Plasdene’s position as a one-stop packaging supply and service provider.

“I doubt I could have found a better fit for Vinkem than Plasdene. Apart from the amazing opportunities it provides for both parties, the fact Plasdene is a family-owned business meant the world to me”, said Vinkem Packaging founder Paul Wootten.

“For decades, Vinkem Packaging has been a major supplier of corrugated cartons and dividers. These days, they complement that offering by being specialists in premium, tailored solutions too. The range incorporates highquality “showcase-style” secondary packaging, including industry and custom cardboard cartons, dividers and fittings; single, double and triple bottle carry packs; gloss display packs; custom wooden gift and hamper boxes; display stands; cardboard post packs and safety packaging. This sustainable range is also available with highquality printing and decoration options. More information about Vinkem Packaging can be found at

“Vinkem has a huge amount of experience in the packaging industry. For me it’s 47 years selling LBB’s (little brown boxes), and now, 30 years of that concentrated on the wine industry. I’ve been lucky enough to have my son Mat working with me for the last 18 years, and he’s been a great student. There’s not much packaging wise that he doesn’t know, so he’s in a prime position to pick up and run with just about anything thrown at him.

Partnering with Plasdene should provide all sorts of opportunities for Mat and the team to get their teeth into. (I might have to apply for a job as I’m getting excited about the prospects already!)” joked Wootten.

Existing Vinkem clients can now benefit from Plasdene’s industryleading capabilities, including:

An Australia-wide distribution footprint, spanning more than 35,000 square metres of warehousing with options to drawdown stock as required.

Private-family ownership and management, with continued focus on reinvestment in the business to help deliver customer growth, underpinned by strong external governance and corporate support services teams.

Access to 10,000+ competitively priced product lines and a sophisticated local and global sourcing network, providing supply security and superior choice.

Custom-designed packaging and project management capabilities, through our dedicated Business Development Unit team, at corporate level.

Operational excellence with powerful, enterprise-wide IT infrastructure for real-time updates and en-hanced order visibility.

Freight, production and product supply buying power, across qualified vendors world-wide, to deliver deliver scaled, risk-averse supply chain and cost efficiencies.

One-stop, high quality and worldclass packaging solutions covering every industry category.

Arguably, ANZ’s largest independent supplier of local and imported glass packaging, across all industry sectors.

As part of the transition process, the Vinkem Packaging business and the energetic Vinkem team has relocated to the Plasdene Glass-Pak Hunter Valley branch from the first week of April, 2024. The integrated Packaging Plaza™ Showroom and

Whilst I have known Paul Wootten, as a great supplier for around a decade, we are extremely proud that we can now bring his Vinkem Packaging business under the Plasdene Glass-Pak umbrella!

Distribution Centre is located at 21 Spitfire Place, Anambah Business Park, Rutherford NSW 2320.

Although physically operating from the same location, in the immediate future the two businesses will con-tinue to trade independently, such that transactions and business interactions with Vinkem Packaging should be considered ‘business as usual’.

Asked about what the future of Vinkem Packaging might hold, Wootten assures “Vinkem is a fantastic little business, but with me bowing out it needed someone else to give it a boost. Plasdene is that boost and then some. To me, it’s the perfect match.”

“Even in this challenging economic climate, our confidence in, and excitement for PG-P’s future is unwavering as we continue to invest in our growth, our success and our continuity, which is now greatly enhanced with Vinkem joining our stable. We live by our ethos ‘Partner with us and Grow’, added Pearson. “Having just launched our new website at we know the time is right to really capitalise on our in-vestments, and really demonstrate our capabilities on a global scale.”

32 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724

Collaborations reign supreme for experimental packaging

Aldi X Packamama

In March, Aldi became the first UK supermarket to launch its own-brand wine in flat, recycled wine bottles.

Made from 100 percent recycled PET, the flat bottles weigh just 63g - nearly seven times lighter and stronger than a standard glass bottle.

With a bottle weight reduction of 42 tonnes, the compact design allows 30% more bottles to be loaded onto pallets and transported to supermarkets. Aldi said that converting to these bottles compared to standard round glass bottles would take an estimated 30% of lorries off the road.

“We know shoppers are looking for greener, more sustainable products and our aim is to continue to deliver this, whilst offering great value and enhanced functionality,” said Julie Ashfield, managing director of

buying at Aldi UK. “We’re pleased to be taking the next step in expanding our recyclable, eco-friendly range.”

Aldi worked with packaging business Packamama on the supermarket-first initiative.

Santiago Navarro, the CEO and founder of Packamama, said the business was “honoured” to partner with Aldi, and that the partnership highlighted both brands’ commitment to sustainability.

“This collaboration delivers the much-loved Chapter & Verse in our innovative eco-flat bottles to customers, offering the perfect blend of quality, value, and sustainability.”

The supermarket also launched its Chassaux et Fils Méditerranée Rosé (which retails for £6.99) in a recyclable PET bottle. Eight times lighter than the average 75cl glass

bottle, Aldi says the launch alone will help to remove 18.15 tonnes of bottle weight.

Alongside the new plastic bottles, Aldi pledged to reduce the average bottle weight of all its still wine products by 8%, a process which is already underway, with an expected completion date in 2025.

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 33
Aldi’s Chassaux et Fils Méditerranée Rosé, launched in a recycled PET bottle
Aldi’s Chapter & Verse Shiraz in the Packamama recycled PET flat bottles
34 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724 PACKWINE 2024 |

Mother of Pearl X Frugalpac

In February, Australian drinks brand Mother of Pearl Vodka announced plans to buy Australia’s first paper bottle machine. The move to paper bottles hopes to cut the carbon of the brand’s bottles by 84 percent. Mother of Pearl, which already sells its grape-based vodka in the paper Frugal Bottle, revealed it also plans to launch a range of wines in the paper bottles.

Made from 94% recycled cardboard, Frugal Bottles are five times lighter and have a carbon footprint six times lower than glass bottles – using less energy to produce, transport and dispose of than glass equivalents.

“We loved the Frugal Bottle so much we decided to buy the machine so we can make them in Australia!” said Mother of Pearl Vodka co-founder Nic Hancock.

“But we don’t just want to keep this low-carbon packaging to ourselves. Sustainability is hugely important to us and we believe every wine and spirit brand in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia should be given the chance to decarbonise their bottles like us.

“We were proud to be the first Australian producers to use the Frugal Bottle for our premium grape-based vodka, but we won’t be the last.”

Weighing just 83g (before being filled), the bottles have a food grade aluminium pouch inside, similar to those used in bag-in-box wine, to contain the liquid and offer 360° branding space.

The Frugal Bottle assembly machine will be able to produce up to 2.5 million paper bottles a year, and will enable Mother of Pearl to make and fill Frugal Bottles for other drinks brands looking to cut their carbon.

Mother of Pearl was the first Australian brand to launch in a Frugal Bottle – the world’s first and only commercially available paper bottle for wines and spirits.

“The reception to us launching our vodka in a paper bottle has been astounding and inspired us to expand our range into gin and wines. So it was a no brainer to decide to buy our own machine.

We can’t wait to help other brands make the switch to paper too,” said Hancock.

Malcolm Waugh, CEO of British sustainable packaging firm Frugalpac said he was “very excited” at Mother of Pearl’s commitment to buy the machine. “Australia and Southeast Asia are huge markets for wines and spirits and over the last year we’ve been inundated with requests for paper bottles. Mother of Pearl’s commitment to buy their own Frugal Bottle machine will put them in a great place to meet this demand.”

More than 35 different drinks producers from around the world have launched 128 different SKUs of wines, spirits and olive oils in the Frugal Bottle since 2020.

Australia and Southeast Asia are huge markets for wines and spirits and over the last year we’ve been inundated with requests for paper bottles.”
Malcolm Waugh
May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 35
Mother of Pearl Vodka co-founders Nicola Thompson Hancock and Nic Hancock. Mother of Pearl’s paper bottle flats

NIGO X Penfolds

To mark the 180th anniversary of Penfolds, the brand unveiled its first-ever design takeover for the packaging of its flagship wine, Grange.

Fashion designer NIGO, the creative director of Japanese fashion label Human Made, collaborated with Penfolds to release the re-imagined Grange packaging, inspired by his first visit to Penfolds Magill Estate Winery in South Australia in 2022, and his time with the Penfolds team reviewing archive material from Penfolds history.

The Grange by NIGO release included a limited number of 750ml and 1.5L gift boxes to house the 2019 Grange.

Each box was individually numbered and included a bandana and bottle neck tag designed by NIGO, plus an authenticity certificate. The design approach pays tribute to Grange in NIGO’s signature style, featuring a bold and colourful grape graphic and Penfolds logo reimaged through Human Made’s iconic typography.

“It was an honour to be the first person to collaborate on a design for Grange, especially as the brand celebrates its 180th anniversary,” said NIGO.

We have never done this before, and the result is brave and refreshing.

The launch of Grange by NIGO follows the global release of One by Penfolds – NIGO’s first Penfolds project – where apparel items for the collaboration sold out globally in under 1.5hours.

“This is a different direction for us, and the first time we have changed the distinctive gift box of our flagship Grange,” said Penfolds chief marketing officer, Kristy Keyte.

“As a collector, NIGO understands the reputation of Grange and its legacy. He was able to create a limitededition approach that is both playful and fresh while remaining respectful to the history of the wine. We have never done this before, and the result is brave and refreshing.”


Accolade X Visy

Late last year, Accolade introduced Wise Wolf, a new line of wines under the banner of Banrock Station.

Made with 91% recycled glass, the bottles are one of the most sustainable glass wine bottles to be launched in the Australian market.

“The Wise Wolf bottle makes old glass new again – it literally gives glass another life,” said chief marketing officer Sandy Mayo.

“The North Star for us is that we want to see these bottles become bottles, again and again.”

“We are constantly searching for new and better ways of doing things, and while we know it is not perfect yet, Wise Wolf is a major step forward for more sustainable wine packaging in this market.”

“Our hope is that Australian consumers will embrace Wise Wolf and come along with us on our journey as we make wine packaging more sustainable, and as the technology evolves and more recycling infrastructure comes online.”

Wise Wolf by Banrock Station launched in major retailers nationally with a Limestone Coast Chardonnay and an Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc. A Barossa Valley Shiraz is set to join the line up later this month.

“Wise Wolf is not just about a recycled glass bottle, it is a continuation of the proud 25-year legacy of Banrock Station’s commitment to environmental preservation,” Mayo said.

Accolade Wines worked closely with a number of suppliers on the innovation to ensure all elements of the packaging were designed to use the most sustainable materials available to them including the 91% recycled glass developed in partnership with Visy Glass.

Additionally, the labels are made from 100% upcycled sugarcane, and the screwcaps are made with 26% less materials than average caps and an expected 40% recycled aluminium content, transported in wine cartons made from 100% recycled paper pulp.

“We believe that we have a responsibility to provide wine consumers more sustainable packaging choices and we hope that others in the industry join us,” said Mayo.

38 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724
The Wise Wolf range by Banrock Station in recycled glass bottles

Impact made effortless

As the name suggests, Rieslingfreak are mad for one specific German variety. In fact, it’s the only grape they use. Yet the South Australian producer is currently selling 12 different wines, made from grapes grown in Eden Valley, Clare Valley, and select sub-regions of both. The labels are relatively uniform across the range, with the exception, of course, of the number, as Meg Riley writes.

Each wine is a different expression of Riesling, with each given its own number to signify its unique combination of region and style. No.1 is a German GG style, for example, whereas No.7 is a fortified. From one vineyard alone they make five different Rieslings. White Hutt, the family vineyard in Clare, produces the grapes for all five different expressions.

John Hughes, winemaker and owner of Rieslingfreak, explained how the singular variety is transformed for each different style. There is a traditional dry Riesling, an offdry Riesling, an aged release (“where it’s picked nice and early”) and a fortified Riesling. On very special vintages, they also make the No. 1 Riesling, which is made in the German Grosses Gewächs (GG) style.

“With Rieslingfreak the vision was always to keep it small, but to really show Riesling in different styles and different regions throughout Australia,” said Hughes.

“One thing I do love about Riesling is the diversity of the grape…there’s

not many grape varieties in the world where you can do what we do just with Riesling.”

With 12 different expressions made from just one variety, how each wine differs from the next may seem like the most crucial detail. These distinctions, such as region and style are commonplace features on the front label of many other wines, even for brands who make only one expression of a variety.

In spite of the status quo, Hughes chose not to include this information on his front labels. On paper, much of the information was repetitive, and he feared the repetition may be confusing for consumers.

“You would get the same variety, same vineyard, same region,” said Hughes, “how do we identify them all as being different?”

Hughes chose to use numbers to identify each style, as a way of simplifying the label yet clearly distinguishing one style from the next.

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 39

“With the name ‘freak’ there, we could have done anything with the labels. But it was important for me to show people although we’ve got the name ‘freak’ in the label, we’re still a serious producer.”

40 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724

“It’s an arbitrary number to everyone else, but for us it represents style and region… it’s similar to Penfolds Bin 389 or Bin 128 - we keep ours simple: No.1 to No.12.”

Though distinctive, this difference was not immediately well received by the on-trade, as distributors pushed back against the deviation from the norm.

“Initially, my distributors were giving me a hard time, requesting regions to be put on the front labels,” said Hughes.

Sticking to his vision was difficult in the face of this pushback, but Hughes was committed to the look of the bottle, and felt determined that the difference could work in his favour. As well as individualising each bottle, he hoped that using numbers would lead to consumers having a favourite number.

Hughes’s perseverance won out in the long-run, and he says that now trade has accepted his unique labelling decision, it is a battle he no longer has to fight.

“That took a good three or four years of persistence in the marketplace, but I can honestly say now we do not have any requests for any additional information to be put on the front of the label.”

Freakishly serious

The name ‘Rieslingfreak’ communicates much of the brand’s message on it’s own, and when

juxtaposed with the traditional bottle choices and simple, elegant labels, consumers are already given a taste of what to expect.

“With the name ‘freak’ there, we could have done anything with the labels. But it was important for me to show people although we’ve got the name ‘freak’ in the label, we’re still a serious producer. And to do that, we’ve kept what I believe is a classic label style,” said Hughes.

It only takes a glance at one of the bottles in the range to get the idea that this brand probably produces more than just one Riesling.

“Everyone nowadays with both beverages and food, [they] like to know the story behind the label,” said Hughes. “I feel the name ‘Rieslingfreak’ tells the story without knowing the story, and I think that’s really valuable.”

“You don’t have to be Einstein to work out there’s no Shiraz in the range.”

12 green bottles

Having first launched in 2009, Rieslingfreak is a relatively new brand, and Hughes said he makes an effort to keep the packaging modern to reflect this. To balance the traditional and modern aspects of the brand, Hughes pays special attention to his packaging choices.

The No.9, a sparkling Riesling, is packaged in the Saverglass Champagne Grand

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 41

Cru - a traditional bottle choice for a sparkling wine. The sparkling is sans-cork, however, and uses a crown cap closure, subverting the typical expectation of a sparkling wine and tapping into a fresher, more modern look.

“We’re new, and we’re different, so why not keep the packaging that way as well?” said Hughes.

Of all of Rieslingfreak’s offerings, one bottle stands out the most: the No.1. This, as you can probably guess, is no coincidence. The No.1 is the brand’s most premium wine. Packaged in a tall German Riseling flute, the bottle is dark green, setting it apart from the classic olive green of its siblings. Made only in the best vintages, the No.1 is crafted with hand-selected grapes from particular vineyards, which are then whole-bunch pressed and fermented in 1,500L foudres, where the wine is left for around

20 months prior to bottling. Sold predominantly on-premise, the No. 1 retails for $100 a bottle. The label has a dark green background and uses gold foil lettering for identifying number, setting it instantly apart from the visuals of the rest of the range.

The numbers on each label in the range are foiled, with the No.1 and No.10 lettering both in a distinctive gold foil, setting them apart from the silver foil of the others. This is a visual cue to the premium nature of the two wines.

The 10 wines using the silver foil range from roughly $27-$42 in price, while the No. 10 retails at $45 and the No.1 for $100.

Using these packaging differentials, Rieslingfreak is able to immediately communicate to consumers what to expect from the wine, and show how it fits in with the broader range.

“I really hope and feel and believe how we’ve designed the label really portrays what’s inside the bottle,” explained Hughes.

Point of difference

The labels themselves are eyecatching on the shelf: an unusual oblong shape with cut corners that sits low on the bottle. This standout is not a coincidence: Hughes was thorough in his market research.

“Before I started [in] 2009, I went out to a number of bottle shops and looked at label sizes on the shelf. I saw there was a lot of square labels, and there was a lot of [vertical] rectangular labels, and they were all very similar sizes. It was all about what you did on that piece of paper to make it different.”

What he was looking for was what was not there. Rather than making the text on the label do all the heavy lifting, Hughes was keeping his eyes peeled for opportunities to make a point of difference in his packaging before it came down to reading the label.

“The shape of the label was all about doing research to say what would be different on the shelf, before we started about what goes on the piece of paper.”

“There were no oblong shape labels like we’ve got, with the cut corners.”

A playful walk of the line between deadly serious winemaking and fanaticism, the packaging of Rieslingfreak tells consumers what to expect before they’ve even picked up the bottle.

With a target market of “anyone and everyone that loves Riesling”, the intent was to communicate distinct differences between each wine style whilst ensuring that the information was easy digest and simple to remember.

“If you had ‘Clare Valley White Hutt Off-Dry Riesling’, remembering No.5 for me is a lot easier than trying to remember all that information,” said Hughes.

“I just wanted to achieve - which we have achieved - people liking their favourite number.”

42 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724

60 years of the screwcap: Has China seen a twist yet?

With China’s market again open for business to Australian wine exporters, has the country’s perception of screw caps changed? Morris Cai from Hong Kong-based Vino Joy News talked to Chinese importers and distributors to find out.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the adoption of screwcaps for wine bottles. In Australia and New Zealand, a whopping 90% of wines are sealed with screwcaps.

However, in China, many consumers believe that cork closures carry a greater sense of quality and tend to prefer wines with cork stoppers. But after years of popularisation of screwcaps, has there been a shift in this perception within the Chinese market?

Sealing the deal: From screw to cork

Due to the Chasselas grape variety, widely cultivated in Switzerland,

being highly susceptible to the influence of cork stoppers, in 1964, the Amcor Capsule Company introduced the Stelvin bottle cap, specifically developed for Swiss wine growers to preserve the taste, freshness, and quality of wine in the best possible way.

At the time, the aluminium screwcap was considered revolutionary but did not see widespread use until the early 21st century—when it was adopted on a large scale by wineries in New Zealand. Today, wineries in 40 wine-producing countries use this technology.

However, in the Chinese market, screwcapped wines have faced scepticism from consumers, who regard them as less formal and lacking in ceremonial value when opened.

To align with the tastes of Chinese consumers, some Australian wineries have adjusted their approach. Dan Murphy’s, the Australian supermarket operator, markets Rawson’s Retreat red wine with a screwcap, but when it’s sold in China on the country’s leading e-commerce platform, it shows the wine with a cork seal.

Even more notably, high-end wines from major producers undergo a

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 43

full packaging change for the Chinese market; Hardys wines priced around RMB 200 (AU$42) and premium Penfolds wines such as 389 and 407 are sold with cork stoppers in China, though the same wines sold at Dan Murphy’s feature screw caps.

Screwcaps gaining acceptance for entry-level, rosé and white wines

A merchant selling Yellow Tail wines noted that the brand had discontinued the use of cork stoppers years ago, fully transitioning to screwcaps in alignment with international standards. Given Yellow Tail’s positioning as an entry-level wine for everyday consumption, it faces no prejudice from consumers.

Additionally, the use of screwcaps for white and rosé wines, which are typically enjoyed in relaxed settings, seems to be a non-issue for Chinese consumers.

Customs data reveals that despite a downturn in wine imports in 2023, New Zealand, known for its screwcapped white wines, saw its import volumes and values to China increase by 19.43% and 18.29% respectively.

David Wine from Spain also introduced a rosé wine in the Chinese market with a screwcap. According to the company’s China General Manager, Liu Anqi, the choice of screwcap was both a design decision and a nod to the preferences of younger, wine-savvy consumers who don’t discriminate between closures.

“The initial intent behind using screwcaps was to match the packaging design better. Furthermore, this wine targets knowledgeable young consumers who do not mind whether the bottle uses a screwcap or a cork stopper, with sales channels mainly in small taverns and on Xiaohongshu (popular Chinese social media app similar to Instagram), where screwcaps fit the target scenes well,” she explained.

Our Australian suppliers would face inefficiencies if they produced cork-stoppered wines just for us, so we purchase screwcapped wines. And for consumers buying wines for business dinners, they have all come to accept screwcaps.
Wu Yongle

Partial acceptance of screwcapped premium wines

It’s noteworthy that the mentioned rosé wine, sealed under screwcaps is considered a premium wine priced between RMB 268 and 368 (AU$56-$78) per

bottle depending on the channel, indicating a growing acceptance in the Chinese market.

Hong Boyong, general manager of Shanghai Pran Cellar Australia, specialising in premium wines from Australia’s five-star wineries, remarked, “Many of the boutique wineries we represent cannot customise their products with cork stoppers just for us. Hence, we have always sold wines with screwcaps.”

“This would have posed a problem 10 years ago, with consumers frequently questioning the packaging during promotions. However, since 2016, such inquiries about screwcaps have nearly vanished. It’s no longer an issue of concern,” Hong told Vino Joy News

44 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724

Wu Yonglei, general manager of Xiamen Fond Wine in China’s affluent southern Fujian province, also shared similar experiences, saying, “Our Australian suppliers would face inefficiencies if they produced cork-stoppered wines just for us, so we purchase screwcapped wines. And for consumers buying wines for business dinners, they have all come to accept screwcaps.”

“This may be because many wine consumers in Fujian have overseas experience. Sometimes, they find it odd to see domestic versions of Penfolds 407 packaged with cork stoppers,” he remarked.

In inland markets, preferences vary. Fang Yi, general manager of Changsha Puyi Cellar Door, a leading wine

importer in Central China, noted that while consumers buying wine for personal use are indifferent to the type of closure, those purchasing wine as gifts or for official dinners still show a preference for cork stoppers.

Ultimately, the choice between cork and screwcap is dictated by the end customer and their specific needs. A wine merchant from Chengdu pointed out that within the realm of premium wines, consumers still show a stronger preference for cork stoppers, making screwcapped premium wines a niche market.

This article originally appeared at Vino Joy News ( and is republished with permission.

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 45

Boxed in: a rocky path to alternative packaging

With packaging one of the largest contributors to the carbon footprint of a bottle of Australian wine, the industry is being encouraged to transition to alternative and lighter-weight packaging formats to reduce its emissions. However, as one South Australian winery recently found, the path to uptake of those formats is currently littered with challenges, particularly for smaller enterprises, as Sonya Logan writes.

“I’ve learned a lot in the last six months; it’s probably been the most challenging six months of my professional life getting all that sorted along with my regular day job.”

As these words by winemaker Ashleigh Seymour suggest, Paxton’s recent venture into bottling wine in PET was far from plain sailing for the McLaren Vale winery. Indeed, the undertaking even involved literal troubles at sea. But the oceanic disruption was just one of a series of obstacles that the winery had to overcome after winning a tender from an overseas importer to supply some wine in PET.

With an average annual production of 25,000 cases of which around 20 per cent is exported, Paxton had dabbled in putting some wine in cans when the tender came to its attention midway through 2023.

“The tender was for 10,000 to 20,000 bottles of a rosé wine in a PET bottle for the Norwegian market. We had excess rosé sitting there and it was like, ‘well, why don’t we give it a go?’ Seymour recalls.

But before submitting the winery’s pitch for the tender, Seymour called an Australian bottling company to first confirm that it was possible to put wine in PET in the quantities requested. The company responded in the affirmative, the tender submitted and ultimately won.

“That’s when it all got very complicated,” Seymour foreshadows.

“It would have been easier if were dealing in a larger quantity, like 24,000 litres. We could have put that in a flexitank and sent it to

Europe and bottled it over there. I did look into trying to find a smaller bladder container but we didn’t quite have enough wine to meet the minimum.”

Resuming her discussions with the bottling company post winning the tender, Seymour then struck her first hurdle in acquiring the necessary bottles. She was told a major supplier of PET wine bottles in Australia had not only stopped producing them but moved the production machinery to New Zealand, with only a large order likely to tempt the company to bring those parts back across The Tasman.

Another locally-based producer was subsequently sourced, with Paxton able to piggyback an order for a Bordeaux-shaped bottle.

Around this time, the idea of bottling in the eco-flat bottles available through Packamama was raised with Paxton. And although the winery liked the fact the Packamama’s bottle was made from recycled plastic as opposed to the Bordeaux bottle’s virgin plastic, its Norwegian importer insisted on a more traditional-looking bottle shape.

The Bordeaux bottles now sourced, Paxton then received a copy of a document outlining the requirements of Norway’s sophisticated and nationwide deposit and recycling system for non-refillable beverage packaging. Buried deep in the lengthy document was mention of the fact that PET containers must be sealed with a plastic cap.

“It just kept getting better!” Seymour sarcastically notes. “We just assumed we could use a Stelvin.”

An Australian supplier of plastic screwcaps that could not only be applied to the Bordeaux bottle but accommodated on the bottling line in Melbourne was eventually identified, but this was only half the battle.

“We wanted white caps but they did not have white ones in stock. So, we went with silver and ordered the caps for the complete bottling run,” Ashleigh explains. Although sufficient quantities of the silver caps were in stock to fulfill the

46 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724
Paxton winemaker Ashleigh Seymour. Photo: Ben Kelly SA Life
Getting this 2023 rosé into PET and to its destination market in Norway has been no easy feat for McLaren Vale’s Paxton winery.

Paxton bottling run — just! — it transpired that the stock was scattered throughout various states.

“They had to get a box from New South Wales, some from WA, some from SA, and get them all to Melbourne to fulfill the order. Then somebody accidentally sold 3000 of our caps to somebody else. The people that bought them offered to give 1000 back, but that didn’t really help us. So, in the end, we decided to bottle just one container load of wine which was around 5000 bottles. Our original plan was closer to 10,000 bottles.”

Seymour says the plastic screwcaps ultimately had to be applied by hand, adding to the cost of the run. A small percentage of the bottles also became mangled in the bottling line during filling, putting at risk Paxton’s ability to deliver its intended 5000 bottles.

Finally, Paxton’s rosé in PET was loaded onto a ship for delivery to Norway. As if the wine hadn’t navigated enough hurdles to reach that point, the shipment was then delayed reaching its destination due to the rerouting of container ships to avoid the Suez Canal where Houthi Militia had been attacking cargo vessels.

“It had come down to almost the last second to get everything to come together. Then to be faced with the challenge of the boat being delayed….We actually missed the launch of the wines.”

Not surprisingly, Paxton’s adventures into PET became quite the talking point around the winery.

“In our weekly Friday meetings, nearly everyone would start with, ‘alright, what’s gone wrong this week?’ I wouldn’t want to add up all my time that I spent on it and put that on the cost per case. But, you know, you’ve got to give these things a go sometimes. They don’t always work out, but you learn a lot along the way,” Seymour reasons.

“On the upside, last week we had two Norwegian customers come and visit us in cellar door here in McLaren Vale that had tasted the

rosé in the plastic bottle in Norway and thought that they would come and visit us. So, that was a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Given the delay in the Paxton rosé reaching its destination, future bottlings for the Norwegian tender are currently on hold pending collection of sales data by the importer.

“They didn’t want to commit to a full container load again, and we couldn’t get the bottles made for a smaller amount. And we are just not in a position at the moment, with everything that’s going on in the wine world, to spend money on dry goods that we don’t know if they’re ever going to get used. So, we’ll wait until the importer looks at its sales data and lets us know whether it wants to commit to another container load or not.

“We keep getting told that glass is no good anymore and that we’ve got to at least try something else — look at cans, look at bag in boxes. But the reality is it’s actually quite difficult from a logistics and cost perspective when you’re small.

“It’s very challenging to even break into the space as a smaller producer because you want to do a small trial run first to see if it works, whether that be logistically or from a consumer marketing point of view. There’s not a lot of flexibility and options from the providers of the services and products to allow for that exploratory space.

“We’ve looked into doing smaller runs of bag and box, or pouches. We’ve also put wine in cans. But if you’re not a massive winery that’s going to commit to massive volumes from the get go….,”

Seymour says.

So, would Paxton bottle in PET again?

“I think if we were given the option to not fulfill the rest of the tender, we would probably walk away. That’s not to say we wouldn’t do it again, just not in small quantities. We would probably only look at it if we had a large quantity and we could bottle it offshore.

“We’re not quite dealing in those quantities yet. We will probably get there in the USA in the coming years. I haven’t heard of too many people doing it [bottling in market] in the USA. I’m sure it is a possibility.”

What about other alternative packages?

“We’ve done a few different things in cans. To be honest, the consumer take up is pretty slow. I’m not sure we’ve got the marketing power to put a still table wine in a can and get it to the places where it would be consumed, like at the tennis or big events like that.

“I definitely think the can itself is a more sustainable option in terms of its recyclability and its light weight. And I do believe single serves have a place as well.

“The bag in box — I don’t mind the concept but the bag is not recyclable. When we go camping and I buy water in a bag in box, I just think about how much waste all those bladders are. I know that it’s softish plastic, but I still don’t think it’s recyclable enough from my perspective and Paxton’s perspective’; we’d like to see a little bit more advancement in the recyclability of the bladder and the recycling actually taking place as well. It’s one thing for something to be recycled, but is it actually getting recycled as well?”

“Pouches are interesting. They’re plastic, but it’s a pretty minimal amount of plastic and they can be made from 100% recycled material from what I understand. And I believe in certain countries, like in northern Europe, they do get recycled. But they definitely wouldn’t be getting recycled in Australia — not yet anyway.”

Seymour says Paxton will gradually increase its use of alternative packages, but would “like to see a bit more real sustainability in the alternative containers”.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but there’s still a lot of challenges, especially for people without big budgets,” she says.

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 47

The future of wine closures is in your hands

Interpack’s latest innovation, the capR closure, signals a leap forward in wine bottle recycling and environmental responsibility. Designed to address the universal problem of removing the aluminium sleeve from a wine bottle, the capR closure features a split system that makes recycling easier than ever. This innovation not only simplifies the process of separating, sorting, and recycling wine bottles but also opens new possibilities for creativity in wine packaging.

Creative freedom and design excellence

With capR, wine producers have unparalleled creative freedom. The closure’s flexibility allows for stunning, vibrant artwork with full-colour or photographic printing. Foil and top embossing options add an extra layer of elegance and sophistication. By incorporating the capR recycling symbol

into the label design, wine producers can communicate their commitment to sustainability to consumers.

Tested and trusted technology

The capR closure has been rigorously tested by leading wine producers, proving its effectiveness. A significant advantage of this technology is that it requires no changes to existing bottling or capping specifications, ensuring a smooth transition. Additionally, the capR closure maintains tamper-evident requirements, offering both security and convenience.

A solution for sustainability

Interpack, a leader in innovative ISOcertified wine closures, has created the capR system to align with environmental goals. The closure’s unique design enables wine producers to easily remove the aluminium sleeve for more efficient

recycling, reinforcing Interpack’s commitment to excellence and sustainability. This advancement also meets ISO22000 certification standards, ensuring production processes are safe and high-quality.

Promoting eco-friendly initiatives

Interpack provides unique opportunities for wine producers to promote their eco-friendly initiatives directly in-store. The capR scallops, embossed on the base of the closure, serve as a distinctive design feature, while capR print or embossing in the knurl area, along with informative neck tags, can be used to educate consumers about the benefits of recycling and sustainability. Additionally, the ability to print internally within the capR closure creates more promotional opportunities, allowing producers to add customised

48 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724 supplierupdate

Recycling Revolution

The solution is in your hands

Introducing the revolution in responsible, recyclable wine closures... capR

This closure incorporates an innovative split system enabling easy removal of the sleeve making separation, sorting and recycling of wine bottles simple and efficient.

Tested, Proven and Perfected

Interpack’s innovative technology, produced under ISO 22000 certification, has undergone rigorous testing and trials, earning the trust of numerous leading wine producers.

This cutting-edge solution seamlessly integrates into existing bottling and capping processes without the need for any modifications, all while ensuring the highest standards of tamper-evidence.

With Interpack’s capR, you have the creative freedom to design your closure exactly as you envision it. Achieve stunning, vibrant designs with full colour or photographic printing. Add a touch of elegance and sophistication with foil and top embossing options.

Naturally, our coating systems are BPA free, and we now offer PVDC-free liner options.

– the future of wine closures. | +61 3 8358 4444 open
slide recycle
is. 33079_G&WM

messaging or branding elements. Interpack’s BPA-free coating systems and PVDC-free liner options further align with environmental responsibility and the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly packaging solutions.

Interpack: a legacy of excellence

Interpack may be a relatively young company, but its roots in manufacturing closures run deep. The Arduca family, who founded the company, bring decades of experience, having been among the first to commercially produce screw caps in Australia during the 1970s. This legacy of excellence is reflected in Interpack’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, quality assurance

team, and on-site testing laboratory, all of which contribute to the company’s high-quality manufacturing processes.

Since 2015, Interpack has maintained the internationally recognized FSSC 22000 food safety certification, demonstrating its commitment to food safety and quality. This dedication is evident in Interpack’s beverage caps, spirit caps, and metal twist caps, all designed with a variety of finishes and embossing possibilities to meet different product needs.

A Complete Range of Solutions

Interpack offers a complete range of closures, all manufactured in-house to maintain quality control and cost efficiency. The metal twist caps, made

entirely in Interpack’s Australian facility, come in various sizes and styles, providing flexibility for different types of products. The service extends from in-house design and artwork through to full logistics management, offering an end-to-end solution for customers.

Interpack’s leadership in closure manufacturing for major international corporations and leading brands in wine, spirits, and beer reflects its commitment to innovation and excellence. With the latest FSSC 22000 food accreditation and the ability to handle a wide range of quantities with short lead times, Interpack is poised to lead the industry into a more sustainable future.

50 Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2024 – Issue 724
Interpack’s production facility in Victoria

Selected labelling and packaging designers in Australia and New Zealand

Abacus Print

Telephone: 1300 792 782 Website:

Adhesif Labels

Telephone: (02) 8336 5900 Website:

Artifishal Studios

Telephone: (03) 9804 0670 Website:

Black Squid Design

Telephone: (08) 8361 8066 Website:

CCL Label

See advertisement page 29

Telephone: (08) 8568 8800 Website:

Co Partnership

Telephone: (02) 9280 2007 Website:

CoLLECT Design

Telephone: (08) 8232 3577 Website:


Telephone: 0434 829 267 Website:

Cutler Brands

Telephone: (08) 8268 9888 Website:


Telephone: (02) 9281 5533 Website:

FA Design Co.

Telephone: 0409 355 200


Fantastick Label Company

Telephone: (03) 9305 2122 Website:

Fiona Bavage Design

Telephone: 0421 339 801



Telephone: (03) 9001 0837 Website:

Impresstik Labels

Telephone: (02) 9814 3031 Website:

Jeremy DV Boyd Freelance

Graphic Design

Telephone: 0405 537 299 Website:

John Jewell Design

Telephone: (02) 6040 4433 Website:

Just the Drop

Telephone: +61 0432 787 277 Website:

KD Design

Telephone: 08 8332 0000 Website:

Mihart Design

Telephone: 0419 624 807



Telephone: 1800 088 258 (Aust only) Website:

Parallax Design

Telephone: (08) 8410 8855


Rush Design & Advertising

Telephone: 0414 525 222


Soup Creative

Telephone: (08) 8223 5668


Studio Guild

Telephone: (03) 9495 6300 Website:

Studio Lost & Found

Telephone: 0430 505 528


Tennyson Design

Telephone: 1300 660 929 Website:

Tucker Creative

Telephone: (08) 8331 1700 Website:

May 2024 – Issue 724 Grapegrower & Winemaker 51
Looking for industry suppliers? Labelling and packaging designer listings brought to you by the Wine Industry Directory Search online here: THE AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND WINE INDUSTRY DIRECTORY PURCHASE YOUR COPY HERE PACKWINE 2024 |

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