Boxing for the Environment w/ Jason Haas, Tablas Creek Vineyard
Play • 35 min

Constantly looking to improve its environmental impact, Jason Haas, Second Generation Proprietor of Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, recently released a trial of 3L bag-in-box wines at $95/box. Though this is 15% lower than the normal bottle price, it still represented ~3x the highest boxed wine in the market. However, the potential to lower the total carbon footprint of the wine by 40% led to trialing and a terrific reaction to the 300 box trial, which sold out in 4 hours. Jason explains the rationale, strategy, and process of going bag-in-box and for other alternative packaging.

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Detailed Show Notes: 

The rationale for trying bag-in-box

  • Did a self-assessment of the winery’s carbon footprint - on the Tablas Creek blog
  • For the average CA winery, >50% of the carbon footprint is from the glass bottle (including transportation), as glass requires high temperatures to mold and has a heavy impact on shipping and transportation
  • Tablas Creek moved to a lightweight bottle in ~2010, which saves ~10% of CO2 footprint; heavier bottles are ~10% more
  • 3L bag-in-box reduces packaging carbon footprint by ~84% and ~40% of the total carbon footprint
  • A wine blogger commented on Jason’s Facebook that Tablas Creek is well-positioned to create change w/ bag-in-box
  • Previously topped out at ~$35 for 3L, or ~$7.50/bottle

Tablas Creek bag-in-box trial

  • Bottled 100 cases of Patelin de Tablas Rose, ~300 3L boxes
  • Got ~60k views on a blog post on boxes in 2 days, lots of positive comments
  • In mid-Feb 2022, released the boxes to the member email list and sold out in 4 hours
  • Wines are currently under screw cap, meaning they are similar and don’t need adjustments to be in a bag-in-box

Future bag-in-box efforts

  • May extend to all 3 Patelin de Tablas bottlings (red, white, rose), which sell for $28/bottle retail, and other wines not meant for long aging
  • Likely will not sell in distribution - an “uphill battle,” with the price point being too high vs. the existing market
  • Bag-in-box ties to Tablas Creek’s mission - “to have a positive impact on the way grapes are grown, wine is made, and how wine is packaged and sold”

Box pricing

  • $28/bottle retail would be $112 for 4 bottles (1 box)
  • Cost is less for packaging, which was passed along to customers
  • Priced at $95/3L box, thought it was good to be under $100

Bag-in-box bottling & storage process

  • Bottling boxes was the biggest challenge at a small scale
  • Rented a semi-automated filler (would cost ~$10-12k to buy)
  • Very labor-intensive, took 4 hours for 324 boxes
  • There’s now a mobile bottling (boxing) line with bag-in-box capabilities based in Sonoma, may rent this for future boxings
  • Not a lot of reliable data on how wine ages in boxes outside of 6-12 months, will be tasting and testing
  • Bags in the boxes have higher oxygen transfer rates (“OTR”) than glass bottles
  • Once opened, the boxes stay fresh for at least several weeks
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