August 2008 Issue of Wines & Vines
Taking Advantage Of Capsules
Decorating options draw consumer eyes, no matter what the closure
The woman was me, the market was the vast Beverages and More! in San Rafael, Calif., and this parched sailor took a Pink Truck home. Behold, the power of the 21st century wine bottle capsule.
One of the smallest, least expensive and, some might contend, most insignificant elements of modern wine packaging, the capsule still serves its historic intent: to protect and identify the wine within. It can also exert a siren call, luring buyers to bottles and extending the branding reach of its makers and marketers.
|The alluring Pink Truck
Manufacturer: Maverick Enterprises, Ukiah, Calif. "It is important to communicate directly and see the work as it's created," says Katy Leese, director of public relations and co-founder of 585 Wine Partners, producer of Pink Truck.
Cost per capsule: $.05; percentage of package cost: 6-8%.
In the aisles of BevMo and practically every other retailer, a whole new world of capsule décor has materialized. This article explores what wineries and capsule producers describe as the trends that are shaping capsules now.
You don't need a cork to have a capsule
You don't even need a synthetic cork. Of the many wineries worldwide that bottle at least some of their wines under screwcap (see,"Finding Closure"), many prefer to retain the familiar, finished appearance that capsules provide.
Krueger Winery Technology LLC, in St. Helena, Calif., is the American representative for Germany's MALA Closure Systems GmbH, which manufactures aluminum screwcaps for the wine industry. Owner and CEO Ortwin Krueger reports, "Our decorating capabilities have received great attention lately" in the Napa Valley. He cites one customer whose flagship white wines grew 27% in sales with its first screwcapped vintage.
|Domaine Alfred experiments
Manufacturer: Alcan Packaging
Cost: "About the same" as conventional cork-and-capsule closure.
The winery experimented by bottling one-third of its 2005 Pinot Noir production in screwcap, but it returned to cork.
Those include foil embossing, which Krueger believes is a trend in capsule décor, "especially when applied to a matte finish background." Decoration, he says, can add 10-30% to the cost of the tops, depend ing on its complexity. New, bolder designs and colors are also trendy, he says. Krueger notes that many vintners start by experimenting with plain, standard screwcaps and then, once committed to the closure, become more sophisticated in their approach to its design potential, integrating cap decoration with label design.
|Mason makes a choice
Manufacturer: G3 Enterprises, Modesto, Calif.
Type of closure: Aluminum screwcap with Saranex liner
Price per unit: Approximately $.14.
If some wineries are dodging tin costs by switching to polylam, "Some polylam customers are reverting back to aluminum," because polylam, a petroleum-based material, also has risen in cost, according to Eric Puusa, president of Fleming-Potter Inc., Markham, Ontario. His company primarily manufactures aluminum foil capsules, with small production runs of polylam for specific customer requirements. Fleming-Potter is experimenting with different inks for capsule decoration, says Puusa, who notes that moving from a single solid color to a secondary color can add 40-50% to the basic capsule price. Adding an optional tear-tape to neatly and safely remove the capsule top adds about 10%. He reports that shortages and rising prices for glass bottles have forced some wineries to redesign their capsules.
Kendall Pickering, whose Pickering Winery Supply in San Francisco handles tin, polylam, PVC and aluminum capsules as well as the alternative Zork (see, "Finding Closure"), feels that too few wineries take advantage of the full decorative potential of modern capsules. "Although most custom capsules do top-emboss the head with a logo or name, few take advantage of decorating the skirt," he says. "The up-charges are very small for new silk screens and additional colors."
|The glamorous James Gang
Manufacturer: Ramondin, Napa, Calif. "The company matched our label foil color," says winery owner Claire Silver
Cost per capsule: $.13-$.14.
"Adding more complex decoration increases th e price of the capsule, but not very much. Customers should consider redesigning their packages when moving to polylam. There are so many possibilities they or their designers are not aware of."
Getting the designer involved early can be helpful, according to Jeremy Bell, general manager of Rivercap USA in Benicia, Calif. Rivercap's main focus is on tin capsules, but the company is hedging its bets with polylam, in case the cost of tin becomes even more prohibitive.
Bell says that often, package designers will come to him in the earliest stages of the process to learn what options are available and get suggestions from the experts. "Surprisingly, there is not that much cost difference," between custom-designed and stock capsules, he says. "The main difference is that the lead time is greater." Rivercap normally has some 5-6 million stock capsules on hand, but it usually needs about three-months' lead time for custom work.
As with so many aspects of the wine industry, planning ahead is vital in choosing your closure and its capsule, your package's finishing touch.
|E-MAIL THIS ARTICLE|