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04.11.2013  
 

Single-Serve Format for Fine Wines

Vini glass tube designed for on-premise sales

 
by Jane Firstenfeld
 
 
Alternative text
 
While the backers of the Vini hope to convince top-name wineries to use their new packaging, they currently offer a California white and red blend in the tubes.
Miami, Fla.—Producers of fine wines are not getting their share of lucrative wine-by-the-glass programs in up-scale restaurants and hotels, contend Sunny Fraser and David Gordon. The Miami-based couple challenges that shortfall with “The Vini,” a sleek, screwcapped glass tube that delivers a 187ml serving.

Unlike existing single-serve wine packages, the Vini is not intended to be a “ready to drink” beverage. The RTD wine market is beginning to thrive, especially at sporting events and other venues where plastic is de riguer and wine quality of secondary concern.

“The Vini is fine wine and should be treated as such,” Gordon stated. “It is supposed to be poured into a wine glass like all fine wines. It’s not a gimmick, so we don’t recommend drinking it straight from those bottles.”

The exuberant couple with an eclectic background—Fraser is a board certified therapist and former executive for a private bank; Gordon is a classically trained chef—described their motivation. “It was frustrating. The great wines on the great wine lists of South Florida were too expensive to open for by-the-glass service,” Gordon explained.

The Vini is designed to address this conundrum and open the world of high-end wines to those who’d like to sample a single, generous glass. Restaurant servers will be able to open a branded Vini tube to pour a consistent 6.3 ounces of the chosen wine—a benefit for customers who never know if their “glass” of wine will be a stingy splash or a true serving.

The Vini’s slender, 10-inch silhouette also fits snugly into hotel mini-fridges and RFD-coded delivery units. “We’re looking for luxury locations—five-star resorts. We’re starting at the top,” Gordon said.

‘Never be caught with a bad glass'

On the other hand, Fraser confided, “I always carry a Vini in my purse: Never be caught with a bad glass of wine.” Since the container is unopened, it should be noted, this practice is just as legal as carrying a case of wine on the front seat.

The package is patented. Unlike typical wine bottles, the sturdy but lightweight glass is not molded, eliminating flaws and seams that might interfere with labeling on the slender vessel, now permanently emblazoned with screenprint branding. The screwcap is a 36mm- wide Stelvin from Amcor in American Canyon, Calif. The Vini tubes are bottled on a dedicated line at Halsey Bottling LLC in Napa, Calif. “We control the entire supply chain,” Gordon noted. Options for paper labels are being investigated as well.

Still gearing up to full production and arranging national distribution, the Vini has already attracted interest from the kind of high-end wineries its developers hope to serve. Gordon and Fraser hope that wines with the cachet of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon and Hanzell Chardonnay will be available in the Vini.

At the moment, the Vini is both a packaging format and a wine brand, and the only wines currently available are proprietary California blends. The red is 65% Napa Zinfandel, 33% Lake County Petite Sirah and 2% Napa Oak Knoll Merlot; the white is Napa/Sonoma Chardonnay and 15% Lodi Viognier. Available online in four-packs (which total 750ml) or mixed cases, the red sells for $39.80; the white, $35.80.

Vini wines are produced at a Sonoma County custom crush under winemaker Kian Tavakoli who gained early experience at Opus One. Single-varietal bottlings are in the works. Shipping currently is limited to California, Colorado, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Following the Vini’s soft-launch last fall, retail distribution is concentrated in South Florida at Joe’s Stone Crab Take Away, Epicure Gourmet Markets, Joanna’s Marketplace and upscale resorts including Eden Roc Renaissance, Anacapri PGA National Resort & Spa and the South Beach Marriott.

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