N.Y. Winery to Debut AstraPouch

Glenora will be first to launch new packaging in U.S.

by Jane Firstenfeld
AstraPouch pouch Glenora wine Riesling
Glenora Wine Cellars will debut Trestle Creek Riesling in 1.5L AstraPouches on July 4.
Dundee, N.Y. -- The first winery founded on Seneca Lake also will be the first in the United States to adopt the environmentally friendly AstraPouch package, when Glenora Wine Cellars releases its new Trestle Creek Riesling in 1.5L pouches July 4.

The pouches, profiled in Wines & Vines’ May packaging issue, already have made a splash in Europe. Like Glenora’s wines, they are a New York product from AstraPouch North America in Penfield.

They provide the protective and eco-friendly advantages of bag-in-box -- but without the box. A 1.5L pouch measures about 7 inches wide by 10 inches tall, and a slender 2-inches thick when filled with the equivalent of two standard 750ml bottles. Their transportation footprint is light, too: 98% wine to 2% package by weight. They are, according to AstraPouch president Dave Moynahan, multi-layered plastic, with a one-way spigot to keep oxygen out.

Glenora president Gene Pierce, who pioneered the Seneca Lake region when he founded the winery in 1977, told Wines & Vines that Moynahan came to him late last year in search of an established winery with a good reputation that would be willing to try the AstraPouches in the U.S. market. Glenora, named 2009 Winery of the Year by Tasters Guild International, fit the bill.

Pierce invested in a special machine that holds the pouches, removes the spigot, fills the containers and replaces the spigots. He is now in the process of bagging the equivalent of 4,000 cases of Riesling at the winery, which produces a total of 55,000 cases annually. “We’re taking it slow and easy,” he said, packaging the equivalent of about 500 cases per day on the new equipment. “It’s challenging not to say ‘bottling,’” he admitted.

The first release will be distributed in New York state through Empire Merchants North, and the pouches also will be available at the tasting room, a nice bonus for potential picnickers in the scenic Finger Lakes. The pouches, said Glenora’s administrative manager, Kerry Keller, “chill faster and stay fresh.” Their light weight, compact size and durability make them inviting options for backpackers and boaters.

Pierce hopes the package will find enough consumer (and retailer) acceptance for him to add a second packaging machine. “Our next product will be a Chardonnay,” he said. “We have limited distribution in two or three other states, and we’re looking for interest. If it turns out as we hope, we’ll be looking for broader distribution.”

As with screwcaps, bag-in-box, TetraPak and other innovations, with success comes imitation. “I welcome competition,” Pierce said, recalling the wine industry since Glenora’s solitary early days on Seneca Lake, which is now home to more than 100 wineries. “We like competition. It raises the bar for everyone.”

The AstraPouch, he said, “is a great way for us to come out with a new package, and give the Finger Lakes and Glenora some successful notoriety.”
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