Renie Steves Special to the Business Press
Wines on tap are 2013’s hottest wine trend, but they’re certainly not your mama’s wine in a box. Those were inexpensive, easily accessible and refreshing. Today’s wines on tap are often premium wines with sustainable attributes. Two companies in the United States have most of the keg business. Free Flow Wines was founded in 2009 by Dan Donahue and Jordan Kivelstadt to pioneer a new way to serve wine by the glass.
Chairman Donahue said, “Kegging wine is not easy. We’ve spent a lot of time and energy perfecting the process of placing fine wine in a keg so it is served exactly as the winemaker intended.” Each keg holds the equivalent of 26 bottles. When the keg is empty, it is shipped back to California to be cleaned and refilled. In 2012 Free Flow saved nearly 350,000 bottles, corks, labels and cases (about 260 tons of packaging waste) from landfills.
Free Flow Wines recently helped lobby the Florida legislature for a change in a Prohibition-era law that did not allow wine to be sold in any container larger than a gallon. With the new law in place, Free Flow Wines now works with distributors in all 50 states, and its website lists 98 wineries as clients, including Beringer, Cameron Hughes, Fess Parker, Qupe, Au Bon Climate, Iron Horse, Chehalem, J Vineyards, Hess, Paul Dolan Vineyards, Simi Winery and Trefethen. Because the wines are poured from a tap system similar to draft beer, there is no oxidation of the wine. The last glass from the keg is as fresh as the first. No pouring wine (and dollars) down the drain when bottles opened for by-the-glass pours are not consumed within two to three days. Another smaller Napa company, N2, also produces, imports and packages keg wines. Scott Woodward, managing partner of Appellation Wine Co., is leading the charge for using the smaller, disposable and recyclable Petainer Keg. Appellation’s Niven Family Wine Estates produces five 100-percent estate and SIP (Sustainability in Practice) wines in the single-use Petainer Keg. It saves on deposit costs, return logistics, storage and expenses associated with sanitizing and refilling the stainless kegs.
Also growing in popularity with restaurants and wine bars is Napa Technology’s WineStation. One WineStation allows four bottles to be “open” for up to 60 days. Having a two-month freshness factor on a smaller scale than a keg allows for truly premium wines to be offered by the glass without any economic losses to the winery or restaurant. One location taking advantage of this “wine on tap” method is Cadillac Wines inside the Frank Kent Cadillac dealership. Get a 5-ounce sample of one of eight premium or ultra-premium wines and keep the Riedel glass.