As wineries look to reduce their carbon footprints and shipping costs, several embrace individually packaged or single-serve wines. With just 187-ounces per bottle, many of these sustainably packaged vessels now contain premium cellared or aged wine.
According to Nielsen data, in 2020, premium single-serve wines priced at $16 or more accounted for 37% of sales in the US market, up 27% over the year prior.
Dana Spaulding is the founder and CEO of Wander + Ivy, a premium, organic direct-to-consumer wine brand that sells single-serve wines from family-owned vineyards around the world. Sold online and at local retailers, the company has been bottling single-serve wines since 2018. Spaulding says that sales have grown considerably since the pandemic, which she believes is partially due to consumers who want to sample new wines without having to finish a whole bottle.
Since the company launched its diverse selection of single-serve varietals, which includes a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon and other limited-edition releases packaged in 6.3-oz reusable glass bottles, Spaulding says that “growth catapulted to 450% in 2020, with this year trailing right behind at 250% to date.”
Spaulding attributes this growth to a core market need that wasn’t being met: Those who want premium wine in smaller, premium packaging.
“People are conscientious about budget as well as packaging, both of which I believe we have successfully tackled,” she says.
The main issue for the brand has been learning how to create a custom and efficient bottling process specific to its packaging. “Creating and filling a brand new, innovative, patented portion-controlled packaging is quite challenging in the wine industry,” says Spaulding.
Le Grand Verre, a boutique French company that sells organic and sustainably farmed, single-serve wines from independent producers, reports 100% growth over the last two years. The company’s 6.3-oz vessels are shipped directly to consumers and packaged in recycled, double-coated plastic bottles from Burgundy.
“I love the idea that you can be able to taste just one glass of my wine,” says Ines Andrieu, winemaker of Le Grand Verre Domaine Caylus. “It makes it much easier for consumers to discover our family winery in Languedoc-Roussillon.”
Companies that create educational tasting kits or packages for virtual wine clubs have also adopted single-serve wine bottles.
Master the World, an educational wine club in San Mateo, California, rebottles 750-ml wine bottles into 187-ml bottle tasting kits for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), global conferences and more. The company experienced a boom in sales after reopening their facility since the pandemic lockdown, says Cofounder and CEO Limeng Stroh.
“We’ve experienced extraordinary growth in the last 18 months since our first shipment went out in Jan 2020,” says Stroh. “Since reopening, we have grown at an average rate of 37% month over month with companies from culinary institutes to corporate conferences seeking single-serve varietal kits.”
Master the World also partners with wineries like Tablas Creek and Ridge Vineyards to anaerobically rebottle 750-ml wines into individual glass-bottle tasting kits. Screwcaps are then sealed with an industrial capper to preserve freshness and quality.
Jason Haas, Tablas Creek’s partner and general manager, describes working with a company like Master the World as a logistical win, and says it’s the perfect partnership for virtual wine club tasting parties.
“The members could participate without having to open the bottles they received in their shipments, and we had confidence knowing that the wines they received were in pristine condition,” says Haas.
Master the World’s single-serve kits have also been a success for winery seasonal releases.
“At Ridge, we have conducted our Wholesale Virtual Tasting twice a year for the past ten years,” says Mike Torino, senior vice president of global sales at Ridge Vineyards. “Virtual tasting has been one of our most successful programs and allows us to taste and discuss our new releases with our wholesale partners and accounts.”
A minor downside requires wine club members to leave the website to purchase the kits at Master the World because they handle rebottling. Still, both Haas and Torino believe the rewards outpace the risks.
“It was a significant investment in both time and money, as we absorbed the costs of the rebottling, label registrations, and shipping,” says Torino. Haas from Tablas Creek agrees, stating, “although costly, we would not have been able to get our wines out to all of our participants without these kits.”