I have a few batches of wine under my belt. I have been plagued with either cheap, flat bottom bottles or stuck collecting and cleaning out empties. Where do wineries buy high quality bottles from and is it possible to get my hands on a few cases?
Gleneden Beach, Oregon
I can understand your frustration with your current bottle supply. It’s tough for small-scale producers to get the same quality, variety and colors of glass that the professionals do. Some home winemaking supply stores around the country only carry one (or maybe two) types of bottles and unfortunately, the flat-bottomed version is most often what we get.
There is help out there, however! I would encourage you to do a little searching online and in your area first as many homebrewing and winemaking stores (especially many Web-based retailers) are becoming more sensitive for the search for the perfect bottle. Many suppliers offer a wide variety of bottles in different shapes, sizes and colors with the appropriate closures to match and can ship them anywhere around the country.
Do be prepared to pay a little extra for a special color or shape, though, and don’t expect to get the volume discounts the pros can get from their suppliers. Many bottles (cork finish, with a medium punt) from small-scale online sources, as well as home winemaking supply stores, will run at least $1.00 each with specialty glass reaching upwards of $2.50 a piece, even if you buy by the case.
For most micro-producers, sourcing glass from a glass company that serves the commercial wine industry is a bit problematic. Most of the suppliers I talked to try not to deal in amounts less than 1⁄2 a pallet of glass (about 30 cases). Since small orders might, understandably, be seen as a source of annoyance (small profit return for the time invested on their part), why not go to a supplier sized just for the home winemaker?
Your favorite home winemaking supply retailer is a great place to start your hunt for a variety of bottles.
UC-Davis graduate and professional winemaker Alison Crowe has been answering hundreds of your winemaking questions as the “Wine Wizard” since 1998. Her Wizard columns have been collected in “The Winemaker’s Answer Book” which is available at winemakermagstore.com.
Do you have a question for her? Send your inquiries to: email@example.com. Unfortunately, Alison cannot respond personally.