We're doing a lot of bottling these days, so I'm thinking about bottles a lot. It's all part of the packaging of our product. Back when Kris was involved in our day-to-day decisions, she said she wanted to make our bottles look as good as the wine tasted. She accomplished that.
We use a few different types of bottles.....and I've been trying to make it easier on our warehousing and storage of them by not using too many. But, I also feel strongly traditional in this sense. I can't imagine Chardonnay in anything else but a Burgundy bottle, and Merlot and Cabernet have to go in a Bordeaux. Riesling is in a hoch (although we do it in blue....why? Because it sells better that way. Believe me. Most package decisions are made purely on making the wine more saleable. If you find a cool bottle at the state liquor store, you can pretty much be assured that the wine is just as uncool that's in it. That's marketing.)
We get asked from time to time if we can re-use the bottles, and unfortunately we can't. The bottles we purchase from our suppliers come to us sterilized. (Sure, every once in a while a small piece of cardboard dust makes it into the bottle, but it's STERILE dust....) There's no way on earth that I could take a used bottle and sterilize it so that it could be re-used. It's just asking for trouble. A few stray bacteria in the bottle and, poof, bad wine. Or worse, refermenting wine that pops the cork on somebody's brand new white rug. Not worth the risk.
Now, I have been reading that there's a company on the west coast that is going to start recycling bottles. There have been companies like this around from time to time, but they have never been successful long-term. I'm hoping this one will be--and that they find a way to open a branch on the east coast. This is an idea whose time has come. Most bottles are used once, and not all of them make it into recycling bins. (In fact, at Allegro, we have to drive about 5 miles to our recycling station. No curbside pickup in Brogue....)
In Europe, they have been re-using (re-sterilizing) bottles for years, and I read that the average bottle makes about 7 trips around before it's melted and remolded into something else. Most of the carbon footprint for wine bottles comes in the making. I sure would sleep better at night knowing we were being a bit more energy efficient with our bottles. Once the re-sterilized bottles are available near Pennsylvania, you can bet I'll be using them.....