Before it’s in our glass, wine starts on the vine. And like other beloved agricultural products like coffee and chocolate, it’s increasingly threatened by climate change.
The future of wine depends on greatly reducing our impact on the world’s climate, but it also depends on eliminating unsustainable, antiquated practices that affect the vines we revere. In the last decade, the industry has seen a seismic shift toward swapping these practices—like the use of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides to deter pests and keep disease at bay—for more sustainable, nature-friendly processes. Entire wine regions are dedicated to adopting these measures, with California’s Sonoma county set to become the first 100% sustainable wine region in the US. In another example, in New Zealand, almost every wine producer now has Sustainable Wine-growing NZ certification, which requires producers to adhere to standards in biodiversity, soil health, water usage, air quality, energy and chemical use.
It’s not just the agricultural process that’s harmful, packaging and transport contribute to the problem as well. That’s why it’s worth highlighting a hopeful trend in both the wine industry and with consumers: their embrace of alternative packaging, in particular, boxed wine. No longer seen as taboo or as an oenophile faux pas, boxed wine is the product of a movement toward sustainability and a brighter future for wine.
Box Wine Benefits Consumers, Producers—and Most Importantly—The Environment
The wine industry has a sizable carbon footprint. From the cultivation and harvest to fermentation, aging, and the finishing process, every second of the grape's journey from vineyard to the glass takes massive amounts of energy and water and produces carbon emissions and waste. These are also byproducts of glass bottle-making, too.
In fact, research shows that glass bottle production is more harmful to the environment than plastic, due to the mining of rare materials to create them and requires more fossil fuels to produce and ship.
While the history of storing wine in bottles stretches back centuries, wood, ceramic, and more recently, stainless steel, are a few materials that have been vessels for wine. Today, boxed wine can be added to that list. Despite the plastic liner and spigot that comes with boxed wine, the overall impact on the environment is much less than with glass bottles. And most producers use BPA-free plastic liners to house the wine, which contributes to a healthier product for consumers and for the environment.
The benefits of boxed wine are clear: it’s less expensive for both producers and consumers, it’s cheaper to ship, it’s recyclable, and it keeps wine fresh for weeks meaning much less waste. Most importantly, it’s better for the environment and contributes to a healthier future for wine.
No Longer a Faux Pas, Producers & Importers Are Producing Incredible Boxed Wines
These benefits haven’t gone unnoticed. While boxed wine is nothing new, demand and growth in the category have skyrocketed. For consumers, boxed wine offers more wine—up to four 750 milliliter bottles commonly—for the same price as a single bottle of quality wine (between $20-$30 on average). It’s a great, cost-saving solution for anyone’s after-work table wine. But why stop there?
More and more small producers and importers have started to enter the boxed wine market, making quality wines more accessible to consumers. We put together a list of a few clouted producers who’ve entered the boxed wine market and share what makes them so great.
5 Delicious, Cost-Friendly Boxed Wines To Buy
1. Bota Box
Bota Box is inspired by the traditional Spanish wine skins known as "botas" which were used to carry wine for centuries. Whether indoors at home, or in the fresh outdoors, this boxed wine comes in several sizes and packages to enjoy for any occasion. With varieties ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon to Chardonnay, consumers can not only enjoy delicious wine but feel good knowing that Bota Box’s packaging is 100% recyclable and uses BPA-free plastic.
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2. Top Box
Grapes for Top Box wines are grown in the dry sunny climate of Yakima Valley, Washington— home to ancient volcano activity and ample water supply from the Columbia River. Top Box comes in a red and rose blend and single varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a top choice for world-class Washington wines with less impact on the environment and consumers' wallets.
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3. Black Box
Black Box introduced its first wines in 2003, becoming the first U.S. brand to offer premium, appellation-specific, vintage-dated boxed wines. The brand has earned more than 100 gold medals in wine competitions nationwide and costs 40% less than comparable bottled wines. This alone is reason enough to shop for Black Box’s many single varietal and blends offerings.
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4. La Vieille Ferme
La Vielle Ferme makes perfectly serviceable boxed wines in several blends of red, white and rose. Produced in a peaceful and sunny region of the Southern Rhône, La Vielle Ferme is made with great care and integrity by Famille Perrin, proprietors of Chateau de Beaucastel. The label is globally renowned for its irreproachable quality and ease on the wallet.
5. From The Tank
From The Tank comes from grapes grown in vineyards near Avignon in Southern France and comes in three packages: Vin Rouge, Vin Blanc, and Vin Rose. Born from the age-old French practice of filling an empty jug at a local winery, the boxed wines are juicy, fresh, last for weeks, and produce a 55% lower carbon footprint in manufacturing and transport as well as 85% less landfill waste compared to traditional glass bottles. The wines are made by Domaine de La Patience, a thriving Mediterranean estate and imported by Jenny & François Selections, a clouted importer of natural wines.