Almaden Vineyards had been as well known for its signature glass jugs as its inexpensive domestic wines. Now that has changed. The California wine brand has switched from its 5-liter bottles to a bag-in-the-box product.
Not long ago, drinking wine from a box was frowned upon by American consumers. However, opinions have changed. "The big glass jug is a thing of the past," said Eileen Fredrikson, partner, at the wine consultancy Gomberg Fredrikson & Associates, San Francisco. "There are practically [no brands] out there any longer in 5-liter glass. Four-liter is going by the wayside also. It's big, clunky, heavy and expensive to ship. Boxes are a better fit for the refrigerator and it stays perfectly without oxidation for five weeks."
Accelerating this trend is a legion of younger drinkers. "The millennials will drink 250ml packs, 187ml tetra packs and 3-liter boxes. Everything is up for grabs. They are unencumbered by all of the old trappings we had about this wine not being up to caliber."
Almaden, which is owned by The Wine Group, is positioning the brand as a being on trend with green consumers as well. The boxes have 85 percent less packaging waste and a 55 percent smaller carbon footprint. The Wine Group purchased Almaden and Paul Masson from Constellation Brands last February for $134 million in cash.
Alcohol industry consultant Arthur Shapiro said it's a good time for a brand like Almaden to draw attention to itself: "There are more people at home entertaining and there is increased consumption of popular priced wines."
As for the green angle, he said, "When I'm having alcohol, that's not the thing that's foremost in my mind. I'm not thinking about saving the environment while I'm getting a buzz."