Black Box Wines
By Michael Hepworth
By all accounts, wines in a box, is one of the
fastest growing trends in the wine industry. Leading the way are BLACK BOX
WINES, a company started as recently as 2002 by Ryan Sproule, a former
sales consultant and engineer from
Alberta, Canada. Now based in Sacramento, he spotted a gap in the market, and all he had to do was come up with
the packaging concept, contract out the wine to a major distributor and
watch sales grow. Part of the success comes in the packaging itself, a
sleek looking black box with an elegant design. It is also the first boxed
wine with an appellation that was an American Viticultural Area (AVA).
He started out with a 2001 Napa Valley Chardonnay,
and to the dismay of many wine purists, the wine won a silver medal at the
San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. First year in business they sold
40,000 cases, and in 2004 that increased to 265,000 cases. The growth has
continued with 450,000 cases in 2005 and then 575,000 cases in 2006.
Each box contains the equivalent of four 750ml bottles of wine, and the
obvious consumer of choice is the camper, hiker, boating and concertgoer.
Another plus abut the wine is that it stays fresh for four weeks after
opening, and at the price of $19-$24 per box, that is the equivalent of
about $6 per bottle.
Now for the kicker-how about the wine. Current wines are the Napa Valley
Chardonnay, Sonoma County Merlot, California Merlot, Paso Robles Cabernet
Sauvignon, Monterey County Chardonnay, Barossa Valley Shiraz and a
California Pinot Grigio. I tried the Cabernet and the Merlot, and found
them very easy on the palate, quite light and full of fruit. Some of
the global facts about boxed wines is quite amazing, with 52% of the wine
is in the box, and about 45% of sales in