Reusing wine bottles… at the winery
In these times of more active ecology in all facets of life, I have often wondered as to why we don’t recycle our wine bottles. Naturally, a great many of us divert them from the landfill by tossing them in the glass bin to be melted down to make new bottles. But, this isn’t what I’m getting at as wineries typically use the same bottles from year to year and so why, when we’re finished with a wine from a specific winery, do we not return bottles directly to them to be re-bottled like some dairies are doing again?
In searching around, the only trace of this happening in the US was at a winery in Texas of all places. In California, the huge wine producing state with tough environmental laws, it seems that little is thought of this practice. Even a company called, Wine Bottle Renew that started specifically for this purpose doesn’t appear to be in business anymore.
Naturally, it was a breath of fresh air to see that the opinion on this subject at European wineries is quite different. Long has it been the case that you can bring in your own bottle to fill up from the bulk wine tanks, but it wasn’t until a visit to Calonge for our Empordà wine guide that we came across a winery that will directly re-use their old bottles. As you can see in the picture above from Mas Molla, they use one type of bottle. When people bring them back, they get a €0.20 discount off the wine, which when most bottles are €1.90 means an 11% discount, just for being a good citizen of the earth.
It should be noted that this wine is “vi de pagés” which directly means, “peasant wine” but is much more akin to what English speakers know as “natural wine”. Perhaps this is part of the reason why they reuse their bottles in that they aren’t dealing with selling at schmancy prices. Thus, it would seem that the reason we’re wasting squatloads of energy to remake the exact same bottles a winery has just sold a wine in, is purely for the sake of perception, which is pretty ludicrous when you think about it.
Learn more about the wines, wineries, and history of Empordà in our Empordà, Catalonia enotourism guide