Boxx Cellars is taking boxed wine to greater heights of quality, simplicity and fashion
Sacramento, CA (RestaurantNews.com) Wine in a box has been on low store shelves and hidden in restaurant kitchens for decades, never taken seriously for its appearance or quality — until now. Gregg Lamer, who has had a long career in the wine industry as a sommelier, wine buyer, educator and marketer, is about to change the bad rap by bringing class to the category under the auspices of his new company, Boxx Cellars.
By taking control of every phase of boxed or BIB (bag-in-box) wines, from sourcing, distribution, packaging, and dispensing to direct-to-consumer sales, Lamer is hands-on to assure a superior product at all levels.
According to David Williams, wine writer for the UK’s The Guardian, “What’s stood in the way of the bag-in-box . . . is the quality of the stuff inside.” He explains that boxes have “become associated with cheap and cheerless wines.” Aided by his longtime connections, Lamer is sourcing limited-production premium wines from boutique producers spanning global wine regions. He’s building a portfolio of premium boxed wine selections, including whites, rosés and reds from California, Washington State, Italy, France, Spain, Chile and Argentina. In line with Boxx Cellars’ environmentally responsible philosophy, many of his wine sources practice sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming.
Another aspect of Boxx Cellars’ quality control and servicing is helping boutique wineries dip their toes into the BIB world by bringing the boxing process to the winery whenever possible. Producing a small run of boxes can help a winery test the market before launching tens of thousands of boxes the way Goliath wine producers do.
The Right Thing to Do
As wine consumers reach for alternative packaging, including cans and kegs, demand for boxed wines will increase. A 3-liter box of wine is the equivalent of four 750ml bottles. Boxed wine uses 91 percent less packaging material and is 41 percent lighter than the equivalent amount of wine in glass bottle packaging. Less weight means lower shipping fuel costs, and the savings are passed along in lower costs to the end user. Boxed wine can save a typical restaurant up to 20 percent on its pouring cost by reducing waste. “Cans Crack Wine’s Glass Ceiling,” an article in the November 15, 2016, issue of Wine Spectator, reports that according to the Container Recycling Institute, glass bottles are recycled only 27.8 percent of the time, less than alternative types of packaging. The figures show that cutting down on material waste is a valuable aspect of boxed wine. However, because boxed wine’s plastic bladder is an oxygen-free container, the wine inside will last a year unopened. Once opened, it will stay fresh from four to six weeks. With normal consumption, that translates to zero spoilage of wine. The entire box package is recyclable.
When ordering wine by the glass, the cork-pulling ritual isn’t a factor. But the appearance of wine in a box still presents a problem at an upscale bar. So Boxx Cellars offers an array of wine dispensers like the Boxxle. This spring-loaded device is handsome and sleek and conveniently fits on a bar shelf for ready access. Wine towers for kegs can accommodate boxes, with a device attached to the tap or added to a beer cooler without compromising keg space. Boxes can fit on top of kegs.
Boxx Cellars is prepared to make boxed wines available and stylish beyond the restaurant trade, with handsome carrying cases, carafes, recyclable glassware and wine lifestyle items available online at www.boxxcellars.com. Creative packaging offered by Boxx Cellars makes it possible to take wine where glass bottles have heretofore been forbidden.
Lamer is finding the wine trade and the public eager for more dispensing options for top-quality wines. Nowadays, the ecologically responsible aspect is a must for most restaurateurs. Lamer says, “Not surprising is the fact that trade, from five-star-rated restaurants to pizza chains, has interest in better boxed wines.” He adds, “I’ve addressed the reasons why the category hasn’t grown in restaurants, and with my one-stop method of procuring a better product, I aim to grow the boxed wine category.”
Direct-to-market boxed wines are available at www.boxxcellars.com, and consumer-direct is an option through a club for Lamer’s specially selected assortments, also available on the website.
Gregg Lamer is a 25-year wine and food industry veteran, crossing all channels of wine and food, from hospitality to restaurants, retail, luxury marketing and systems development. He is a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, a member of the Society of Wine Educators and a former board member of the American Institute of Food and Wine. When he was sommelier at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, managing 14 food and beverage outlets, his fine-dining restaurant earned the esteemed Best of Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator five years in a row. His wine and food pursuits continued, starting with his La Tache wine bar and bistro in Scottsdale and stints with the Robert Mondavi and Stag’s Leap wine cellars and with Domaine Carneros in education and hospitality. He earned Wine Enthusiast’s Award of Distinction for his Amador Vintage Market, a Sierra Foothills wine bar and gourmet market, in mid-2000s. He continues to use his entrepreneurial spirit to tap numerous channels in bringing fine wines to wine enthusiasts.