Shipping out in style

Jane Firstenfeld

It seems like, not all that long ago, if you wanted to ship your casegoods across the street or across the planet, you packed up the bottles in a corrugated cardboard box, crossed your fingers and sent them on their merry way. Like every other aspect of the wine business, wine shipping materials have also evolved. Today’s options include a variety of materials to meet the basic need of protection, and, increasingly, the ability to add your brand’s identity to every layer of the package.

When we got our advance copy of the hot-off-the-press Wines & Vines 2004 Annual Directory/Buyer’s Guide, we contacted suppliers of shipping materials to learn exactly what’s available now to carry your wines safely, and in high style, to their destinations.

California Glass Company & Pacific Coast Container, based in Oakland, Calif., has been distributing corrugated products for half a century. Multi-faceted California Glass is 70 years old this year, with a customer base mainly in the Western United States. “In 1976, California Glass Company innovated the Ship & Store[TM] concept that has now become the standard for wine shipping industry-wide,” according the Terry Sanzo, business manager. The familiar Ship & Store incorporates a “universal” inner foam piece to fit all sizes of domestic or imported wine containers. An interlock system allows the foam to convert for one- to 12-bottle shipping cartons, so foam stock inventories can be reduced. Prices for Ship & Store products start at approximately 62 cents each, or $12.40 per case of 20 for individual bottle shippers with outer carton.

“Materials for corrugated products do vary, depending on geographical location, due to different climate areas,” Sanzo says. “The price-point of wines sometimes dictates the customer’s request for packaging. Material can vary for different destinations and product lines, based on climate and DOT (Department of Transportation) requirements. Exported products are subject to international standards and transportation requirements,” he notes, adding, “The general trend is leaning more toward the necessity of environmentally friendly products that can be recycled by the end user if need be.”

Contact: California Glass Company & Pacific Coast Container, 155 98th Ave., Oakland, CA 94603. Phone: (510) 635-7700, e-mail:, Web site:

Etched Images, Napa, is perhaps best known for its bottle decoration work, described in our May issue. But, owner Stu McFarland says, the company also distributes wine shippers to customers across the country, primarily on the West Coast.

“Etched Images provides cardboard and foam shippers for all sizes of wine bottles. We also provide bottle/wine glass wooden boxes,” McFarland says. The company can laser engrave artwork, logo or message onto the lid, or apply full-color, die cut vinyl labels. Etched Images’ edge, he adds, is “providing one-stop shopping.” After bottles are etched and hand painted, the company can provide order fulfillment including tissue-wrapping, labeling, product packaging and drop shipping to multiple addresses, with “very competitive pricing,” for the high-end product which Etched Images typically handles.

Contact: Etched Images, 1758 Industrial Way, #101, Napa, CA 94558. Phone: (707) 252-5450, e-mail:, Web site:

Frontier Packaging, Inc. is a Seattle-based manufacturer of corrugated and chipboard interior box partitions, working with the Pacific Northwest wine industry since 1985. “We are also a supplier of value added, high graphics packaging, from one- and two-bottle bags to carry-out boxes to high graphics case shippers,” says Paul Leland, printed packaging manager.

Chipboard, made by gluing together wood particles with adhesive under heat and pressure, is perhaps most familiar as the material in inexpensive laminated or veneered flat-pack furniture. According to its Web site, Frontier also provides molded fiber clamshell wine shippers and molded fiber trays, as alternatives to Styrofoam.

As product branding becomes ever more vital to the wine industry, marketers have begun to look at every surface of the package as a potential advertisement. “Dramatically improved printing processes have enabled us to provide high graphics packaging,” Leland notes. “Previously, such graphics were available in lithographic processes only.” And digital printing has made such printing practical even for smaller runs. “We find that foreign markets are particularly drawn to high graphics packaging,” Leland observes.

Contact: Frontier Packaging, Inc., 1201 Andover Park E., Seattle, WA 98188. Phone: (206) 575-7772, e-mail, Web site:

Henry Molded Products, Inc., Lebanon, Pa., has been supplying molded pulp packaging to customers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico for more than a decade. Owner Douglass Henry referred me to his Web site,, for some background on the company and its products.

Pulp molding originated in China several thousand years ago, and came into commercial application in the 19th century. Henry Molded manufactures packaging and containers using 100% pre- and post-consumer, recycled newsprint, craft paper and other waste papers. Natural waxes and binders are added to ensure the integrity of the finished products, which must be able to withstand fluid leakage for weeks. The resultant “mash” is formed in custom molds, and when dry enough to support its own weight, transferred to a drying oven.

Henry’s Wine Pak[TM] system is ideal for shipping mixed bottle styles, with a snap-apart design that protects bottles of varied shapes and quantities. The Web site displays photos of an impressive “nine-drop test” of Henry’s four bottle wine shipper onto concrete.

Technology has improved even this age-old fabrication. “Engineering improvements over the years make them thinner and offer more protection,” Henry says. And these eco-friendly products have another benefit: “Customers want an alternative to Styrofoam.”

Contact: Henry Molded Products, Inc., 711 N. 16th St., Lebanon, PA 17042. Phone: (717) 273-3714 (PA), (213) 624-0624 (OH), Web site:

RTS Packaging, L.L.C., is headquartered in Norcross, Ga., with 12 manufacturing plants and eight international licensee affiliates. RTS manufactures protective packaging, including the Billboard point-of-sale promotional pieces featured in our May 2003 issue. Marketing director Bill Burch sees a new trend toward lower cost packaging, with larger wineries performing their own in-line packaging.

Burch is still highly enthusiastic about the Billboard, which incorporates a pull-up, printed display header in each case, and will soon be commercially available with die cut capability for even more in-store impact. The Billboard P.O.S. can be added at a surcharge ranging from 20 to 40 cents per case over existing packaging costs.

Contact: RTS Packaging, L.L.C., 504 Thrasher St., Norcross, GA 30071. Phone: (800) 558-6984, e-mail, Web site:

Scholle Corporation, Northlake, Ill., is best known in the industry for the bag-in-box applications it has been supplying for almost 40 years. Roberta J. Morris, director, global market development, notes that, “More and more wines, and ever more premium wines, are being packaged in bag-in-box for either local consumption or export.”

You needn’t produce boxed wine to avail yourself of Scholle’s technology, however. The company has a range of IBC liners and flexitanks designed for long-distance shipping: “large bags, which essentially turn ordinary intermodal shipping containers into tankers, for bulk wine exporters,” Morris explains.

Contact: Scholle Corporation, 200 W. North Ave., Northlake, IL 60164. Phone: (708) 409-4423, e-mail:, Web site:

Seaside Paper Products, Ltd., serves California, Oregon, Washington and Western Canada from Delta, B.C., supplying chipboard partitions to both glass producing plants and end users for the last 25 years.

“The primary function of the partition is to provide protection for the products being packaged and shipped,” says John Thiele, sales manager. “As our customers’ markets and products have changed over time, so has the partition, with such features as anti-scuff chipboard for the wine industry to protect the label and product from scuffing.

Partition design has also changed to help maintain cost control. “Chipboard in most cases is a lower cost alternative to corrugated partitions, takes up less storage space and can be produced to tighter tolerances,” Thiele states. Partitions are custom designed for each order, and cost is directly related to size, which can often be reduced by designing a shorter partition.

“A shoulder-high partition will still offer glass-to-glass protection up to the shoulder of the bottle, but eliminates the wasted partition space from the neck, where there is no glass-to-glass contact,” Thiele explains.

Contact: Seaside Paper Products, Ltd., 9999 River Way, Delta, B.C., Canada V4G 1M8. Phone: (604) 930-2700, e-mail,, Web site:

ThermoSafe Brands is an Arlington Heights, Ill. division of SCA Packaging North America and, according to marketing communications coordinator LeighAnn Wiegel, “The leading provider of temperature assurance solutions for a wide array of packaging needs,” serving customers nationwide for more than 20 years.

ThermoSafe wine shippers are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, including lay down or top-loading styles for one to 12 standard 750ml bottles; top-loading, universal wine shippers to hold “almost every shape or size;” top-loading, one or 12 bottle sparkling wine shippers and magnum shippers for 1.5L bottles.

Wiegel says ThermoSafe’s newest wine shipping product, the universal wine shippers, “fit all typical 750ml bottles and oversized bottles, such as sparkling wine. Molded foam parts fit snugly around wine bottles and support vulnerable bottle necks. Their strong, lightweight and precise designs assure that shipping costs are minimalized while bottles arrive safely.”

She notes, too, that, “The shipping industry is expanding to service more people globally. In turn, this is demanding that more packaging meet air freight requirements and qualify for overseas shipping.”

Contact: ThermoSafe Brands, 3930 Ventura Dr., Ste. 450, Arlington Heights, IL 60004. Phone: (800) 323-7442, e-mail:; Web site:

With the wealth of packing options now at hand, if your wine shipment fails to arrive intact, somebody might just be dropping the ball, if not the case.

RELATED ARTICLE: California Port Producers Seek To Fortify Reputation

Small California producers of port and similar fine wines have founded the Sweet and Fortified Wine Association in an effort to promote a positive image and create a larger market for their products. Though California wineries may label their products “port” for domestic sales, Portuguese producers have kept the European market out-of-bounds to U.S. port for the last 21 years.

As with sparkling wine, nomenclature is the trade issue. “What word do you use to call this wine? Port is the only word that describes it,” Peter Prager, of St. Helena’s Prager Port Producers said in the St. Helena Star. The producers argue that the term “fortified wine” bears the stigma of cheap beverages consumed from brown paper bags. Some contend that the name “port” represents a style, not a region. Terry Dewane, who owns Belo in Napa, explained that one of the association’s long-term goals will be to find a name other than port, or to raise the status of the term “fortified wine.”

(We thank the sources above for responding to our e-mail survey. For more shipping/packaging resources, please refer to your Wines & Vines Annual Directory/Buyer’s Guide.)

COPYRIGHT 2004 Hiaring Company

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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